RALEIGH – The median price of all real estate sold in Wake County in December 2021 was $411,000, an all-time high, according to the latest data from the Wake County Register of Deeds, which was released on Tuesday afternoon.

That figure is $82,250 above January 2021’s median price of $328,750, according to the Register of Deeds.

That’s not the only record set with regard to real estate transactions, either.

According to the Wake County Register of Deeds, the total sale volume of the 21 properties in Wake County that sold for more than $30 million, called the “very-high value segment,” was $1.3 billion, surpassing the prior record, set in July 2021 when 12 transactions totaling nearly $1 billion occurred.

Yet that’s not all.

Another new record was set in the “high value segment” of the real estate market, as well, which according to the Register of Deeds, includes properties that sold for above $1 million and below $30 million.  In this segment of the market, according to the Register of Deeds report, there were 250 transactions totaling over $991 million, which set the record.

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What are the record deals?

According to the Wake County Register of Deeds, each transaction in the “very high-value segment” is listed below:

  1. Triangle Factory Shops Mall 1001 Airport Blvd, Morrisville, NC: $181 million
  2. Hudson High House Apartments, Cary, NC: $93 million 
  3. Wal-Mart Store and Lot 13 Shiloh Crossing, Morrisville, NC: $88 million 
  4. The Riley Apartments, Raleigh, NC: $84 million 
  5. Braxton at Brier Creek Apartments, Raleigh, NC: $79 million 
  6. The Waterford Apartments, Morrisville, NC: $76 million 
  7. Foxwood Luxury Apartments – Bldg. 1, Raleigh, NC: $73 million 
  8. Beaver Creek Crossings Shopping Center, Apex, NC: $70.5 million
  9. 6401 Triangle Plantation Dr. (shopping center), Raleigh, NC: $58 million
  10. Regency Woods II Office Building, Cary, NC: $53 million
  11. Concord Apartments, Raleigh, NC: $53 million
  12. Capital Creek at Heritage Apartments, Wake Forest, NC: $52 million 
  13. Foxwood Luxury Apartments – Phase 2 Bldg. 9, Raleigh, NC: $52 million
  14. Brentmoor Apartments, Raleigh, NC: $52 million
  15. Palisades Business Park, Raleigh, NC: $48 million 
  16. 52 North (formerly One North Commerce Center), Raleigh, NC: $44 million
  17. Brier Creek Corporate Center – Parcel J., Raleigh, NC: $39 million 
  18. Oxford University Press – 0 Evans Rd & 2001 Evans Rd, Cary, NC: $38 million
  19. 604 Airport Blvd, Morrisville, NC: $36 million
  20. 3100 & 3128 Smoketree Ct, Raleigh, NC: $35.5 million
  21. Carolina Place (office building), Raleigh, NC: $32.5 million
So what’s happening?

First, residential property appears to remain in high demand, while inventory (or the availability of new homes or existing homes being listed for sale) remains near all-time lows, and the median sale price of homes sold continues to increase across the region.

Multiple real estate agents told WRAL TechWire in interviews conducted in 2021 that the Triangle is experiencing an extreme seller’s market, as buyers are facing competition.  And, a Zillow forecast is predicting that home values may continue to increase in the region, projecting the Raleigh metropolitan statistical area, which includes Wake County, Johnston County, and Franklin County, to see a nearly 24% increase in home values between November 2021 and November 2022, enough to place the region third on the real estate company’s list of hottest markets for 2022.

Second, investors are seeking to deploy a record amount of capital.  That trend has been observed in the world of venture capital, with a near doubling of investment in U.S.-based, venture-backed startup companies in 2021 than the prior record, set in 2020.

Investors are also interested in real estate, noted Brian Leary, the COO of Highwoods Properties, in an interview with WRAL TechWire earlier this month.

And Raleigh and the Triangle are receiving “tons” of interest, said Leary.

“What is occurring, is that typically, in previous recessions in the last 100 years, investment activity retreated to the gateway markets,” said Leary.  Those include markets such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, according to a recent research paper from Joseph Pagliari Jr., Ph.D., a clinical professor of real estate at the University of Chicago, which Leary referenced in the conversation with WRAL TechWire.

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“This recession is completely different,” said Leary.  “All the investment dollars retreated from the gateway markets.”

Instead, investors experienced the events of 2020 differently, and one result is that investors began to seek investments in markets beyond those traditionally considered to be “recession-proof,” said Leary.

“When you start thinking about an investor, in what’s called a balanced portfolio, an investor wants to spread their money around,” said Leary.  It turned out that investors began to understand that other areas of the country may present less risky, thus potentially better, investments.

“Rent is much less here,” said Leary, of the Triangle area, though he noted that he, and also investors, are aware that median rental rates are increasing.

“Investors want growth,” said Leary.  “And investors don’t want risk,” he added.  “These secondary and tertiary markets actually have less risk.”

That’s leading investors to acquire property in the Triangle.  The region’s growth in the life sciences is strong, and attracting investment.  So, too, is the population and job growth in the region, which is attracting investment in multifamily commercial properties, said Leary.

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“We are a very fast-growing, high tech region, and if you compare us to competitive high-tech regions throughout the country, including Seattle, Denver, Austin, Boston,” said Sig Hutchison, chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, in a conversation with WRAL TechWire in December.  “Our rates are still affordable, and this is causing so many companies to consider locating here, and that is contributing to housing price appreciation.”

That’s leading, potentially, to a housing affordability crisis, added Hutchison.  A Wake County statement issued in December noted that 25% of Wake County residents struggle to find and afford homes in the county.  An infographic from the North Carolina Housing Coalition puts that measure at 26%, and notes that while 17% of owner households struggle to afford housing costs, 42% of renter households are cost-burdened, meaning that 30% or more of household income is spent on rent and utilities.

Cost-of-living ‘crisis’: 25% struggle to find, afford homes in Wake County