That’s a fact that may surprise people shopping for a more affordable home outside the core of Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Chapel Hill.
“The market will continue to grow and be strong because people are moving for jobs as well as an amazing quality of life,” said Vanessa Jenkins, executive vice president of Preston Development Company in an interview with WRAL TechWire this week. “Without the economic positives our market could be more susceptible to a holding pattern.”
So, what’s happening in Chatham County’s real estate market? The chart above visualizes the data from Triangle MLS, Inc, using a three-month rolling average for each data point, comparing Chatham, Wake, Durham and Orange counties, with regard to the median home sale price.
Digging into data
The most recent TMLS data shows that the median home sale price in Chatham County was $650,000 in July 2022, up 16.1% from a year ago, when it was $560,000. Year-to-date, the median price of a home in Chatham County is $610,000, up 22.2% from the 2021 median.
Compare that to Wake County, where the median home sale price in July 2022 was $489,930, and the median home sale price thus far in 2022 is $470,000, up 23.7% from the prior year.
Home prices are going up across the Triangle. But why are homes in Chatham County more expensive?
A part of the story is that there are, on the whole, fewer homes in Chatham County than in either Durham County or Wake County.
The latest available data from ATTOM Data Solutions shows that while Chatham County’s population is about 76,000, there are only about 34,000 housing units. That’s about 2.2 people for every available home. In Wake County, there are 462,582 housing units and a population of more than 1.1 million people, or about 2.4 people for every home.
And with fewer homes, fewer homes will be sold.
For instance, through July 2022, there have only been 765 real estate transactions in Chatham County this year. In Wake County, there have been 11,520 real estate transactions through July 2022 this year.
“Chatham County has a lot of luxury home communities with large lots that drive the average price up for new and resale homes,” said Jenkins. “Lot size historically has been driven by municipal ordinances for larger lots that accommodate septic systems or community septic.”
Role of VinFast
Automotive manufacturer VinFast is set to invest billions of dollars and plans to employ more than 7,500 workers in Chatham County. Expect that to be another driver of home prices, but that’s not necessarily bad news for buyers.
“The current labor market cannot fulfill what VinFast and Toyota will demand,” said Jenkins. “Staffing the facilities will create the need for new housing, services, etc. as the market experiences an in-migration for the emerging economic opportunities.”
So what could happen is this: more housing developments. Which could actually reduce the median home sale price, over time, as more housing units would be added to Chatham County and surrounding communities.
“More demand will equate to more housing communities in all of the surrounding markets,” said Jenkins.
Where people live
So while there are existing communities like Briar Chapel, Chapel Ridge, Governors Club, and Fearrington, said Jenkins, there are also new projects that are being approved and moving forward in the county.
Take Chatham Park. Jenkins said 7.5% of homes in Chatham Park will be “affordable” based on housing costs and median family incomes. And Chatham Park will also have about 25% of its overall housing units as properties that are available to rent.
That is important, because right now, said Jenkins, the rental market is “woefully underserved.” Those that are available are fully leased, and there’s just not enough housing options available, said Jenkins.
“With the availability of sewer, more communities can be developed to provide a broader spectrum of homes for the entire workforce,” said Jenkins. “Slightly smaller homes that cost less will become an option. A major part of the equation for affordability will be apartments and (homes) built for rent.”