The New Normal: Houses Available to Buy Reach All Time Lows

December 4, 2023

With remote work surging, the Raleigh-Durham Triangle area is seeing droves of new residents seeking affordable homes, driving a low-inventory market.

While this may come as a surprise to absolutely no-one, the Triangle has seen a drastic increase in new home ownership.

"Home sales rose nearly 11 percent across the state in 2020, while median prices climbed almost 10 percent. In the Triangle, sales were up by 9 percent over 2019, with median prices rising more than 6 percent, to $295,000." — WRAL

People are realizing they can get much more house for a more affordable mortgage. This is especially important because spending time (between work and recreation) at home has become the top priority.

If you're going to be spending a majority of your life in your home, wouldn't you want to be comfortable?

Residents in densely-populated states are seeing the appeal of moving to areas that are quieter, have less traffic, or offer more livable space within their homes.

More People Can Work From Home

  • The Triangle area has had a big increase in new homeowners.
  • People realize they can get a much bigger house for a lower mortgage payment here.
  • Spending more time at home has become very important for many people.
  • If you're going to spend most of your time at home, you probably want to be comfortable there.


People From Big Cities are Moving Here

  • People from crowded states are interested in moving to Raleigh-Durham.
  • They like that it's quieter, less traffic, and more space in their homes.
  • Many people are moving here to raise families and work remotely.
  • News reports show this is happening in many counties in the area.

Record Low Inventories = Current Price Crunch

People are flocking to North Carolina to settle for the quieter life to raise their families and work from home.

Local news reports show much of the same sentiment no matter which county.

From Dunn to Wake Forest, Pittsboro to Chapel Hill, the markets are as hot as ever.

"Researched migration trends to prove that point. According to mover United Van Lines, 60 percent of the moves in North Carolina were made by people moving into the state, which is the sixth-highest inbound percentage in the country." — WRAL

  • In Wake County, sales were up 6.8 percent, and prices were up 7.1 percent.
  • In Durham County, sales jumped 4.2, percent, and prices rose 6.7 percent.
  • Johnston County experienced a 14.5 percent increase in sales and a 6.4 percent increase in prices.
  • Despite sales dropping 2.2 percent in Orange County, the median price went up more than 4 percent.
  • Cumberland County had the biggest winners among home sellers, with sales up 13 percent and prices up 12 percent.
  • All statistics provided courtesy of

Between record-low interest rates & record-low inventories, we're experiencing a 'crunch' of prices being driven up across North Carolina, especially areas adjacent to Raleigh / the Research Triangle. Listings have been in short supply across the Triangle since mid-last year.

Low Inventory Equals High Prices

  • People are flocking to North Carolina for the quieter lifestyle.
  • From Dunn to Chapel Hill, the housing markets are very competitive.
  • Record-low interest rates plus record-low inventory is driving prices up.
  • Listings have been low across the Triangle since last year.

Why Inventory is So Low

  • Some mortgage programs delayed foreclosures during the pandemic.
  • But many of those programs end this summer.
  • Hopefully more homes can then go on the market.

There are a few reasons for inventory reaching these record lows, the most notable being mortgage memorandums that allowed those effected by the pandemic to not have to worry about foreclosure. However, many of these programs end in the summer. The hope is that more homes will be able to go up for sale to keep up with demand.

One of the simple responses to this problem is, "why can't we build more houses?"

To that, there is an even more concerning answer...

Building Costs, Lumber, & Worries of Inflation

Lumber shows absolutely no signs of slowing its dramatic increase of pricing over the last year, leaving some builders concerned for their developments.


Consider this stat: Lumber prices have risen by 130 percent since before the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes for an estimated $24,000 difference in the cost of a newly constructed single-family home, per data from the National Association of Home Builders. As of press time, the average lumber price is $1,372 per 1,000 board feet. — Popular Mechanics

We wrote about rising building costs in December 2020, but are only now seeing the effects of this continuing crunch caused by the lockdowns & supply chain problems.

Perhaps there will be some relief in the near future. But as it looks now, the Triangle is going to have a red-hot market for the foreseeable future.

Why Building Costs and Lumber Prices Are Very High

  • Lumber prices have dramatically increased over the past year.
  • Some builders are worried about finishing housing developments.
  • Rising building costs started in late 2020 due to the pandemic.
  • Prices may improve soon but the Triangle will likely stay hot.

Final Thoughts from Tim

As a real estate agent with over 17 years of experience in the Triangle area, I've helped hundreds of families find their perfect home.

This competitive market may seem daunting to prospective buyers, but with an expert agent guiding you, the process can be smooth and successful.

My team and I are deeply knowledgeable about all the communities in the region, from up-and-coming hot spots to established neighborhoods.

We use that insider understanding to match each client with their ideal area and home.

I recommend being pre-approved for a mortgage before beginning your search. This shows sellers you are serious and ready to move quickly.

Also be prepared to act decisively when you find “the one”- make a strong offer, waive contingencies if possible, and move rapidly through inspections.

In multiple offer situations, accompanying your offer with a heartfelt letter to the seller explaining why you love their home can help your bid stand out.

With low inventory, flexibility on timing and willingness to look beyond superficial flaws is key. An experienced local agent like myself knows all the tricks to make your offer appealing and competitive.

I look forward to helping you accomplish the dream of homeownership here in the Triangle!


Why are so many people moving to the Triangle area?

More remote work and appealing lifestyle at lower cost than big cities. For a more in depth explanation, click here.

What cities make up the Triangle area?

Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill plus surrounding cities.

How competitive is the housing market right now?

Extremely competitive with bidding wars on many homes.

How low is the real estate inventory?

Inventory is at record lows, with buyer demand exceeding available homes for sale.

Why is lumber so expensive right now?

Lumber prices have risen dramatically due to supply chain issues and shortages.

How long will housing prices keep rising?

Prices will likely keep rising in the near future with high demand and low mortgage rates.

Is it better to buy or rent right now?

Buying can be a good investment given rising prices, but renting provides more flexibility.

Are new constructions or resale homes better?

New construction is scarce but avoids bidding wars; resale has more options.

Should I waive contingencies on my offer?

Waiving contingencies can make your offer more appealing but also riskier.

How can I make my offer stand out?

Quick response, personalized letter, flexibility, strong deposit amount.

To understand more about how to make your offer stand out, click here!

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

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