Home Sweet Cary Home

It’s no surprise why so many people across the nation continue to relocate here — Cary and surrounding Western Wake towns offer the complete package. Great weather, beautiful landscapes, superior schools, state-of-the-art health care, stable employment, affordable housing — the list goes on.

Dodson Family

“Figuratively and literally, it’s a breath of fresh air,” said Dan Dodson, who just made the move from Chatham, N.J., which is about 25 miles west of lower Manhattan, N.Y., to the Cary Park neighborhood with his wife, Daphne, and their two kids. The Dodsons visited years ago when Daphne’s sister moved to Cary and immediately fell in love.

“We’re impressed by all of it. Weather was a big driver for my sister and parents, so we’ve been jealous of that since they moved,” she said. “We love the local dining and are impressed by the diversity. The schools are some of the best in the nation at the collegiate level, and this ripples to the high school and primary grades, too.”

Once a family member moves to the area, it appears more soon follow. That was the case for Christian and Marcela Muller from Long Island, N.Y. For the past 20 years, they have been visiting family in the Triangle, and they finally made the move to Apex in March.

“We love the climate here, with shorter winters. Spring comes earlier and fall lasts longer, yet you still get some snow (but not too much),” Christian said. “Another part of our logic is that most New Yorkers have friends or family in Florida, and you still know people in New York, so North Carolina is conveniently located in the middle.”

Dodson Family

It’s the quality of life, Southern hospitality and access to conveniences like shopping, airport and recreation that have made an impression on many who relocate to the Triangle.

“We love the small-town feel, the rural areas outside of town, yet we are still close to the action, the landscape, the proximity to the lakes and the people,” Christian said. “Generally speaking, most everyone you meet is friendly and helpful.”

The Mullers admitted that the tough economy made the move financially risky, but the payoff was worth it.

“I left a good job in corporate finance consulting and Marcela is an architect and an interior designer, which the whole industry is still hurting to this day,” Christian said. “Now that I have found steady employment at a great company — Burt’s Bees — and have a beautiful house with gorgeous property, life is great!”

The Dodson family faced a different hurdle. They sold their home in December and planned to relocate to the Triangle area immediately, but couldn’t find a home they liked so they opted for a six-month lease, hoping by the spring there would be more inventory.

According to Stacey Anfindsen, editor of the Triangle Area Residential Realty, inventory of homes for sale has been slim and is on the upswing. Inventory for Cary, Morrisville and Apex homes for sale during the first quarter of 2010 has increased by 4 percent compared with the first quarter of 2009. More importantly, new home construction permits are up 167 percent in Apex, 86 percent in Cary and 19 percent in Morrisville.

Homebuyer traffic is up and showing signs of life with the Cary area having the most activity in the first quarter of 2010.

“There were 29,679 showings during the first quarter in combined areas. This was a 51 percent increase from the 19,677 showings logged during the fourth quarter of last year,” Anfindsen said. “Preston was the most shown development, followed by Cary Park and Lochmere.”

The Dodsons found their dream home in Cary Park, and the neighborhood’s attention to detail makes it the place they plan to retire.

“The walking trail was a big draw for my husband and I, and our children our excited about the pool,” Daphne said. “It’s an exciting new start for us. My husband and I hope this is the final move we will make, and really hope our kids love the area enough to settle here when they are adults.

“We couldn’t see ourselves living into our golden years in N.J., but Cary seems like the perfect place to raise a family and grow old together.”

Carolyn Sloop, vice president of market growth and a development consultant with Wachovia Wells Fargo, helps company hires relocate to the Triangle and offers them banking services. She is seeing a trend with individuals from Florida, California and New York moving here for work.

“More people are renting, especially if they are having difficulty selling their home and becoming more familiar with the area before they buy,” she said.

Sloop says the biggest motivator for moving to the area remains the quality of life in the Triangle. “It really is the best place to live,” she said.

Forbes.com ranked the Triangle third on its list of metropolitan areas ripe for business. Higher education opportunities, economic and population growth, income and employment rates determined the nationwide rankings. According to Forbes.com, income dropped in the Triangle yet we maintain maintained a low cost of living. The Triangle’s “cost of doing business,” an index based on cost of labor, energy, taxes and office space, is among the lowest in the nation.

Good business in our area also translates into good financing options available to consumers. John Askew, a Wells Fargo home mortgage manager for the Triangle office , is seeing a healthy acceleration of purchase transactions in local mortgages, and although there are not as many products available as there once were to people looking to buy a home, Askew said there are still strong mortgage choices. Even for those with credit challenges, Askew says they are still able to borrow money.

“The availability of financing is good for consumers like FHA, VA, fixed and adjustable rate mortgages,” he said. “The key is matching the consumer with the most appropriate lending. Unemployment is better than state and national levels. Cary/Raleigh outperforms by everybody’s public measure. Why wouldn’t people want to live here?”

Thanks to the extension of the $8,000 tax credit to first-time homebuyers to April 30, Askew said there was a larger application volume. The question is will there be a corresponding dip because demand was so high in April?

Carolyn Beggs, chief operating officer of Local Market Monitor, which analyzes conditions in 100 U.S. markets and uses economic data like home values, employment growth and population growth to assess real estate market risk, says the Cary/Raleigh real estate market is poised to do well compared to the rest of the nation.

Raleigh/Cary is 5 percent overpriced, which Beggs said is considered a balanced healthy market and a safe investment compared with Florida and California markets, which are 100 percent overpriced. Usually 15 percent is the marker for imbalance

The 12-month home values peaked in the third quarter of 2008 and are down by 4 percent, mostly driven by unemployment, but Beggs doesn’t expect to see it continuing beyond that. “As employment eases, home values will go up,” she said.

According to the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, employment was down by 46,435 in 2009, but investments were up a record $1.9 billion by relocating companies, which created more than 10,000 new jobs.

Charles A. Hayes, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, provided an update on the economic health and competitiveness of the region and the results of its economic development strategy at the seventh annual State of the Research Triangle Region event.

“The difference for our region is that, even during this time of global recession, a record number of companies are choosing to invest here to build their future,” Hayes said. “We’re encouraged by the diversity of companies announcing expansion plans and delighted at the prospect of new jobs being created for our citizens.”

Through the first quarter of 2010, companies in life sciences, technology, defense and other industries have announced more than $93 million in investments for projects that will create another 1,000 jobs during the next few years. In addition, regional economic developers are now working with 58 companies that seek a location for their investments. These companies represent more than $2.7 billion in investment and 13,000 jobs.
Airlines that serve Raleigh-Durham International Airport expanded service to several key locations for the region’s business travelers this spring. Midwest added service to Milwaukee in April, JetBlue added two flights to Boston and Southwest added St. Louis service, both in May. Delta plans to add service to LAX in June.

Expanding air service was the No. 1 priority identified by companies in the region in 2004, when RTRP launched its first five-year strategic plan. It calls for creating 100,000 jobs in the region and boosting employment in all 13 counties by July 2014 using a three-part strategy of business growth, product development and regional collaboration.

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