Chris and Joscie Barnes are coming home to their native North Carolina after living for 30 years in Maryland, and explored several area towns with their real estate agent, Peggy Dixon.
“Cary clicked,” Joscie said. “It reminds us of Silver Springs, that feel of the city and proximity to things. It feels like home.”
On the Barneses’ wish list were a first-floor master suite and a backyard that didn’t overlook someone else’s. They also wanted a basement; Dixon says those are rare in our area due to high water tables.
When the couple couldn’t find their must-haves in existing home inventories they decided to build, and expect to close on their new home in late May.
While the transition to Cary has had its stresses, including a six-month period of living apart while Chris began a new job here, Joscie says it’s worth it.
“I’m very happy, because the house is the prize at the end,” she said.
Rapid real estate
Karen and Bernard “Sandy” Kromenacker had a seemingly simple wish list too, while searching for their new home: A first-floor master, easily maintainable and not too old, to avoid roof and HVAC worries.
But it took them year to find it, in Fuquay-Varina.
The process was “overwhelming,” Karen said. “The pace and the communications piece are much different than when we last moved 17 years ago. Instead of one phone call to answer all our questions, it was too easy to text and email all day long.”
In the end, “Fuquay-Varina is more affordable than Cary for what we wanted,” Karen said. In April, they moved into a 10-year-old home there which is lawn maintenance-free.
On the advice of their real estate agent Laura Moody, the couple waited to put their Cary house on the market until they’d found that new home. Good call — the Cary house sold within hours of being listed, and the Kromenackers closed on both houses on the same day.
What you can expect
Two families, two relocation stories. So what can you expect when it’s time to move?
Real estate agents Dixon, Moody and Renee Smith offer their professional advice.
Q: What are people looking for, overall, in a move?
Dixon: “The main thing people look for is good schools. Most of my relocating clients have children, and even for those who don’t, a home in a good school district means good resale value.
“Also, some families moving to the South worry they’ll have to give up activities they enjoyed in the bigger cities. They can move here and still enjoy great concerts, food, nightlife and professional sports, plus we have easy access to beautiful beaches and mountains.”
Moody: “We’ve had a lot of Georgia and Florida calls lately, and always Northern-area calls; they all talk about the schools first, and have questions about the homeschool network in Wake County. Climate is a big factor too. And many people come without jobs, knowing they’ll find them.”
Smith: “They’re seeking a lifestyle home. Community amenities, nearby conveniences and schools matter. Close proximity to the Research Triangle Park offering work opportunities, good hospital facilities, and a great public school system.”
Q: How do house hunters’ wish lists compare to market realities?
Dixon: “People want existing homes to be updated, but that’s not always the case. Many homes have older style appliances, flooring and bathrooms. There’s also more competition in older neighborhoods, since fewer houses come onto the market. So, many clients decide to focus on buying a home that’s in their desired location, and plan to remodel later.
“Others are looking for granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, a first-floor master bedroom and large master bath, and at least a two-car garage. Stone exteriors are popular in newer neighborhoods. A few expect to find larger lots here in the South, but that can mean an hour commute to the RTP. The completion of I-540 will reduce commute times and open up new options for families moving to the area.”
Moody: “We’re seeing a shortage of homes with first-floor masters — more expensive to build — and ranches, which are good for all ages. If the buyer desires at least a half-acre lot, they need to be looking at resale homes or be willing to locate a little outside the Triangle.
“Most buyers want their new home to be already updated, and are willing to pay for that: Wide plank floors, granite, stainless appliances, painted in the latest colors. Homes $250,000 and below are gone in a couple of days.”
Smith: “Under $450,000, buyers need to be ready and assertive. (People want) move-in ready condition, good location, usable yard area. Upgrades are preferred — modern cabinetry, lighting, flooring. Spacious open designs and smart home technology are appealing in newer homes. Yes, it’s all available, but … housing affordability is in the forefront of our thoughts as demand continues to spike and supply is low.”
Q: I can search for homes on the internet. Do I really need an agent?
Dixon: “Agents have access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to find listings that fit their clients’ needs. We also know the area very well and provide tours of different neighborhoods. This means families can avoid the frustration of driving around looking at homes that don’t meet their needs. And, we’re experienced in identifying issues with a property, such as a very steep driveway or property that backs up to a busy highway.”
Moody: “Home values on the internet are not accurate. We know our market and take the time to educate clients. Our market is moving very quickly, so you need a professional to achieve your goals and look out for your best interests.”
Q: What surprises might await house hunters?
Moody: “Some think we are still in a buyers’ market; they make low offers and lose houses. It takes time for buyers to understand and trust us for the quick decisions they have to make in today’s Triangle market.”
Q: Any more tips?
Dixon: “Buy a home that fits your lifestyle and budget. Explore various neighborhoods and surrounding shopping centers to get a feel for what it will be like to live here.”
Moody: “Go to each town, visit the chamber and get information. Go at lunchtime and dinnertime and at night, to get a feel for the community. Explore different neighborhoods, too. Then zero in on what you’re looking for.”
Peggy Dixon, Fonville Morisey Realty
Kildaire Farm Road, Cary
Laura Moody, Front Porch Realty
Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs
Renee Smith, CRS, Fonville Morisey Realty
Lochmere Office, Cary