Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 10, 2023

How to Compare Homes in Different Metro Areas


List price by itself can be an ineffective or incomplete way of comparing homes in different metro areas. That holds even if you adjust list prices for the cost of living and the different salaries you might earn in various areas. When assessing properties, consider factors such as commuting distance and availability of amenities.

5 Metrics to Compare Homes in Different Areas

One critical factor is the expenses associated with that neighborhood or metro area. These are not always expenses tied to the cost of living.

1. Whether Your Expenses Will Be Higher or Lower

Some metro areas come with increased security risks. You might need to pay for a security system and shell out more money in car and home insurance rates in one area than in another. Other common areas in which expenses differ include taxes, gas, food, and even private school tuition.

2. Your Income

If you work for your company at a branch in a certain metro area, will your income differ from if you worked at a branch in another area? Many times, employees doing the same jobs in different cities get paid different salaries.

The difference might be enough to compensate for any higher expenses, but run the numbers to make sure. Ensure that you have a comfortable monthly budget for your new home and enough funds for a down payment.

3. Your Commute

What is the traffic like in one metro area versus another? Ideally, you’ll be able to test-drive your commute in each area a few times. Whether you are able to test-drive or not, it’s worth taking the time to research commutes, public transportation options, gas costs, and similar factors.

Keep in mind that commuting can get expensive with long trips, high gas costs, and vehicle wear and tear. If you are gone from home a lot, that can also decrease your quality of life. You have less time for personal activities.

In other words, a cheaper or bigger house farther out from your job could end up being a bad deal if it chews up your wallet and your free time. However, if you work from home as many people do, it could be the bargain of the century.

4. Amenities in the Area

Shopping malls, dog parks, and mental health resources are just a few of the essentials many people compare when exploring different metro areas. It can be worth paying more for a home with access to lots of amenities and resources.

Mental and emotional health issues are important, as is convenience. Sometimes, people move and find themselves isolated when a bit more research would have directed them to a different area.

5. Your Support System

Where do your trusted friends and family members live? Proximity to them could give one metro area an edge over another.

Let Real Estate Specialists Help

Real estate agents can be valuable sources of data and other information on properties in various metro areas. Get in touch today with Chapel Hill Realty Group at 919-740-0884 to find out more about houses and regions in North Carolina.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 14, 2022

Cash Out Refi vs. Home Equity Loan: What You Need to Know


Your home equity can give you cash when you need it for home improvement projects, paying down debt, and other purposes. A cash-out refinance and a home equity loan are common options for tapping into that equity, but they are not right for every homeowner. Here’s the scoop on a cash out refi vs. home equity loan.

Cash Out Refi vs. Home Equity Loan: Key Differences

Both a home equity loan and cash-out refinance have you borrowing against your home's equity. You put your home up as collateral and can avoid selling it to get the money you need. These are key similarities. Now for the differences.

  A home equity loan is a second loan in addition to your regular mortgage loan.

  This second loan has its own interest rates and terms different from the first loan.

  A cash-out refinance replaces your mortgage with a new loan.

  The refinance pays the balance on your old loan.

  It is called a "cash out" because the new loan is for the debt remaining on the first mortgage plus the amount of money you are cashing out from the home's equity.

Cash-Out Refinancing

Your cash-out refinance will likely come with an interest rate that differs from what you've had and a loan period of up to 30 years. Credit score requirements tend to be lower vs. home equity loans. That is because the financer on a home equity loan has secondary access to the home as collateral if the loan defaults. Primary access remains with the holder of the first mortgage.

Generally, you must have at least 20 percent equity or more in your home to qualify for a cash-out. This type of refinance gives you one loan, not two, to manage, so that is an advantage. Interest rates tend to be low, and you can qualify with a relatively low credit score.

On the con side, closing costs tend to be high, and the process of a new loan can take a bit of time. Your finances must be in good shape and include a low debt-to-income ratio.

Home Equity Loan

With a home equity loan, you borrow against the equity in your home. You may be able to borrow as much as 85 percent of the equity especially if you have sufficient income and a stellar credit history.

Home equity loan interest rates are lower than the rates with personal loans and credit cards. The equity interest rates tend to be fixed, and you can use the cash for practically any purpose. The monthly payments can be low if you have a longer repayment term but you're paying on this loan in addition to your first mortgage.

If the payment comes in a lump sum, you may end up with more cash than you needed for your purposes. If this happens, you can put that extra money toward repayment.

Your credit score must be good, but the closing costs tend to be pretty low or nonexistent. A home equity loan can be a smart decision if you find one at an interest rate quite a bit lower than your mortgage rate.

Home equity loans come in two types: traditional and HELOC (home equity line of credit). A traditional loan gives you a lump sum and has you make regular, fixed payments.

HELOCs take the form of revolving lines of credit. They function similarly to credit cards in that you get replenished credit when you repay your balance. Unlike with credit cards, you could lose your house if you fail to pay on your HELOC. You are able to borrow as little or as much money as you want during the draw period. That tends to last 10 years, then the 20-year repayment period begins.


Contact Chapel Hill Realty Group today at 919-740-0884 to discuss buying a new home and the associated loans or selling your home instead of getting a cash-out refi or home equity loan.

Posted in Market Updates
Nov. 9, 2022

Can You Trust Online Home Valuations?

Technology has had a profound impact on the real estate process. From viewing properties online to signing contracts electronically, technological advances have streamlined and improved many of the steps you once had to take.

Buyers can now access an incredible amount of information about potential properties from the comfort of their own homes. Sellers can list their homes quickly and easily and track the progress of their sales in real time. While the use of tech has made buying and selling property faster, easier, and more efficient than ever before, questions remain about the accuracy of automated home valuations. Consider some of the facts.

Algorithms Missing Exceptional Factors

It's no secret that home valuations can be tricky. Many factors go into determining the value of a home, from the location to the condition of the property. However, one of the biggest challenges in home valuation is taking into account all of the special features and remodels that a property may have. Computer algorithms often miss these crucial details and can focus on the wrong data or outcomes, leading to inaccurate valuation.

For example, let's say you have a home with a beautiful view of the mountains. This factor would likely add value to your property, but it's something that a computer algorithm might not consider. Similarly, if you've recently remodeled your kitchen or added a pool to your backyard, these improvements would boost your home's value but might not show up in the valuation. In other words, when it comes to valuing a home, remember that there's more to consider than just the basic facts. A professional opinion is always best if you're ever questioning a home valuation.

Programs Relying Too Much on Patterns

Computer algorithms may not always be accurate when valuing a home because automation often relies excessively on patterns to generate a value. However, many components can affect a home's value that patterns may not capture. For example, the condition of the house, the location, and the economy can all impact its value, meaning algorithms may sometimes make mistakes that an experienced realtor would not.

Another way online valuations can veer from reality is when the program uses averages of price per square foot for all homes in the same zip code to figure valuations. Neighborhoods and amenities can drastically alter the price of a property. The price for a gorgeous home next to a dilapidated lot will suffer, whereas the algorithm may over inflate the cost of the derelict property.

Computers also do a poorer job of understanding how world conditions can affect the real estate market. Supply chain issues and buyer demand can swing home prices in a short time. Interest rates affect buyers' willingness and ability to purchase homes. A seemingly minor adjustment in points can raise monthly payments by hundreds of dollars and put a house out of range.

Buyers and Sellers Have Access to Reliable Guidance

Navigating the real estate market to negotiate a fair price for your home requires skill and finesse. Online estimates can be a fine starting point, but buyers and sellers need the human touch for adequate assistance. 

Find reliable guidance through the process by reaching out to the top-notch team at Chapel Hill Realty Group at (919) 942-4149, today!

Posted in Market Updates
Oct. 17, 2022

3 Important But Subtle Factors in Pricing a House to Sell

Putting your house on the market is often an exciting time, but you may have some questions before the listing becomes official.

Determining the best price includes looking at your land and many other factors that can change as time goes on. In order to help evaluate what your home is worth, you should learn more about what influences the final price point.

1. Look Around

Taking notice of how similarly sized houses around you sell on the market can help you narrow your price point down to a better range. Finding a fair price can help you mentally prepare for what you may get from the sale and it can attract the attention of people searching for a specific kind of house or one that fits their budget.

Not only can you find tips on how to make the potential sale go smoothly, but you can also see what mistakes other similar sellers made and learn from them. Overpricing or underpricing your house can make it harder to sell when it is first put on the market. The longer a house is on the market, the more likely people will lose interest if it is not sold within a certain amount of time.

2. Remember the Details

It can be easy to think that everyone who enters your house sees the inherent value of it from just a glance. However, the way you arrange your furniture and how you choose to decorate the inside can make a big difference when it comes to how much people want to offer.

Staying aware of what looks old or used and replacing it, as well as choosing styles that look good or modern, can help potential buyers imagine living there. Keeping the areas clean and all the walls repaired and free of scuff marks may also benefit you.

3. Understand What People Want

Looking at where your house is and what most people on the market are looking for can help you better understand how valuable it is for potential buyers. The fixtures and luxury amenities that you picked out can mean a lot to you personally, but they may not make the house itself an attractive choice for some people.

Renovating large rooms like the master bedroom and kitchen can potentially make people more interested in placing an offer. The higher the number of people who show interest in looking at your house, the better.

If there are many similar houses available in your neighborhood at the same time as yours, then it may feel hard to stand out from the crowd. Choosing to make your price somewhere between two major groups of other houses could help others notice and consider your house as a possibility.

Find the Best Solution

As a seller, you may have questions and concerns about whether or not the price you choose is right for the house you're selling. If you're interested in moving to a new house, or you're just curious about what's out there, contacting Chapel Hill Realty Group at (919) 942-4149 may help you find a match.


Posted in Market Updates
Sept. 16, 2022

What To Consider When Purchasing Property for Your Custom Home

Having a custom home built can be exciting. It can feel like an opportunity to create your dream home. Often, finding the right property to build your house on is a significant part of making that dream come true. While it may be a straightforward process in some cases, in others it may be more complex. If you want to ensure that you are choosing the right property for you, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind.

Look at Location and Geography

One of the first things you need to think about when seeking a property is the location. Just because you have an acre of land does not necessarily mean that it will be an ideal location for building your home. There can be lots of different factors that could make a piece of land unsuitable for building. Not only that, but you will need to think about the geography of your location.

Whether your land is surrounded by woods or located near water, there can be things to keep in mind about the particular geography of the area. Things like wetlands can directly impact where you are able to build your house, so it is important to understand the terrain of your property and how it will affect the home-building process.

Think About Costs

While some may think that the costs of land end with the purchase price, the reality is that there can be many more costs beyond that. Often, there are many things that need to be done to get the land ready to build on, which can add up. Any kind of changes that need to be made to get land physically ready to build on can add up, as well as any legal costs that may be required in your area. Taking these kinds of costs into account when choosing land can help guide you in the direction that suits your budget.

Understand Utilities

Utilities are another important component of the home-building process. For example, if your home is being built on a plot of land in town, then the necessary connections may already be in place. However, if you are building a home in a more rural setting, then those connections may be a significant distance away. You may potentially need to have electric and gas lines run to the location where your home will be. Not only that, but you will also have to consider things like internet connection, as well as whether or not you will need a septic tank or a well. Even though these things may not seem like much, all of these utilities can add up, and can also take some time to get set up properly.

Final Words About Purchasing Property

Creating your dream custom home isn't just about finding the right blueprints, it is also about having the right property to build your home on. Taking the time to consider what you truly need can make a difference, as can talking to Chapel Hill Realty Group Give us a call at: (919) 740-0884, we’d love to help find you the perfect property for your dream home

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 25, 2022

Beyond the List Price: How Metro Area Impacts Your Home Buying Decision

Ownership costs are an important factor influencing your decision to buy a home. However, you must look beyond the price when picking your new residence. The metro area in which it is located also has a major impact on your finances, plus the overall quality of life. With all this in mind, how can you adequately compare homes in different cities, counties or even neighborhoods within the same city? This brief guide provides some insight, pointers and factors to consider when evaluating your home buying choices.

Research Area Home Prices 

You may be able to score your dream home at a great price, but what about the rest of the area? That price will certainly differ from prices for comparable homes within the same metro area. A two-bed two-bath 1,500-square-foot home in the Falconbridge neighborhood of Chapel Hill/Durham may sell for between $300K and $400K. Meanwhile, a similar house in Hillsborough could list for almost $700K.

Many factors can account for such differences. The Falconbridge house may be a townhome, while the home in Hillsborough might be a single-story ranch. Homes in the Hillsborough Historic West district can sometimes price higher depending on size, features and amenities. But you may not be able to discern all that information just from address and list price alone.

Compare With Homes in the Same District

Looking at homes in two different areas is one thing. Meanwhile, it's also important to look at a home's price when compared to others in the surrounding community. If the seller's offer is higher or lower than similar nearby homes, this may not be ideal. Higher-priced homes can be harder to sell later down the road. A lower-priced home is also a gamble: Will you see a decent ROI if you buy and upgrade it?

Look at Neighborhood Characteristics

We just saw how two homes with the same square footage, bedrooms and bathrooms can differ vastly in their selling prices. While floor plans and features can impact these prices, neighborhood characteristics definitely play a large role. Area demographics are a significant factor: gender, age, average incomes and population changes, to name a few. Baby Boomers who are aging in place can affect the number of properties available in a given area. Millennials with children may seek lower-priced homes.

Besides demographics, you should look at traditional indicators. The quality of nearby schools, green spaces, the walkability of the neighborhood, local culture and accessibility of goods and services all tie into resident satisfaction.

Consider Your Commute 

When looking at your home price, you should also consider the cost of commuting. Even if you find an excellent home at a reasonable price, it's not really a bargain if your transportation costs double or triple. They could eat up whatever money you save, making you question whether your move was worth the time, trouble and expense.

Life in your new home doesn't happen in a vacuum. When looking at its sticker price, you must consider other factors such as surrounding home prices, neighborhood amenities and your commute. Check out Chapel Hill Realty Group's available listings to start browsing and comparing now. Contact us online or at (919) 942-4149 today to tour your new home! 


Posted in Market Updates
July 25, 2022

Things to Think About Before Buying a Vacation Property

Buying a vacation home is a lifelong goal of many. If you have reached a point in your life where you are thinking about adding another property to your portfolio, don't let the excitement cloud your decision-making. A Chapel Hill Realty Group agent can be a steady guide to help you through the ups and downs of finding the right vacation property. Here are some things to narrow down your search on your vacation property. 


Can you afford a second home? If you can pay cash, this is the cheapest way to purchase a property. However, if you're not in the position to pay cash, obtaining a mortgage will cost you extra money in interest every month. It may also be difficult to secure financing if you don't have the right debt-to-income ratio that lenders require. Moreover, the cost of owning a second property is more than just a mortgage payment. You should also consider the cost of insurance, utilities and maintenance. Once you've determined your ability to cover the bills and other expenses, you can start thinking about your intentions for your new home.


Are you planning on using this property as a vacation spot for yourself and your family? Do you want to switch things up and live in the new vacation home as your primary residence? If you will only be using the space for a short time each year, you may even want to rent it out to generate helpful income. It's important to decide now how you want to use the property because this information may alter your decisions when it comes to things like the number of bedrooms, property type (single-family detached home, townhome, condo, etc.) and location.


Often, buyers find that they don't choose a location for their vacation property, the location chooses them. If you've looked at a property in a place that feels uncomfortable to you, keep looking elsewhere. The best spot for a vacation home is somewhere you and your loved ones feel safe, relaxed and comfortable. Are you looking for seclusion and peace? Consider homes that are off the beaten path. Is convenience a priority? Pay close attention to the restaurants and stores nearby, especially if you plan to rent out your place.

If you're ready to start your search for a vacation property, Chapel Hill Realty Group has agents available to help you find a location that fits your budget and suits your needs. Call us at (919) 942-4149 or contact us online today to get paired with an agent. We can't wait to help you find the vacation property of your dreams!

Posted in Market Updates
June 27, 2022

5 Signs It’s Time to Downsize

For many homeowners, downsizing can offer several key advantages. Here are some reasons why it may make sense to sell a home and move somewhere smaller or more affordable.

1. Local Market Trends

As the character and demographics of locales change over time, property with a modest value can go on to appreciate by double digit percentages. If your local market has seen a higher demand for housing and you have observed that listing prices and closings are much greater than what you are accustomed to seeing, it could be an opportune time to take advantage of the gap up in value.

2. Too Much House

The cost of maintaining a large property can be substantial. Heating and cooling alone can represent a significant part of a household budget. Square footage is typically a big factor for expenses such as property taxes or HOA and condo fees. As family dynamics change, it may make sense for people to change their living situation.

3. Retirement Planning 

A lot of homeowners can find themselves running behind on saving for retirement, after putting a lot of equity in their homes and keeping up with the ongoing increase in the cost of living. Nationwide Real Estate tends to be a fairly safe investment when compared with other types of investing opportunities, but having too much of your total equity in your home could prevent you from generating better returns with your personal net worth. Selling your home to allocate some of your wealth in a diverse portfolio of interests could prove to be advantageous for your financial future and help stay on track to reach your retirement savings goals.

4. Equity Issues

When mortgage payments become burdensome, it is important for homeowners to do everything that they can to avoid a default. Nonpayment can cause them to lose their existing equity in a home. Rather than risking a default or refinancing and widening a debt-to-equity ratio, selling could be the best course of action.

5. Capital Needs Concerns

Needing to take on home repairs that represent a serious financial hardship may make selling your home the right option. A home that needs major improvements will not command as high of a sale value as a home that does not need any work at all. However, a lot of buyers are willing to take on a fixer-upper if it has other desirable features.

Knowledgeable brokers can help homeowners evaluate their options. Contact Chapel Hill Realty Group online, or call (919) 942-4149 today to receive professional insight about listing your home for sale.


Posted in Market Updates
May 26, 2022

5 Housing Trends for 2022

The social upheaval of the last few years due to the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the U.S. housing market in a number of ways. Mortgage rates dropped dramatically while home values climbed. After record-breaking home sales in 2020 and 2021, the market is poised to settle a bit in 2022. Here are five predictions of what the next year can hold.


1. Rise in Mortgage Rates

Covid knocked mortgage rates into the basement in 2020, with the average 30-year loan rate dropping to a record low of 2.93%. With rising inflation and consumer spending, mortgage rates are rising and expected to continue. At the start of 2022, experts predicted 30-year loan rates would reach 4% by year-end, but the increase has outpaced initial projections and has already topped 5%. However, the housing market is historically very resilient to rate hikes. In the past, housing sales continued strong even with rising mortgage rates.

2. Plateau in Home Values

Home prices rose sharply over the last two years. The median price of houses sold in March 2020 was $280,700. This increased 29% to $362,800 by June 2021. While there is nothing to support the housing bubble bursting at this time, the rapid rise in prices should slow in 2022. Home prices are predicted to rise 2.8% over the next year, which is a significantly lower rise than the increase seen over the last few years. This is good news for buyers, who can look forward to home values within their pay ranges and the prospect of house shopping without bidding wars.

3. Lowered Vigor of iBuyers

The pandemic offered the perfect environment for instant buyers like Offerpad, Opendoor, and Zillow Offers, who routinely paid higher than market price for properties. As the market settles down a bit in 2022, iBuyers will continue pursuing properties, but their offers will be less generous and much closer to market value.

4. Continued Affordability Issues

The National Association of Home Builders reports the median price of all homes sold in the U.S. as $355,000 in mid-2021, up from $320,000 in late 2020. These prices are unaffordable for nearly half of the families earning an average level of income in this country.

5. People Move From Cities To The Suburbs

Ever since the rage of the Covid-19 pandemic, people have been migrating from major cities to the suburbs. The largest metro areas such as New York City and San Francisco are expected to recover, however the trend of opting out of big city living is expected to continue for the next 3-5 years. Two reasons for this are necessity and choice; the middle and lower classes are being pushed out of cities due to rising costs and job losses, while the upper class are relocating by choice. The suburbs are also an attractive option due to lower-priced housing and lower taxes. 


The housing market has been volatile over the past few years, but 2022 looks toward leveling out. If you are in the market to buy or sell, contact our Chapel Hill Realty Specialists online, or call (919) 942-4149 for assistance in navigating the year’s new trends.

Posted in Market Updates
April 27, 2022

Staging Your Home for Selling Success

Home staging is like a secret weapon when it comes to selling homes, and real estate agents understand that buyers must be able to imagine themselves living in and enjoying a house in order to make an offer. This is an easier task to accomplish with skilled staging. If you don’t have the budget for a professional stager, here are some tips to help you make the most out of a do-it-yourself approach.


This is arguably the most important part of preparing your home for tours and open houses. You don’t want potential buyers to be thinking about how much cleaning they’ll have to do if they buy your place. Your house should be attractive and inviting. Scrub, dust, wipe and sweep away any mess that could make potential buyers think twice about purchasing your home.


In terms of importance when staging, right behind cleaning is decluttering. Too many objects on the kitchen counter will make counter space seem sparse. Clothes and miscellany piled up on beds and other flat surfaces might give the impression there isn’t enough storage space. Overall, clutter scattered throughout your house will detract from the home itself, and potential buyers will have a harder time envisioning themselves living there.


Sometimes the best layout for living in and using a room is not the most visually appealing. When preparing to sell your home, take a step back and look at each room from an aesthetic perspective. Is your living room or bedroom layout functional but unattractive? The goal is not practicality. Instead, think about form over function when staging your home.

You don’t always need to buy new furniture or décor. You can use what you have but in a different way. Try flipping the living room sofa to face the other direction, pulling furniture away from the wall, or rotating chairs around the room until you land on the ideal placement.


Plants work wonders for the ambiance of any room. Adding greenery to a bookshelf, tabletop, or corner brings visual interest and a homey feeling to the space. Don’t forget to consider your exterior spaces, too. Make sure your front yard is neatly landscaped, as this is the first impression potential buyers will have of your home. A good backyard can be a selling point, so make the most of what your property offers by making it presentable and giving viewers a glimpse at what their life could be like in the home.

Chapel Hill Realty Group knows that successful home staging can make a big difference for both buyers and sellers. Contact us online or call (919) 942-4149 today to find out how we can help you prepare your home.

Posted in Market Updates