I am thrilled to bring to you an interview with Chuck from RTown Living. Chuck is on the pulse of everything from living, playing, eating, and working in Downtown Raleigh. Thanks Chuck for your insight and knowledge; I am proud to call Raleigh home. Now…let me turn it over to Chuck.
DLL: Describe the Raleigh Lifestyle.
RTown Living: The Raleigh Lifestyle, to me, is an interesting mix of cultures. With so many different people moving here every day from other areas it’s created an awesome mixture of a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The biggest contradiction is the struggle between the “old South” and the “big city North” which leads to some pretty great aspects of small town America as well as the luxuries of larger metropolitan areas. The Raleigh lifestyle caters to everybody. It’s calm, it’s polite, it’s Southern! But it’s exciting, changing every day, and a wealth of opportunity. We have the beach a few hours East and the mountains a few hours West. We have a climate that gives us the best of both worlds. Hot summers at the beach, warm falls perfect for college football tailgating, a snow flurry here and there in the winter….and perfect springs. The lifestyle of downtown is amazing and has something for everybody.
Here is the ice skating rink down at City Plaza.
DLL: What sort of transformations have you seen Raleigh go through in the past 15 years?
RTown Living:How about 15 months….or weeks. Raleigh is changing almost every day. And it has to. I’ve heard estimates of over 100 families moving here every day and reports that our population is expected to double in the next 15 years making us one of the fastest growing cities in America. With all that, change has to come. We’ve seen the city government take a proactive role in creating a safer and more desirable downtown area complete with shopping, culture, history, parks, museums and much, much more. We’ve seen a shift to a more eco-friendly city with the addition of the RLine, green restaurants like Spize Cafe, the Raleigh Rickshaws and soon to come bicycle kiosks.
There is now free Wi-Fi downtown and a City Plaza complete with an ice skating rink in the winter. We’ve seen an exciting change in that recent grads from our top universities in the area are now calling Raleigh and the triangle home instead of moving to bigger cities. Our work force is stronger and now smarter. A smarter workforce leads to a more educated community and therefore a more progressive and educated consumer. And possibly the biggest or at least the tallest transformation is that downtown Raleigh now has an abundance of condo and high rise living. I can’t think of a better view than the one from the roof top pool and BBQ area of the RBC Plaza. It’s amazing.
DLL: Why is downtown Raleigh the place to live instead of a community like Cary or Apex or for that matter another big city like Charlotte, Philadelphia or Baltimore?
RTown Living:Well, it may not be the place to live for everybody but I find it very desirable and exciting. And I moved here from Baltimore! I guess others are thinking the same thing as recently we are seeing a bit of a shift in where people want to live. Many young people seem to be waiting longer to “settle down” and want to be near the excitement that a downtown area brings. Many “older” people, empty nesters or retirees are downsizing to smaller, more convenient homes and neighborhoods like downtown Raleigh as well. The 90’s and 2000’s were all about MORE, MORE, MORE, and recently we’re seeing those same people give that up for smaller, urban communities. As our property values and appreciation rates in Raleigh stay conservative and consistent, we will continue to see people relocating from the larger, overgrown, possibly less stable cities like Charlotte, Philadelphia and Baltimore. I think there will always be a market for areas like Cary and Apex. People can move there from other areas and get so much more for their money, however, the shift we are seeing not only in Raleigh but on a national level, is a shift back to urban areas. As Raleigh’s ITB and downtown area continue to develop, there will be more and more of the consumer who wants to be near the action moving in.
DLL: For new home owners looking to find a place of their own, what are three factors you suggest they keep in mind when looking, if they want to consider the downtown area as their new backyard?
RTown Living:I can only pick 3? Wow. There is A LOT that goes into home-ownership and I always recommend taking it slow and working with somebody that you trust…especially if it’s your first time. I guess that’s #1. I’ve come across many people, my younger self included, that after reading a book or two felt they knew everything about buying real estate and we didn’t. So take it slow and talk with somebody in the business that’s educated and professional and above all…you like and trust. Buying a home is often the biggest financial asset a person takes on and you need to work with somebody that is looking out for your best interests.
Number 2…focus on your lifestyle. You want to live near certain things that fit into your lifestyle. Whether it be nightlife, restaurants, walking trails, shopping, dog parks, and a million more. Also, and maybe more importantly, the spending habits of your lifestyle is something people don’t pay enough attention to. If you absolutely do not cook and you eat out 21 times a week…you don’t want to start looking at homes a little out of your comfort level price range and say “umm…if I stop eating out and learn to cook then I can afford this house.” NO! You won’t. Don’t do it you’ll only be miserable and you find yourself in financial trouble soon.
And number 3…know why you are buying the home and what your plans for the future are. That seems a little weird and maybe simple but it’s so true. People buy homes for many different reasons ranging from buying your dream home, to finding your starter home to buying an investment. Even first timers need to think about this. That will help you narrow down what neighborhood you will want to be in and there are many different areas of downtown all with different “feels” and appreciation potential. Each neighborhood is it’s own community with different amenities, different appreciation rates and different styles of homes.
DLL: Your thoughts and 2010 projections on the real estate market in Raleigh.
RTown Living:My thoughts and projections are positive for our market. I can’t help but be excited about the direction we are headed. The first time home-buyer tax credit was huge and helped a lot of people get into their first home. We’ll see a little bit of a slow down now from the mad dash to get under contract on a home before April 30 but it will pick up again. We are so lucky to live in an area like Raleigh and The Triangle and to have not been so badly affected by the housing market downturn as many areas in the country. With our conservative average appreciation here we’ve avoided, for the most part, the huge crash. We’ve seen days on market increase but sales prices remain fairly consistent through much of the recession. Of course, if you bought a home in the last two or three years you may be in a different situation as you most likely bought at the top of the market. But moving forward, our showings are up, our year over year sales are up and we’re leading the way out of the recession. It’s a great time to be in Raleigh and it’s a great time to buy a home.
images. 1. Unkown, 2. Raleigh Connoisseur, 3.-5. Raleigh Convention Center, 6. Forbes