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North Carolina is one of those rare states that possess the sheer beauty of both the mountains and the coast. With the majestic peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains rising to the west, the state’s topography gradually smoothes into rolling foothills, and finally concludes with smooth, white, sandy beaches in the east. This gradual change of scenery allows the state to be neatly divided into three different regions: the mountains (western) region, the Piedmont (central) region, and the coastal (eastern) region.
Home to over 120 different species of trees, fall foliage in North Carolina, particularly in the mountains and Piedmont regions is a spectacular sight, bursting with glowing oranges, yellows, and reds. The state boasts roughly 300 miles of Atlantic coastline, more than any other eastern state with the exception of Florida. With its ten national parks and over forty state parks and recreation areas, the state has become a haven for outdoor sportsmen, thanks to the diverse geography and wide variety of activities available. It is easy enough to enjoy hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, kayaking, and skiing at different times of the year throughout the state.
Whatever your preferred hobby, chances are there’s a place for it in North Carolina. Are you a history buff? In the mountains, the cultural heritage of the Cherokee Nation is preserved at Oconaluftee Indian Village. Down by the sea, North Carolina celebrates its lauded status as “First in Flight” at the Wright Brothers’ Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, and across the state, you can visit various Civil War battlefields and sites.
If sports are more your style, North Carolina is home to some 550 golf courses. Pinehurst, a golf course that dates back to 1895, holds the lauded title of “The Home of American Golf.”
Aside from its natural beauty and stunning vistas, North Carolina is also an economic powerhouse. With low corporate taxes and a relatively low cost of living, the state hosts the headquarters of 14 Fortune 500 and 26 Fortune 1000 companies. Key industries include animal processing and manufacturing, business and financial services, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and plastics and chemicals. Well-known companies like Tyson, Microsoft, Merck, and Dow all have a large presence in the state.
Thanks to North Carolina’s rich history, pretty much every style of architecture from the late 1700s onward can be found throughout the state. The clean, symmetrical, and sometimes austere Georgian and Federalist styles of architecture that were popular from the late 1770s into the early 1800s are best exemplified by the John Wright Stanly House (Georgian) and Mulberry Hill (Federalist). Both sites require a trip to New Bern on the coast.
In the mid-1800s, as the trends shifted to more imposing and decorative styles like Greek Revival and Gothic Revival, the state of North Carolina continued to grow and expand. As a result, many government buildings were erected in these more elegant designs. Excellent examples include the Christ Episcopal Church (Gothic Revival) and the North Carolina State Capitol Building (Greek Revival), both in Raleigh.
Of course, it’s impossible to touch on architecture in North Carolina without mentioning the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Constructed in the late 1800s in the lavish and ornate Châteuaesque style, the mansion was originally the country home in the Blue Ridge Mountains for George Vanderbilt and his family but is now open to the public as a museum. It’s considered America’s largest home, clocking in at a whopping 175,000 square feet with 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms.
However, today, when it comes to the average person and current home trends in North Carolina, styles like contemporary, ranch-style, and farmhouse reign supreme. But like most places, homes in North Carolina come in a variety of styles and sizes. What you will find is an emphasis on outdoor spaces, which makes sense in a beautiful state like North Carolina. Realm’s data analysis found over the past year, the two most popular North Carolina home features were decks (which were mentioned in 39,025 real estate listings) and fences (mentioned in 37,668 listings). This is great news for first-time homeowners eager to swap their cramped apartment balcony with more spacious outdoor options.
Additionally, if wall-to-wall carpet makes you cringe, you can rest easy knowing that Realm found that wood floors were the third most popular feature, appearing in 26,567 North Carolina housing market listings. It also looks like maintenance and upkeep are top of mind since Realm’s data show that a large amount of North Carolina homes have recently been painted and had roof work done. As always, do your research on properties you’re interested in, but it is comforting to know that many homes in North Carolina are staying up to date.
Despite its rich architectural history and plethora of historical buildings, Realm’s data analysis revealed that most homes in North Carolina were constructed in 2006. Although this is still a relatively youthful housing market, it is worth noting that these houses are starting to approach their 15- or 20-year construction date. This means major items like the HVAC system, water heater, or roofing might need replacing.
Houses from 2006 were built amid a boom, just before the Great Recession. This means that rushed construction or bad building practices due to supply constraints are a possibility. North Carolina is a buyer beware state — meaning sellers can opt out of key disclosures about their home, like prior damage from house fires or water leaks. So make sure to get a thorough inspection before you commit. (Fun fact: sellers also don’t have to share if the home is haunted!)
Even if your property has no structural issues or significant problems uncovered during inspection, the interior of homes from the early 2000s can look a little bit dated to today’s homeowners. If everything is great, but you don’t love the kitchen’s color scheme, Realm’s free dashboard can help you figure out how much a kitchen renovation would cost, as well as what value it may add to the property.
Though it’s important to know the general history of your potential house, homeowners in North Carolina can rest easy knowing that natural disasters are not a common occurrence for the average homeowner. Realm found that 96% of all North Carolina homes are not in a flood zone, and 99.98% of homes are outside of a wildfire perimeter that has occurred in the last five years. Basically, floods and fires are not among your utmost concerns as a potential homeowner in North Carolina.
Is North Carolina good for real estate?
In short, yes. North Carolina is home to three of the nation’s top real estate markets at this time. The cities of Durham and Cary have been named among the best midsize cities, while Raleigh is considered a top large city in which to buy. These rankings take into account certain real estate factors like projected home values, time spent on the housing market, new building projects, and the region’s affordability and economic environment.
Is North Carolina a buyer beware state?
Yes. This means you must find out the state of the property before you buy it. The quality is not guaranteed and you bear the responsibility for discovering the property’s condition. Inspections are crucial!
Where is the cheapest place to buy a house in North Carolina?
Predictably, rural areas have cheaper pricing than their metropolitan counterparts. Sparsely populated counties like Graham County in the southwestern corner, Caswell County to the north, and Duplin County in the southeastern portion of the state have some of the lowest costs of living. However, for those who need city life, Raleigh has a cluster of affordable suburbs on its outskirts, giving homeowners easy access to the city’s amenities while not breaking the bank.
Are houses affordable in North Carolina?
Although largely considered an affordable market in the past, the Covid-19 pandemic has put a huge strain on the housing market across the United States and North Carolina is no exception. Prices are up in the state 15-20% with no end in sight. Rising housing prices coupled with general economic hardship are leading to an affordability crisis. Yet, compared to the rest of the nation, North Carolina remains a generally more affordable state, and the pricing in its larger metro areas, like Raleigh, is significantly better than comparable metro areas throughout the country.
We currently cover most standalone, single-family homes