Living in the Triangle: How to Buy a House in Cary, NC

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Located in the heart of North Carolina’s Triangle region, Cary is one of the fastest-growing towns in the South. With its robust blend of thriving businesses, countless outdoor recreation opportunities, and welcoming neighborhoods for everyone from singles to young families to retirees, it’s no wonder. Along with its small-town, friendly vibe, Cary’s plethora of amenities, top-notch educational system, and low crime rate consistently help earn this town accolades as one of the best places to live.

Cary has a booming culinary scene with more than 200 dining choices, such as Ashworth Drugs with its old-fashioned Coke floats, Pizzeria Faulisi with its Neapolitan-style pizza, and La Farm Bakery & Cafe with its artisan bread and European-style cafe. It’s also the home of the USA Baseball National Training Complex, the North Carolina Football Club, and the North Carolina Courage professional soccer teams.

The town is conveniently located within 20 minutes of such major universities as the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Duke University, as well as notable companies including SAS Institute Inc., Deutsche Bank, Verizon, and John Deere. This strong foundation contributes to the town’s average household income of $104,669.

Cary’s population has grown 25.4% during the last decade. And, not surprisingly, housing is in great demand here. So we talked with experts, including Move Safe™ Certified agent Thomas Wohl, to get the inside scoop and craft this guide on everything you need to know to buy a house in Cary.

A home you can buy in Cary.
Source (resized): (David Sawyer via Creative Commons Legal Code)

Start with your budget in Cary

If you want to buy a house in Cary, you need to start with a healthy budget. As of January 2021, the average home value in Cary is $356,400, which is 68% above the national average home price. For a majority of homeowners, property taxes fall in the $3,000 and higher range.

Know the factors affecting price

Because of the high demand for housing, Wohl says many home listings are receiving 10 or more offers regardless of age, location, or condition. Cary homes are staying on the market for an average of 61 days, with a majority selling at the same price as the listing price. That can make it tough to close on the house you want.

For those who want to negotiate the best price (and who doesn’t?), it’s important to work with a real estate agent who knows how to research the home and compete for the client, rather than just making an offer based on the listing price. “Buyers need to focus on a local expert who actually understands the negotiations and knows when to stop bidding as well as how to get a seller to choose your offer,” Wohl says.

Don’t skip the home inspection

Before you buy a house in Cary, you want to make sure to get a home inspection to help identify any potential problems. In addition to general home concerns, homebuyers in Cary need to watch for termite damage and the prevalence of radon, says Steve Sabol, a certified North Carolina home inspector and owner of Insight Home Inspections. He says new homes typically are treated for termites and come with a one-year warranty against damage, but still recommends you enlist the aid of a home inspector for new construction. “It’s important for anybody to get an inspector for a new home as well as an existing home,” he says.

In addition to “big-ticket items,” such as the foundation, roof, and electrical and plumbing systems, Sabol says home inspectors also should focus on “accessories,” such as the hot water heater or heating and air system. Inspectors also can identify potential issues not readily seen, such as possible water intrusion around windows or siding.

Look, too, for an experienced home inspector who knows how to spot costly hidden items. For example, in the 1980s and early 1990s, many builders used polybutylene plumbing pipes, which were prone to leaks or ruptures. While their use was discontinued, they still remain in many Cary homes. Sabol says it’s not a matter of if — but when — those pipes will leak, and replacing them can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000, depending on the home. Needless to say, identifying these pipes during a home inspection could save the buyer a lot of money.

Know the housing in Cary

When it comes to buying a house in Cary, today’s buyers are not looking for specific home styles such as Craftsman, Colonial, or French Tudor. Instead, they are searching for homes that appeal to their lifestyle.

As such, popular housing in Cary revolves around homes with an open floor plan, which is mostly standard in newer construction, but can be found in some older homes, too. Buyers also want modern kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, which can be found not only in new homes, but in older homes with upgraded spaces. As more buyers are working from home, even on a limited schedule, they also want homes with an office or a work area not only for their workspace, but also for the kids to do their schoolwork.

Cary breaks down into two major regions: West Cary and South Cary. West Cary has newer homes built within the last 10 years, while South Cary homes typically are older, dating back to 1996. Although there is some new construction in Cary, Wohl says it’s a very limited supply because developers are running out of land in town.

Throughout Cary, home choices range from condominiums to townhomes to single-family homes, all of which continue to be in high demand. And there’s no rhyme or reason for who is purchasing which style. Instead, it goes back to location.

A lake in Cary, where you can buy a house.
Source: (Tom Henell / Unsplash)

Get the lay of the land in Cary

The Lochmere neighborhood is one of the most sought-after areas in Cary. It has a housing mix of condos, townhomes, and single-family homes that are priced up to $1 million, and located along the community’s golf course, lakefront, and wooded settings. Residents can take advantage of a community swimming pool, tennis courts, private wooded trails, and community events. It’s also close to shopping, a farmers market, and the Koka Booth Amphitheatre.

Cary Park is perfect for those seeking a close-knit community. This diverse neighborhood touts a 28-acre lake surrounded by 2 miles of paved trails. The amenities and plenty of community events at the clubhouse give you plenty of opportunities to get to know your neighbors. Home choices include a mix of condos, apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes, ranging from $400,000 to $1 million. The variety of price points makes this area appealing for everyone from individuals to growing families.

StoneWater is in West Cary and has a housing mix of apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes that appeal to homebuyers looking for affordability. Townhome prices start in the low $200,000s, while single-family homes range between $400,000 and $650,000. Close to Research Triangle Park, StoneWater is convenient to major highways, high-ranked schools, and shopping hot spots.

Regardless of which neighborhood you select, you’ll find that access to the Triangle’s business hub, area airports, shopping, and dining are all within 20 minutes. Cary also is home to more than 30 public parks and natural areas, including a greenway system of more than 80 miles.

When to buy a house in Cary

Traditionally, spring has been a very popular time to purchase a home, with the weather improving and sellers preparing their homes for sale. While there may still be a peak in the spring, as of February 2021 sellers are no longer waiting to list their homes. “I really don’t see the seasonality of the market anymore, and the reason is because we have such a high demand to move to Cary,” Wohl says. “The market is active literally 24/7, 12 months out of the year.”

In fact, market trends show an increase in the number of buyers purchasing homes in September, October, and winter months.

Find a top buyer’s agent in Cary

Because the Cary market is so competitive, working with an experienced real estate agent will help you find your dream home at a price you can afford. They will help direct you to neighborhoods that fulfill your wish list, and help you avoid any difficulties in negotiating a fair price. Top real estate agents in Cary sell homes 100.7% faster than their competitors, closing out hundreds of transactions each year. Connect with a top agent today to buy a house in Cary you love and enjoy all this thriving city has to offer.

Header Image Source: (Farid Sani / Shutterstock)