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Raleigh Men Give Up Day Jobs To Go Back To the Future

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RALEIGH — One of the hottest real estate markets in the Triangle is inside Raleigh's Beltline. The boom is giving some people a chance to rebuild their careers.

Kent Zotter was a photographer for 25 years. Bert Banks was an accountant for 26 years. Both men gave up their day jobs to start a new construction company specializing in old-home renovation in Raleigh.

"It's just a change. Life's too short for me to do the same thing until I retire," says Zotter.

The men are concentrating their efforts inside the Beltline. Home prices there have gone up an average of 11 percent every year since 1992. Outside the Beltline, the rate is closer to 5 or 6 percent a year.

Realtors say older homes are part of the attraction.

"The older homes, the charm of the homes, the established neighborhoods, the gardens, everything," says realtor Chris Zetter. "It's just hard to find that in new construction."

Zotter and Banks are working on a two-bedroom house built in 1939. They bought it at a bargain and will add three bedrooms, a bath and a two-car garage. The list price for the completed house: $380,000.

The new builders say they are not just in it for the money.

"I keep thinking about the office," says Banks. "Then, I come back and realize, I'm not going back there anymore. It's a really nice feeling."

Zotter and Banks started their home-restoration business as a hobby in 1994. Friday was their first day doing it full-time.


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