Local News

High Housing Costs Causes Many to Commute

Posted December 16, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Pricey homes and bad rush hour traffic are both becoming big problems in the Triangle. Many young professionals have discovered they can't afford to live close to their jobs in the city. Tuesday, Raleigh leaders, lenders and home builders looked for ways to solve that dilemma.

James Ellidge uses some shortcuts to commute from his home south of Knightdale to his North Raleigh job. His average drive time is 30 minutes. He'd like to live closer to work, but home prices steered him and his wife away from the big city three years ago.

Some realtors say this example is typical. You have two new homes, one in Cary, the other in Knightdale. They are similar in size. but the Cary home is $20,000 dollars more.

Builders, lenders and local government leaders discussed the problem in Raleigh Tuesday. Each group offered ideas for cutting building costs, offering more creative financing arrangements and responding to an obvious market demand.

"Is there a market within our cities for affordable housing?" asks Wake County Commissioner Yvonne Brannon, "and what we're finding out is there is a tremendous need. There is a demand."

Some builders say they're willing to settle for smaller profit margins to attract people back to the city. They say local governments can also do their part to lower costs.

Jeff Fike hopes they'll take the sting out of some of the sewer tap fees and water tap fees-- all of which might take the sting out of James Ellidge's morning commute.

According to Caldwell Banker Real Estate, Raleigh's housing prices are high compared to other bigger cities.

A four bedroom family home in Raleigh costs an average of $173,000 dollars. That's more than $13,000 dollars more for the same house in Atlanta. Beverly Hills had the highest average cost, at about $750,000 dollars. Oklahoma City had the lowest price of the surveyed cities at $96,000 dollars.

For the record, Raleigh's housing costs are also well above cities like Denver, Miami, Indianapolis, and Dallas.