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High Housing Costs Causes Many to Commute

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Compared to many of the country's major cities, Raleigh's homes are more expensive.
RALEIGH — Pricey homes and bad rush hour traffic are both becoming big problems inthe Triangle. Many young professionals have discovered they can't affordto 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 Knightdaleto his North Raleigh job. His average drive time is 30 minutes. He'dlike to live closer to work, but home prices steered him and his wife awayfrom the big city three years ago.

Some realtors say this example is typical. You have two new homes, one inCary, 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 inRaleigh Tuesday. Each group offered ideas for cutting building costs,offering more creative financing arrangements and responding to an obviousmarket demand.

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

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

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

According to Caldwell Banker Real Estate, Raleigh's housing prices arehigh 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 inAtlanta. Beverly Hills had the highest average cost, at about $750,000dollars. 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 likeDenver, Miami, Indianapolis, and Dallas.