10 things to know about Chatham County’s housing market

Posted 4/19/19

PITTSBORO — Amanda Hoyle, the regional director for Metrostudy Raleigh-Durham, says Chatham County’s housing market is, and has always been, “confusing.”

During a presentation Hoyle gave …

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10 things to know about Chatham County’s housing market

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PITTSBORO — Amanda Hoyle, the regional director for Metrostudy Raleigh-Durham, says Chatham County’s housing market is, and has always been, “confusing.”

During a presentation Hoyle gave to elected officials and community leaders at Chatham’s “all boards” meeting at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center April 11, she said that there’s been a shift in housing needs, that there are fewer new homes available than the needed supply and that families are choosing more to remodel than buy new.

“It’s been pretty evident lately that there’s a mind shift in how we’re prioritizing housing needs,” Hoyle said. “A lot of our potential home buyers are waiting on the sidelines.”

Hoyle also shared a presentation about the housing market in Chatham County and surrounding areas. All of the information was gathered by Metrostudy, a firm that describes itself as “the leading provider of primary and secondary market information to the housing and residential construction industry.”

Here’s a look at some of what she shared about Chatham County:

1. Single family permits are down 10.7 percent in Chatham County

Over the last year, Hoyle said, there were just 656 single-family home permits approved, a 10.7 percent drop from 2017. Multi-family home permits increased slightly, but the total of 700 housing permits in 2018 represented a 4.8 percent dip in total.

2. The rainfall total in Chatham was 92 percent above normal in 2018

One of the reasons for fewer permits, Hoyle said, is the increased amount of rain the area saw in 2018. Two hurricanes and significant snow helped increased the year’s rainfall to 60.1 inches, which Hoyle said was 92 percent over the historical average. September saw eight inches, while November brought 7.1 and December 6.2.

“Weather has not been a very good friend,” Hoyle said. “In many parts of our region, a good day of rain can shut down a construction site for about a week. Plus, it kept many of the potential buyers at home.”

3. 151 subdivisions in Chatham

Hoyle said there are 151 subdivisions built with new homes in the county. Of those, 18 are completely built-out with no more room for new houses, 57 are started with lots not finished and houses not being built and 76 are active, with homes in some point of construction. According to a graphic Hoyle showed, the majority of the subdivisions are located in the northeastern part of the county.

4. Chatham saw a 13.8 percent drop in new home closings

In 2017, there were 718 closings on homes in Chatham County. That number dropped to 621 last year, a 13.8 percent decrease.

Additionally, Chatham ranked as the only county participating in the Triangle J Council of Governments — which also includes Orange, Durham, Wake, Johnston, Lee and Moore counties — to see a dip in new home closings from 2017 to 2018. Orange County led the way percentage-wise with a 46.6 percent jump, while Lee County saw a 43.3 percent uptick and Wake County saw a 4.5 percent increase of 6,459 new closings.

5. The top 10 builders in Chatham construct 75 percent of market

Ten contracting companies are responsible for 75 percent of the new home closings in Chatham County. They’re topped by David Weekley, which does a lot of work in Briar Chapel, with 13.8 percent of the market, followed by Homes by Dickerson with 11.4 percent and Garman Homes/Fresh Paint with 10.6 percent. Hoyle said Chatham differs from the Triangle area in this regard, as the Triangle has more companies holding smaller shares of the market.

6. In Chatham, there’s a 34-month supply of vacant lots

Hoyle said the county has a total of just more than 34 months of vacant lots, higher than the annual starts of construction. But nearly 600 of them are in Chapel Ridge and Parks at Meadowview. Without them, the supply of vacant lots drops down to 22 months, closer to the annual starts.

7. Briar Chapel is the top community in the county in terms of starts, closings

The Briar Chapel neighborhood in northeast Chatham was the No. 1 community in the county last year in terms of closings and starts with a total of 500. Second was The Peninsula at Amberly in Cary with 85, third was Courtyards at O’Kelly Chapel in Cary with 79 and fourth was Woodhall in Apex with 74.

8. In Chatham, most homes started, sold are in $400-450K range

In 2018, 247 homes were started and 247 homes were closed on with a price of between $400,000 to $499,000. Hoyle said many of those homes were coming from the Briar Chapel area.

“It takes a certain kind of income to afford that,” she said. “For the most part, this is where most of your activity is. The reason why builders are building in that price point is because people are buying.”

9. Average home prices rising over last five years

In the Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Chatham County, the average price for a new home has risen 28 percent from 2013 to 2018, to $369,766. For an existing residence, the price has gone up 15 percent in that time frame, ending up last year at $275,927.

10. Chatham prices increasing by higher rate than RDU

From 2017 to 2018, the average price of an existing home in Chatham County jumped by 10.5 percent, higher than Raleigh/Durham’s 5.6 percent. The gap is similar for new homes, 10.3 percent in Chatham and 2.6 percent in RDU.

Hoyle said the numbers “can’t be good” for affordability in housing, particularly with uncertainty about mortgage rates and available product less than needed. But she said that she feels the Triangle is still “in good position” financially, even in the housing market where there’s a lot of uncertainty.

“We know we’ve had a pretty strong run in the last 9-10 years,” she said. “But none of us are fore sure what’s going to bring about an end or a slowdown to this cycle. But we’re pretty sure it’s not going to be the real estate market.”


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