10 Things That SURPRISE Home Buyers in North Carolina

These are 10 things that might surprise you if you're buying a house in North Carolina.The first thing that's going to surprise you about buying a house in North Carolina is that by and large the state is pretty rural. We're an agricultural state and there are definitely some big towns and big cities in the state. However, if you're just out in the countryside, you're going to find just that, countryside, which gives the state a lot of its character. We’re not this homogeneous and big city atmosphere. Within North Carolina there is lots of character and a lot of characters. If you're considering moving to a quieter part of the state or buy in a big city, and you want to relax for the weekend, there are plenty of small and rural towns in North Carolina to choose from.

 The first thing that surprises people about this rural atmosphere is the farmland. People who plan on moving to one of the big cities, like Raleigh. My team has lots of clients who want to come to Raleigh and they end up deciding to move to one of the smaller suburbs around Raleigh. These clients are surprised that a lot of the land that you see around those suburban areas is farmland. North Carolina is an agricultural state. It has been an agricultural state since before we become a colony. This means a lot of what you see is going to be farmland. This is something to prepare for. The other aspect of that on a statewide basis is all of the cities are not clumped together. You're going to have a lot of travel between the major areas. It is two hours from Raleigh to Wilmington and almost three hours from Raleigh to Charlotte. Be prepared that if you're moving to North Carolina, you’re not moving to one big, homogeneous, giant city. You are moving to an area that has a rural atmosphere.  

The next thing that might surprise you about buying a house in North Carolina is the missing sidewalks. We do have a good number of neighborhoods, especially inside the cities that have sidewalks. Be prepared that there's going to be a lot of neighborhoods around where there are no sidewalks. Streets with road and grass. This is generally in the rural areas.  We’ve shown $1,000,000 +  properties to folks who are coming into our area and they're been surprised that they're not getting the sidewalk, the curb and gutters. Again, plenty of neighborhoods do have sidewalks but know that if that is a big issue for you you want to let your agent know to be on the lookout for neighborhoods that have sidewalks, since not all of North Carolina has sidewalks.

 The next thing that might surprise you about buying a house in North Carolina there's not too many basements. Towards the mountains it's much more likely that you're going to find a basement. In Raleigh you're only looking at about 7% of the properties have basements. From Raleigh to the ocean, the soil is mostly sandy and because of that you are not going to find any basements. Be prepared if a basement is a must have and you're moving to Raleigh, you will need to hunt to find a basement. If you're moving to Winston-Salem, there is more of a chance of finding a basement. In Asheville or Boone or any of the mountain towns you’re definitely going to have an opportunity to find a basement. In Wilmington, Jacksonville, New Bern, Morehead City, or anywhere on the coast, you won’t find basements. The state does have what we like to call the basement in the sky, that is a bonus room. Many homes in North Carolina have second floor or third floor bonus rooms which take the place of a basement. 

The fourth thing you need to prepare yourself for if you're planning on buying a house in North Carolina is the relatively low property taxes. One of the mistakes people make when they move to North Carolina is that they budget for their $10,000, $20,000, $100,000 or $1,000,000 per year tax bill that they have in New York or California. This is not a thing in North Carolina. By and large in North Carolina you’re looking at somewhere around 1% in property taxes you pay per year. For a $300,000 house you're looking at $3,000. This 1% number is a statewide average. There are some areas where it's much lower than that. In areas like Chapel Hill and Durham you’re looking at like 1.2 %. It can vary but that gives you a good frame of reference. You won’t have to pay hundreds of thousand dollars annually in property taxes. 

Next thing that might surprise you when buying a house in North Carolina is in North Carolina we have a due diligence fee. This is a fee you pay directly to the seller. It is like an option fee to give you the ability to evaluate the house, do inspections and decide if you really want to own the house. If you decide you want to own the house and make it your forever home or your couple year home, the due diligence money that you've paid to the seller is going to go towards your down payment. However, if you decide not to buy the house, the seller gets to keep the money. You will have to find another house and they have to find another buyer. The due diligence fee is a statewide fee and statewide program. We’re only one of a couple states that have the due diligence fee. 

The due diligence fee is completely flexible. It can be as little as zero dollars, it can be $1. The average in the Raleigh area is somewhere between $5,000 and during the hot and heavy crazy days back a couple of years ago that number went up to a $100,000. As you can imagine, if you're putting a $100,000 in due diligence down on a house, it's likely you're not going to be getting out of that transaction. This is the amount some people had to put down to win the house. This was in multiple offer situations. Luckily, things have settled down. We are still seeing $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, $25,000 in range. We're not seeing the $100,000 range anymore. 

The sixth thing that might surprise you when buying a house in North Carolina is we have HOA’s or homeowners associations in many parts of the state. We have lots of clients who beg us to find them houses that do not have HOA’s. In North Carolina our HOA fees are pretty low. If you are in a detached, single family home neighborhood your HOA dues are anywhere between $30, $50 to maybe $200 a month. There will be some outliers, where you have HOA’s that are $0 even though they have an HOA or $500 even though they have an HOA. By and large it is not a significant amount of money. For a condominium or townhome project, where they have maintenance of the exterior,  the number might get up to $350 a month HOA’s in that scenario. You will not see $2,000 or $3,000 a month like you find in south Florida or New York. Be prepared that HOA's do not cost an arm and a leg, just like property taxes don’t cost an arm and a leg in North Carolina. Be prepared that those HOA’s are not going to micromanage you and tell you how to paint the interior of your house. This is not what they're there for. HOA’s are for maintain the exterior atmosphere of the neighborhood. They are meant to keep property values high. HOA’s are not busy bodies, bothering you to death. Again, not every neighborhood and not every town in North Carolina has HOA’s. HOA’s are more common in the bigger cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Greensboro and the surrounding suburbs of those areas. In smaller towns, in those neighborhoods, they’re probably going to be loosely organized and not have an HOA’s. HOA’s are not something you need to be afraid of if you're buying a home in North Carolina.

The next thing that might surprise you is when you're buying a home in North Carolina, we don't have title companies. Our team has people from all over the country and all over the world asking us and to help them buy a house. One of the first questions they ask is who's the title company? Who do we go through to get the title worked on? In North Carolina it's a little different, we’re an attorney state. This means the attorney does all the title work, they work with a title company to get everything done. You will have contact with a paralegal, not with a title company. This sounds like it would cost more money than title companies but based on what we’ve seen, title companies cost $3,000 to $4,000. Attorneys cost $900 and something, or in that range. The title work is an additional $500 for the insurance policy. In North Carolina know that there are no title companies. Be prepared to work with an attorney.

The eighth thing that might surprise you about moving to North Carolina is you can't always get a deal. People move all the time to the big cities. The Raleigh’s, Charlotte’s, Cary’s, Greensboro, Salem, Wilmington. They expect they're going to be able to come in and take advantage of a seller and get a deal because maybe their market where they're from is not as hot as they used to be. They transfer that concept and they think they're going to come down to North Carolina and get that smoking hot, amazing deal on a home. At the current time and it's been this way for the last four or five years, that's just not the case. There’s no smoking hot deals in North Carolina. We are consistently ranking at the very top of all of these lists for best states to move too. In North Carolina, we're not seeing desperate sellers. First off, inventory levels statewide have remained very low. This means there's not this glut of inventory on the market that would cause the seller to have multiple homes to compete with. Therefore most sellers are able to list their home for sale and wait a few days, a few weeks and then get their homes sold. Sellers are not having to slash the prices to get out. We are not seeing a lot of foreclosures in our state. Therefore that's not putting any downward pressure on prices. Due to supply being so low statewide, it is unlikely you're going to get a deal on a home. Our advice is if you're planning on looking for a deal is to find yourself a fixer-upper. In our area, most people want move-in ready homes and they don't want to hassle with the idea of repainting, putting in new countertops, ripping out bathrooms and kitchens. If you're able to do that and put in a little sweat equity, it’s possible you're going to find a home that's been on the market a while and that no one else can see past the chartreuse countertops. You will be able get that deal, if you are willing to redo the countertops, redo the cabinets and make your dream home out of this deal.

The next thing that might surprise you in North Carolina is screened in porches are very popular. Not all homes have them but if you've lived here, you know in North Carolina we have bugs, mosquitoes, flies. To be able to enjoy the outside you're going to want a screened in porch. This is where you have an overhang with screens on three sides or two sides. It allows you to use that space and be outside and get fresh air during most of the year. You are looking at approximately a month in the summer when it is 95 F where you won’t be able to use the screened in porch. It is highly recommended if you aren't able to buy a house that has a screen porch definitely try to buy a house that you can convert and put on a screened in porch. It will definitely be worth the money. It will become a space that you would enjoy. This is something that surprises a lot of people. Most people they have lanai's or no porch at all and they don't see the need because their weather is so temperate. We have bugs here just be prepared for it. 

The tenth and final thing that might surprise you about buying a home in North Carolina is we have a lot of new construction. If you're moving from an area that's mostly built out like Long Island. It is very difficult to find a new construction property, you might be surprised moving to North Carolina. You will find a lot of building happening. Even in the bigger cities like Raleigh and Charlotte. If you are looking for something less than a $1,000,000 in Raleigh and Charlotte you may need to look in some of the suburbs. For Raleigh you would look in Garner, Clayton, Fuquay-Varina, Youngsville, Franklinton, and possibly Wake Forest. You may have to drive a little further out to get that new construction if that's what you want. But if you are hoping for new construction, North Carolina is definitely a state to move to because we're a state that is fast growing and because we have so many people moving in we don't have the inventory of existing homes that would allow us to handle that supply of people coming in. The builders have to be building and they're building furiously to accommodate all of the newcomers that are moving in.

If you're considering a move either into or out of North Carolina our real estate team would love to be your agents of choice. Give us a call at 919-964-0474, email us at [email protected] or click here to fill out our contact request form. We'll be happy to help you out and get things started.

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