The Best City-Center Real Estate in North Carolina for Millennials

Michael Chase Pell
Mar 10, 2017 · 4 min read

You are getting older. It’s time to settle down. Why not get that mortgage and a home? Oh right, down payments. You have student loans and no savings. Well, we should not rent forever. Plus costs in the nice city-centers where we want to live are only going to increase. Being able to walk to the bars is worth it.

According to this article the median millennial net worth is about $10k. That won’t make for a very good down payment. Let us imagine we can double that and get to $20k. 5% down mortgages do exist but you will end up paying tons more in interest. 20% down mortgages are ideal but then we can only afford a $100k home. 10% down seems like a good middle ground because it puts our target home price at $200k. Let’s see what we can buy.

Median Home Value in the City-Center

First a quick explanation of the method and purpose behind this analysis. We are looking at a 2-mile radius around what Google believes to be the central point of the city. My numbers are not going to be the same numbers you might find for a specific zip code, city limit or county. My goal is to investigate the numbers within the city-center not in the suburbs of the city.

Next, we are looking at the median. That means half of the actual numbers are below and the other half above. My goal is to give a good general picture of what you might expect for each city-center. Finally, there are many more factors to be considered when making such an important decision that are not represented here.

Raleigh

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The Raleigh city-center’s median home value at $280k is out of our $200k budget. Lets look at Greensboro, Wilmington, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and Durham.

Greensboro

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Wilmington

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Charlotte

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Chapel Hill

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Durham

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We can rule out Chapel Hill with nearly a $360k median home price, as well as Raleigh at $280k. We are still left with a handful of great options: Durham at $170k and rising fast, Charlotte at $240k (though recently well above $300k), and then Greensboro and Wilmington both coming in around $165k with decent looking growth rates.

Median Household Income in the City-Center

Now that we have looked at Median Home Value and ruled out Raleigh and Chapel Hill, lets take a look at Median Household Income with our 4 remaining cities.

Charlotte

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Durham

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Greensboro

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Wilmington

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The numbers show a clear winner for median household income. Wilmington and Greensboro both seem to have taken big hits during the recession and have not seen much recovery. Durham is seemingly on the up-and-up but is not on Charlotte’s level. Charlotte city-center’s median household income is about double the other three contenders.

Conclusion

As much as I hate it, I am going to name Charlotte as the best bet for a millennial to buy a home in a city-center in North Carolina. The prices are relatively close to our $200k target, within reach if you can scrape together $5k. Additionally, there seems to be no income growth slowdown due to the recession unlike practically everywhere else in the state. I want to add a note that back in 2010 the city-center’s prices were much higher. That could be a sign that you need to buy now before the market rebounds.

You can use Microcensus to make your own simple location analysis and see all sorts of different reports including population growth, education and other demographics.

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