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'It’s the time of highest need': Residents face housing shortage, rising prices


A home for sale sign stands on East Patterson Place in Chapel Hill on Nov. 10, 2022. Chapel Hill needs more housing as interest rates and housing prices are increasing.

Chapel Hill residents are having a difficult time finding housing as interest rates and home prices continue to rise. 

Since 2017, the average rent in Chapel Hill has increased by 37 percent, according to the Town of Chapel Hill's 2022 Affordable Housing Annual Report.

Michele Burris, the managing broker and owner of Local Market Realty in Chapel Hill, said the demand for housing in Chapel Hill outpaces the supply. More people are moving to Chapel Hill which increases the demand for housing, she said, but new construction cannot keep up with the growth. 

Burris added that there are a number of things that make residents nervous about the housing climate. 

“What I’m seeing right now is basically we have buyers who are anxious and worried about the interest rate hikes, along with stock market instability and the election instability,” she said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, interest rates were low. Burris explained that people often raised the price of their houses because the interest rates were so low.

After the height of the pandemic, Joan Mueller, a real estate agent and broker in Raleigh and Durham said more people realized the flexibility of remote work. People also moved to be closer to family and to have space to work from home, she said. 

“That was what was really pushing the demand of real estate,” she said, “coupled with the fact that rates were truly changed,” she added. 

Muller added that it is a lot more expensive to buy a house this year in the Triangle because interest rates have gone from around 2 percent to around 7 percent.

“The rates are, in reality, they’re double what they were last spring,” she said. “So that’s a significant jump in a monthly payment which is a tough pill to swallow for many of us,” she added. 

Daniele Berman, manager of communications and marketing at Community Home Trust, echoed Burris's sentiments, saying there is more demand for housing in Chapel Hill and Carrboro than supply, especially when it comes to affordable housing. 

The CHT is a community land trust that works to provide permanently affordable housing opportunities primarily in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, she said. 

The organization also administers the City of Durham’s Down Payment Assistance Program, which supports buyers in the private market in Durham. 

The CHT has a waitlist for purchasing homes of around 300 people and sells around 20 homes per year, Berman said. 

“So you can imagine how long that waitlist is compared to what we’re able to provide,” she said. 

She added that the CHT has around 50 rental units and a waitlist of around 100 to 200 people for renting those units. 

“It feels like, across the board, people who are looking for affordable housing are stuck waiting for a really long time,” she said. 

Emily Holt, affordable housing development officer for the Town of Chapel Hill, said Chapel Hill needs more housing. She said she hasn't seen this significant of a housing shortage since she moved to Chapel Hill.

“It’s the time of highest need,” she said. 

Holt noted that rent prices as well as homelessness rates are going up. If people are displaced from their homes, there is often nowhere for people to go, she said. 

The Town of Chapel Hill has allocated funds to local organizations to improve affordable housing in the area. Local nonprofits like the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service also work to provide housing, food and financial resources for people who might be unhoused due to rising prices or other difficulties.

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Holt said she is managing affordable housing projects with the Town, but the rising construction costs and interest rates are "crippling." 

@DTHCityState | 

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