By Sarah Krueger, WRAL reporter
Durham, N.C. — Apartments, condos and homes are springing up around downtown Durham, but it is still not enough to keep up with demand.
New numbers from the city show that 4,015 new housing units, including single-family homes, duplexes and apartments, were built in 2016 while 4,316 new units were build were built in 2017.
Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said 20 new residents are moving to the city every day, adding up to about 7,000 people each year. He said the city has more people moving in, per capita, than all but three other cities in the country.
“I think Raleigh and Chapel Hill have always been established as what they are. I think Durham has always had this maybe negative connotation. I think that’s changing dramatically. People are wanting to move to this area,” Realtor Jeff Goldman said.
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By comparison, the city of Raleigh, which is larger, added about 3,400 residential units in 2016 and about 3,350 residential units last year.
Goldman believes the demand for housing in Durham, especially in the downtown area, still outweighs the supply, which is driving up prices. New homes in the downtown area can sell for more than $300 per square foot, which would be more than $500,000 for a 1,700 square foot home.
“A few years ago, $200 a square foot was kind of the benchmark. That’d be a pretty expensive home and, already, we’re breaching the $300 a square foot mark,” he said.
Despite climbing prices, Goldman said many homes sell almost immediately after being placed on the market.
“I think, in general, most homes are selling in the first weekend they’re listed,” he said.
Sarah Francis relocated to Durham from Baltimore and said she had to act quickly to get a home with a view of downtown Durham.
“Everyone kept saying ‘Oh, you’re moving to North Carolina, the real estate is going to be so much less expensive there,’ and it’s not. Not in this area,” Francis said.
Francis and her husband are empty nesters and said that while they lived in the suburbs while their children grew up, it is now worth it to pay more to be close to the downtown area.
“We were attracted to the idea of being walking distance from shops, restaurants, the action and activity downtown rather than being out in the suburbs,” she said.
City officials said they do not have an estimate yet for how many new residential units will be built in 2018, but with skyscrapers like the One City Center on the horizon, Schewel guessed the number will likely be higher than the previous two years.
Even though the building is still under construction, every unit in the One City Center has already been sold at prices ranging from $630,000 to $1.8 million, according to developers.
Schewel also reiterated that although there are many luxury units under construction and recently opened, the city has a strong commitment to affordable housing.
City officials said non-residential development is growing as well, with 137 units built in 2016 and 124 built in 2017.