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Raleigh, NC: A City Where Your Paycheck Stretches Farthest

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Interested in making sure that a large portion of the money you make stays with you and isn’t lost to cost of living? You might want to look into moving to a city like Raleigh, NC, which came in number 25 on the list of 25 Cities Where Your Paycheck Stretches the Farthest.

Stretching your paycheck is a major concern for many looking to live in a cosmopolitan urban sprawl. To showcase cities where paychecks make up a bigger portion of median home costs (usually the largest expense folks have to deal with in their lives), jobs and salary information site,, released a study of the most economical cities to live in.

25. Raleigh, NC
Cost of Living Ratio: 30%
Median Base Salary: $62,000

For information on apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Grove.


Raleigh, NC: A Great Place to Rent!

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

If you’re looking to move someplace adventurous but aren’t quite ready to settle down and buy a house, then it’s time to choose a great new city where apartment rent happens to be cheap.

And whoa, do we have a some stellar options for you.

Real estate site Housely recently did some research on large U.S. cities (aka cities with more than 200,000 residents) with the cheapest apartment rents. They used data from search engine RentJungle, which updates a database of more than 700,000 listings daily to draw conclusions about rental trends over time.

The Housely findings reveal good news: Many of our favorite under-the-radar cities to visit are also incredibly affordable to live in (Hellooo, Richmond), along with some unexpected picks that are spectacular, too (Hey Las Vegas!).  If you feel like making a move, then it just may be time to make one of these cities your new home. Check out Housely’s 10 big cities with low rent below:

Raleigh, NC
Average rent for one-bedroom apartments: $915
Average rent for two-bedroom apartments: $1,113

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Grove.


Is the American Dream Really an Illusion? - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 04, 2016

There is a great illusion when it comes to real estate. This illusion is that owning your home is an investment.

  • When you own real estate and use it to generate monthly income…it is an investment.
  • When you buy real estate and develop it to sell for a profit…it is an investment.
  • When you buy real estate to live in…it not an investment. It is a personal expense.

Where did this idea come from that every American should own their home?

Actually it is possible that Fannie Mae came up with the “American Dream” idea as part of a marketing campaign that everyone should own their own home. Great idea on their part if they really did come up with it

Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

Most people believe that owning a home should be considered an investment. Some go as far to become “house poor” so that they can leverage themselves into a bigger home. This does not seem wise.

There is also a social stigma to being an renter vs. an owner. If you are an owner, you are perceived as being more well off. But are you?

You need to know whether it is cheaper to rent or own in each U.S. city. It is not as clear cut as you might think. It is not always cheaper to own than rent. There are a number of variables to consider, many of which are not often discussed

Regardless of whether you are looking to rent or buy a home then there are a number of factors that you should consider. Here are a few considerations to look at.

Pros and Cons of Whether to Rent or Own a Home

The best way to look at this question of whether to rent or buy a home, is to look at the positive aspects, negative aspects, figure out what is important to you, and then run the numbers to see which is the more financially responsible approach.

What are the positive aspects of buying a home?

  • Sense of ownership: Most people who own their home appreciate the ability to do what they want to their home.
  • Sense of accomplishment: Keeping up with the Joneses is subconsciously important to many people. Being a homeowner brings with it a level of cache and respect with your peers.
  • Capital appreciation:  Home prices have gone up substantially over the past 60+ years. They have been a great hedge against inflation.
  • More choices: While it would be nice to think that you can find any home you want whether you are renting or buying, it just isn’t the case. There are more homes for sale than there are for rent when it comes to single family homes.
What are the negative aspects of buying a house?
  • Illiquidity: A house is an illiquid asset. This means that if you want to sell it, it could take you a month or more than a year to sell it. If you have to relocate to another area, this can make it a bit of a challenge for you. You may even have to heavily discount your asking price to move it quickly.
  • Prices don’t always go up: As we saw in 2007–2010, home prices don’t always go up. When you are buying an expensive asset with leverage, you better hope that prices continue to go up. Otherwise you might be “underwater” on your home equity.
  • Large down payment: It will require a large down payment to buy a home. Not everyone has enough capital to put down a 20% down payment.
  • Costs of ownership: While many people calculate the costs of ownership as mortgage payments, taxes, and insurance, they typically miss a few other items that can add up. Things such as: maintenance costs, landscaping, furnishings, HOA fees, and renovation costs. I will discuss these in the next post of this series.
  • Being “house poor”: Many homeowners stretch financially to buy a house. This puts them in a dangerous position if their financial situation suddenly changes.

What are the positive aspects of renting a home?

  • Mobility: You have the freedom to move anytime you want. While your lease agreement will dictate the terms of your moving out, if you need to relocate you can do it on a short notice.
  • No maintenance costs: Owning a home costs money. The periodic maintenance can be expensive. The house may need to have a new exterior siding, new roof, other other expensive replacements. As a renter you will not be responsible for these costs.
  • Monthly costs: While it will depend on where you live and how much the house costs, but in many cases it is cheaper to rent than to own.
  • No down payment needed: Owning a home requires a down payment; renting does not.

What are the negative aspects of renting a home?

  • Fewer choices: The choices are more narrow for renters.
  • Inflexible ability to “make it yours”: Most landlords do not want the renters to do renovations. This can restrict your ability to fully enjoy your home or make it feel like it is yours.
  • No capital appreciation: If you rent a home for 20 years you will miss out on the potential capital appreciation of the property. This is not a guarantee that appreciation will happen, but if history is a guide then you should consider this.

How Can You Decide?

The best way to decide is to consider each one of these above pros and cons of whether to own or rent a home. How important is it that you have a feeling of ownership, or to make changes to the house? Do you think the prices of real estate are going up or down? What will happen with inflation? These are important questions.

For more information on renting an apartment in Raleigh, NC contact Auston Grove.


Benefits of Buying or Renting - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This is an increasingly common question. Most families think that rent money is “thrown away.” This belief is often quite wrong.

When you add up the cost of owning a property is at least eight percent of the total cost of the home. This is true regardless of whether you pay cash or finance the entire amount (if you use your own cash, there is an “opportunity cost” of not having it invested and making money elsewhere). One way or the other, you are laying out thousands a year to live in a house you own.

From a strictly financial viewpoint, if the cost to rent is less than the cost to own, renting is just fine. If you can rent that half million dollar house for twenty five hundred dollars a month (thirty thousand a year), you can assume the owner is paying you ten thousand a year to live in their residence.

A girl in New York City who is paying $2,400 in rent for an apartment that sells for over $800,000. That is a rental bargain.

What are the downsides of renting? Well, if the rental cost is more than ownership, it might be better to own (not always, see below). If you don’t want to take the chance of being forced to move, then renting may not be for you. Renters lose out on the appreciation of home prices. But we’ve seen over the last decade that residential real estate tends to be a lousy investment (even over the long run). Another downside is that rents tend to increase every year, whereas technically a mortgage should not. However, many mortgages do indeed increase in cost with inflation and time, and the other costs associated with ownership (repairs, maintenance, insurance, property taxes) inexorably rise.

What are the upsides of renting? Certainly the financial advantage discussed above. Another reason is that it gives you the flexibility of living in an area without being tied down. It is not unusual at all for a family to decide to live in a different town or at least a different area of a town after first moving there. Consider the value of calling the landlord when something is broken as another powerful incentive to rent instead of own.

The point is that we should not reflexively think that renting is a mistake. For many, it makes great sense. For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC contact Auston Grove.


Renting is Cheaper In Major U.S. Markets! – Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Despite historic-low mortgage rates, it's still cheaper to rent than own in most major U.S. cities. Low inventory, foreign investors and flippers are keeping home prices up.

With interest rates hovering near historic lows, it might seem like the ideal time for renters to jump into the homeownership market and perhaps spend less money each month to own a home than they do to rent one. But a new report shows that scenario may be more fantasy than reality - at least in the country's biggest markets.

The average monthly cost of owning a home is 28% higher than renting in major U.S. markets.

Of 28 U.S. markets surveyed, only four showed it was cheaper to own a home than rent one.

Home prices have gotten close to what we saw at the peak of the market. The magnitude of home price increases has been higher than rental increases.

The study focused on four- and five-star properties in the rental and homeownership markets to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison and to address the surging demand for housing in major cities.

Younger generations just don't want to commute like past generations have - they want to live in cities, near restaurants and bars, where they can work and play in the same area. While there's a lot of affordable housing in the suburbs, that's just not where people necessarily want to live.

So, the study compared the average monthly rent of a high-end apartment with the monthly cost of owning a one-bedroom condo in that city or a three-bedroom single-family home in a low-crime suburban area. The monthly cost of homeownership assumed a 15% down payment on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, and included taxes, home insurance and PMI.

However, the other 24 markets were more costly to own than rent, with 15 of them being at least 20% more expensive.

Los Angeles showed the biggest dichotomy, with the average cost of owning a home being 39% higher than the average monthly rent. This was followed by Austin, Seattle, Nashville, San Francisco, San Jose, New York/New Jersey/Connecticut, Dallas/Fort Worth, Charlotte, Houston and Orange County, where the monthly cost of owning was more than 30% higher than renting.

On the surface, the report's results seem odd, given the country's 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.5% in the week that ended Sept 15, and has remained under 4% for much of the past year.

However, housing prices have been rising at a far sharper clip than rents. Average home prices climbed 5.3% in July 2016 from a year earlier and surged 42.6% from the sector's trough in 2011.

A number of factors are driving the spike in home prices: Low mortgage rates, the country's attractive 4.9% unemployment rate, foreign investors snapping up U.S. single-family homes and condos as safe havens for investment, and - most importantly - a surge in "flippers," which are investors who buy homes and sell them within a year for a quick profit.

Inventory also plays a role. Most construction in recent years has been in building multifamily units - condos and rental apartments. There's a ton of supply coming into the apartment world, which is keeping rents low enough that they're not infringing on homeownership costs.

Whereas, housing inventory has declined.

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Grove.


Raleigh, NC is One of America’s Best Cities for Dating

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hooking that hottie is hard enough without the odds stacked against you, so the city researchers at Sperling’s Best Places have identified for you "America’s Best Cities for Dating."

The study is based on criteria that includes percentage of singles ages 18-24, population density, and dating venues per capita such as concerts, coffee shops, bars, bowling alleys, etc., and includes 80 metro areas in America. They teamed up with a company which specializes in the dating game to find out which city is revered as the D.C. (Dating Capital) of the U.S. Raleigh, NC is number 4!

Best Cities for Dating

  1. Austin, TX
  2. Colorado Springs, CO
  3. San Diego, CA
  4. Raleigh/Durham, NC
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Charleston, SC
  7. Norfolk, VA
  8. Ann Arbor, MI
  9. Springfield, MA
  10. Honolulu, HI

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Woods.


Tips for Apartment Hunting in Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Many families move each year in search of opportunity and a new place to live. Many others are looking to move their college student into an apartment. For those currently undergoing the task, searching for an apartment can be a daunting process. Here are some consumer tips in an effort to help you make more informed decisions while involved in the process of leasing a new place to live.

There are many things to consider when you are apartment hunting in Raleigh. Before you begin your search, here are some things to consider:

  1. Rent. Determine how much you can afford and still live comfortably, taking all of your expenses into consideration. One rule of thumb suggests dividing your income by four. Your rent should not exceed more than 25 percent of your monthly income.
  2. Space. How many people will be living in the unit? From 100 to 400 square feet per person is considered practical.
  3. Location. How important is it for you to be near your place of work, school, shopping, medical facilities, etc.?

Before signing a lease you should always be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully and understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Keep in mind that landlord-tenant laws ensure that everyone who lives in rental housing has a decent place to live.

Here are some suggestions on what should be included in your lease:

  • Maintenance. Find out how all repairs are handled such as how to submit a repair request. Ask how quickly tenants can expect maintenance personnel to respond to a request once it has been turned in.
  • Deposits. You should know what your security deposit covers and the conditions which might cause a tenant to experience deductions.
  • Increases. Ask if your rent or other fees will be increased during your lease term, how often and how much notice you will receive.
  • Subletting. Find out whether you are allowed to sublet your unit to another party in case of an emergency.
  • Roommates. Find out if your lease covers roommates individually or together. If your roommate moves out, falls behind or stops paying, are you responsible for their part of the rent or are you viewed completely separate? Apartment complexes in college towns may have different policies, so be sure to ask.
  • Rent. Get a schedule of when monthly payments are due, where rent can be paid and always keep a record of your payment.

Upon move-in, do not forget to document the condition of your apartment. Make sure your list includes each and every flaw or defect in your apartment so you are not held responsible for damages later. It’s advisable to also take photos or a video of your unit prior to move-in so you have documentation available in case a dispute arises when you get ready to move out.

Some more suggestions for renters:

  • Check out reviews of the apartment complex. Go to to see the business review of the apartment complex you are considering. This will show its BBB rating, any history of complaints, as well as the complaint details and any contact information.
  • Visit the complex personally. Tour the facility and visit the specific unit you’ll be renting. Make sure the community is safe and that the living space will meet your needs. Does it appear the way it was described? Websites often use pictures taken only from the best vantage points on the property or may be of a promotional unit.
  • Keep a signed copy of the lease. Store it in a safe place so it is readily available in the event you ever need to refer back to it.
  • Consider renter’s insurance. Many apartment communities require tenants have a minimum amount of renter’s insurance before move in. If it’s not required, it’s still an option tenants should consider. Renter’s insurance would cover your losses in the event of fire, burglary or other damage. Pay attention to deductibles and coverage limits when choosing a policy.

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC contact Auston Grove.


Why College Towns are Great Places to Live – Apartments in Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For some, it’s the roar of the crowd as the home team scores a touchdown on Saturdays. For others, it’s the quiet, tree-lined sidewalks on the quad or the ability to meet new people at different events at any hour of the day.

Even if it’s not home to your own alma mater, college towns and cities throughout the U.S. offer a high concentration of opportunities packed into a small area. Whether it’s the academics, food options, theater or business opportunities, life in a college town is not just great for the students, it's beneficial for full-time residents as well.

The attention college town areas receive, combined with the regular influx of new students and faculty from other parts of the country, contribute to the appeal to potential residents who may or may not be associated with the school itself.

There is a global perspective, and this intellectual base and diversity that the average small town wouldn’t get otherwise.

But some of the most loved college towns for residents and students alike have factors outside the academic institution that contribute to the economy and cultural variety of the area.

The metro area usually hosts large companies which serve as major local employers and also attract related businesses to the region.

Durham, North Carolina, is home to Duke University, one of the anchors of the “Research Triangle,” a hub for health and tech companies that benefit from close proximity to Duke, the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in nearby Raleigh. While the surrounding universities contribute to the the area's overall prosperity, Durham and its neighboring cities also benefit from many entrepreneurs outside the institutions.

“Duke hasn’t brought in the restaurants and all the activities, but Duke has helped support all the new restaurants and activities,” Austin says.

The college hasn’t brought in the restaurants and all the activities, but the college has helped support all the new restaurants and activities.

When college towns flourish outside campus grounds, the community gets even stronger, as students find work after graduating and become locals themselves.

A lot of times, students graduate and end up staying. Their families come and visit them for the four years while they’re in school, and a lot of parents of students who end up packing up their lives and relocating later because college towns are great towns for so many other reasons.

Whether you’re moving to a new town or city for the proximity to its school or other reasons, here are a few tips to help you navigate real estate in a college town.

Expect a tight real estate market. Because a portion of residential real estate in college towns is often taken up by off-campus student housing, there will likely be a lower inventory of homes than it may seem at first. Real estate markets across the country are experiencing low inventory for single-family home sales, and this is even more likely near a college.

Off-campus student housing absorbs some of the stuff that would be sold to young families.

Inquire about the atmosphere during all seasons. Many college towns based exclusively around the local college or university will see a big drop in population once summer hits, leaving what may seem like a ghost town until fall classes begin.

But not all college towns are the same. Boulder’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains and other outdoor attractions bring a whole new group of people to the city during the summer months while the majority of students are gone.

What happens in the summertime is the students go home but the tourists come in.

Before you relocate to a college town, ask locals how the city is influenced by the academic calendar.

Prepare for Welcome Week. Even if the town doesn’t experience a significant decrease in activity during the summer, be ready for the influx of students, parents and siblings for those few weeks when students are moving in at the start of the fall classes.

Whether it means avoiding your local Target or Bed Bath & Beyond for a couple weeks in the early fall or taking your summer vacation to coincide with the nearby college's start date, preparation is key to avoiding any potential downsides to the newly refreshed student population. It's also worth keeping graduation weekend and homecoming in mind as busier times in the community.

Learn to love the school. To make life in a college town easier, it might help to let yourself become a fan – though that may be easier said than done if you’re a diehard University of Michigan fan living in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Ohio State University Buckeyes.

Even if you’re not supporting the sports teams, accepting the student population itself can make you dread three-quarters of the year a little less.

Local residents should follow the school's events calendar to take advantage of activities open to the public, from student theater productions to cultural food expositions.

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC contact Auston Grove.

US News – Real Estate

The 20 Best Places to Live in the U.S. – Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Americans will move across the country for just about anything - be it a job, to be closer to a loved one, or just to get a little more sun. While the initial reason for a move to a new city will vary from person to person, the location's job market, affordability and overall quality of life are a few of the characteristics to consider before the movers are called. The 2016 U.S. News Best Places to Live rankings examine ta variety of factors, from job market to quality of life, that ultimately determine which of the country’s largest metro areas would be more suitable for more people.

#4 Raleigh-Durham

Thanks to the likes of Duke University's nationally and regionally ranked health system, the Raleigh-Durham metro area has exceptional health care quality and availability. In addition to Duke, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and more than a dozen other colleges in the area make it a hub for academics and college-age residents, helping earn the area its title as the Research Triangle. Raleigh-Durham also has the second highest population growth from net migration of those cities in the top 10.

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Grove.

US News - Real Estate

Median Home Prices in Raleigh High than Nation

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Triangle's median home prices experienced increases from last year, beating the nation's median home prices, which reached a new all-time high in June 2016, according to new data.

The United States' median home prices are 1 percent above the previous peak in July 2005, following 52 consecutive months of increases, according to the data released by ATTOM Data Solutions, the new parent company of RealtyTrac. Single-family homes and condos across the nation sold for a median price of $231,000 in June 2016, up 6 percent from May and 9 percent from a year ago.

Raleigh had median home prices higher than the national median price in June, at $240,000, up 4 percent from $230,000 from last year. In Durham and Chapel Hill, the median home sales price was even higher at $307,000, with 277 counted sales.

Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM Data Solutions, said the all-time high home prices nationwide are being enabled by historically low mortgage rates. “It is likely that some of the most interest rate sensitive local markets will see home price appreciation knocked down when the low rate rug is finally pulled out from under the housing recovery,” he said. “We are seeing signs of weakening appreciation in many bellwether markets already in spite of the rock-bottom rates.”

Raleigh home sellers experienced gains in June 2016, with average seller gains of $41,915 in June 2016, up 35.6 percent from $27,000 in June 2015. Homeowners in Durham and Chapel Hill also made profit as the average seller gain was $31,000 in June 2016, up 138.5 percent from $13,000 in June 2015.

According to CoreLogic, a California-based corporation providing financial, property and consumer information, cash sales accounted for 32 percent of all home sales in April 2016, down 2.8 percentage points year-over-year. Prior to the housing crisis, cash sales share of total home sales averaged approximately 25 percent. CoreLogic predicts that if the cash sales share continues to fall at the same rate it did in April 2016, the share will hit 25 percent by the middle of 2018.

Cash sales in Raleigh were up for the month of April, with a 1 percentage point increase compared to April 2015 and higher than the national rate. In North Carolina, cash sales were 23 percent of total sales.

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Grove.