Raleigh, N.C. — The city of Raleigh is searching for a real estate brokerage firm to help find sites for affordable housing.
City officials want to use $12 million from an affordable housing bond Raleigh voters approved last year to buy land or existing buildings for housing. They are hoping to establish affordable housing near public transit on Western Boulevard, New Bern Avenue, South Saunders Street and Capital Boulevard.
Currently, around 41% of renters and 16% of homeowners in Wake County are considered cost-burdened. That means 30% or more of their budget goes to housing, according to the North Carolina Housing Coalition.
“In a market like this, it is inevitable that local governments are going to try to figure out how they’re going to engage in acquiring property to maintain some level of affordability,” said Samuel Gunter, executive director of the N.C. Housing Coalition.
Patrick Young, director of planning and development for Raleigh, said that the city decided to hire its own firm due to the “competitive real estate market.”
“We experience the same thing homebuyers experience,” Young said.
For-sale signs are going up as quickly as they are coming down.
“By the time they get a chance to go look at it, it’s off the market,” he said.
Just like a homebuyer, the city is shopping around for a real estate broker to find land for future affordable housing or properties ripe for redevelopment.
“In order to stay competitive with the market and work at the speed of the market, we really needed a real estate brokerage partner to assist us,” he said.
A spokesperson with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County said in a statement that they supported any efforts from the City to acquire land.
“Land prices have skyrocketed, and it’s getting more and more challenging for affordable developers like Habitat to find land to build on,” a spokesperson for the nonprofit said. “Land acquisition provides an opportunity for the City to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing, ensure that residents can access public transit and other critical services, and build new affordable units.”
Young said that it’s a bit unusual for a city to hire a real estate firm, but that was the city’s only option aside from changing land use laws.
The planning office expects city council to select a real estate firm to work with by the end of the year.