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Carolina real estate
A look at the top markets and what you can expect to pay

by David Moore . Q-Notes staff

Urban condo living offers access to amenities and less responsibility.
Never before in the history of this country have so many individuals and families owned their own homes. According to the National Association of Realtors, an estimated 75 million Americans own their homes.

We’ve taken a look at the 12 leading markets across the two-state region and uncovered where gays and lesbians want to live and how much they can expect to pay.
In the market for a home purchase? You’ve come to the right place.

According to Mark Jackson, a sales agent for John Carroll Realtors, there are four areas in Asheville that are highly favored by the LGBT community.

“Town Mountain is in the city limits, on a ridge in the north Asheville Mountains,” says Jackson. “It’s about five minutes from downtown.” On the high end, most of the houses serve as part-time residences for their owners. Construction in the neighborhood took place mostly in the ’50s and the ’60s and prices range from $450k - $2mil.

Just five minutes from downtown is the North Asheville neighborhood. Filled with big Victorians and bungalows built mostly in the 1920s, prices range from $200k to $1mil.
Like most cities across the country, Asheville has followed the trend towards residential living in center city districts that were once thought of as a haven only for business and retail. In downtown Asheville you can expect to pay anywhere from $250k to $800k for urban condos in both new and renovated buildings.

If you’re on a budget and you’re looking for a fixer-upper in a neighborhood that’s still got way cool potential, Jackson suggests West Asheville. “It’s in gentrification,” he explains. “You can get renovated homes for around $200,000 and homes that need a little work for as little as $120,000.”

The workhouse of American living in the 20th century: the Craftsman Bungalow.
Most of the houses in the area were built in the 1920s, with additional construction continuing up to the 1950s.

“Asheville is so accepting you can really live just about anywhere,” says Jackson. “It’s a great place to be gay.”

Carrboro and Chapel Hill
Carrboro has gained a reputation as one of the most progressive communities in the Southern United States. It is the first municipality in North Carolina to elect an openly gay mayor (in 1995) and the first municipality in the state to grant domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples. Often described as a bedroom community to Chapel Hill, the town dates back to the 1880s and is filled with classic mill houses in the downtown area that range in price from $100k to $200k, depending on the condition of the home.
According to real estate agent Tony Hall, Carrboro and Chapel Hill are both excellent places for gays and lesbians looking to purchase a home in a smaller market.

“Both Carrboro and Chapel Hill are such progressive and liberal places,” says Hall. “Very gay friendly.”

Prices in Chapel Hill tend to be on the higher side, however, with homes in the historic neighborhoods surrounding the campus ranging anywhere from $300k to $2mil.

Kristen Gregory, the principal broker for The Listing Place, says Charleston is a buyer’s market just about any place you go these days.

She immediately points to a neighborhood known as Riverland Terrace, on James Island, as a hot spot.

Single story ranch homes offer spacious living on a single floor.
“Very popular,” she says. “It’s close to Folly Beach, the water and downtown and it’s long been a favorite of the gay community.”

According to Gregory the houses in the area were built mostly in the ’40s and ’50s and generally top off around $250k for a completely updated and refurbished home.
Historic Charleston has always been a favorite of the LGBT community — for its incredible architecture and cultural amenities. Although many gays and lesbians make their home there — it’s rare these days to find available properties in the area. When they do come available — even the homes in an advanced state of disrepair — you can still expect to pay as much as $800k.

For many people, those prices simply aren’t realistic.

Gregory says there are many other neighborhoods very close by that are still quite affordable.

Among those are Park Circle in North Charleston. With homes built from the 1920s up to the 1950s around a central park, prices start at around $120k.”It’s only six miles away from downtown,” says Gregory. “There are art galleries and cafes. It’s a wonderful neighborhood.”

Other areas she recommends include West Ashley and James Island (both $150k and up) Mount Pleasant and Waggoner Terrace (both $200k and up).

Although many in the LGBT community make their home in the city’s Plaza-Midwood district, Urban Realty sales agent Scott Lindsley says gays and lesbians can be found in almost any inner city neighborhood these days.

Historic Dilworth has long been a favorite of the gay community. With spectacular architecture, wide, tree-lined streets and numerous amenities, prices have risen dramatically in recent years.

“You can expect to pay $285,000 for a vacant lot,” Lindsley chuckles.
Small, two-bedroom and one-bath homes start out at $300k.

Needless to say, most folks have started to look in other neighborhoods.
Among the hotspots for bargains right now are:

Camp Green: It’s on the city’s west side which has long suffered from a lack of amenities but the homes date back to the early 1900s and many of the streets are lined with beautiful Oak trees that are over a century old. Prices can be as low as $45k and generally top off around $125k.

Wilmor: Just across the tracks from Dilworth, most of these homes are smaller bungalows built in the ’20s and ’30s. Fixer-uppers start out around $160k.
Belmont: This neighborhood just outside of downtown boasts some of the city’s oldest homes, many dating back to the late 1800s. Bargains can still be snatched up here for as little as $100k or as much as $200k.

Victorian Design and the queer esthete: ever met a gay man who didn’t marvel at their style?
According to Petie Bradley, a real estate agent with Russell and Jeffcoat, trends among gays and lesbians homebuyers in South Carolina’s state capital aren’t that different from the LGBT communities in other cities.

“Gay and lesbian people are buying where ever they want these days,” says Bradley.
Still, Bradley does point out that there are specific neighborhoods that seem to attract more family.

“A lot of people are buying in the downtown area — where there’s a lot of revitalization going on,” she explains. “But I’ve sold to people out in the middle of nowhere. Among her picks are Earlewood, Elmwood and Cotton Town.

“All of these neighborhoods have a nice mix of homes that were built between 1900 and 1920,” she says.

Prices range from $100k (not refurbished) to $200k (completely redone).

Further north in Eau Claire are perhaps the city’s best bargains. Homes built between the ’30s and ’50s range in price from $75k (not refurbished) to $130k (completely redone).

Jo Ellen Mason says the LGBT community in Durham is buying just as much in new construction suburban subdivisions as they are in the older more trendy neighborhoods.
In the inner city you’ll find neighborhoods like the upscale Trinity Park, which boasts early to mid-20th century homes, ranging in price from $220k to $800k.

Other neighborhoods favored by the LGBT community generally feature homes from around the same time period, though substantially less in price. In Watts-Hillandale prices range from $150k to $300k. Old West Durham sometimes offers better bargains, with prices ranging from $125k to $200k.

Duke Park and Old North Durham are comparable in price.

“The thread that ties all of those neighborhoods together is a diverse, liberal population,” says Mason. “LGBT people are welcome and a part of the community.”

For many residents of Fayetteville, life revolves around Fort Bragg, one of the largest U.S. Army installations in the world.

According to Lucas Taylor, an agent with Prudential John Koenig, many of the gay and lesbian enlisted men and women require a high level of discretion.

“The Cliffdale and Raleigh Rd. area is very close to the base and popular with the gay community.” Houses in the area go for as much as $150k.

“Another area that’s on the higher end is Gate 4,” says Taylor. “The development started about 30 years and continues today.”

As with all towns and cities, historic neighborhoods featuring retro architecture continue to appeal to gays and lesbians. In Fayetteville there’s Haymont.

“Very trendy area,” says Taylor. “The houses are from the early 1920s and people buying and remodeling at an incredible rate.”

Prices for the are start at $120k and top off at $500k.

For a bargain, Taylor points to Raeford in Hoke County, a border area of Fort Bragg. Brand new homes go for around $130k. Homes built in the last 20 years in good condition can be purchased for as little as $80k, while an older fixer-upper can be snagged for $50k.

Greenville, S.C.
The downtown area of Greenville is growing increasingly popular with the city’s gay and lesbian community.

“Especially since the district has been revitalized,” says Adrianna Wieczorek, an agent with Greenville Exit Upstate Realty. “There’s a lot of cultural diversity and a lot to choose from, as far as restaurants and entertainment.”

According to Wieczorek there are both individual homes and condos in downtown.
“You can expect to pay $130,000 for a fixer upper and $250,000 for the newer condos.
Other areas favored by the LGBT community include the nearby suburbs of Mauldin and Greer. “Mauldin is booming, with lots of new constructions and access to shopping and dining. Greer is a bit older and a great place for finding bargain prices.”

Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is known as the sun and fun capital of the southeast. Only in recent years has it become a popular residential location for gays and lesbians.

Stephen Holder, an agent with Waterfront Real Estate has helped individuals and LGBT families purchase homes in high end neighborhoods like Avenues East, where prices range from $600k to over $1mil.

Bargain hunters go to nearby locations like Conway, Surfside and Garden City, where older, fixer-upper homes go for as low as $125k.

Other areas where LGBT folk make their home include: North Myrtle, Cherry Grove and Little River.

“There’s not a particular neighborhood I think gays and lesbians tend to buy in,” says Woody Biggs, an agent for York, Simpson & Underwood. “But it is clear that the community prefers to buy inside the beltline.

Biggs says neighborhoods that he knows attract LGBT residents are Oakwood, Five Points, Downtown and Woodcrest.

“Five Points is pretty trendy and has restaurants you can walk to,” Biggs explains. “The Downtown area is becoming that way. Living in a downtown condo allows you to walk right out your door to restaurants and shopping.”

Prices in Five points range from $200k to $500k. Oakwood offers less pricey homes with rates staring off around $150k and going as high as $350k for larger homes. Both neighborhoods feature early to mid 20th century architecture.

Another trend Biggs sees is in the neighborhood known as Woodcrest. “These are mostly brick ranches from the 1950s and 1960s,” he explains. “Over the last year we’ve seen prices rise pretty quickly.” Prices range from 150k to $200k.

The gay population tends to buy in the downtown area,” says Genevieve Wichmann, an agent with Port City Properties. “It’s a lovely historic district, with lots of single family homes.”

Prices range from $120k for a small fixer-upper to as much as $1mil for a completely renovated mansion.

“Winston-Salem is just a beautiful place to make your home,” says Mark Maxwell, an agent for Allen Tate Realty. “The bulk of the neighborhoods are safe and accepting.”
Maxwell rattles off a laundry list of multiple neighborhoods he’s sold homes in for buyers in the LGBT community.

“Washington Park is an inner city neighborhood that saw most of its prime development from the 1890s up until the1940s,” he says. “There’s a lot of classic architecture.”
Prices for the area vary widely, with smaller, unrestored properties going for $140k and larger remodeled homes as high as $800k.

“Then there’s Buena Vista,” says Maxwell. “The people who buy here tend to be older and more financially established.”

With prices ranging from $200k to $2mil, families and individuals with the cash are happy to fork it over to live in the tranquil, park-like neighborhood known for its wide, curvy streets.

Other early to mid 20th century neighborhoods that attract LGBT buyers include Ardmore ($120k to $170k) and Konnoak Hills ($90k to $300k).

“With all the new lofts going up, the downtown area has also gotten really hot lately,” says Maxwell. Prices for high rise living in downtown Winston-Salem start out at $160k for smaller studios and go as high as $1mil for penthouses.

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