One of the most frustrating (or interesting, depending on your mood!) things to my buyers is realizing that what they want in a home isn't exactly where they'd hope it would be. The main reason we see this, especially in the Triangle, is because each section of our area went through major growth at different times, giving us specific styles of homes in particular neighborhoods and cities. I thought it would be fun to showcase what was a priority in building during certain time periods, and where you might expect to find these here so that you can align your expectations if you start looking!
'50s and '60s: During this time period, ranch homes were the most common, with split levels starting to make their way on to the scene. In the bathroom, tile and pastel were king and you can expect smaller bathrooms and closets overall. Speaking of bathrooms, it's not uncommon to find 2/3 bedroom homes with 1 bathroom. In the living spaces, there were more formal rooms (sitting rooms, dining rooms) and more of an emphasis on living space than bedrooms and bathrooms.
Style wise, you can plan on lots of mid century modern vibes (making a comeback!), wall to wall carpeting and popcorn/textured ceilings. If you're looking for a garage, you MIGHT be in luck with this age home, but it's more common to find a carport or detached garage. In terms of construction, the materials and structure of these homes were in my opinion pretty sturdy, because there just weren't as many houses going up in this time. The average home size during the '50s was 983 sqft. and the '60s was 1,289 sqft.
Where you're most likely to find them: Inside the Beltline, Midtown, in Southeast/Southwest Raleigh, near downtown Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill
'70s- In this decade, split level homes took off and it was common to put and form ahead of function with funkier and more experimental designs. Don't be surprised to see wood paneling, smaller closets and bathrooms, skylights and more textured ceilings. The floor plans skewed slightly
more open, and the "great room" was usually the heart of the home. Another interesting thing to note about the '70s was that more often than not homes were built with central air. Before that, you may see more window units and partial home HVAC, or it needs to be upgraded. The average sqft. of homes in the '70s was 1,500.
Where you're most likely to find them: Midtown/North Hills was the star of these decades followed Durham and Chapel Hill, and a select few options were in south Cary.
'80s and '90s: By this time, the building trends really started to shift. People moved away from city centers and you started to see subdivisions and sprawl become more popular. There was an explosion of large homes on small lots, which sometimes get coined "cookie cutter". The master suite also stepped into the spotlight, so while the bathrooms may have had "glass and brass" features, they were much larger and usually featured whirlpool or garden tubs and attached walk-in closets. Ceilings got higher, but were still covered in popcorn. This was more common than ever in the '80s and '90s because of the nationwide building boom. Popcorn was easy and affordable for builders to spray on and not have to smooth out when building tons of homes, in addition to it being a cosmetic preference. Inside the homes, you had more multi-purpose rooms (think dens and rec rooms, built-in desks in the kitchen), carpet EVERYWHERE including the bathrooms and lots of light pine cabinets and accents. Garages popped up left and right, and you'll start to notice the first wave of kitchen islands in homes! You can expect homes to find homes between 1,740 and 2,080 on average in the '80s and '90s.
Where you're most likely to find them: Cary took off at this time and had the most growth of new builds, Durham also saw a boom and Wake Forest got on the map. North and East Raleigh will also have plentiful options built around this time period.
2000s- The new millennium brought us wide open floor plans, even more growth and less space in lots, and much larger homes as a whole. The building rush here in the Triangle completely took off and tons of new areas popped up as possibilities for homeowners. Indoors, you'll recognize the "all white" movement with walls, cabinets and trim and stainless steel galore. Synthetic countertops fell somewhat out of trend as granite became more attainable and popular. While many aspects were light and bright, darker color schemes like "Tuscan", chunky dark wood furniture, oil rubbed bronze, and deep wood colored cabinets were common in living spaces in the early 2000s. Outdoor living spaces became a draw in this decade as did a return to more specialized rooms (nursery, home office, home gym/media room). The majority of home buyers moved from formal living and dining and opted instead to turn the living rooms into offices or playrooms and entertain more in the den/family room. Division of rooms pretty much went out the window in most 2000s construction so the breakfast nook/kitchen/dining/living concept was at an all time high. The national average for home size in the 2000s is between 2,200-2,226 sqft.
Where you're most likely to find them: Wake Forest, Northwest Raleigh (Brier Creek), Clayton, Fuquay Varina, Apex/Holly Springs (2000-2010), Southwest Raleigh, Durham, Apex, Holly Springs, Clayton, Morrisville, Southwest Cary, Wake Forest, Rolesville (2010-2020)
The main think I hope to illustrate in this post is what you can expect to find in each part of the Triangle based on when it experienced the most growth. If you're looking for a spacious lot in a prime location and are okay putting in some work or paying for an updated house? There's a place for you! How about a spacious home in an established neighborhood that needs a little cosmetic work? I'll take ya there. Want a turn-key new construction home? We got ya covered! There are compromises to every part of the home-buying process, and I hope this helps manage your expectations on finding your "unicorn" and just where to look!