Why are so many North Carolina businessmen listing their multi-million dollar homes right now?
The mansion of a former US Department of Defense contractor is the latest luxury home to hit the market.
Tony Moraco’s home on Blue Violet Way in Durham is listed at $5.5million. Moraco is the former CEO of Reston, Virginia-based contractor AirForce SAIC.
The reason for the exorbitant price of his house? It’s size and privacy, according to its Triangle MLS listing.
The house is described by Hodge & Kittrell Sotheby’s International Realty as “Combining old-world elegance with today’s revered ambience of casual luxury, it is a legacy estate, built and recently significantly upgraded by master craftsmen”.
Moraco joins other businessmen in putting their huge Triangle properties up for sale. Angel investor David Gardner’s Cary Lake home has been on the market since May for more than $8 million.
The home of Gregg Lowe – the CEO of chipmaker Wolfspeed that just announced a major investment in Chatham County – has been on the market for two years. This listing on Rosemont Drive in Durham costs $6.1 million.
Sentiments around the luxury real estate market are complicated and tumultuous, according to Taylor Marr, deputy chief economist at RedFin.
Unlike the average real estate market, sales of luxury homes can be unpredictable and affected by small swings in interest rates or the stock market, Marr said.
“It’s not about affordability. It’s a question of, is it the right priority for them to park their money in real estate versus other assets,” he said. “Ultra-rich people tend not to invest all their money in cash when the market gets riskier, as well as when you could get the same return on investment in a much safer asset like treasury bills.”
Homes can stay on the market for years or sell instantly. They can sell for millions above or below the asking price.
Although the Triangle has seen an increase in these luxury home listings, that doesn’t necessarily mean the luxury market is doing well, Marr said.
“If you see an increase in luxury listings, some people may just want to cash in,” he said.
It’s hard to find patterns in how the ultra-rich buy and sell their homes. They are good at covering their tracks and listings may not provide a full picture of how the market is doing.
Maybe a wealthy person who was planning to list their home doesn’t because they fear a recession. Or maybe a homeowner lists his house on the market for millions of dollars and it doesn’t sell, so he delists.
Across the Triangle area, home prices have risen nearly 30% over the past six months, according to TMLS data. This same increase is also affecting luxury homes, according to Marr.
“It’s a pretty massive increase just in overall demand, higher incomes, people wanting to buy real estate in the Raleigh area compared to other places,” Marr said. “A lot of wealthy people were able to profit from growth in the stock market or growth in other assets until this year when the markets performed poorly.”
A large portion of the stock market’s cash flow has been invested in these properties. Homes have received upgrades that increase their value, like bigger pools or better security systems.
“It’s not just a pure demand for land. It is also a lot of money that is important for the real estate development of these existing structures,” he said.
So why sell now?
Some luxury home owners say they have an eye on economic developments in the region and hope to make a profit by selling their homes to businessmen who come from other states to the RTP.
But for David Gardner, he wanted a change of scenery.
“We loved living where we are, we loved living in Cary,” Gardner told WRAL Techwire in June. “I’ve sat on the Cary Chamber, invested in a lot of local businesses here.”
He said it was time to downsize and simplify by having no yard or private road to maintain.
Gardner told WRAL Techwire he will be moving to downtown Durham, close enough to where he can walk to his office or work in one of the city’s coworking spaces.
Ruth Williams and Jeff Bruner just listed their Greensboro mansion for $5.7 million, one of North Carolina’s most expensive recent listings. The power couple is known for their textile business in the High Point area, The Quantum Group.
Now that the two are retiring, Williams said they have their eye on a new home in Florida.
Williams said she doesn’t think they’ll have any trouble selling their home.
She sees Greensboro as North Carolina’s next innovation hub, with Toyota bringing a battery manufacturing plant to the area and Boom Supersonic jets selecting the Triad as one of its first locations.