You may be looking in the wrong areas. I am a mortgage broker and the average price of the homes I help people secure mortgages for is about $200,000. If you are trying to purchase a home in certain areas where there is high demand, the prices will be higher, but you can find some great homes under $400,000. If you would like, shoot me an email and I can help you out: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appreciation rates in this area have been steady for the past 20 years (which is great for homeowners!) and even though there was a "hiccup" with the sub prime loan fiasco in parts of Raleigh, the average appreciation rate in Raleigh is usually about 3-6% per year (but some areas downtown have seen double digit appreciation rates lately due to the demand for housing and the revitalization that's going on downtown--other pockets have seen negative growth). I'd be glad to pull appreciation rate info for you or help with narrowing down what you're looking for. I've worked with lots of first time homebuyers and the frustration is not uncommon...sort of the "expectation meets reality" scenario. Meeting with a lender and a Realtor at the beginning of your search will help with giving you more information about the current market and what it can offer.
This market provides lots of opportunities for both buyers and sellers and new homes come on the market everyday. Often, you get more bang for your buck if you're willing to commute a little further or are willing to consider condos and townhomes as opposed to detached homes. Another option is to consider looking at short sales, quick sales, and foreclosures.
Please let me know if I can help. Good luck with your search! http://www.wendynormanonline.com.
It's called appreciation and if you were a home owner you would be content as well.
Also, remember that the cost to build is not what it was 5 or even 10 years ago. Prices have increased for all supplies and labor.
One of the great benefits of home ownership is that you're investment can grow over the years.
I don't know what you're looking for in a home but there are many options under 400K in Raleigh and neighboring areas.
Just be happy you're not a home buyer on the west coast. The average home there is upwards of 600K in a good area.
I am from Washington D.C. area and I could not afford to live their now, so I know how you feel. The market is driven but what someone is willing to pay for a particular home or neighborhood, as well as supply and demand. The Triangle has become a very popular place to be, and their are a lot of people moving here every day, so they are selling theirs homes where ever they are from. Don't believe everything you read in the newspaper, or online.