A large, national homebuilder will expand into Raleigh for the first time, another bet on the health of this region's housing market.
Meritage Homes, which is known for its energy-efficient homes, has purchased 46 one-acre lots at Inwood Forest, a subdivision near the corner of Lake Wheeler and Tryon roads in south Raleigh. The single-family homes will be priced from the high $200,000s to the mid-$300,000s.
It's the first foothold in North Carolina for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Meritage, which builds in 12 other markets, including Houston; Las Vegas; Denver; and Orlando, Fla.
Raleigh is the first new market for Meritage since 2005.
Meritage plans to open its Raleigh office this month, and expects to acquire lots for several additional communities this year. Clint Szubinski, who has worked for Meritage in Florida, will run the Raleigh office.
Meritage joins other national homebuilders that expect the Triangle's housing market will recover quickly as the economy heals. Pulte Homes, Toll Brothers and others are building and buying more land for development.
Builder Magazine last month named the Raleigh-Cary area the healthiest of the 100 largest U.S. housing markets. Durham-Chapel Hill ranked third, behind No. 2 Austin, Texas.
Still, home sales in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties fell 7 percent last year, and supply continues to exceed demand. Builders are counting on this region's relatively low jobless rate and increasing population to help boost sales.
Wall Street Journal staff writer Dawn Wotapka contributed to this report.