Local Luxury Portfolio Spotlight: Sprawling Waterfront Estate, Charleston-Style Home and a Mediterranean Executive Residence in Landfall

As our partnership with Luxury Portfolio allows, Intracoastal Realty’s listings are often featured on LuxuryPortfolio.com. We often peruse the other listings around the world and become enamored with the many features, outdoor spaces, and interior design and decor of these lavish properties. This week, we have opted to share three outstanding local custom waterway homes with you.

Sprawling Waterfront Estate

Sprawling and private waterfront estate in the historic Masonboro Sound area offers an exquisite blend of raw natural beauty and refined elegance. The 7.8 acre property overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway, Masonboro Island and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. Ancient live oaks, pine groves, and marshes-home to egrets, osprey, ibises- are balanced by the formal boxwood garden, stately swimming pool, paisley Camellia garden and putting green.

Anchoring the property is the spacious 6,400 square foot main house which was designed by architect Michael Kersting and built by Lee Cowper for the current owner in 2000. Spacious, high-style, and meticulously detailed, the four bedroom, 5.5 bath brick house is a marriage of modern luxury and classic design.

Central to the stunning composition of the home is the three story octagonal gallery which is open from the main floor to the third floor cupola. It is an architectural detail that functions beautifully as counterpoint to the perfect order of the home’s symmetrical layout. In addition to the formal living and dining rooms, the main level of the home includes multiple gallery spaces with custom lighting to showcase artwork, a conservatory area, and an aristocratic study clad in reclaimed wormy chestnut wood.

With both function and fashion in mind, the chef’s kitchen is equipped with a Viking gas range, warming drawer; Sub-Zero refrigerator; Thermador oven, and Fisher Paykel dish drawers. The kitchen is open to the Carolina gathering room which features a fireplace and wet bar. Both the living room and Carolina room open onto the deep verandah- an ideal space for outdoor entertaining.

In contrast to the first floor, the second floor is a more private space. The twin master suites both have fireplaces and open onto the verandah that provides exceptional views of the Masonboro Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. All rooms on the second floor have large private baths, 10′ ceilings, custom woodwork and 100% wool carpeting. The third floor is a unique gallery space with a spiraling staircase that leads to the cupola and its breathtaking 360 degree views.

PROPERTY FEATURES INCLUDE:  12′ ceilings, hardwood floors with inlaid borders, exquisite woodwork, 3 fireplaces, custom lighting and fixtures and recessed speakers all connected to a central sound system, pier with boat lift and room for floating docks, hidden paths and gardens, whole house generator, weather shield windows and doors, hurricane shutters, Brazilian mahogany decking on double verandahs, elevator which services three floors, custom solid cherry cabinets throughout the home, digital business phone system, Lutron wireless lights package, security system, irrigation system and copper roof

BUILT IN: 2000



See it!


Surrounded by centuries old trees, this beautiful Charleston-style home is located along the prestigious Airlie Road with views of the ICWW and adjacent marinas. Built in 2005/2006, it has over 5000 square feet of living space with an additional 750 square feet in a separate guest suite complete with full bathroom located above the two-car garage. It offers a great outdoor entertaining space with a built in grill and fireplace and an in ground pool complete with a waterfall and covered porch. The outdoor shower and half bath located inside the garage finish out this fantastic backyard hotspot. Inside the home, you will find unparalleled details such as extensive moldings, beautiful hardwoods and luxurious baths adjacent to each bedroom. For the buyer looking for elegant living close to the water, this home can’t be missed! Boat slip located directly across the street is available for purchase.

PROPERTY FEATURES INCLUDE: 4 fireplace(s), garage, electric, forced air heat, balcony, basketball goal, outdoor fireplace, patio, porch, shades, wet bar, in-ground pool

BUILT IN: 2005


LOT ACRES: 0.4800

See it!


Overlooking the pristine headwaters of tidal Howe Creek, this Mediterranean style executive residence features six bedrooms, six full baths and two half baths. The impressive attention to detail resonates throughout; from the tiled roof to the large palladium windows and gentle arches to the Italian travertine flooring and granite counters this home speaks of elegance and quality. The large first floor master offers nearby his and her studies, while the curved foyer stair, vaulted living room and spacious dining room provide ample room for entertaining.

Set amid 1.7 acres of fenced grounds, the house is oriented around a large raised terrace, covered porch and pool. A separate in-law suite over the three-car garage, a walk-in third floor attic and a wine cellar are just a few of the many features found in 2017 Balmoral. Located in Landfall’s exclusive Highlands neighborhood, this 8,400 square foot masterpiece represents one of Wilmington’s finest executive homes.

PROPERTY FEATURES INCLUDE: 2 fireplace(s), security system, security patrol, three attached garage spaces, central cooling, electric heating system, irrigation system, on golf course

BUILT IN: 1995



See it!

Featured Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe Testing by Alice Heitchue

October is all about fun and this month’s featured recipe is no exception! Our Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins are filled with cozy fall flavors for a fraction of the calories. They bake up moist, fluffy, and full of pumpkin goodness. Wow family and friends with this fall treat at your next event or open house. They will never know it is a low calorie option. Enjoy!

What You’ll Need

·         1 cup whole wheat flour
·         1/2 cup all-purpose flour
·         3/4 cups packed brown sugar
·         1 teaspoon baking powder
·         1/4 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1 cup pumpkin puree
·         1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
·         1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
·         1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
·         1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
·         1/2 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         1 egg
·         1 cup milk chocolate morsels with peanut butter filling


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 12 count muffin pan or line with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, applesauce, Greek yogurt, and egg. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.
  7. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until muffins are set and golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Enjoy!


Recipe Courtesy of

October Area Events


9/30 – 10/2: Art in the Arboretum – New Hanover County Arboretum

9/30 – 10/1: Carolina Surf Film Festival – Hugh Morton Amphitheater at Greenfield Lake Park

9/29 – 10/9: Rock of Ages – Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts

9/30 – 10/31: Phobia Haunted Trail – Cardinal Lanes Parking Lot Wilmington

10/1: Bark in the Park – Wrightsville Beach Park

10/1: U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament – Southport Marina, 606 W West St

10/1: Carolina Fall King Challenge – Piers on Wilmington’s Island Beaches

10/2: 3rd Annual Run Ocean Isle Beach Half Marathon, 5K & 1 Mile Road Race – E. 2nd Street across from the Pelicans Perch Restaurant

10/2: Boogie in the Park: Where’s Dave (Funk, Rock, Dance) – Kure Beach Ocean Front Park

10/5: Kansas – CFCC Wilson Center

10/7 – 9: North Carolina Open Foosball Championships – Break Time Billiards Sports Bar and Grill

10/7 – 28: Poplar Grove’s Paranormal Ghost Tour – Poplar Grove Plantation

10/7: Fall Brawl King Classic – Ocean Isle Fishing Center, 65 Causeway Drive, Ocean Isle Beach

10/7: Paula Poundstone – CFCC Wilson Center

10/7: Kure Beach Farewell Summer Jazz Funeral – Kure Beach Ocean Front Park & Pavilion

10/8: Taste of Wrightsville Beach – Waterfront at MarineMax

10/8: Hidden Battleship – Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

10/8: Fire in the Pines Festival – Halyburton Park in Wilmington

10/8: Harvest Market & Pumpkin Fest – Mulberry Park, Shallotte

10/8-9: Riverfest – Water Street from Cape Fear Community College to Chandlers Wharf

10/8: Port City Rumble – Princess St, Front Street & 3rd Street

10/8 – 9: Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival – Fort Fisher Military Recreation Area

10/8: Aviation Day & 5K – International Customs Terminal at Wilmington International Airport

10/8: Paws-Ability’s 5th Annual Bicycle Poker Run – Ocean Isle Beach

10/9: Huka Entertainment & 98.3 The Penguin Presents: The Wood Brothers – Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews

10/12 – 13: Capitol Steps – Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts

10/13 – 16: ARTfall – Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center

10/14: Halloween Silent Film Event: Nosferatu – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

10/14 – 15: 3rd Annual Bluefish Bonanza – Surfcasting Tournament on Bald Head Island

10/15: Salty Paws Festival – Carolina Beach Lake Park

10/15 – 16: The NC Oyster Festival – Next to Museum of Coastal Carolina, 8 E 2nd Street, Ocean Isle Beach

10/15: American Craft Walk – Downtown Wilmington

10/15 – 16: Festival Latino – Ogden Park

10/15: Residents Of Wilmington Back Door Kitchen Tour – Wilmington’s Downtown Historic Districts

10/16: KEB’MO’ – CFCC Wilson Center

10/16: October Oakdale Walking Tour – Oakdale Cemetery

10/16: Boogie in the Park: The Midatlantic (Folk, Americana, Bluegrass) – Kure Beach Ocean Front Park

10/17: Fall Harvest Tea – Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design

10/19 – 11/6: It’s Only A Play – Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts

10/19 – 26: Encore Fall Restaurant Week – Wilmington Area

10/19: Chef’s Feast on the River – Pier 33

10/20 – 22: Plein Air Paint Out & Wet Paint Sale – Wrightsville Beach Museum

10/20: Pablo Villegas – Thalian Hall Center for Performing Art

10/21 – 23: Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge – Oceanfront on Pleasure Island

10/21: Diane Schuur in Concert – Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts

10/22 – 23: Wilmington Seafood Festival – Events at Watermark

10/22: Haint Blue All Hallows Masquerade – Poplar Grove Plantation

10/22: Fort Fisher Fall Festival – Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

10/22: Charlie Daniels Band – Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts

10/22: PPD IRONMAN North Carolina – Starts on south end of Wrightsville Beach and ends in Historic Downtown Wilmington

10/25: Batty Battleship’s Halloween Bash – Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

10/28 – 29: Fort Fisher Haunted Trail Tour – Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

10/28: Voracious Rare Beer Festival – Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

10/28: Fourth Friday Gallery Walk – Participating Wilmington Art Galleries

10/28 – 29: Hells Belles & The Colonial Damned Haunted House – Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design

10/29: Trick or Trot – Greenfield Lake Park

10/29: Lighthouse Beer & Wine Festival – Waterfront Park

10/29: Nightmare on Water Street – Hilton Wilmington Riverside

10/29: Holden Beach Festival by The Sea – Holden Beach Pavilion, Jordan Blvd.

10/29: Ministering Circle Gourmet Sale

10/29: Cape Fear Halloween ComiCon – Coastline Conference and Events Center

10/30: The Music of Star Wars – CFCC Wilson Center

10/30: “The Sacred & the Profane” Heavenly (And Devilish) Arias, Duets, and Choruses – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church




How to Afford Your Dream Home


Whether you’re venturing out to buy a house for the first time, or you’ve made a couple of home purchases in the past, you can identify with the excitement generated from the phrase “dream home.” And while that seems like owning such a home is a far-off, well, dream, it may not be. Learn how acquiring your dream may be a closer reality than you once thought.

Start Saving Now

First step to affording your dream home: saving money. This isn’t exactly rocket science. Little things you can do to save up some extra cash include: avoiding the temptation to spend money on that which you don’t need. So, whether your weakness is clothes, fine cuisine, automotive “toys,” etc. — try to hold off. The money you normally spend on these kinds of purchases should get channeled right into a savings account.

Need a more significant way to save up cash? Consider your schedule. Do you have time to gain extra income through a part-time job or some freelance work on the side? If you can swing it, you’ve got yourself a steady flow of money that can go right into your dream home down-payment fund. Do you have any extra assets or property that you can sell? Or, if you’re feeling the burden of debt, liberate yourself. Start aggressively paying down any overhanging debt so that you can either save up more money after the fact, or to increase your overall budget for future mortgage payments.

Get Pre-approved

If you’re really serious about buying your dream home, then show sellers just that by getting pre-approved. You can also determine just how much money you need to have saved up for a down payment and how much house, in general, you can afford. Getting pre-approved typically makes the whole home searching/home buying process much smoother and greatly increases your chances of actually being able to close on the house on your dreams. Once you get pre-approved, you can begin your home search in earnest.

Shop Around

Even if you’ve been pre-approved by one broker or lender, that doesn’t mean you have to close using that source for your dream home funding. We strongly recommend that you do a little shopping — different sources will be able to offer different rates and packages that might require less money down.

You should also contemplate how long you plan on being in this home. If it’s really and truly your dream home, and you aren’t planning on moving any time soon, then a traditional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is probably the best way to go. However, if you’re planning moving in a few years, then an adjustable-rate mortgage might actually give you a lower monthly payment during your truncated time in the home.

Get Some Assistance

While shopping around for the mortgage deals for your dream home, you might be eligible for government-backed loans. For instance, those struggling to generate a sizable down payment may find refuge with an FHA loan, which allows buyers to put down smaller down payments as low as 3.5 percent. There also government-insured mortgage loans available for veterans (VA loans) or rural home buyers (USDA or RHS loans).

Have your eye on house in need of some TLC and not sure how you’ll fund it? Don’t chalk it up to a loss just yet, because there are government programs that provide funding for home improvement and renovation. Learn more on the details for that here.

Reconsider Your Must-Haves

Don’t get completely carried away with your idea of what a dream home must entail. Sometimes a dream home must be patched up first before it becomes dreamy. Sometimes a dream home is actually a condo or townhouse. Regardless, if you set your standards too high, that dream home might become rather elusive or, it might stretch your budget way too thin.

So, when looking for your dream house, keep a balanced of dose of reality on hand. Do you have kids? Is your dream house decked out with granite countertops, teak floors and private backyard in a nice neighborhood with good schools? Or will you end up having to dish out more money for private school tuition? Can you settle for a smaller house in a nicer area that you can “bedazzle” later? You also need to pay attention to the commute to and from your job, and that of your spouse’s, as well as the surrounding area. If you revel in the nightlife, you probably want to make sure you don’t have a 40-minute commute to your favorite stomping grounds, and vice versa.

Be Patient

Above all, be patient. While it goes without saying, buying a house requires a serious commitment. So, don’t try to rush into anything or succumb to less-than-ideal circumstances because of your sense of urgency to occupy your dream home. It’s good measure to pay attention to the market. Trying to score a dream-home deal in a seller’s market will be challenging. If the market doesn’t look ripe for your dream home transition, you might want to consider staying put for a little while longer or taking a step forward into a different home for the time being.

Also, don’t dump all of your savings into a down payment without first putting aside some extra money for closing costs, costs associated with moving or any additional you might need for sudden projects in your new home.

8 Tips to Stage Your Home to Sell

Before you put your house on the market, it’s imperative that you spend a little time prepping it for potential buyers. If you’ve been taking good care of your house and spent money on renovations, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not dedicating some time to staging your house to sell. Here are eight tips to help stage your home to sell!

Deep Clean (Then Clean Some More)

The very first, and cheapest, thing you should do is: clean. Clean like you’ve never cleaned before. Clean like the in-laws, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and your favorite celebrity are coming over for tea. Rent a carpet shampooer to deep clean those carpets. Wipe any dinginess from your walls, floor trim, window frames or door frames. Scrub grout to a glistening white. Dust ceiling fans, blinds, lamps—everything—until you get every hidden corner from floor to ceiling. You must obliterate set-in dirt and grime in your house. Kitchens and bathrooms, especially, must be spotless. To help avoid imminent feelings of being overwhelmed, take it room by room, day by day. Then, do your best to maintain this level of cleanliness throughout the duration of your house’s time on the market.

Banish Clutter

Stacks of magazines and mail, piles of shoes by the door, overstuffed closets — have all got to go. Literally. And it can’t just get shoved into cabinets or closets. You actually have to get rid of your junk and establish some organization. For that which you cannot throw away, spring for some cheap fixes in the form of under-the-bed storage, aesthetically appealing storage boxes for closet shelves or cabinets, and desk organizers for mail and papers. Alleviate packed closets by going through some clothes and donating or selling what you don’t wear anymore. Tidy up kitchen cabinets and drawers. Invest in some shelves or hooks for hanging up tools in garages or sheds. The more junk you get rid of, the better you display the amount of storage your house actually has.

Spring for Small Updates

Now that your house is clean and organized, it’s time to do some updating. Probably the quickest, easiest and most affordable way to make an impact is with paint. Opt for neutrals and soothing, earth tone colors. You don’t have to totally abstain from color either. Deep blues and greens can add warmth, without turning off buyers like wilder colors will. You can transform a kitchen by laying down new linoleum if your current floors are looking worse for the wear. While you’re in the kitchen, you can also bring a dated kitchen back into modernity with new hardware and/or by resurfacing cabinets and drawers. If you can afford it, buying a few stainless steel appliances will definitely help to catch the eye of buyers too.


You’re almost done with the heavy lifting for the inside of your house — except for this step. Now comes the time to take a good, hard look at your furniture and decide what can go and what can stay. We naturally accumulate more and more stuff over the years, and furniture is no exception. Oftentimes, sellers are guilty of having way too much furniture, which will make any house feel cramped and cluttered. So, if your house too closely resembles an obstacle course compiled of bulky couches and chairs, it might be time to either sell a few of pieces or move them to storage.

Or, it might just be time to do some rearranging. Instead of having all of your furniture pushed up against walls or crammed into corners, create a little breathing room. Check out this quick guide for arranging furniture to help you open up your space.

Add Floral Notes & Decorative Touches

Here’s an easy step! Now that your house is clean, open and clutter-free, you can do a little bit of redecorating. But you’ve already decorated your house, you’re thinking. And while you may absolutely love it, it’s important to create a space that’s gender neutral, minimalist and feels fresh—like a blank canvas for buyers. For instance, in the master bedroom, replace a decked-out floral duvet with something that’s sans-pattern and neutral. Stage your dining room table, coffee tables and bookcases with small decorative flourishes, like fresh flowers, pretty bookends, leather bound books, bud vases, little glass or wooden knick knacks. Hang a few decorative mirrors to create space, and swap out heavy curtains with light sheers to let in more natural light.

Create Curb Appeal

Consider the inside of your house done. Check! Now for that curb appeal. Naturally, make sure your lawn, shrubs and trees are neat and tidy, mowed and trimmed, respectively. Pressure wash and seal any decks, fences and patios. Try out a bright, new color on the front door for an instantly more inviting entrance. Add a few, low-maintenance perennials to garden beds and set out potted plants of friendly flowers like mums, daisies, or pansies (for hanging planters). Replace or paint antiquated-looking outdoor light fixtures. Hang a pretty, seasonal wreath or flag and maybe upgrade a beat-up mailbox.

Set the Scene

Here’s where the “staging” part of home staging really comes into play. You want to showcase your home and show buyers the lounging and entertaining potential of your house. For instance, don’t leave your patios or porches barren. Add some charming tables and chairs to help buyers envision themselves enjoying what could potentially be their next backyard gathering. Play into the season too. Is it cold out? Create cozy-looking nooks in your home with plush throws and oversized pillows. Around these parts, we’re lucky enough to have pretty divine weather during spring and fall, so try adding a hammock to the backyard to show buyers how they can enjoy the beautiful climate. On the other hand, we are also susceptible to some blistering summers, so create shady sanctuaries outside with an awning or an umbrella to go with that table and chairs you just added to your patio.

Get a Second Opinion

One of the biggest barriers that you’re likely to face when trying to stage your home is your own bias. So, throughout this entire process enlist the help of friends, family or your listing agent to lend some suggestions about the current decor and appearance of your home. Rest assured, they’ll have opinions on the best way to arrange your furniture and can help add an objective eye during de-junking. Of course, you could always hire a stager for some professional help. Stagers are also helpful if you’ve already moved out of your house and need someone to maintain the house or add some tasteful furniture to keep the place from looking too empty. If you’re working with an agent, they’ll probably have a few preferred stagers that they can recommend.

With a little bit of effort, you can really dress up your house and make it that much more enticing to sellers. Need a helping hand? Contact us at info@intracoastalrealty.com or at 1-800-533-1840.

How to Increase Your Home Value

Even if you’ve just moved into your house and home value is relatively far from your mind for the time being, it shouldn’t stray too far! Increasing your home value not only means a more enjoyable experience for you throughout your time in the house, but it also means that, if the time comes to sell, you’ll be able to. Get started with these tips.

Make a plan

First thing’s first: never start any sort of renovations or improvements on your home without having a plan. Having a plan will help you prioritize projects and determine what you can afford and when. Start broadly. Create a laundry list of every project that you would like to see made, knowing that you probably won’t be able to do every single one, and then narrow it down from there.

Do your research. What projects can you legitimately do yourself, and which do you think you’ll probably need to “outsource” to a professional? Be honest with yourself here. Can you really handle knocking down walls or wiring new can lights in the kitchen? With YouTube™ and tutorials galore, we have a sense, nowadays, that we can do almost anything — which is certainly not always the case, especially when you’re talking about projects that can have a serious impact on the structure of your home. If you get yourself in too deep with a project that you really can’t pull off, you could end up actually decreasing the value of your house and will have to call in the pros anyway.

Additionally, and we’re sure this is not a factor you’ve forgotten, you’ll have to plan for everything financially. This goes hand-in-hand with determining what projects you can do on your own and which ones you know you’ll have to hire out. It’s a good practice to over estimate. Depending on the nature of a project, there’s really no guarantee as to how “smooth” it will go and if there will be additional costs along the way, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to pad the budget a bit.

Find balance

There are numerous sources that will tell you which investments will yield the highest return in the long run, and that’s great, but try to make sure that changes you make to your house are things that benefit you when you’re actually living there. For instance, kitchen and bathroom remodels are typically considered valuable because of their aesthetic appeal for potential buyers. However, if you’re not much of a cook, and won’t really get a whole lot of value out of an overhauled kitchen with all the bells and whistles, then it might make more sense for you to do more minimal updates in the kitchen and put that extra money towards a project that you care about.

That being said, if you’re planning on remodeling parts of your house, you might as well do it earlier on in your ownership, as opposed to making updates simply to prepare your house for the market. You might as well enjoy your hard work for a little while before selling, right?

Additionally, make sure you don’t spend all of your renovation budget on just making a house look pretty. Pretty houses are awfully enticing, however, you and future buyers alike will appreciate investments that make sure the “infrastructure” of the house is in good working order too. It doesn’t matter how pretty a house is, if it’s needs a new roof, water heater and furnace. Oftentimes, buyers will be actually look past aesthetic turn-offs, like a dated kitchen, if they know that the house is structurally sound and won’t need any major improvements in the near future.

Move slowly

You never want to overextend yourself, or your budget, when making renovations. Take it one room at a time, stick to your budget, and make small upgrades here and there along the way. Don’t forget that major renovations will also require breakdown and reconstruction of your house for some time — so if you’ve got more than one sizable, ongoing upgrade, your living situation might become a bit tense for a while.

If you need to take a break or save up more money for future projects, you can still make enhancements to your house, but in ways that are much more budget friendly. Painting requires very little money forward and does have an impact on your house’s value, especially if you choose earthy, neutral tones throughout your house that most people find pretty agreeable. You can also do things like updating old light fixtures, filling out flower beds with low-maintenance plants or adding new hardware to cabinets or doors to boost value without breaking the bank.

Maintain your property

Regularly cleaning and maintaining your property will definitely help maintain the value of your house. A house well-cared for is better for you and better for buyers. So, from the inside-out, make sure to keep your house neat and clean. Choose durable, mark-resistant paint that will help fight off dinginess over time. Take care of your hardwood or carpeted floors with wood treatments and deep-cleaning, respectively. Regularly dust and change your air filter to help maintain your HVAC system. Maintain the outside of your house by pressure washing and, better yet, sealing fences and porches. Clean your gutters to avoid roof damage or damage to your house’s gutter and drain system. You get the idea.

For extra assurance, you could have home inspections conducted on your house periodically. This will not only help you catch problems before they develop into costly nightmares, but these home inspections will remain on record for any potential buyers so they can see how you’ve maintained your home over time.

Don’t over-improve

When making improvements to your house, don’t forget to keep an eye on the market in your neighborhood. You don’t want to put forth gigantic investments on remodeling and renovations, if the market doesn’t support it. Poor school zones, traffic, construction, the value of your neighbor’s houses and much more will all play a factor in the value of your home. So, if you find yourself facing this conundrum, you might want to consider if it’s time for you to move to a new area and put your money towards that, as opposed to sinking a lot of money into upgrades that might not pay off in the long run. This isn’t to say that, if your home exceeds market value, it will never sell or buyers won’t bite if it’s a little bit more, but it’s definitely a factor you want to consider, because there’s no guarantee that you’ll make that additional money back or that you won’t run into problems when it comes time for your house to be appraised for loans.

Before you get started on renovations, it’s never a bad idea to contact a local realtor for some insight into how the market’s doing in your neck of the woods and for some advice on which improvements tend to be the most beneficial.

Should I Sell or Rent My House?


It’s a scenario most often experienced by those who are in the midst of relocating — should I sell my house or rent it? There are multiple factors that come into play here, and before you decide on anything, here are five questions you should ask yourself first:

How much equity do I have?

The amount of equity holds some major bearings on which path you should choose right from the get-go. For instance, if you have little to no equity (only a few thousand dollars or less), renting can help you build more equity until you have enough money to cover selling costs (more on that below). Selling your home when you have only a very small amount of equity depends on your available cash to bring to settlement. No cash typically means a short sale or foreclosure, which may or may not be a viable option depending on your situation.

Additionally, you should take into consideration the rate at which your home is building equity. If your home is appreciating quickly, it might be better to hold on to that property for as long as the trend continues, if you can continue to cover the costs of owning while renting.

Is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market?

Obviously, if you’re living in a seller’s market, then selling your home might be the better option because you’ll be more likely to get the most for your home, whereas selling in a buyer’s market typically means settling for less. But that’s not the only thing you need to take into consideration. You have to keep in mind that:

  1. You’re focusing on local trends, not statewide or nationwide trends, and
  2. Your ability to sell your home for a profit depends on individual home values in your immediate area.

It’s never a bad idea to contact a local realtor to discuss market trends and run some comps (comparables) to determine what the average value of homes in your neighborhood are going for. They’ll be able to provide you with an accurate depiction of what the local market is doing presently, what it’s done in the past, and what it’s most likely to do in the future, carving out a much clearer picture of how your house will do on the market. If it happens to be that you’re in a buyer’s market and might have a hard time selling (or already know you will through experience), renting can be a logical solution to help cover any remaining mortgage payments or save up for selling costs again while you’re stuck in limbo.

Is the rental market in good health?

Rent is also subject to market trends. If you’re asking for more than most are willing to pay, you’ll be hard pressed to find tenants, which will become one of your number one priorities if you decide to rent your home. So, if rent values for properties similar to your home are too low to cover your mortgage payments, then renting may not be the best choice, unless you’re willing to make up the difference. You also have to pay attention to demand. How long does it take similar properties to find qualified renters? Are rental properties quickly snatched up? Or do they linger? Are you confident in your ability to cover costs if rent doesn’t get paid or if tenants have to leave unexpectedly?

Which costs can I afford?

There are costs associated with both selling and renting your home. The big question is, which costs are most affordable for you? There are, as we mentioned before, selling costs that you need to consider: real estate commissions for your selling agent, any home warranty or bonus offers made in conjunction with the sale of the house, transfer taxes, cost of repairs required by inspections, title search fees, capital gain tax and more.

On the flip side, managing a rental property will require money for any repairs or maintenance or, if you decide to use a property management association to take care of all of the maintenance and billing for you, money for fees and services. Money received in rent is usually considered additional income as well, which means additional taxes. There are tax deductions for rental income. For instance, certain repairs, operating expenses, property depreciation or property taxes may be deductible, but it’s best to discuss which deductions you’ll actually be eligible for with an accountant, rather than hoping the deductions will be worth the increased taxes.

Do I want to be a landlord?

Finally, you need to ask yourself if you really and truly can handle being a landlord, as this comes with a whole host of responsibilities that require money and time. First, you need to find tenants that are trustworthy and likely to pay their rent on time, which may require background checks, credit checks and other verification. Even with these measures, tenants may still be late with rent or miss payments altogether. As the landlord, however, you’ll be responsible to pick up the pieces, wherever they may fall, so if your property is damaged, it’s up to you to fix it. If your tenant turns out to be unreliable, it’s up to you to find another. If you’re doing this on your own, this is a serious investment in time. If you’re working with a property management group, you’ll still have to be available for any issues that may arise with your property, as most management groups require the landlord’s permission in many incidents.

Asking yourself these questions can help prepare you for either option you choose. However, if you still need some help, contact us at info@intracoastalrealty.com, or give us a call at 1-800-533-1840. Whether you need help selling your home or managing your soon-to-be rental property, we’re here to lend a hand.

6 Important Questions to Ask During an Open House


Ah, the open house. Not only are open houses fun (for the not-so-few of us who love looking at houses), but they can incredibly informative, especially if you know the right questions to ask during your inside tour. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list to get you started.

1. Why are the sellers selling?

It’s very unlikely that the listing agent or sellers will sit you down and tell you the whole story, especially if the story is of a negative nature. In fact, they may not really tell you much at all, and they don’t really have to. But, at least posing the question gives you a reaction to gauge. If the agent or seller seems extremely hesitant, it might be that there’s something wrong with the house. Or maybe they didn’t like the surrounding area or neighbors. If that’s the case, you might need to do a little digging.

House inspections should reveal any serious issues with the house that might otherwise be hidden, but what about the area? Check the crime rates for the area. Is the house located in a noise zone from a nearby airport? Is there a loud train closeby? Is there construction or a DOT project gone astray (or one that might just be starting) that might be negatively impacting the area? It’s also good to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood on your own. Take a drive through it at different times of the day and week to see what sort of activity is taking place. Are there kids and families playing and taking walks? Or, are you seeing something more nefarious?

On the flip side, it could also be that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the house and the sellers are moving because of something personal, like needing to move closer to family, or because of a new job offer. Regardless, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

2. Is the seller on a timeline?

This is something the seller or agent will probably be much more willing to divulge, and it’s extremely helpful for you in forming a strategy. If the seller is trying to scoot as soon as possible, then you’ll need to keep that in mind. If you’re interested in the house, you’ll need to do any research quickly and start thinking seriously about what kind of offer you want to make. The good news is that, if the seller is trying to wrap things up quickly, you might have more negotiating power with your price. Throw in the fact that you’re willing to work with their timeline, and you may just have yourself a deal. And, of course, if the scenario is quite the opposite, and the seller has all the time in the world, they’re probably not going to be as likely to bite on a lower figure, so you’ll have to regroup and restrategize, or just up your offer.

3. When were updates to the house last made?

You’re not necessarily asking about when the tile backsplash in the kitchen or the new double-sink vanity in the bathroom were added here. Your focus is on the big, expensive updates that keep the house safe and in working order. For instance, you need to inquire about non-glamorous items such as: when the water heater was last replaced, when the roof was last updated, how long the A/C unit has been chugging along, when was the last time the septic was pumped, etc. It doesn’t matter how alluring a house is, if you’re looking at thousands of dollars of updates in the near future, you need to make sure you’re prepared for that and factor in any necessary upgrades that you can try to ask the seller to make prior to your purchase of the home.

4. How’s the house doing otherwise?

While you’re on the topic of upgrades, you might as well bring up the general maintenance of the home as well. If the aforementioned updates haven’t been made recently, are they due soon? Are there any issues with electrical wiring, pests, leaky roofs, sagging porches? Does the backyard flood, and subsequently, the back of your house? (This you might actually be able to tell just by looking. Our sandy soil doesn’t hide flood water paths well.) Agents are required to divulge all known information about structural defects and code violations, but it doesn’t hurt to get a little chatty to determine if there any other issues that are less “official,” but still detrimental.

5. What’s the neighborhood like?

It’s good to both ask the agent or seller about the neighborhood, in addition to doing a little looking around of your own. The seller or agent might be able to give you a more in-depth idea of what kind of residents live in the neighborhood — young couples, retirees, etc. — and if neighbors are friendly or keep to themselves. But, doing a little investigating on your own can let you know for sure if the house is in a good school zone, in an area subject to crime, etc. It might also be good to either ask about or research to see what the turnover rate is in the neighborhood. Is it stable? Or are there families constantly moving in and out? Is there something that might be causing people to quickly leave after just settling in? Is there a lot of development popping up in the immediate area? What kind of development? While you may or may not really care about the surrounding area, keep in mind that, should you ever need to move, the locale can hold a major bearing on the value of your house in the future.

Without a doubt, if you’re working with a buyer’s agent, you need to ask them about this. One of the key benefits of having a buyer’s agent is their ability to give you a more honest look at how the neighborhood is doing and how it’ll probably be doing in the future.

6. Have there been any offers made on the house?

Here’s another area where listing agents won’t be bashful. If there are one or more existing offers on the house, they’ll be sure to let you know, because more offers means more competition means more money. Talk with your agent about your prospects in a bidding war to determine if you should participate, or move on. On the other hand, maybe an offer hasn’t been made in quite a while on the house. The seller might be more willing to accept the next offer that comes along. Really, this all just depends on how long the house has been on the market. If it’s new and already decked out in offers, be ready for some stiff competition. If the house has been out there for a while, you’ll have more bargaining rights and might be able to score a really amazing deal.

There you have it — a solid stockpile of strong questions to pose during your next open house to help you find the home that’s best for you.

Need an agent by your side to help? Contact us at info@intracoastalrealty.com or give us a call at 1-800-533-1840 for a helping hand to guide you in your home-buying search.

DIY Home Guide: How to Paint Your Own Home Renovation


Whether you’re trying to update your new home to match your style, prep your old home to sell or just opting for a change of scenery, there’s one simple tool that can completely transform your home: paint. Get tips and guides on how to paint these 10 items or places in your home for a budget-friendly makeover!

1. Front Door

Looking to create a new impression of your home to boost its curb appeal? The front door is an excellent place to start. Decide what kind of look you’re going for — fresh, bold, vintage, quaint — and pick out your paint colors. If you’ve never painted your front door before, check out this quick, learn the details behind how to paint one here to make ensure a smooth painting process. Need some inspiration? Check out these lovely painted doors here.

(Tip: It’s often easier to just leave the door on its hinges while you paint, but don’t forget to cover your floor in case it drips!)

2. Floor

If you’ve got battered hardwood floors, painting just might be the way to go if you can’t afford to refinish or replace them. Clean them, sand them and slap on a coat of paint. Feeling adventurous? Branch out with some retro stencils or checkerboard patterns to spice things up a bit. You can even repaint linoleum with a funky pattern, or just a fresh coat of solid color.

(Tip: Tile floors will also require their own, epoxy-based paint. Read the Tub & Tile section below for more on this.)

3. Mirrors

Painting mirrors can be a really quick and easy way to add some visual interest to your home. Or if you’re not a fan of the mirrored, sliding-glass doors that sometimes conceal bedroom closets, you can just cover them with a splash of color in lieu of their reflective surfaces. The good thing about this project is that is requires less prep than others (no sanding, for instance). Although you may find yourself wondering about how to paint glass so that it can’t just peel right off. You’ll need to use glass paint or you can even use frosted glass spray paint, maybe with some stenciling to create an interesting pattern, to really class up that glass.

(Tip: If you have sliding mirrored doors in your home, and you’re fine with them, but you want to update the trim, check out this tutorial here!)

4. Furniture

This category is limitless — if it has a hard surface, it can be painted. And in so many ways! With some painter’s tape, you can apply any sort of geometric pattern, stripes or designs that you can think of. Normally, pieces just need a little cleaning and sanding and then they’re ready to be painted. Never rush painting furniture though! Each coat needs to be given enough time to dry to the point where it’s hard, normally at least a full 24 hours. If not, the furniture’s surface will be soft and will easily be marked up and scuffed over time. Before you begin, read this for some quick, essential tips on painting furniture. If you’re looking for inspiration, Pinterest is an excellent muse. Found a piece you’re ready to paint, but not sure how to get started? Simply search the web for a how to paint [insert item here] guide on just about anything!

(Tip: If you’re painting anything with drawers, door or knobs, make sure to number or label everything with a piece of painter’s tape for seamless reassembly! You can also paint “wooden” furniture that’s actually laminate — just give it a very light sanding first.)

5. Ceiling

Somewhat of an unexpected option, painting the ceiling can be a simultaneously subtle and dramatic way to change the appearance of an entire room. Typically, painting the ceiling (a color other than white) works best when the rest of the room is a neutral color or it’s a light color. For instance, if you have neutral light walls, painting your ceiling a more dramatic color would work well, or vice-versa. Some people will even opt to paint their ceiling the exact same color as their walls — which is en vogue right now. Check out this article for some inspiration.

(Tip: Don’t roll directly over your head when painting a ceiling. Try to position yourself in a way where you can roll straight, parallel lines toward and away from yourself. This makes the process easier, cleaner and safer for your back.)

6. Light Fixtures

Outdated fixtures can really clash with the vibe of a room. However, before you just opt to replace that light fixture that is the bane of your dining room, really take a look at it. How would it look with a more modern, matte color and maybe some new light bulbs? If it works, but just isn’t very pretty, a coat of paint may be just the answer you’ve been looking for. Same goes for outdoor light fixtures as well. Many homes are still sporting lanterns from the 70s and 80s that are borderline medieval-looking. But what would they look like if they were bright red or yellow? Or a clean, fresh white? Or a steely gray? Now, the trick is just finding the right shade of Rust-o-leum.

(Tip: Using cling/saran wrap or something like Glad’s Press’n Seal is an ingenious way to protect large areas of your light fixture, like glass panes or glass bulb covers, while you spray paint.)

7. Stairs

If you have wooden stairs, painting them can make such a bold statement! You can paint the risers in an ombre spectrum (like these), paint just the risers or just the treads, paint yourself a stair runner or deck out each riser with its own, bold pattern. Ready to tackle this project? Read more about how to paint a runner with this tutorial to get you started.

(Tip: You may need to paint every other step during this process so the stairs can still be used! Also, consider adding a traction paint additive to the stairs to keep them from being too slick.)

8. Paintings

This is somewhat of an unorthodox item to paint, but painting paintings can be a cool way to add some artwork to your walls without spending a fortune — especially if you’re trying to fill a wall with hanging art á la wall galleries like this one. This is look is super simple and quick to achieve, (although there’s really no dipping involved). Check out the directions for this look here.

(Tip: We recommend thrift store finds for this project! That way you’re not permanently altering an expensive piece of art. You can however, always give your painted painting a new frame if you tire of the “dipped” look.)

9. Tub & Tile

If you’re living in an older home then, chances are, you may know the pastel-tiled-bathroom look all too well. Which means you also know the struggles of trying to scrub some white out of that dingy grout too. This feat, we’ve deemed, is impossible. However, it is possible to rid yourself of your baby-pink, pea-green or powder-blue bathroom — with paint! This is a bit of an undertaking, but the results are well worth it. Here’s an excellent step-by-step guide on how to paint your bathroom (tub, tile and all) here.

(Tip: You’ll need to use epoxy paint for anything tub or tile related, which has some pretty heavy-duty fumes. This is a task better suited for Spring or Fall, so you can keep a window open while you paint.)

10. Porch

Porches are wonderful. There’s just nothing like being able to enjoy some nice weather on your porch, maybe admiring the yard you slaved over last season, sipping some tea or ice-cold lemonade. Breathe some life into a worn-down portico, or transform it into a new haven with a fresh coat of paint. Need some ideas? You can follow old, southern traditions, like painting your porch ceiling blue to paint off evil spirits. Or try out some non-traditional patterns on the floor of your porch using stencils. Or you can add pops of color by painting your railings, shutters or doors bright, while flanking them with a neutral backdrop. Check out this step-by-step guide (complete with shopping list) to get the job done!

(Tip: Some porches may contain lead paint, depending on when the house was built or the porch was added. If you know for a fact that the porch is older, you may need to get some paint chips tested. If there’s lead paint, professional removal of the existing paint may be required before you begin.