Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Recipe Courtesy of ASpicyPerspective.com

Enjoy the fresh appeal of this month’s ultra-moist southern strawberry cake, with its little extra punch of lemon. The fresh strawberries between the cake layers are a sweet surprise when you cut it open. Perfect for summer events, this cake can sit out covered at room temp for 3 days!

Ingredients:

For the Fresh Strawberry Lemonade Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour (2 1/2 cups AP flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 3-9 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 40 small fresh ripe strawberries, trimmed

For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 5-7 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two9-inch cake pans with parchment paper circles then spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For the Cake: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter on high until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Turn the mixer on low and add in the baking powder, salt, eggs, strawberry and vanilla extracts, and lemon zest. Scrape the bowl again and slowly beat in the flour and milk. Mix in food coloring if desired.
  3. Once smooth, pour the batter into the two cake pans. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Then flip the cakes out onto a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.
  4. For the Frosting: In a clean mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl and beat in the butter. (Do this separately to avoid clumps.) Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the lemon juice. One cup at a time, beat in the powdered sugar, until you reach your desired consistency. Scrape the bowl and beat again until very smooth.
  5. To Assemble: Place one cake layer on a cake stand. Spread frosting over the cake in a thin layer. Press the strawberries, trimmed side down, over the surface of the cake Then slather more frosting over the berries, filling the spaces in between. Set the top cake layer over the strawberries and press to level. Dollop frosting over the top and spread in out and down over the sides.
  6. For Hombre Frosting Effect: Leave 1/2+ cup frosting in the mixing bowl. Add 1-3 drop red food coloring into the frosting and beat until the color is consistent. Starting at the bottom, spread the frosting around the edges. Then move upward in sweeping motions. Spread a little pink over the top if desired.

Bakers Tip:

The easiest way to level and frost a cake is to take the time to freeze the cake layers first. Wrap each layer in plastic and freeze for at least 2 hours. Then stack, level, and frost the cake as directed. Set the cake out on the counter for another 2-3 hours to thaw and soften. This helps ward off broken cake layers, slanted cakes, and crumbs in the frosting. This cake can sit out at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.


July Area Events

Open until 9/11: Waterfront Market – Ocean Isle Beach

Open until 10/7: Carolina Beach Farmers Market – Carolina Beach Lake Park

6/12 – 9/1: Wilmington Sharks Baseball Home Games – 2149 Carolina Beach Rd, Wilmington

7/1, 7, 14, 21, 28: Performing Arts Night – Carolina Beach Boardwalk Gazebo

7/6, 13, 20, 27: Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast: – Cape Fear Blvd & Carolina Beach Ave N

7/1-2: 8th Annual Ocean City Jazz Festival | 2649 Island Drive, North Topsail Beach

7/1, 8, 15, 22, 29: Shallotte Farmers Market – Mulberry Park

7/1, 7, 14, 21, 28: Oak Island Summer Concert Series – Middleton Park Soccer Field

7/2, 9, 16, 23, 30: Free Movie Night – Carolina Beach Lake Park

7/2: NC Symphony Presents, Stars & Stripes – CFCC / The Wilson Center

7/2, 16: Kure Beach: Boogie in the Park Concert Series – Kure Beach Ocean Front Park

7/3: Ocean Isle Beach Freedom Celebration Fireworks – Ocean Isle Beach Pier | 1 W First St

7/3: Independence Day Fireworks by the Sea, Pleasure Island – Ocean Isle Pier

7/3, 10, 17, 24, 31: Ocean Isle Beach Turtle Talks – The Museum of Coastal Carolina

7/4: Wilmington 4th of July Celebration – Riverfront Park & N. Water St

7/4: Ocean Isle Fourth of July Parade – Ocean Isle Beach Pier | 1 W First St

7/4: Vans Warped Tour 17 – Legion Stadium

7/4-23: MR. ROBERTS – A Thalian Association Ccommunity Theatre Production – Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

7/4: 2017 NC 4th of July Festival – Southport

7/ 6, 13, 20, 27: WECT Sounds of Summer Concerts in the Park –  Wrightsville Beach Park

7/7, 21: Airlie Gardens Summer Concert Series – Airlie Gardens

7/7, 14, 21, 28 : Downtown Sundown Concert Series – Riverfront Park

7/7, 14, 21, 28: Ocean Isle Summer Concert Series – across from the Museum of Coastal Carolina

7/7-9: East Coast Got Em On King Mackerel Classic – Carolina Beach Municipal Docks

7/9: Yonder Mountain String Band plus Tyler Childers – Greenfield Lake Amphitheater

7/13: Jazz at the Mansion Concert Series – Bellamy Mansion

7/13: Cody Jinks plus Paul Cauthen – Greenfield Lake Amphitheater

7/13, 27, 29: Southport Summer Concert Series – Franklin Square & Garrison Lawn

7/14-30: UNCW / Lumina Festival of the Arts  – Kenan Auditorium

7/15: Oakdale Cemetery Angel Walking Tour – Oakdale Cemetery

7/28: Fourth Friday Gallery Nights – Downtown Wilmington

7/28: Sinbad – CFCC / The Wilson Center


Luxury Portfolio Spotlight: Ocean Front on Figure Eight, Villa in Porto Cervo and a Miami Beach Getaway on La Gorce Island

As our partnership with Luxury Portfolio allows, Intracoastal Realty’s listings are often featured on LuxuryPortfolio.com. We often spotlight outstanding listings around the world and become enamored with the many features, outdoor spaces, and interior design and decor of these lavish properties. This month the properties listed showcase spectacular views in exceptional locations! We hope you enjoy learning more about these three extraordinary waterfront homes.

Grand Oaks is a 2.8 acre estate located on the ICW and constructed with exceptional quality. The residence, with over 6,300 sqft., rests under a canopy of majestic oaks. The four bedroom home has undergone major remodeling in 2004 with the finest quality products available. With marble and wood flooring of heart pine, maple and cherry, exquisite moldings and attention to every detail, this home is for family, friends and grand entertaining. A walk down the lawn to the bridge over to the deeded island with oyster pit, water and electricity and your private pier on the ICW. The pier has slips and lifts to accommodate an array of water craft. This is a setting rarely found with a home of exquisite taste.

PROPERTY FEATURES INCLUDE: Waterfront, 3 Fireplace(s), Security System, Central cooling, Forced Air Geo Thermal Heat Pump, Irrigation System; Shutters – Board/Hurricane; Thermal Doors; Thermal Windows

BUILT IN: 1992

See it!

Situated in one of the most desirable and private corners of Porto Cervo, Villa Carla Felice stands out for its modern lines and uncommon elegance, also for the high standards of the Costa Smeralda.

Offering a luxury and privacy in an enviable natural setting, this exquisite six-bedroom villa benefits from direct beach access, via a small path that winds its way through idyllic gardens to the glistening shoreline beyond.

Built to the very highest standards and designed to maximize its location, the home is arranged so that every room enjoys a sea view, while sliding doors open on to balconies and terraces, allowing the light to flow in.

The main villa comprises four beautiful en suite bedrooms and generously proportioned living areas, and the property also has a spacious two-bedroom guesthouse with independent access, which fully meets the needs to accommodate up to 4 other people.

Nestled in a wide, lush Mediterranean garden, the property include a covered outdoor dining area, a magnificent pool, a heated Jacuzzi, and a secure parking.

An authentic jewel in the heart of the Costa Smeralda, this immaculate home offers resort-style living at its finest.

PROPERTY FEATURES INCLUDE: Waterfront, five covered parking spaces, Outdoor kitchen with dining area up to 20 people

VIEWS INCLUDE: Water, Sunset, Sunrise

ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: Mediterranean

See it!

Fabulous La Gorce Island waterfront, with four car garage, gym, elevator, eat-in Island kitchen, family room, formal living and dining, surrounding a focal double staircase. High ceilings, spacious areas include a luxurious master suite with wrap around terrace, bath, enormous his/hers closet plus sitting room-office. A covered outdoor living room overlooks pool, spa, dock, BBQ and cabana bath, providing a perfect space to relax outdoors. An elegant sanctuary offering blissful living in private surroundings.

BUILT IN: 1995

APPROXIMATE SQUARE FEET: 7,471 ft.

 See it!


Choose Home Renovations That Yield the Highest Returns, Not the Flashiest Looks

It’s nearly impossible to flip through your channel guide without seeing a show about home improvement. Even the least motivated among us in the Wilmington NC real estate market might get the inspiration to jazz up their digs after seeing these impressive before and after images. The renovation fever is highly contagious, too. Americans are projected to spend a near-record $317 billion on home improvement this year, according to Consumer Reports.

While it might be tempting to start knocking down walls and breaking out the paint all in the name of making your home look more modern and eye-catching, bear in mind that some of the most savvy improvements you can make are not quite as glamorous as what you’ll see on TV. Remodeling magazine compares the average cost for 29 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale. This cost vs. value analysis can help you decide what will give you the highest return on investment when the time comes to sell your house, and it’s not always the flashy renovations that yield the most financially. Below are the top five national mid-range projects in terms of cost vs. value for 2017, according to Remodeling.

Attic insulation (fiberglass)
Cost recouped: 107.7%
The project calls for a professional remodeler to air-seal a 35×30 attic floor to address any air leakage from conditioned space to unconditioned space. Then the expert would add fiberglass loosefill insulation, placing it on top of the existing insulation if present. Fiberglass loosefill would be applied until thickness equating with R-30 insulation value is reached.

Entry door replacement (steel)
Cost recouped: 90.7%
Remove the existing 3-0/6-8 entry door and jambs and replace with new 20-gauge steel unit, including a clear dual-pane half-glass panel, jambs, and an aluminum threshold with a composite stop. The door is factory-finished with the same color on both sides. Exterior brick-mold and 2.5-inch interior colonial or ranch casings in poplar or equal prefinished should match the door color. Replace the existing lockset with a new bored lock in brass or antique-brass finish.

Manufactured stone veneer
Cost recouped: 89.4%
Remove a 300-square-foot continuous band of existing vinyl siding from the bottom third of the street-facing façade, beginning at the garage, continuing around the main entry, and ending at the corner of the side addition. Replace with adhered manufactured stone veneer, including 36 linear feet of sills, 40 linear feet of corners, and one address block. Installation includes two separate layers of water-resistant barrier laid over bare sheathing, corrosion-resistant lath and fasteners, and nominal ½-inch-thick mortar scratch coat and setting bed. Outline the archway using an 8×10-inch keystone and a soldier course of flats on either side.

Minor kitchen remodel
Cost recouped: 80.2%
In a functional but dated 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops, leave cabinet boxes in place but replace fronts with new shaker-style wood panels and drawer fronts, including new hardware. Replace combination cooktop/oven range and slide-in refrigerator with new energy-efficient models. Replace laminate countertops; install mid-priced sink and faucet. Repaint trim, add wall covering, and remove and replace resilient flooring.

Garage door replacement
Cost recouped: 76.9%
Remove and dispose of the existing 16×7-foot garage door and tracks. Install a new four-section garage door on new galvanized steel tracks; reuse the existing motorized opener. The new door is uninsulated, single-layer, embossed steel with two coats of baked-on paint, galvanized steel hinges, and nylon rollers. It has a 10-year limited warranty.

Looking to spend a little more? Below are the top five national upscale projects in terms of cost vs. value for 2017, according to Remodeling.

Garage door replacement
Cost recouped: 85.0%
Remove and dispose of the existing 16×7-foot garage door and tracks. Install a new four-section garage door on new heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks; reuse the existing motorized opener. The new door is high-tensile-strength steel with two coats of factory-applied paint and foam insulated to minimum R-12 with thermal seals between pinch-resistant panels. Windows in the top panel are ½-inch insulated glass. Hardware includes galvanized steel hinges and ball-bearing urethane rollers. There is a lifetime warranty.

Entry door replacement (fiberglass)
Cost recouped: 77.8%
Remove the existing 3-0/6-8 entry door and jambs and replace with a new fiberglass unit with simulated wood grain, stained the same color on both sides. There would also be a dual-pane, decorative half-glass panel with zinc caming, PVC-wrapped exterior trim in a color to match the existing trim, and 2.5-inch interior colonial or ranch casings in hardwood stained to match the door. Replace the existing lockset with a mortise lock with a lever handle and integrated deadbolt in oil-rubbed bronze or satin-nickel finish.

Window replacement (vinyl)
Cost recouped: 73.9%
Replace 10 existing 3×5-foot double-hung windows with insulated, low-E, simulated-divided-lite vinyl windows. There should be a simulated wood-grain interior finish and custom-color exterior finish. Trim the exterior to match what exists; do not disturb the existing interior trim.

Window replacement (wood)
Cost recouped: 73.0%
Replace 10 existing 3×5-foot double-hung windows with insulated, low-E, simulated-divided-lite wood windows. There should be an interior finish of stained hardwood and exterior finish of custom-color aluminum cladding. Trim the exterior to match what exists; do not disturb the existing interior trim.

Grand entrance (fiberglass)
Cost recouped: 70.1%
Remove the existing 3-0/6-8 entry door and cut and reframe the opening for a 12-36-12 entrance door with dual sidelights. Move the double-gang electrical box with two switches. The fiberglass door blank should match the upscale entry, including color, threshold, lockset, and decorative half-glass; sidelights should match the door. The PVC-wrapped exterior trim color should match the existing trim; wider interior colonial or ranch casings (3.5-inch to cover new jack studs) in hardwood should be stained to match the door. All work should be completed in one day.

For information on all 29 projects and their cost vs. value comparison at resale in various individual U.S. markets for 2002-2017, visit www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2017.

Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or rent, Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 13 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.


Sellers Celebrating Quick Sales in Booming Real Estate Market

In our last post, we looked at what’s been happening lately in the Southeastern North Carolina real estate market from the perspective of buyers, who are seeing lots of competition – and subsequent frustration – when making offers on the limited supply of available properties. On the flip side, however, sellers are seeing lightning-fast, full-price offers on their properties, some even experiencing multiple offers above their asking price. Here are some examples of recent satisfied Intracoastal Realty sellers:

  • Last year, houses in Rivers Edge near the corner of Independence Boulevard and River Road were taking several months to sell. When 2017 rolled around, things changed quickly. Natasha Moffitt put her three-bedroom home on the market in April, and in less than 24 hours the first person to look at it had made a full-price offer. “After the first of the year, all of a sudden the market picked up and people were going crazy,” Moffitt said. “I knew it would go quickly based on what had sold around us recently, but I figured it would be within a week or two. I didn’t expect it to be the very first person who looked at it.”
  • Earlier this year, Vicki Brocklebank was looking to sell a vacation home in Brunswick County’s Ocean Isle Beach, where the market has been a little slower to heat up, and in the $700,000 price range, which has also been much cooler than homes below $500,000. To her surprise, an offer close to the asking price came in for the five-bedroom, waterfront home within about a week, and soon they were under contract. “We were not expecting it to sell that quickly,” she said. “It caught us off guard, really.”

The same possible obstacles for buyers that we outlined last week are going to work swimmingly in your favor if you’re selling. First and foremost, there is a low inventory of available homes in the current real estate market. To put home inventory into perspective locally, for the first quarter of 2017 in New Hanover County there were 3.0 months of supply. That is the lowest figure since the first quarter of 2006. Inventory in New Hanover County hit a high peak of 22.6 months in the second quarter of 2009 and has been steadily declining since then. It finally dipped below 5 months in the fourth quarter of 2014, and the sellers’ market has been heating up ever since. The lowest supply figures, all 3 months or less, are for homes less than $100,000 up to $319,999. The figures jump over 5 months for homes in the $320,000-$349,999 range, dip again below 5 months for those in the $350,000-$499,000 range, and then jump above 6 months for $500,000 and beyond.

Outlying counties have a little more available inventory, with first quarter 2017 supply figures at 6.1 months for Brunswick and 4.7 months for Pender.

A normal market, with a supply of homes that meets buyer demand, occurs with 5-6 months of supply. Anything above 6 months of supply is considered a buyers’ market, with the supply of homes exceeding buyer demand and sellers pricing properties competitively for a quick sale. Anything below 5 months of supply represents a sellers’ market, with the buyer demand outpacing the supply of homes.

Other factors that are currently on a seller’s side: There’s a good chance you will get a full-price offer or even higher for your property, and prospective buyers will likely be willing to compromise a lot more on various aspects of the contract, including earnest money deposit, closing date, contingencies, and closing costs, knowing they will be competing with many other interested parties.

All of this adds up to record-breaking local home sales statistics. In a recent announcement, Cape Fear Realtors said home sales in its market, which involves members mainly in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties, were up nearly 19 percent, from 814 homes in May 2016 to 968 in May this year. The May 2017 total was the highest recorded for the month since CFR began keeping track in 1998, according to the CFR database. The average sale price in May hit a nine-year high of $274,150 last month, 5.6 percent higher than May last year, the CFR release said. Year to date, the number of units sold increased by 19.7 percent compared to the same period last year, the average sales price was up 4.4 percent, the total sales volume was up 25.21 percent, and average days on the market dropped 13 percent to 89 days.

Even though sellers are in the driver’s seat now, it’s still important to find an experienced real estate agent who can help you price your home profitably yet competitively, help you get your home ready for showings, and connect you with serious buyers.

As far as any other advice for sellers? “Be ready to move,” Moffitt said.

If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, good timing is on your side right now as the tides have turned to offer profitable returns on your property investment. Let Intracoastal Realty help you take advantage of the bustling sellers’ market Southeastern North Carolina is experiencing. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 13 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.


Housing Inventory Levels, and What it Means for Buyers

Remember when buying a home meant getting a deal well below the seller’s asking price and having your pick of many available properties? Nationwide, those days of a buyers’ market have come to an end, and Southeastern North Carolina is no exception. If you want to purchase a home and haven’t had any recent experience making offers, you might be surprised at what you’ll find in store for you.

There are three main obstacles you’re likely to face when shopping for a home in the current market:

Inventory

Expect a low inventory of available homes in the current real estate market. To put home inventory into perspective locally, for the first quarter of 2017 in New Hanover County there were 3.0 months of supply. That is the lowest figure since the first quarter of 2006. Inventory in New Hanover County hit a high peak of 22.6 months in the second quarter of 2009 and has been steadily declining since then. It finally dipped below 5 months in the fourth quarter of 2014, and the sellers’ market has been heating up ever since. The lowest supply figures, all 3 months or less, are for homes less than $100,000 up to $319,999. The figures jump over 5 months for homes in the $320,000-$349,99 range, dip again below 5 months for those in the $350,000-$499,000 range, and then jump above 6 months for $500,000 and beyond.

Outlying counties have a little more available inventory, with first quarter 2017 supply figures at 6.1 months for Brunswick and 4.7 months for Pender.

A normal market, with a supply of homes that meets buyer demand, occurs with 5-6 months of supply. Anything above 6 months of supply is considered a buyers’ market, with the supply of homes exceeding buyer demand and sellers pricing properties competitively for a quick sale. Anything below 5 months of supply represents a sellers’ market, with the buyer demand outpacing the supply of homes.

Price
As mentioned above, don’t expect to make a successful offer for significantly less than the listing price in today’s market. In fact, you may have to offer a little more if you want your offer to stand out and be accepted. The limited supply of homes on the market means prices go up, so a discounted offer will likely not even be considered. This does not mean you should overpay for a home, however. Your real estate agent can research “comps” for the neighborhoods where you are considering moving, which will help you determine a price that will respect the current market but also protect your investment’s future value.

Negotiating

With many potential buyers and a short supply of homes, be prepared for a bidding war over many of the properties that catch your interest. You probably won’t be the only one trying to jump on a good opportunity. Let your real estate agent be your guide during the negotiation process.

So what’s a prospective buyer to do with all of these cards stacked against him or her? While you may need to prepare yourself for a fair amount of frustration and disappointment while searching for your next home, don’t give up hope. Here are some tips for making the process a little less painful:

Find a knowledgeable agent

Because sellers pay commission on their end, it doesn’t cost you a thing to hire a real estate agent to help you navigate the tricky waters of the current market. An experienced agent has tools that will allow him or her to know immediately when a property comes on the market or even earlier through word of mouth. A number of homes in this area have recently gone under contract due to buyers hearing about them before the listing became official. This expertise will save time and increase your options in a market with limited options.

Compromise

With sellers in the driver’s seat, in addition to making an offer at or above the listing price, you may have to make some concessions regarding the earnest money deposit, closing date, contingencies, and closing costs to make your offer more attractive. Expect that you will be competing against others for the property you want.

Talk to a lender

Before making an offer, you definitely want to be prequalified by a lender. Without this, a seller won’t know whether you’ll be able to obtain a loan for the home and might think you aren’t taking house hunting seriously. In this market, that’s basically a guarantee that your offer won’t fly. It is better that you go ahead with preapproval, which involves submitting a mortgage application complete with verifying documents.

Write a personal letter to the sellers

Another way you could make your offer stand out is to let the sellers know a little about you and your family and why you love their home. Some sellers may have an emotional attachment to their property and want to see it go to someone who will enjoy it as much as they have.

Act fast

If you really want to buy a house in this market, treat the process like a job, not an afterthought. Don’t expect a listing to be available if you wait until the weekend when you have more time. You need to be ready to see a house right away because it’s possible there will be multiple offers within hours. If you don’t make yourself available for immediate showings, you could miss out on many opportunities.

Make a plan

Are you looking to buy and sell simultaneously? Intracoastal Realty clients Tom and Adrienne Wunder of Wilmington found themselves in a tricky situation when they did this recently. Their home went under contract within hours of listing, but due to the hot sellers’ market they were unable to secure their next residence right away. After the sale closed, they were able to rent their previous residence back from the new buyer for a month before finally finding and closing on what they wanted. The Wunders joked with their agent that they might have to move in with her. “It was touch and go there for a while,” Tom said. “We probably couldn’t have done this without Intracoastal Realty.” Other housing options when your property sells faster than you can buy another include moving into an apartment or other short-term rental and crashing with family while renting storage for your items.

There’s no time like the present to start your home search, especially with the current market conditions. Let Intracoastal Realty work for you and put you where you want to be. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 13 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.

In Part 2, we’ll look at the current real estate market from the standpoint of sellers. Many have experienced lightning-fast transactions with multiple offers above their asking prices.


Distressed Properties, While Risky, Can Yield Great Deals

The state of the real estate industry, both locally and nationally, over the past decade or more has resulted in a large number of distressed properties hitting the market. A distressed property is one that has fallen into mortgage default, a scenario that may present a prime opportunity for an investor or anyone looking to snag a great house at a below-market price.

There are currently 711,514 properties in U.S. that are in some stage of foreclosure (default, auction, or bank-owned), according to RealtyTrac, a real estate information company and online marketplace for foreclosed and defaulted properties. In April, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in U.S. was 7% lower than the previous month and 23% lower than the same time last year, so the opportunities to get a rock-bottom deal, while still plentiful, are decreasing.

Saving money is the primary motivating factor for those looking into buying a distressed property. In March, the median sales price of a foreclosure home was $132,100, or 39% lower than non-distressed home sales, according to RealtyTrac.

There are two main types of distressed property situations, and each has a special process for prospective buyers. In a short sale, the lender and borrower agree to a deal in which the property may be sold for less that what is owed, arranged as a pre-foreclosure measure. A foreclosure happens when the borrower is not able to remedy a default on his or her mortgage and the entity that holds the mortgage, usually a bank, has taken ownership of the property with plans to sell and recoup what remains on the loan.

Either of these deals is possible to find in the Wilmington NC real estate market, but before you dive in such opportunities, it’s best to know a little more about what could be in store for you. In fact, you may want to consider finding an agent who has a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification, or SFR®, from the National Association of REALTORS®. These agents can use their expertise to help you limit your risk and otherwise protect prospective buyers from the potential pitfalls of distressed properties.

Length of time

Are you willing and able to put in time and possible disappointment in exchange for the possibility of getting a great deal? If not, then you may want to steer clear of short sales and opt instead for foreclosures, which will go much quicker due to the motivated and unemotional nature of the selling bank. In a short sale transaction, a buyer may have a long wait, often for many months, while the seller’s lender decides whether or not it will accept a short payoff and the owner deals with possible mixed emotions about leaving the home, with no assurance of results. Also, with a short sale you are dealing with multiple parties – the distressed owner and one or more banks, depending on how many loans there were – so things can get very complex and frustrating. A foreclosure requires that you only deal with one party, the lender selling the home.

Condition of property

The good news about a short sale is that you may have the opportunity to view the property during the process. This isn’t always the case with a foreclosure, when you may not be able to walk through or have it inspected by a professional before buying, especially if the purchase is through an auction. Decide whether you are comfortable spending money on something sight unseen and as is, even if you are getting a steal of a deal. Some foreclosures may be left in poor condition when the previous owners were forced to vacate or from long periods of vacancy and neglect, so that’s another thing to consider when determining if it’s worth the risk. Short sales are still occupied and are likely to be in better shape.

Possible obstacles

With a foreclosed property, the bank is responsible for providing a free and clear title upon closing, so the buyer doesn’t have to worry about paying off liens or incurring any seller-related expenses. Also, the terms of the offer will stay fixed throughout the closing process. All of these factors could be variable in a short sale, so you may have more headaches as things progress.

Are you ready to explore the possibility of buying a foreclosure or short sale? When you want to find out more about the process of acquiring a distressed property, Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 13 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.


New Restaurants Are Popping Up All Over New Hanover County

By Judy Royal

“Want to grab breakfast?” “What are you doing for lunch?” “What’s for dinner tonight?” These questions are almost as pervasive in everyday conversation as, “How are you today?” The Wilmington area, known for having a high number of restaurants relative to the size and population of the region, has plenty of options for those seeking a good meal with no effort or mess to clean up afterward. While there are many tried-and-true establishments that have stood the test of time around here, the nature of the industry also lends itself to many newcomers who are ready to give it a go and offer their cuisine to the hungry masses. The following are a few recently opened establishments you might want to consider the next time you dine out:***

Blackfinn Ameripub, 18 Harnett St., Wilmington

This spot in the Pier 33 northern riverfront section of downtown Wilmington has a prime waterfront location with lots of indoor and outdoor seating for all seasons. Catch your favorite sports games on plenty of TV screens, or just sit and enjoy the view for lunch, dinner, or late night. There are plenty of beer, wine, and cocktail selections, including the refreshing Cucumber Cooler and the Blackfinn Bacon Mary. Food runs the gamut from appetizers and small plates such as Fried Deviled Eggs, Southern Nachos, and Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes to salads, sandwiches, and large main dishes, including Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf, Shrimp N Grits, and Chicken Fried Chicken. There is also a weekday happy hour menu with $5 noshes and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Cruz, 7205 Wrightsville Ave., Wilmington

The newest creation from the folks who brought the area K38 Baja Grill and Tower 7 is now open in the bottom floor of the Grand View Luxury Apartments building just west of the drawbridge to Wrightsville Beach. Enjoy lunch and dinner daily, with tasty bites such as Truffle Fries, Florets of Fire (cauliflower), and Mexican Street Corn as well as salads, sandwiches, tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, and main dishes, including Tuna Sedona, Cruz Spring Chicken, and Masonboro Shrimp Bake. Wash it all down with selections from the full bar. The crisp-looking décor includes light colors in a beachy theme.

Far from France, 1474 Barclay Pointe Blvd. #204, Wilmington

Pastries, bread, gourmet chocolate, macarons, and imported French goods line the shelves at this bakery in The Pointe at Barclay, a mixed-use development at the corner of South 17th Street and Independence Boulevard that also features a brand-new movie theater and a number of other shops and businesses. Grab some sweet souvenirs or other goodies and sit outdoors with some coffee, or take them with you. Recent selections included croissants, baguettes, crepe cake, wheat bread, and madeleines, which are French tea cakes. The café is open every day except Monday.

Nollie’s Taco Joint, 3 Pelican Lane, Carolina Beach

Located just a few steps off the beach yet hidden on a side street just off the town’s bustling Boardwalk area, this spot is open daily for lunch and dinner. Tacos on corn or flour tortillas, chips with various salsas and guacamole, burritos, salads, and quesadillas make up the menu, including some vegetarian selections. There is also a lineup of drinks such as micheladas, margaritas, and cold beer. Sit indoors or outdoors on the deck, or take your food with you to enjoy on the sand. Just watch out for the seagulls!

Pho Café, 3926 Market St. #201, Wilmington

Owners of the former Saigon Bistro are back with a smaller-scale operation serving many of the Vietnamese street food items previous customers have been missing. The menu includes a variety of pho, a soup made from a complex broth paired with meat, rice noodles, white onion, green onion, cilantro, bean sprouts, basil, lime, jalapeños, hoisin sauce, and Sriracha sauce on the side. Banh mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich served on homemade baguettes, and boba tea are also among the offerings. Service is mostly takeout with limited dine-in seating. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Southeastern North Carolina has you covered when you’re hungry for a good meal, and Intracoastal Realty is here to satisfy your Wilmington NC real estate needs. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 13 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.

***This list is informational only and does not serve as a review or any other endorsement for these establishments.