Absorption Reports – 2nd Quarter 2017

Absorption rate, also referred to as “inventory levels” or “months of supply”, gives you an idea of the number of months it will take for the current inventory to be sold out based on the last 12 months of sales.

Housing prices stabilize when supply and demand come closer together. Generally speaking, 5-6 months of supply is “normal”. Less than 5 months of supply will result in APPRECIATING home prices, while 7 months or more of supply will result in DEPRECIATING home prices.  New Hanover County is showing a total of 3.32 months of inventory for existing home sales (for comparative purposes, it peaked at 22.6 months in 2009); Brunswick County is at 5.86 months (peaked at 20.0 months in 2009); and Pender County is at 4.61 months (peaked at 22.1 months in 2009).  As you can see from the three county charts below, inventory levels vary by price segment.  Take a look at the absorption reports for a better idea of where your house stands in the market:

New Hanover County

Brunswick County

Pender County


Our History Here: Landfall

Unless you’ve lived in the area for a very long time, you probably don’t remember the days before Landfall. That’s why we want to turn back time and take you through the interesting history of Landfall.

Once upon a time, the 2,200 acres that make up Wilmington’s first gated community were one large tract of woods bordered by what is known today as Eastwood Road, Military Cutoff Road, the Intracoastal Waterway, and Howe Creek.

Formerly known as Pembroke Jones Park, or Pembroke Park, Landfall’s earliest known owner was Pembroke Jones (1858-1919), a millionaire rice broker and railroad investor known for such a lavish lifestyle that he and his wife Sarah were thought by many to be the inspiration for the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses.” Used originally as a hunting preserve, the property was home to a large mansion, or lodge, constructed in 1909 and the site of legendary gatherings with friends and other prominent members of local society.

After Jones’ death 10 years later, the lodge sat abandoned for more than three decades before being destroyed by fire in 1955. A stone gazebo at the center of a restored garden is among the few remaining traces of the famous complex. Jones’ son-in-law, architect John Russell Pope, designed this enduring tribute to the property’s past and later created the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Jane Pope, architect Pope’s daughter and Jones’ granddaughter, eventually inherited the Pembroke Park property. Her husband Anthony B. Akers – a New York lawyer, real estate developer, and former U.S. ambassador to New Zealand – founded Landfall Development Co. during the 1970s and first proposed the idea of transforming the rural property into a residential community. The name paid tribute to the belief that Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano had landed on or near the site during his 1524 voyage up the Atlantic Seaboard for King Francis I of France. The vessel that you see in the Landfall logo represents Verrazano’s ship off the coast.

Akers’ sudden death in 1976 put the Landfall project on hold, but plans were revived a few years later by Landfall Associates, a partnership of the Weyerhaeuser Co., Chapel Hill developer J.P. Goforth (who would go on to build Landfall Shopping Center), and Frank Hawkins Kenan (1912-1996), a Durham businessman and philanthropist with strong family ties to the Wilmington area. New Hanover County officials approved the project in 1984, with construction well under way in 1986. The first clubhouse opened in May 1989, followed by two complete golf courses, a sports center, and a non-denominational chapel. By 1992, lots on Landfall were selling for $60,000, with home prices ranging from $225,000 to $1.2 million.

Many considered this premier residential neighborhood to be a game changer for the local real estate industry as well as the makeup of Wilmington’s population.

“When Landfall was starting in the mid-1980s, some of my agents worried that it would hurt values of other homes, like on Wrightsville Beach,” Jim Wallace, president of Intracoastal Realty, said in a 2012 Greater Wilmington Business Journal article. “But the exact opposite happened. It was a terrific plan, and it has developed a terrific brand in an unusual setting, with a buffer of Wrightsville Beach on one side and Figure Eight Island on the other. It actually raised property values outside Landfall and brought new people here from all over.

“At first, you know, as a gated community, a lot of local folks took a wait-and-see attitude because it was a new upscale community with people from the Northeast,” he added. “But that’s changed, and it’s the high-end portion of our county, at the top of three key areas: downtown, then the (New Hanover Regional) hospital area, and then the Landfall corridor.”

These days, Landfall encompasses more than 2,000 houses and lots with home prices starting at $369,900 and going up to $4.9 million, according to a recent real estate listing search. There are 29 miles of private roads winding around mature trees and immaculate landscaping, complementing an eclectic array of award-winning architecture. Some of the homes afford stunning views of both Wrightsville Beach and the natural marshes that comprise 320 acres of conservation land.

The community is active in philanthropy through the nonprofit Landfall Foundation, which was established in September 1995 when Kenan made an initial investment of $50,000. After residents raised another $50,000, his family matched that with another $50,000 donation. Since then, Landfall Foundation has awarded nearly $3.9 million to hundreds of local charities.

Now that you know the history of Landfall, NC, let Intracoastal Realty help you make this exclusive area part of your future. 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.


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.


Intracoastal HomeSpotter App Makes It Easier in Today’s Real Estate Market

Technology has been a game changer in basically every industry you can imagine, and real estate is certainly no exception. Buyers and sellers have more data at their fingertips than ever, thanks to those ubiquitous smart phones that we all rely upon on a daily basis. Many people look to apps for the information they need in the process of buying and seling a home. This helps educate real estate clients but does not replace the personal service that goes along with having an agent to help navigate the waters.

“While adapting to consumers’ technological needs is a primary goal of Intracoastal Realty, there will always be a need for a market-savvy real estate expert to guide you through the legal aspects of the transaction process,” said Lake Slacum, vice president of marketing for Intracoastal Realty.

Intracoastal Realty has been working to deliver digital solutions to its customers for many years. In the Wilmington NC real estate market, many look to the Intracoastal HomeSpotter App, the area’s most accurate and complete home search app, to help them stay informed about what’s happening locally in the industry. The app, which was launched in November 2014, was the result of careful planning.

“We had been looking at real estate app technology for years,” Slacum said. “We waited for the right solution to come along before investing in the technology. The solutions available years ago were not quite up to par with what we wanted to offer our clients and the home-buying consumer.

“Research led me to a company out of Minnesota that was producing a top-notch real estate app solution that was bug-free, effective, and fast,” he added. “Even though our website has been mobile-responsive, meaning it scales to any device, for years, we still wanted to provide a mobile-specific solution for those who prefer to use apps during their real estate search. With mobile usage increasing significantly year after year, it just made sense.”

The Intracoastal HomeSpotter App’s easy-to-use search functionality displays a map that the user can toggle back and forth between satellite view and map view. There is also a filter to further refine your search by price, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, square footage, and more, plus users can save their favorite properties into a folder for later viewing and reference. The most cutting-edge feature, however, is the HomeSpotter technology. Pressing the HomeSpotter button engages the user’s GPS location and produces nearby properties on the screen in a radar-like fashion.

“This is a great feature that can be used in communities that don’t allow for-sale signs or when cruising in a boat along the Intracoastal Waterway to see which homes are for sale,” Slacum said. “It is state-of-the-art, game-changing technology that no one else in the market currently has. The consumers who download the app are always amazed. It almost always evokes a ‘wow’ or ‘awesome’ when the consumer starts using it.”

Buyers and sellers can both benefit from the Intracoastal HomeSpotter App. Its ease of use and design to work on a mobile device while on the go make it a convenient tool for those searching for a home, it receives a few thousand user sessions each day to increase visibility for those selling, and the information is updated several times daily from the Multiple Listing Service. “This gives us an advantage over some of the national apps, which are notorious for frequently being inaccurate with listings that are not on the market,” Slacum said.

Even those not interested in buying or selling right away will find the Intracoastal HomeSpotter App helpful. It has the ability to display sold properties, so if you want to know what price the homes in your neighborhood are going for, all you have to do it select the “sold” option in the Filter section under Status. “There is no other app like it in the marketplace,” Slacum said. “Not even the big-named national real estate portals have the bells and whistles that the Intracoastal HomeSpotter App has.”

The Intracoastal HomeSpotter App is one component of the technology available to Intracoastal Realty clients. In addition to its websites, there is a paperless transaction program that allows completion and execution of all documents electronically.

“We have the perfect tools to help the consumer find areas and properties of interest and make the process of buying and selling them go more smoothly,” Slacum said. “We are constantly updating these platforms with new features and functionality.”

Check out all the available real estate technology, including the Intracoastal HomeSpotter App, and when you’re ready for some personalized service, 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.


Tortoise and Hare Invade Real Estate Market

By Jim Busby, Broker/REALTOR® with Intracoastal Realty

Reflecting on the trend in the market over the past 10 years, I am reminded of our old friend Aesop with his story of the Tortoise and the Hare. To lay the groundwork for this “fable-listic” tale let’s cite a few facts:

10 Years Ago – In July 2006, the value of homes in the US reached an all-time high driven by a combination of factors including irresponsible lending practices, speculative buying and “flipping” of houses for short-term profit, and good old-fashioned greed. This “too good to last” bubble burst shortly thereafter and on a national basis, the collective value of homes dropped by an average 27% over the ensuing 5 years. Along with this drop came a number of defaults and foreclosures, throwing the market into further disarray and severely impacting the net worth and lifestyle of many Americans while shattering the American Dream of home ownership. For my purposes, this time of the market represents the “Hare” portion of the story, with exciting but unsustainable activity.

Today – It was only recently – the first quarter of 2017 – when the value of homes recovered to the peak values of 2006. This recovery involved slow and steady progress driven by fundamentals including higher employment, low mortgage rates, a compelling opportunity to “buy vs. rent”, and an overall improving economic tide that “lifted all boats”. While not as frenetic – or perhaps as exciting — as the mid-2000s period, this most recent upturn in the market was “come by honestly”, and should be more sustainable and longer lasting, as our friend the Tortoise would have it.

Current View of Local Market – Although values are back to their all-time high, do not feel like you have missed out on the market. In fact, because things have settled into a more orderly trend, there is a reasonable expectation that you would be buying into a more rational and predictable market.

Pricing – As noted above, prices have recovered to previous highs, and in the most recent report on the local market from Cape Fear Realtors Association, the median price increased 4.44% over the past 12 months to $201,025. In terms of unit volume – or number of houses sold – the total of 1160 homes was a 10-year high. We are officially in a “seller’s market” which means there are more people on the buyer’s side than on the seller’s side. According to the basic law of supply and demand, this has started forcing prices higher as buyers compete for a limited number of houses. As part of this equation, the supply of homes in New Hanover County has dropped from a 5.1 month supply in February 2016 to 3.69 months in February 2017. We generally look at a 4-5 month supply as providing a balanced market between buyers and sellers. A related statistic is “days on market” or DOM for a listed house before it sells, which decreases as an active market competes for limited inventory. This figure decreased from 109 DOM in February 2016 to 94 DOM in February 2017.

Interest Rates – Despite several up-ticks in the past year, interest rates are still near historical lows making home ownership very affordable. As of this writing on May 3rd, the 30 year conventional rate was 4.17% which should be a strong “call to action” for anyone still sitting on the fencepost on a purchase decision.

 

Jim Busby  |  Email: jbusby@intracoastalrealty.com  |  Phone: 910-443-3992


Top 5 Tips for Selling Your House in Wilmington NC

When it comes to selling your house, you’ll find there’s no shortage of people who have an opinion on the matter or “insider” tips — and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming! So, we’ve provided a simple, basic stepping stone to help you sell your Wilmington NC home to get you started. And, as always, we are here to answer any questions you may have to help you with your home-selling journey!

1. Throw “Don’t judge a book by its cover” out

Oftentimes, sellers become so focused on prepping the inside of their house, that they forget about the outside — and this is a big no-no! The outside of your home is a first impression for potential buyers, so make sure it looks presentable and inviting. Here are just a few quick fixes for updating your house’s exterior:

    • Make sure your yard is neat, tidy and trimmed. Wilmington NC homes can’t all be blessed with luscious green grass (thanks to our sandy soil) but you can make sure weeds and brush are removed, and maybe put out a couple of bright, potted plants.
    • Wash your house. The salty air and humidity can contribute to dingy-looking exteriors, so it might also be worth your time to invest in a pressure washing service to breathe some life into your home’s facade by making sure fences, decks and siding are free from grime.
    • Spring for a can of paint. Nobody’s saying you need to repaint your entire house, but you’d be amazed at how effective a fresh coat of paint on peeling shutters or an old front door can be! Add a new welcome mat and maybe a seasonal wreath or flag, and your home instantly looks more inviting.

2. Help the buyer “see themselves” inside

The majority of buyers need help visualizing themselves actually living in your home — even though you love the way you’ve decorated your home, now is the time to minimize personal touches for a more neutral setting. Think of it as setting up a “blank canvas” for buyers. Clear up clutter, make any minor repairs that are needed, tidy up kitchen cabinets and shelves, and opt for a few more cleaning sessions than usual. You can even hire a professional stager to go through your home and update the decor and make suggestions according to their very professional staging eye. Skeptical? Get a better idea of the benefit of home stagers in another article of ours here.

3. Find the right asking price

This is extremely important. Determining the best price to ask for your home can determine how much room you have to negotiate with when it comes time to consider your offers. Figuring out the price that’s right for your house depends on several different factors: the value of your property, how much you need from the sale of it (especially if you are planning on purchasing a new property), the budget of potential repair costs that buyers may ask for before purchasing and closing costs.

It’s good to get an idea of your ideal price on your own, but what’s the best way to determine the right price? Talk to a REALTOR®. Not only can they help you navigate the aforementioned factors, but they can also integrate their up-to-date knowledge of how the market is performing right now, and how that’s likely to affect your sales process. For Instance, at Intracoastal we keep a weather eye on the Wilmington NC housing market, as well as trends taking place nationwide. So not only can they help you settle on the best asking price for you home, but they can help you determine when the prime time to sell is.

4. Determine when to sell

As mentioned previously, this is another instance wherein having a REALTOR® can be beneficial. Now, most people can get a general idea of what their local housing market is doing with a few Google searches, but a REALTOR can provide you with in-depth information to guide you on when to get your house on the market, as well as how much to ask.

Now, for example, is an excellent time to sell in Wilmington NC; the demand for houses in certain price points and locations exceeds the supply, making this seller’s market with the potential for higher prices and possibly multiple offers. Real estate sales in the area are up over 17 percent compared to this same time last year, meaning buyers are active and the market is hot! Combine that with the fact that interest rates are remaining low (with a 30-year mortgage averaging interest rates as low as four percent), and you have more qualified buyers out there ready, and able, to move!

5. Be ready!

Looping back to the cleanliness and curb appeal of your home, make sure you are ready when a potential buyer actually wants to see your home. You may not always have a full 24 hours between showings, but you don’t want to miss the opportunity for a buyer to see your home. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Find a place for your pets. It’s best to arrange for them to spend the day (or just the time spent showing the house) at a neighbor’s house, at doggy daycare or with a pet boarding service (which is offered as a service by many Wilmington NC vets, so ask yours!).
    • Swap showing responsibilities. If you’re living with a spouse or significant other, determine set days wherein one is responsible for pulling the house together and the other is not. This can help lighten the load, and you can designate days based on your schedules.
    • Clean regularly. You may have to clean up more than you usually do, but this can make the showing process so much easier if your house is already ready for visitors. Before you leave your house, clean off bathroom and kitchen counters, make sure beds are made, clothes are in hampers or drawers where they belong and surfaces are uncluttered. When you get the chance, make sure to vacuum or sweep regularly, dust, and wipe down your counters and sinks.

Now is the time to sell! If you’re ready to get started and need a helping hand selling your Wilmington NC home, contact us today to find the agent for you!


Top 6 Reasons to Buy a Home in Leland, NC

With some of the most beautiful and accessible beaches in the nation, it’s no wonder that the North Carolina coast is so appealing as a destination, whether for vacationing, retiring or living. Among all the beach towns that NC has to offer, from quaint to urban, there are a few hidden gems that are on the rise — Leland NC, and nearby neighbor Belville NC, being two such towns.

So if coastal living is on your mind, read on to learn why Leland NC or Belville NC may be just the town you’re looking for, starting with what may very well be the driving factor behind your search: the beach.

The Beach? More Like: Beaches

While Leland and Belville don’t run right up to the coast like neighboring North Carolina beach towns, they are in a prime location for quick access to several beautiful beaches, each featuring their own unique atmosphere, whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a beach humming with people. Locals have their pick of the very best beaches that the area has to offer, being an average of 30 to 40 minutes away from Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Caswell Beach, Oak Island, Holden Beach and Ocean Isle. And that doesn’t even include the beaches that are a little farther off the beaten path, such as Bald Head Island or Sunset Beach, both of which are only an hour or so away. No matter what your motivation is for wanting to buy a home in Leland or Belville, the beach is normally a prime factor — and who can blame you? Had a rough day at work? Within 30 minutes you can be burying your toes in the sand, letting the ocean ebb away your stress.

Parks to Play in

Leland NC is home to several large parks, most of which are equipped with paved paths, picnic areas, playgrounds and more, so area residents are within close proximity to scenic paths for running, walking or biking, in addition to picturesque settings for family outings or children’s play.

Included among Leland’s parks is the Leland Community Garden, where locals can grow their own veggies to be donated to a local food pantry. Leland’s Sturgeon Creek Park, comprised of 27 acres of wetlands and 1.2 acres of uplands, offers locals water access for kayaking, canoeing, boating and fishing. The Westgate Nature Park in Leland NC, as implied by the name, offers an enormous natural landscape of nearly 150 acres of wetlands and uplands and features trails for hiking and biking, an outdoor classroom, nature-inspired playground, picnic area and more.

Golf, Fishing, and the Great Outdoors

Golfers can take refuge in Leland’s two, superb golf courses, comprised of Magnolia Greens and Cape Fear National, the latter of which has been the recipient of multiple awards throughout the years. A third golf course is also set to open in 2016, within the newly developed Compass Pointe resort-style housing community.

While Leland and Belville offer a few fishing holes of its own, fishers can flock to nearby Wilmington NC for all the fishing charters and fishing spots they could possibly desire — only a mere 15 minutes from home. And for those hoping to take to the water in pursuit of paddling, there are also a vast number of kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals located within Wilmington as well, offering equipment rentals, in addition to classes and guided tours. Carolina Paddleboard Company, Mahaneim Adventures, Paddle NC, Cape Fear River Adventures, and Hook, Line and Paddle are just a few such companies.

A Community on the Rise

The current population of Leland NC sits at 18,000, but is projected to rise to 30,000 within just four more years and 60,000 within another 14 years. The town has hired a new economic development director and is in the process of carrying out multiple plans for development,  including those for new housing, retail and other commercial spaces.

In conjunction with Leland’s projected business growth, the town is rapidly expanding its housing with the creation of housing communities ranging from housing ideal for budding families, such as in The Willows, to the environmentally conscious neighborhoods within the Brunswick Forest community, to the luxurious accommodations of Compass Pointe and more.

Plans also include the development of three to four apartment complexes to be completed over the next two years, resulting in approximately 1,000 apartments to be added.

Educational Opportunities

Brunswick County, the county that encompasses Leland and Belville, is comprised of 20 public, K-12 schools, and includes higher education opportunities for high school graduates, or those seeking continuing education.

Just over the bridge is the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, as well as Cape Fear Community College, which has gained regional and national recognition for its technical programs. Closer to home is Brunswick Community College, which has gained statewide recognition for its two-year programs.

Secluded Location, Within Close Proximity

One of the most advantageous perks to buying a home in Leland NC or Belville NC, though perhaps not the most widely recognized, are their locations. Their close proximity to other beach towns, such as Wilmington, ensures that residents have access to the amenities, entertainment and buzz sought after in more urban areas, without actually immersing residents in the racket. The Leland/Belville area has a remote feel, without actually being so, and still enjoys the close range to the beach without being directly on its sandy shores — which can also help to decrease the cost of living that beach residents experience.

With Leland’s plans for expansion, combined with its existing charm and perks, this destination will likely become a prime destination for new residents considering one of North Carolina’s many beach towns. Don’t miss out! Contact us today to learn more about houses for sale in Leland NC and Belville NC.