With the new Surf City bridge now open, additional traffic and, with it, growing buyer interest in the Topsail/Surf City region is sure to follow.
Anticipating that growth, Intracoastal Realty has doubled the size of its Surf City office and moved to Triton Lane, putting us directly on the path to the new bridge.
“You can’t miss us,” says Sandy Ledbetter, a resident and realtor on the island for 30 years, who will continue as Intracoastal Realty’s broker-in-charge. The office has another five agents, all focused full-time on the region’s real estate market.
The Surf City/Topsail Island has long drawn families from other parts of the state who are seeking vacation or retirement property. Folks from Wallace, Clinton, Warsaw and other Eastern North Carolina towns are eager to recreate childhood memories of vacationing on Topsail Beach. Buyer trends also show growing interest from the Triangle, particularly among those who moved from the mid-Atlantic region and find the prices at Topsail comparatively affordable to the cost of homes on Maryland, New York and New Jersey shores.
Buyers aren’t the only ones showing interest in the Island. Developers have increased their activity exponentially. According to the MLS, in 2017, there was $67M in new construction; in 2018 that figure jumped to $92M. In April, the first phase of Waterside at Surf City, a development of 4 acres of commercial property and more than 3,200 residential units, including a neighborhood for active adults, was unanimously approved by the Surf City Town Council. Infrastructure there is underway.
Local government, too, is improving infrastructure to accommodate what everyone sees as continued growth. Surf City Elementary and Middle Schools opened in time for the 2018/19 school year. And with forward-looking annexation completed a decade ago to better accommodate commercial development, the island has welcomed Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Publix, Lowes and CVS in recent years.
“Gone are the days that Topsail Beach posted a ‘Closed for the Winter’ sign,” recalls Sandy. “Those were the days when you had to drive for a decent cell signal and the only grocery store was an IGA.”
Yes, those days are behind us. But, today’s market value is hard to find elsewhere on the east coast. Single family homes can be purchased in the $300K range, with one-bedroom condo’s available under $100 thousand. “And, that still delivers waterfront,” says Sandy, adding, “When you’re on an island, every home, just about, has a good water view!”
If you’re interested in knowing more about Surf City, Topsail and North Topsail properties, call the Intracoastal office, 910-328-3000. Chances are what you see there today will be the root of “I remember when….” memories decades from now.
When it comes to purchasing a new home, or selling the one in which you currently reside, the initial process can be confusing and overwhelming until you get the assistance of a good real estate professional. So, it stands to reason that when beginning the process, buyers and sellers might do some preliminary research using a third-party site like Zillow.
Zillow is known for price estimates, both for buyers and renters, as well as providing limited community information for those who have never visited the neighborhood. On the outside, it seems like a handy resource when dipping a toe into the waters of real estate. However, the property information and price estimates are often inaccurate, which can create major issues for buyers and sellers. In other words, if you decide to use these big third-party websites, proceed with caution or forgo them altogether and get accurate data from a trusted, local real estate website and resource.
When you need assistance in your pursuit of the perfect home, there are several reasons to turn to an established agency with local knowledge and experienced real estate agents on its side. Otherwise, you may find yourself relying on the Zestimate, a computer-generated estimate that is not always the best measure of a home’s value. Zillow knows this, and discloses this in small print on their site.
How is the Zestimate made?
As Zillow states, the Zestimate is meant only as an expression of the estimated market value, not an actual appraisal. The site is actually a computer program that automatically generates its report based on what is available to anyone: data and statistics that can be accessed with relative ease by the general public. As such, the program doesn’t take into account the additions you or its previous owner might have added while in residence. This can affect the Zestimate, putting the home at a lower or higher value depending on the extent of repairs or damage.
In Southeastern NC, we’ve seen Zestimates on some properties be off by as much as 45%. For illustration purposes, evan a 15% margin of error on a $400,000 home results in a difference of $60,000 in value! Further, the same algorithm to estimate the value of a home in a Detroit suburb is used to estimate the value of a home on the water in our region. That’s pretty telling, isn’t it?
Even more telling is this article, which features information about the home of Zillow’s founder and CEO. The day before his home sold for $1.05 million, the Zestimate for his property showed $1.75 million. Need we say more?
How can your agency help clear the air?
When it comes time to sell or buy a home, don’t always trust that the Zestimate has given your house enough credit for what it’s worth. Instead, broach the subject with a trusted real estate agent. He or she can walk you through the criteria in further detail, help you get a professional appraisal and, for sellers, pull a list of comparable properties that have recently sold. And while Zillow does have access to area information to prep you and your family for relocation, a local real estate agent has the insider knowledge that can never be replaced by statistics alone.
When it comes to your home, whether you’re buying or selling one, it’s important to have all the information available to you. With the help of well-established agencies like Intracoastal Realty, you can be sure you’ll have all you need to get settled. Contact us today to help you with the process!
To those in uniform currently serving, and to those who have served in the past, we honor you today and every day. Thank you for your service to our country so that we can enjoy our freedoms.
Intracoastal Realty is a special “family” with people of many backgrounds and interests. As we honor all Veterans on November 11th (federal holiday this year is November 10th), we would like to recognize agents and staff at Intracoastal Realty who have served our country.
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.
On January 19th, area historian and Downtown Wilmington tour guide, Bob Jenkins shared with Intracoastal agents many interesting facts from Wilmington’s History. From the early beginnings through current day, Bob delivered his key storytelling notes with humor and incredible detail. We tried to capture the essence in the highlights below. Pick out just a few to have on hand – you’ll be glad you did.
There are 320 miles of coastline in North Carolina – and the only main river feeding from the north of the state to the ocean is the Cape Fear River. The river is over 200 miles long!
The first 170 miles drop in elevation by 160 feet – delivering huge amounts of water down to where it meets the last thirty miles of water heading to the ocean – this last thirty-mile leg is tidal water.
While many river settlements along the east coast developed in the late 1600’s, the settlement of Wilmington was a late-developer. Even with all the great resources to be had (rice and timber), there was something to “fear” about the Wilmington location.
The term “Cape Fear” evolved due to the continual shifting of sands and navigable bottom changes presented by “Frying Pan Shoals” at the base of the river’s delta.
Only when the British desired another deep-water port along the coast between the Chesapeake Bay Settlement, and the Charleston, South Carolina, settlement (both were founded in the late 1600’s) was it worth the risk of the shoals to establish Wilmington.
The area around the river was ripe with opportunity for two key agricultural offerings – RICE and TIMBER.
The settlement of Brunswick Town was the first in our area to founded in 1726. British landowners originally from South Carolina, Maurice, and Roger Moore, established the first rice plantation. ORTON Plantation. The manor house was constructed in 1735.
There were approximately 120 RICE plantations along the river – not cotton as some would expect.
“Cape Fear Pines” were an available and grand crop for harvesting and for the production of turpentine and pine tar. Both became a huge resource as export items to the British in England. The pine trees were “boxed” to capture the natural pine-oil from them. Similar to capturing sap from maple trees in New England to make syrup.
Heart-Pine was treasured as the hardest wood for the keels of British ships, and Pine Tar kept the ships afloat – thanks to coating the bottoms of ships. Pine tar was plentiful and gooey; hence, the TARHEEL moniker given to North Carolinians, by locals and British Colonists.
In colonial times sixty-percent of all naval stores in England came from the Cape Fear region. Rice production was huge! One acre of ground could supply 75 bushels or rice, annually: hence, the term Carolina Gold.
The Port of Wilmington was developed by a Scot – John Martin – as he was given a land grant to focus on the development of a major seaport vs. agriculture.
The choice of the name “Wilmington” was bestowed on the town in honor of the Earl of Wilmington, Spencer Compton, a patron of the then current governor of North Carolina, Gabriel Johnston – and chartered in 1740.
The Cotton Exchange became the largest exchange in the World. In the 1870’s. It grew from agents of the company traveling to cotton farms in the area – and providing incentives for the southern farmers to work in partnership. The business included some fifty European agencies.
Over time – Wilmington became a major shipbuilding port and produced 243 “Liberty Ships” during World War II. There were five major railroads coming into and out of Wilmington due to the industry and the war economy. They started leaving in 1950.
Side Note – Masonboro Sound got its name from the Grand Masons (Masonic Lodge of the era).
Saturday, January 28th at 6 pm, join AIW (Arts In Wilmington) for the first annual Wilmington Awards show at theArtWorks. This year’s celebration will honor four outstanding recipients from the area. Beer, wine, and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Award recipients include: Individual Artist: Hiroshi Sueyoshi Individual: Jim & Betsy Knowles, Owners of theArtWorks Arts in Education: Gabriel Lovejoy Organization: DREAMS of Wilmington
AIW (Arts In Wilmington) connects artists, arts professionals, and arts advocates and includes Wilmington, Carolina & Kure Beaches, Wrightsville Beach, Hampstead, Surf City, Topsail Beach, Burgaw, Leland, Shallotte, Southport and Brunswick County Beaches.
Each year, we award education scholarships to deserving students at Brunswick Community College, Cape Fear Community College, and UNCW (25 years & Counting! )
Intracoastal Realty has a rich involvement with many charitable organizations through its managers, agents and staff members, to serve our community by way of helping others. Including:
ACCESS of Wilmington
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
American Red Cross
Arts Council of Wilmington
Art in Wilmington
Ashley Eagles Athletic Booster
Bellamy Mansion Museum Boys & Girls Club of Coastal Carolina
Brunswick Community College
Cameron Art Museum
Cape Fear Blue Water Fishing Club
Cape Fear Community College
Cape Fear Community College Foundation
Cape Fear Council- Boy Scouts
Cape Fear Habitat for HumanityCape Fear Home Builders Parade of Homes
Cape Fear Jazz Society
Cape Fear Literacy Council
Cape Fear Museum
Cape Fear Rugby Club
Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation
Carolina Canines for Service
Center for the Visually Impaired
Children’s Museum of Wilmington
Chi Omega’s 11th Annual Golf Tournament Coastal Christian High School
Coastal Horizons Center
Committee of 100: WID
Communities in Schools of Cape Fear Community Boys & Girls Club
Community United Effort
Cucalorus – 2016 Supporting Sponsorship
Disability Resource Center
Domestic Violence Shelter DREAMS of Wilmington
East Coast Got-Em-On Classic
Family Services of the Lower Cape Fear
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Girl Scout Troop 957
Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington
Good Shepherd Center
Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Greater Wilmington Sports Hall
Guardian Ad Litem
Hanover Lions Club
Historic Wilmington Foundation
Hoggard Athletics & Theatre Departments JC Rowe, PK
JDRF- Hope Gala, FUND A CURE
Junior Achievement Spring Classic
Kids Making It, Inc.
Leland Area Rotary Club – L.A. Golf Classic
Leukemia & Lymphoma Regatta Cup
Lower Cape Fear Historical Society
Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter
Lump To Laughter, Inc.
March of Dimes
Masonboro Island Preservation
Morris Animal Foundation
New Hanover County Schools
New Hanover Partnership
New Hanover Regional Medical Foundation
NC Association of the Deaf
NC Holiday Flotilla
North Carolina Coastal Land Trust
Oak Island Lions Club
Phoenix Employment Services Luncheon
Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce
Pleasure Island Soccer Association
Port City Soccer Club
Relay for Life
Reel Housewives of Topsail Island
Rotary of South Brunswick
SMART START of New Hanover County
Special Olympics Annual Fund
Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber
St. Marks Odyssey of the Mind Challenge
Supper Optimist Club Wilmington
Trinity Children Incorporated
University of NC at Wilmington
USO North Carolina, Inc – Golf Tournamnet
Welcome Home Angel
Willie Stargell Foundation
Wilmington Central Rotary Club
Wilmington Housing Authority
Wilmington Women’s Club
Wilmington Realtors Foundation
Wrightsville Beach Fire Department
Wrightsville Beach Foundation
Wrightsville Beach Museum – 20th Lumina
Wrightsville Beach Police Officer’s Ball
Wrightsville United Methodist Church
YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear
REALTOR® Action Day is a day for fellow REALTORS® and WRAR Members to serve their community by participating in a number of events around town. This is a great opportunity to brighten our community, gather with co-workers to work together as a team while bring awareness to the impact REALTORS® make in the community.
Intracoastal Realty agents participated in REALTORS®Action Day 2016 today from 9 am until noon in a number of activities.
The following agents participated in the Lumps to Laughter event hosted by Intracoastal Realty at their corporate office in Lumina Station:
Take a look at our gallery of Intracoastal Realty agents in action, giving back.
Wrightsville Beach Sea Oats project for RAD2016
Wrightsville Beach Sea Oats project for RAD2016 Group photo
Wrightsville Beach Sea Oats project for RAD2016 Group photo
Wrightsville Beach Sea Oats project for RAD2016
Trey Wallace participating in the Wrightsville Beach Sea Oats project for RAD2016
Wrightsville Beach Sea Oats project for RAD2016
Wrightsville Beach Sea Oats project for RAD2016 IMG_3524
Craig Stinson smiles and gives a little head shake. We have been discussing his project, Arts In Wilmington, and veered into a conversation about what the arts can or can’t do to heal societal ills. It’s oddly refreshing to hear someone actually put forth the idea that one visit to an inner-city school by a dance troupe for a master class might not be the missing element in eliminating prejudice from the world. Maybe “ars gratia artis” (“art for art’s sake”) is the point.
But back to Craig Stinson.
He’s a quiet man with a big smile. More so, he seems genuinely interested in collaborative work and listens attentively to other people’s ideas. Stinson started Arts in Wilmington as a newsletter in February of 2014.
“I just thought it would be fun to send out a newsletter every week with arts events happening,” he says. “I literally had five people the first issue. Two were me, one was my wife,” he says with a smile. “I’m almost at 1,400 subscribers now—by word of mouth.”
So, is Stinson making a living from this? No, he sells real estate by day.
“I just want people to know about the broad spectrum of stuff happening in Pender, Brunswick and New Hanover countiesm” Stinson tells. “Wilmington has one of the best arts scenes for an area this size, and it’s all so community-driven, which I love.”
Stinson has embarked on an interesting journey back to home. He moved away a little over two decades ago and in the meantime worked in arts administration in Washington D.C. and South Carolina. He cites the museum studies concentration at George Washington University as the motivator for persuing his degree there. He also worked with The Smithsonian, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Library of Congress, The Alamo …
“Really?” I interrupt him. “The Alamo? Was your office in the fort?”
He nods and gives me a surprised look.
This segued to South Carolina where he worked as program director for eight years at the South Carolina Arts Commission. “But I wanted to be home—I always wanted to get back to Wilmington,” he explains.
Stinson popped up on my radar about the time he started the newsletter. He was working in the Cucalorus office and we seemed to orbit each other. Then he started organizing networking events with Arts in Wilmington.
“There’s a lot of activity in Wilmington,” he says. “People hear of each other but sometimes they don’t know each other. We started the meetups so people could make that happen.”
Stinson rotates the location of the meetups monthly. He has utilized Flytrap Brewery on 4th Street and TheatreNOW on 10th Street, as well as art galleries like Eclipse at Blue Moon on Racine Drive and Spectrum Art and Jewelry at The Forum.
“Every time we have people come who have said, ‘I’ve never been in here,’” he notes. “They meet the owners, artists, performers. I think a lot of getting people involved is giving them a reference for the amenities in town.”
He says people then have a relationship with a venue and its location, including knowing where to park. It might sound minor, but it can actually be a pretty major hurdle for a business or venue.
About a month ago Stinson sent a notice seeking nominations for the first Arts in Wilmington Awards. My main inquiry for him was knowing how his newsletters and awards are any different from The Arts Council of WIlmington and New Hanover County. “I don’t give grants,” Stinson says. When Stinson decided to start the awards, rather than reinventing the wheel, he pretty much copied a model he has seen work: The South Carolina Arts Council’s Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Awards. “I want it to be as transparent as possible, [with judging that] has solid credentials behind it,” he explains.
Six categories will be covered in the awards: Arts in Education, Organization, Government, Business/Foundation, Individual, and Individual Artist. Stinson has tapped people from Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida, and DC to judge the nominations. “The plan is to have them reviewed by people outside of the area—who have really solid arts administration backgrounds and people who are not in Wilmington.”
Stinson is quick to point out the categories are open to interpretation. In “Government,” for example, a juror could be someone who is an elected official, or works in government or for a municipality. The “Individual” category presents questions about advocacy for arts, volunteering, fundraising, and arts administration. “They cast a wide net in very specific areas,” he notes.
Outside of joy of recognition for winning an award, Stinson says highlighting exceptional individuals and businesses leads to awareness beyond Wilmington. “Ultimately the arts serve as an ambassador for the town itself,” he says. “From my perspective, it’s an issue of awareness and recognition. [W]e’ve had a long history of community theatre and visual arts. Wilmington has always been an arts city.”
Stinson constantly hears from colleagues in other parts of the country who are surprised at how much happens in Wilmington. His job as a real estate agent makes him think about why people would move here. He says obvious reasons like climate and proximity to the beach and having a cool downtown are one. “But arts is one component of that,” he notes.As we veer toward a conversation about how to measure economic value of the arts in a community, Stinson surprises me again.
“Some people just know they can take classes or get involved in the theatre scene,” he says. “I think if you package the arts well, the economic implications become obvious. If you start from the economic issue of the arts, to me, it takes away from the intrinsic creative value and bravery that the arts engender They show bravery. People don’t understand how . . . intimidating it would be to get up onstage and put yourselves out there in front of people. That translates into all kinds of other aspects of people’s lives (be it starting businesses). You want to talk about economic development? Talk about people who stand on a stage or create a 2D or 3D piece of work, and put it out there for everybody.”
Stinson says Wilmington could call itself the “live-theatre capital of the East Coast.” He’s right. We have five to seven shows playing any given weekend. “So when you have a concentration of arts or arts activity, it ends up being the vanguard of economic development, in the sense that restaurants and retail pop up around it,” he continues. “Thus, housing values go up and people take pride locally and really reinforces sense of place.”
To nominate someone for an Arts in Wilmington Award, log onto www.artsinwilmington.com. The nomination deadline is April 29.
Arts in Wilmington Meetup
Art in Bloom • 210 Princess Street
March 9, 5:30 p.m. • Free
First 10 people get Art in Bloom T-shirt