New Year, New Home?

By this time in January, most people have gotten a decent start on all of the resolutions they vowed to keep in the year to come. Among all of your aspirations and plans, did you think to consider a long-term goal of moving into your dream house? If you begin the process soon, and team up with a capable realty agency like Intracoastal Realty for some professional assistance, you shouldn’t be too far away from getting settled.

Expectations

As with any achievable goal, setting your sights on a new house should begin with establishing reasonable expectations. Maybe instead of aiming for a 2018 move, you decide to take it easy on your budget and your schedule and make this the year you prepare yourself and your current home for a change of pace in 2019. If you know you’ll need to relocate for a job or a new education program, you might resolve to look for a new home only within certain areas so as to ease your daily commute.

Step-by-step

The key to executing any long-term change is to set milestones for yourself. They keep you on track and focused, while also giving you little accomplishments to celebrate. When it comes to buying a home, you’ll want to have a checklist of sorts for budgeting, paperwork, and everything in between. Luckily, we can help you with all of that!

Stay positive

Depending on the circumstances, your timeline, and what you require in a house, the process to find and purchase a new residence that fits you and your family can be a long one. The very best advice we can give for jumping into the next few steps is to remember to stay positive, even when there are setbacks or difficulties. Here at Intracoastal Realty, we work with you to try and minimalize complications, and to sort through them as they come.

If 2018 is your year to land a new home, let us guide you through the ins and outs of the housing market here on North Carolina’s coast! Contact Intracoastal Realty to get started on your resolution today.


Relocating to North Carolina’s Coast

Relocating to a new area is always somewhat nerve-wracking. But here at Intracoastal Realty, our goal is to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible throughout the entire process of buying your new home. It isn’t just about helping you find the right piece of real estate to purchase – it’s about making you feel at home.

To facilitate this, we have a special team set aside particularly for relocation assistance, dedicated to showing you that famous southern hospitality all while providing exemplary customer service. In the meantime, here are some of our most helpful hints and tips to getting ready to move to our beautiful coastal towns.

Forwarding mail

Before you even set foot in your new home, you’ll want to make sure that those who need to locate you on important subjects such as bills and notifications can do so easily and without untimely delays. This of course means you’ll need to change your address with the USPS, but remember to also go ahead and forward your mail to your new location so nothing gets lost or improperly directed before you have the chance to alert anyone else of your relocation.

School and medical records

As for your medical and school (as well as any other key documentation) records, getting copies in either paper or digital format should be sufficient, but it never hurts to have both. Check in on institutional forwarding policies well ahead of time to avoid any hassle if you should decide not to obtain physical copies prior to your move.

Neighborhood stops

When you’re searching for a new home, maybe in an unfamiliar city to boot, it’s often easy to forget some of the local businesses your frequent on your list of loose ends to tie up before you go. Contact your favorite pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc. if there is any chance that a personal item has been inadvertently left, a prescription not transferred to another facility, or any other housekeeping items to which you need to attend before moving into your new home.

Safe-deposit boxes

If you keep a safe-deposit box, double-check that you’ve emptied it before leaving, especially if you use a local bank rather than a national branch. If possible, you can go ahead and set up a new checking account to ensure you have access to your funds as well.

These are just a few items on a seemingly never-ending list of things to do before your move, but don’t worry! We may not be able to do these things for you, but we can help guide you through the process of settling into your new home, making the list feel more manageable on your end. Contact us to start your moving process today!


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.


What to Know When Buying on the Water

By Judy Royal

Many people dream their whole lives of living on the water. Who wouldn’t want the serenity of looking out your window to enjoy the ultimate view, not to mention having a body of water and its recreational opportunities right outside your door? Buying waterfront property is not only an investment; it’s a lifestyle. Especially in Southeastern North Carolina where the ocean calls so many to its edge, waterfront living is the pinnacle of real estate goals for lots of buyers. But there are many special considerations that go along with owning a waterfront piece of paradise. Educate yourself so you know exactly what to expect as you embark on acquiring your own waterfront property in the Wilmington NC real estate market.

Look into loans

It’s no secret that you will likely pay a premium to have the waterfront lifestyle that you’ve been working toward for many years. Because a home on the water is typically more expensive than a similar home in a standard neighborhood, you will probably need a bigger loan. Jumbo mortgages, which take longer to obtain than a regular home loan and are given by lenders to only the most qualified buyers, are one of the routes you may expect to go when buying a waterfront home. Start loan shopping early to be sure you can qualify and to allow plenty of time for the process.

Calculate hidden costs

The price you pay for your waterfront home is just the beginning. Perhaps more than any other type of property, there are many hidden costs associated with ownership of this type. In addition to the possibility of a homeowners association, which you will find in many other standard neighborhoods, a waterfront home is likely to come with much higher insurance and maintenance expenses. Especially in a coastal environment where hurricanes and flooding are common threats, waterfront homes often come with hefty insurance premiums due to the increased risk of damage from natural disasters. Maintenance costs are also likely to be more than what you’d pay for a similar home in another environment due to increased wear and tear and the need for special features such as storm shutters. Be sure to calculate all of these costs well into the future so you can protect your investment.

Talk to neighbors

Getting to know people who live in a community where you are thinking about buying is a good idea regardless of the type of neighborhood you are considering, but when it comes to waterfront this is a crucial thing to do. Potential neighbors can give you insight about safety, privacy, erosion, what to expect during hurricane season, how crowded the area will be during various seasons of the year, and more. A few conversations may help you decide whether a community will be the right one for you. Doing a little homework now can save you from experiencing some unwelcome surprises down the line when you’re already locked into a loan.

Examine the property

No matter how much you love a home, when you’re buying on the waterfront be sure you consider the land just as much as or more than the structure. After all, you can change a house but not the location. What’s water access like? Are you near a public walkway that might create lots of pedestrian traffic and noise? Where does your land end and public property begin? Is the area good for swimming? How do the tides affect your property? The latter is especially important if you live in a boating community where low water levels restrict the times in which you can use your watercraft. It’s a good idea to look at a survey of the land and a plot map, and talk to your real estate agent and possibly a real estate attorney to be completely clear about what you are actually buying.

Know the rules

If you’re planning to add a dock, seawall, or other feature to your waterfront property, find out what that will entail. You may have to deal with government agencies that have strict rules about what can be done, especially if there are any wetlands on your property. Also find out if there are any restrictions on the use of jet skis and other watercraft if that’s something you plan to enjoy on a regular basis.

Consider a waterfront specialist

Some real estate agents have special qualifications that make them a great choice for those looking to buy on the waterfront. It may be a good idea to look for those who specialize in waterfront transactions so they can share their expertise about the ins and outs of the process.

Are you ready for a waterfront home of your own? If you want to stop dreaming and find out if life really is better on the water, 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 Construction or Existing Home? For Many Buyers, That Is the Question

By Judy Royal

So you’ve decided it’s time to buy a home in Southeastern North Carolina. There are so many decisions to make when it comes to the Wilmington NC real estate market. Chief among them is whether you want to start from scratch or find something already built. While there are a lot of really great reasons to opt for new construction, the process also has its share of drawbacks. Be sure to do plenty of research when deciding what is best for you and your family. The following are some things to consider:

Choose a builder

If you decide on new construction, your next decision will be whether you want to hire a custom builder or a higher-volume builder, also known as a production builder. A production builder constructs a community of homes based on a library of floor plans, each with limited personalization options. A custom builder can create a one-of-a-kind home that offers a greater range of design choices, albeit at a typically higher price and time commitment than a production home. While a production builder will likely offer you the opportunity to upgrade finishes and make other personal touches, the sky is the limit when it comes to a custom-built home. Want a feeding area for your dogs built into the lower kitchen cabinetry? How about a four-car garage? Anything you’ve ever wanted in a home is a possibility when you build a custom home. Obviously, all of these choices will not be possible if you buy an existing home.

Either way, be sure to do your homework when it comes to choosing the right builder for you. Check review websites, state licensing boards, and local court records for complaints, disciplinary actions, and lawsuits. Talk to previous customers to get a firsthand account of their experiences.

Know the community

Drive through neighborhoods to get a feel for an area. Find out crime rates. Research schools. Talk to other homeowners. Determine how long your work commute will be. Find out how many more homes will be built around you. If your entire community is new, you may be living amid ongoing construction for many months. When it comes to determining the community that you will call home for many years, you really can’t be too diligent. Be sure you will be comfortable making a life wherever you choose.

Time your move

Are you looking to pack your bags and put out your new welcome mat sooner rather than later? Then a newly constructed home may not be for you. Expect to wait several months or more for a home that is not yet under construction. Your move can happen much more quickly if you buy an existing home, so think about what your ideal time frame is. If you have one home on the market while you’re building another, you will have to make arrangements for a temporary place to live if the sale happens before you’re able to get into your new place.

Pick a landscape

Do you want mature trees that will shade your home in the summertime? New communities might not be able to offer this if existing foliage was not salvaged in the development process. It could take years for new landscaping to grow into itself, so decide how important this feature is to you.

Behold the Bells and Whistles

In a new home, you will likely have “smart” technology options that allow you to automate Internet, cable, speakers, an alarm system, etc. Also, new homes often use more eco-friendly paints and building materials, which can improve indoor air quality. An existing home, depending on its age, is much less likely to include all of these modern perks.

Estimate Your Bills

A newly constructed home will have new appliances, systems, insulation, and windows, which are more energy-efficient than what you’ll find in most older residences. This could mean a significant savings in your utility bills and more money in your pocket each month. If you are buying an existing home, it’s a good idea to ask the seller what you might expect to pay for your utility bills. An inefficient home, even with a much lower sales price, can cost you much more in the long run than one that is using modern processes to run optimally.

Think About Maintenance

Maintenance costs associated with an existing home can affect your budget significantly. A newly built home, with its untouched appliances, HVAC system, roof, etc. – requires much less upkeep than an aging residence and will allow you to better predict the monthly costs of home ownership. Thanks to warranties on your new items, you may not have to pay for any major repairs for several years.

Whether you’re seeking to buy a lot on which to build your dream home or something ready and waiting for you to move in, 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 12 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.


Buying Your First Home? Here’s What You Need to Know

By Judy Royal

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, chances are you are about to start the process of making one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime: a new home. The Wilmington NC real estate market has plenty of first-time buyers eager to take advantage of the sea, sand, and sunshine Southeastern North Carolina has to offer. But before you hit the ground running to look at properties, it’s best to get your ducks in a row for what will be a hectic but exciting time in your life.

Who?

Navigating the often-confusing world of buying a home for the first time can be a daunting and downright terrifying experience. You’ll want someone you can trust to answer all your questions and concerns, not to mention look out for your best interests. Choose your real estate agent wisely. Ask friends and family for referrals. Talk to a prospective agent’s recent clients. Find out how long he or she has been in business. Familiarize yourself with what credentials (otherwise known as all those letters at the end of a name) mean. For instance, ABR stands for Accredited Buyer’s Representative, which means the agent has completed additional education in representing buyers in transactions.

What?

Before you start touring properties, think about what you really want out of your primary residence. Are you looking for privacy and a big yard? Or are you willing to share a wall and common spaces with neighbors in exchange for not having to worry about mowing grass and other exterior maintenance issues? This will help you narrow down your options to either single-family homes or condominiums/townhouses. Just bear in mind that the latter are more likely to have higher homeowners association dues as a tradeoff for the things you won’t have to deal with, so be sure to factor those into your budget.

When?

Speaking of budgets, you need to start saving well before you are ready to make an offer. Talk to a mortgage professional early in the process to ensure you are fiscally ready for this major step. Be honest with yourself about exactly what you can afford and stick to that range. If you don’t save at least 20 percent for a down payment, you’ll probably have to make mortgage insurance payments, adding to your monthly costs. Aside from the price of the home itself, other things to save for include the cost of property taxes, insurance, homeowners association dues, and regular maintenance. Many experts recommend budgeting at least 1 percent of the value of your home each year to cover routine maintenance. There are also potential emergency expenses, such as replacing a heating system or roof.

Where?

Be as specific as possible about the locations where you’ll consider living. Drive through neighborhoods to get a feel for an area. Find out crime rates. Research schools. Talk to other homeowners. When it comes to determining the community that you will call home for perhaps many years, you really can’t be too diligent. Be sure your search for properties includes only the locales where you will be comfortable making a life. After a tough day at work, you’ll want to retreat to a place that will make you feel safe, happy, and content.

Why?

If you’ve been renting for a while in an area you plan to call home for the foreseeable future, you might be a prime candidate for buying your first home. A smart real estate purchase can be a valuable investment asset for your long-term financial health by helping to increase your future net worth. Just be sure you are ready for the responsibility and commitment that comes with owning property. If you’re the type of person who wants the freedom to pack your bags and move to Key West after one really great vacation, then you might not be quite ready for home ownership.

How?

Most of us are not lucky enough to pay cash for our first home, so financing will likely be a reality. Think about the type of mortgage you want. Explore the pros and cons of a fixed rate vs. adjustable rate. Shop lenders to find the best deal on home loans. Your interest rate will play a huge role in the total price you pay for your home, so spending some time making comparisons now can pay off majorly in the long run.

Whether you’re in the market four your first or fifth home, or anything in between or above, 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 12 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.


Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Your Property Value

Home Improvement House Meaning Renovate Or RestoreThe real estate market is on fire! When we have a market like this, it may be the right time to prepare your property for sale. If you’re considering substantial changes, they could affect the property’s overall market value. Here are four remodels to avoid and four to consider before listing your home.

Posted on Feb 23 2017 – 10:57am by Housecall / Brooke Nally

Remodels to Avoid:

Luxury Rooms

An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool

The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold. It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool. Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents

Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards

If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money. A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price. Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Remodels that Pay:

Steel Doors

You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of Realtors® reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels

As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater. The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in seven and a half years. After that, panels are a big money-saving asset. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

Related: Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels?

New Siding

The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable. New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access

Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer. Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent. Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring. Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind. Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.


3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home in Coastal, NC

North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, as well as in the nation in general. Every year, this part of NC is flooded with annual tourists, many of whom opt for a more consistent way to visit the coast by investing in their very own vacation home. If you’re one of those looking to invest in your own little slice of paradise, here are three main questions you need to ask yourself to get started:

1. Will you make good use of it?

Before you even start to think of buying a vacation home, you need to ask yourself: will I use it enough to make it worth it? If you find yourself going back to the same location year after year, and you never tire of it, then yes, you’ll probably get a lot out of owning a vacation home in that area. But, if you’re not absolutely in love, think again. North Carolina is home to a whole slew of beaches and islands, each with its own pace and unique feel.

If you’re looking for a beach that feels far away, but is close to nightlife, shopping, etc., you probably want to consider areas like Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach or Figure Eight Island. Or, if you really relish the slower pace of sleepy beach towns, you should consider looking further down the coast at Bald Head Island, Oak Island or Ocean Isle. These are just a few of the options to consider! You can always contact an agent to get an idea of what areas might suit you best, but, when in doubt, it’s best to just see for yourself. Just consider this an opportunity to squeeze in some extra vacations in the name of research.

2. Can you afford it?

After you’ve determined if a vacation home actually makes sense for you and your family, you need to ask yourself if you can afford to purchase another home. Typically, mortgage companies are going to charge higher interest rates or a require a higher down payment for a second home. Additionally, you’ll have to keep your eye on the long-term finances as well, factoring in insurance, taxes and maintenance.

The best way to accurately plan for these expenses is to team up with a local mortgage broker, who can help you devise the best way of putting up the money for your down payment, as well as factoring in those long-term costs. Their experience in and knowledge of the local market will be paramount in helping to calculate these costs, as well as advising you on the projected value of any potential properties in the coming years. For instance, if there’s a highway slotted to be built in the area in the next five years, they’ll probably know about it, and can advise you to look elsewhere if your home’s value will be affected. They’ll also become a valuable resource in finding local resources, such as reliable property management companies, to keep your home in tip-top shape while it’s not in use or to keep it maintained and safe from damage if you end up renting it out.

3. Is it a smart, long-term investment for you?

One thing to consider, that usually doesn’t register too high for vacation home seekers, is: how close is this vacation home to your current home? Is it a few hours’ drive? Or, do you have to board a plane and fly across country? Now, if you’re looking in an area that you already frequent (which you should), and you know that you’ll move heaven and earth to get there on a consistent basis, then you’re probably fine to start searching in your desired area. However, if you’re only planning on making your way over to your vacation home once a year, you’re really not getting the best return on your investment.

Remember those long-term costs we mentioned? Those property maintenance, utilities, water and electric bills are high overhead to pay if you’re not planning on taking semi-regular trips to your vacation home. Plus, you don’t want to leave it sitting unoccupied for too long. If you’re planning on renting it out while you’re not using it, just make sure that 1) it’s in a high-demand area that will ensure its probability of getting rented regularly, and 2) that you have a solid understanding of how renting the property will affect your taxes. If your home is rented more than 15 days of the month, that rent is considered income, and will have to be filed as such on your taxes. It’s important to iron out these details from the get-go, instead of finding yourself in over your head later.

Are you considering purchasing a vacation home in Coastal NC? Let us know if we can help you by calling us at 1-800-533-1840 or contacting us via email at info@intracoastalrealty.com. Our experienced staff has all the know-how you need to find the vacation home you’ve always dreamt of!


Why You Should Always Hire a Buyer’s Agent

Buying a house can be a lengthy and somewhat arduous process no matter how many times you’ve done it. There’s always going to be a decent amount of time spent researching, filling out paperwork, scheduling viewings, etc. However, having a buyer’s agent by your side can greatly ease the process! Before you hire one though, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Research your agent first

Buyer’s agents are there to represent your interests and should act as your ally throughout the entire buying process, however, just like with any other professional service, you should do your research first. Some agents will always be better than others based on their experience, communication skills, market knowledge and overall professionalism.

When looking for an agent, focus your search on realty companies, as opposed to just searching for individual agents. There’s not a very consistent way to actually “rate” agents online, so you’re not always likely to get a very accurate picture of an agent’s aptitude. However, if a realty agency or corporation has good reviews, that bodes well for their agents. Look on Google, Yelp, Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. for reviews, or, even better, ask around to see if any friends or family had positive experiences with certain agents or companies.

When you meet with your agent, make sure to ask them a couple of questions first to ensure that they’re knowledgeable and are going to be available when you need them. Have they lived in the area for long? How long have they been an agent? How many homes have they helped clients purchase in the past year? Do they have recommendations for mortgage brokers? Are they available via text, email and phone? Are they an exclusive buyer’s agent, or are they a dual agent?

This last question is particularly important because, if they’re a dual agent, then they also act as a seller’s agent in some cases, which can present a conflict of interest if you should ever view one of the homes that they actually have listed. A buyer’s agent should disclose this information to you upfront and should be able to recommend another agent should you want to pursue a home that they are acting as the listing/seller’s agent for.

Agent benefits include:

1. Helping you find homes according to your specifications

When you meet with your agent, you should discuss what you’re looking for in a home. If you’re serious about buying a home, you should get pre-approved for a loan beforehand to determine how much house you can actually afford. Some agents actually require this before getting started. Afterwards though, they should help narrow down your potential homes—do you have a specific area you want to stay within? Do you want good schools nearby? Do you want a home that’s move-in ready or are you willing to do some work on a home? They should provide you with listings of potential homes that match your requirements regularly and help you schedule viewings.

2. Providing advice and insight when viewing homes

When viewing a home, they should be there to help point out qualities in the home that are both good or bad, helping you to notice any potential areas of the home that might need work or any perks, as well as filling you in on the surrounding area and neighborhood. You should never feel like your agent is trying to “sell” you on a home—that’s not their job. Their job should be to help you analyze a home based on its qualities, location and price from a perspective that benefits you the most.

3. Helping you negotiate offers and stay within your price range

A good agent will make sure that you’re looking at homes that are realistically within your price range. They should be able to tell you about factors that might affect the cost of a home, like HOA fees, taxes and whether or not the surrounding market supports the listed price of the home. When it comes time to place an offer, they should guide you in making a reasonable offer that won’t deter the seller, while making sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

4. Taking care of all of the paperwork, legal matters, etc.

Perhaps one of the best reasons to have a buyer’s agent is simply to ensure that all required paperwork is taken care of in a timely manner because there is a ton of paperwork. They should take care of scheduling inspections, drafting offers and due diligence documents, scheduling professionals to take care of any necessary repairs on the home (should any be required or agreed upon by the seller), filing all paperwork with a lawyer and coordinating with the seller’s agent, lawyer and mortgage broker. All you should have to do is double-check documents that they send to you for review, let them know of any necessary changes, and sign.

If you’re getting ready to buy a home, make sure you weigh the options of hiring a buyer’s agent beforehand! All fees for a buyer’s agent should get wrapped up into the actual sale of the house, so there shouldn’t be any upfront cost, meaning there’s really no reason not to hire one.

If you’re in the market for an agent, make sure to check out our listing of agents here or contact us at 1-800-533-1840 or at info@intracoastalrealty.com. Happy hunting!