5 Myths About Owning a Home

The white picket fence, a spacious backyard, a place to call your own: for many, owning a home is the goal, one of the mile markers of success. But with it comes a significant amount of responsibility, which can also turn others off from the idea of committing to a place of residence for longer than the duration of a lease.

If you’re debating whether or not to begin the process of becoming a homeowner, and find yourself getting bogged down in all of the warnings against or urges to buy as soon as possible, check out a few myths our real estate team can debunk, and hopefully make deciding one way or another easier for you.

All improvement projects add value

One of the first things new homeowners do when they move in is start making the house their own. This is often accomplished not only through personalization and decoration, but also through a few improvement projects like adding new cabinets or shelves, installing new appliances, or even some more extensive endeavors. But not all of these things add the expected value to your home. Before making any design changes to your house, check in with an expert and get a feel for what you can do to not only add value to the home, but also make your time living in it more enjoyable.

Buying is always preferable to renting (or vice versa)

There is no hard and fast rule for which is better between buying or renting a home. The deciding factors come down to personal matters, including financial concerns, roommates, professional opportunities, and so on. When you’re trying to decide what to do about your next house, it’s better to speak first with a trusted professional who can help you assess your circumstances and choose the option that fits most with what suits you best in the long run.

New homes don’t need any work done to them 

While we’d all like to think that a brand new house is perfect just the way it is, this unfortunately is not always the case. Sometimes, the fact is that though you love the house as a whole, there are aesthetic aspects you want to rearrange or scrap altogether to make it feel more like home. In other cases, the alterations could be of a more functional nature, making your day-to-day easier. It all comes down to weighing the cost of the work alongside the purchasing price, and deciding if it’s worth the additional investment or if you’d be better off continuing your search.

You can make any changes once the house is yours

When the keys are in your hand and all of the paperwork has been signed, the house is yours with which you may do whatever you like, whenever you want: right? Actually, there are some projects that might need to be put on hold until you obtain the proper permits, even if you plan on doing the work by yourself. Consult with your local officials before you kick off any major renovations.

New is always better

While we all might fantasize about that shiny new dishwasher or a house that’s never been lived in by anyone else, the fact of the matter is that there’s nothing wrong with buying a house with some history. When you begin to shop for your home, try not to limit yourself to newly built residences; not only will you possibly save yourself money by looking to gently used homes and appliances, but you might find something you like much better because it has character.

It’s a big step, but taking ownership of a home can be one of the best investment opportunities when approached in the right way. If you think this is the next move for you, contact our offices and speak with our expert real estate team to find out more!


5 Home Improvement Projects for Summer

With temperatures rising and the kids out of school for the season, summer is a great time to reconnect with each other as well as the outdoors! Here in coastal North Carolina, there are tons of opportunities to enjoy the longer days and summer sunshine, all with a refreshing breeze to keep things cool and comfortable.

One way you can work on your tan is to make some home improvements that winter’s chill kept on the back burner! It may not be an afternoon spent reclined on the sand, but you’ll be glad you took the time to improve your home before the seasons change again.

Lawn Care

In winter, lower temperatures and sometimes even frost or snow can remove taking care of your yard from your to-do list entirely. But once the sun’s back out and rain encourages plants to grow, it’s time to break back out the lawnmower, the weed eater, and your work gloves! Take summertime as an excuse to get out and work up a sweat while you beautify your home.

Patio and Porch Maintenance

It’s the perfect time to bask in the lazy summer warmth, especially if you have a porch or patio to set up as your relaxation hub! But in order for you to get the most out of the experience, you’ll want to make sure it’s well-equipped and in prime condition. Take a moment to check on any stone or woodwork for chips or splits and make the necessary repairs as soon as possible. That way, when you’re ready to unwind, everything is just as it should be.

Clear Out Those Gutters  

Autumn, winter and spring weather can cause a lot of buildup in your house’s gutter system. Before the leaves start to fall again, hop on a ladder and clear out the debris from neighboring trees. Here on the coast, summer can also usher in some rainy periods, so it’s important to know that your house will be protected from any intensive downpours.

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint  

Despite our region’s tendency for summer humidity, it’s still a great time to get outside and touch up any lackluster paint jobs on the exterior of your home or on outdoor furniture. Before you get started, just be sure to check on the upcoming weather forecast in order to choose the best possible day to devote to your efforts. In doing so, the results will be glossy coats of new paint, and you may be able to save yourself some time (and paint) in the future!

Refortify Your Fence

If you have a fenced-in yard, you know that the perimeter occasionally needs to get checked out for weak areas or broken posts. Before your next backyard pool party or barbecue, walk along the fence, both inside and out, to be sure it will hold up through the season. Winter weather can be rough on wooden posts and moisture wears down metal or chain-link fences, so it never hurts to take advantage of warmer weather and sunshine to get it all back up to par.

If you need some help in making these or any other summertime repairs, we’ve got a list of handy local service providers that can help you get started on your home improvement projects. For more local tips and news from the real estate market here in southeastern North Carolina, stay tuned to Intracoastal Realty’s blog!


Breaking Down the Zestimate

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!


House Flipping Tips and Tricks

You’ve heard the success story: a worn-down eyesore, an optimistic buyer, and a quick transformation followed by an even faster sale. Flipping houses can be a lucrative occupation, but it certainly isn’t an easy feat. If you’re interested in trying your hand in the market, you’ll want to keep a few insider tips in mind.

Don’t go it alone

From buying, to the renovations, and then to the actual sale of your project, it helps to have some experienced professionals on your side to help streamline the process. And if you’ve never tried to flip a house before, it’s even more important to have a helping hand or two at your disposal. Build your team by talking to real estate agents, contractors, and other seasoned homeowners you can trust to point you in the right direction.

Shop wisely

While it’s always incredible to watch a run-down property be remodeled into a functioning home again, be sure that you can put your money where your mouth is and that you don’t purchase too ambitiously. Before buying a house to flip, make a sound budget that you can easily stick to throughout the renovations. That way, you’ll know from the beginning how much you have to allot to the purchase itself and any costs incurred afterward.

Check your expectations

When the remodeling is done and you put the newly-decorated home back on the market, remember that the idea is to engage in a quick sale, not haggle over every nickel and dime. The success of house flipping lies in the ability to close each deal efficiently. As such, you probably won’t make very much off the first few sales. Don’t get discouraged! If you find that flipping houses is something you enjoy, keep a record of your successes and setbacks so that each time there are fewer surprises and more to gain!

Timing is everything

The housing market is in constant flux, so above all else, remember to be patient and time your purchases and sales accordingly! At this stage, an experienced real estate agent is your best bet in learning the ropes and optimal times for buying and selling property in your area. Flipping a house is only possible when the conditions are right for buyers, so you’ll need to catch those waves as they come.

If you’re ready to buy or sell a home, contact Intracoastal Realty and get connected with some of the most knowledgeable agents in the coastal North Carolina area!

 

 

 


Drawing the Lines: How Redistricting in New Hanover Schools Could Affect Your Move

The boxes are packed, the moving truck is gassed up and ready to go – but what happens once you arrive in your new town? There’s always a lengthy list of to-dos when you move, both before and after you make the trip, but the last thing you want to have to account for is if your child’s school district is going to change after you’ve all gotten settled.

Earlier this year, New Hanover County Schools announced plans to redistrict the four county high schools to avoid overcrowding issues. Laney, New Hanover, Ashley, and Hoggard high schools have all seen a few different drafts of district maps in the last few months, which could make it difficult for incoming residents with students to choose a new home based on educational and social stability for the teens.

But even as the lines shift and change, there are ways to keep your head above water while looking into a new home in the county that will help you prioritize you and your family’s needs.

Stay updated

First and foremost, when you know you’re about to make a move, be sure to periodically tune in to the area’s local news. This will help you not only be knowledgeable when it comes to redistricting and school news, but the other happenings and even current weather patterns of your new town as well. By the time you unload the van, you’ll already have a handle on your environment.

Keep flexible

Searching for a new home can already be stressful and often tedious, especially if it takes a while to find the perfect accommodations. While you and your real estate agent work to find the house that will best suit your needs – including proximity to the best schools – try to be flexible and willing to allow for more than one possibility. If you’re considering the New Hanover County area, you’re in luck as far as schools are concerned!

Strategize

If you’re concerned about which school your student will attend once you arrive, you can always use the neighborhoods and regions as your guides in searching for a home to buy. Most redistricting is done in sections according to the nearest neighborhoods, so if you already have a particular school in mind, research which streets and complexes are currently included in that institution’s borders and then assess the available homes there. If nothing strikes you from the selection, it may be time to reevaluate your expectations and broaden your horizons.

If you and your students are ready to make the move to our area, contact Intracoastal Realty for local experts and the best selection of homes to suit your needs!


Cookie Cutter vs Character: Pros and Cons of Moving into an Older House

Whether it’s your first time buying a home or the tenth, there’s a lot to consider in regards to what you’re looking for in a house and the surrounding area. That’s why having a realty agency you can depend on is so important – new areas can be difficult to navigate, and you want a local expert guiding you on location considerations and issues you might need to be aware of for the future.

What an agent can’t help decide is what you prefer as far as style is concerned. One big question our clients typically voice is whether they should peruse newer or older houses on their search. There are benefits and drawbacks to both, so it usually comes down to a matter of personal preference and the willingness to put in extra work should an aged home have some complications down the road, but we’ve compiled a few general things to think about before you purchase your next home.

Following a pattern

With many recently-built houses and those found in new subdivisions, we often find that they follow a pattern with their neighbors in terms of design and color. The downside to this is of course a lack of character and individuality – at least until you get to decorating! – but the positives include a modern look, innovative layouts, and often some eco-friendly features.

Temperamental

Older homes have a lot of character; sometimes this is great, but often this is realtor-speak for “temperamental.” And while a few home improvement projects might ward you off from buying a house with several years on it, for some people it might be perfect! If you’re good with your hands and love a challenge to fill up your Saturday mornings, you might consider braving the potential work ahead and signing that dotted line.

A long and happy life

Along with the wear and tear, a longer life adds personality and sentimental value to a home. It may be new to you, but many houses contain subtle reminders that they’ve seen some amount of time pass: a worn-in fireplace, retro-patterned kitchen tiles. And as long as the previous owner took good care of the house, then these details are more endearing than detrimental to the overall value.

A clean slate

If you’re more attuned to chic spaces and modern color schemes, then a newer house is just the thing! We often associate a brand new home with a clean slate of our own, so if you want to start from scratch and really make the property yours then we suggest browsing through listings of houses built in the last couple of years and going from there in making your decision.

We know it can be stressful to relocate you and your family to an unfamiliar place, so here at Intracoastal Realty we try to make the process as seamless as possible with our local expertise and friendly, efficient agents. Contact us for more tips or to get started on finding your new (or new to you) home today!


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.