Absorption Reports: 3rd Quarter 2018

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

Housing prices stabilize when supply and demand come closer together. Generally speaking, 5-6 months of supply is “normal”. Less than 5 months of supply will result in APPRECIATING home prices (Seller’s Market), while 7 months or more of supply will result in DEPRECIATING home prices (Buyer’s Market).  Each of the counties in our area are at their lowest inventory levels since 2005.  New Hanover County is showing a total of 2.5 months of inventory for existing home sales (for comparative purposes, it peaked at 22.6 months in 2009); Brunswick County is at 3.9 months (peaked at 20.0 months in 2009); and Pender County is at 3.7 months (peaked at 22.1 months in 2009).  As you can see from the three county charts below, inventory levels vary by price segment.  Take a look at the absorption reports for a better idea of where your house stands in the market, and contact an Intracoastal Realty agent to learn about the supply and demand for your specific neighborhood.

New Hanover County

Brunswick County

Pender County

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.

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.

Infographic: Change In Home Sales By Price Range

Recently, this infographic was shared outlining the changes in year over year homes sales based on price range.


To highlight some of the data:

  • Home Sales are up year-over-year in the top 4 price ranges and only slightly below last year’s numbers in a fifth.
  • A lack of distressed property inventory has led to a slow down in sales in the under $100K price range.
  • As home prices continue to rise, there will be less homes available for sale in the lower ranges

This data was collected from NAR 1/2016 and reflects a comparison for home sales in 2015 nationally as prepared by the National Association of Realtors.

We compared these numbers to our local markets in New Hanover and Brunswick County and here is how our home prices measure up to the national averages.

For New Hanover County only, when comparing 1/1/14 through 12/31/14 to 1/1/15 through 12/31/15:

  • Home Sales are up year-over-year in all 5 price ranges, which is outperforming the national average.
  • For the $100-250K and $500-750K price ranges, home sales are seeing a double-digit percentage of increase
  • For the $250-500K and the $1M+ price ranges, home sales have increased more than 25% when compared to the prior year
Change in Home Sales By Price Range New Hanover

When comparing 1/1/14 through 12/31/14 to 1/1/15 through 12/31/15 for the entire region of WRAR (Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors):

  • Home Sales are up year-over-year in all 5 price ranges, which is outperforming the national average.
  • The $100K and under price range is showing the smallest increase with less than 1 percent.
  • For the $100-250K and $750-1M price ranges, home sales are seeing a double-digit percentage of increase.
  • For the $250-500K and the $500-750K price ranges, home sales have increased more than 20% when compared to the prior year.
  • In the $1M+ price range, home sales have increased greater than 30%
All of WRAR Change In Home Sales By Price Range Single Family Home 01.2016

When comparing 1/1/14 through 12/31/14 to 1/1/15 through 12/31/15 for the entire region of BCAR (Brunswick County Association of Realtors):

  • Home Sales are up year-over-year in all but one price range where the home sales price was under $100K
  • For the $100-250K and $500-750K price ranges, home sales are seeing a double-digit percentage of increase.
  • For the $250-500K and the $750-1M price ranges, home sales have increased greater than 30% when compared to the prior year.
  • In the $1M+ price range, home sales have increased greater than 120% over 2014.
Change in Home Sales By Price Range BCAR 1 2016

Best Time To Buy Real Estate: October

Ever wondered what the best month, or best time of year to purchase a new home is? If you’re currently in the market for a new home, one of the questions that you often consider is when is the best time to get the best deal. Short of partnering with a reputable real estate agent and REALTOR®, one of the most important things in the home buying process is confidence that you are getting the best deal on the price of the home and the best mortgage available.

Most REALTOR®s will tell you that the better time is to purchase in the winter or in the fall to get the best deal. The logic behind that advice is simple: less competition. Most markets peak in the summer months, and as fall rolls around, it lends way to a less populous playing field, and allows you to be more competitive in your negotiation. Many home purchases are for families and revolve around the school year calendars. Families don’t typically look to uproot their family during this time as the activities and commitments of a hectic back-to-school schedule simply won’t allow it.

A few things influence buying decisions including the begin of the school year and holidays. Once your children reach the age to attend school, where your home falls into public school district lines becomes increasingly important to ensure the best district and education for your children. This may include relocating to get into a district of their choosing as well as relocating closer to be in closer proximity to public schools for convenience as well as relocating to for private schools.

That being said, RealtyTrac analyzed over 32 million sales of single family homes and condos since 2000 and found that the best bet in real estate is in the month of October.With more than 2.7 million sales closed in October over the past 15 years, the sales prices averaged 2.6 percent below the average estimated full market value at the time of the sale. In many markets, there is a dip in the real estate activity cycle in October and November.

Right behind October are February, July, December and January, which are obviously all fall and winter months with the exception of July. July is quite the surprise as many will tell you that July is prime time to sell, but hasn’t been revered as the best time to sell historically.

As days get shorter in the fall and winter months starting in November, the real estate market generally slows a tad.  With less hours of daylight comes a changes for seller to be able to showcase their home in the best possible light. Many sellers are advised to take their homes off the market until spring, but sometimes, the exact opposite advice is given especially if the seller is very motivated to sell. There are generally fewer buyers so the competitive landscape of the market changes as well.

The data analysis from RealtyTrac also points out that the worst month of the year to close on a home purchase is April. Generally, buyers end up spending an average of 1.2 percent more for homes, which could deem April a great month to close for sellers.

Best Day of the Week to Buy Real Estate

Monday may not be the favorite day for many, but in the real estate market, this should be a buyer’s new favorite day to close on their home. Buyers averaged a discount of 2.3 percent below market value when closing on a Monday. The second-best choice is a Friday, where buyers averaged a discount of 2.0 percent. Steer clear of closings scheduled on Thursdays as data shows that it is by far the worst day of the week with only 1 percent discount, with Wednesday not far behind at 1.4 percent discount and Tuesday nearly a full percentage point discount at 1.9 percent.

Top 10 Days For Buying Real Estate with a Discount

While this data is important and interesting, the best day to buy varies by market and these statistics are national averages across major metros. Out of more than 100 metro areas analyzed, 37 had their best day to buy average in the fall months of September, October, and November and 44 had their best day to buy in the winter months of December, January and February. Holidays contribute tremendously to the trend of October being a great month as most sellers are motivated and do not want to go through the holiday season with their homes on the market. There are exceptions to every rule and if you are looking to purchase or sell a home in Seattle market your home to sell on April 1, San Diego: August 20, Pittsburgh: March 17, and Cleveland: June 13.

Check out this interactive tool to show what the best day to buy is in your market:

Data provided by: RealtyTrac


What Makes Buying More Affordable?


Rental Price Climb Makes Buying More Affordable

Rental prices have continued to increase at a fast pace over the past months. It’s currently cheaper to buy than rent in most U.S. cities. In fact, home affordability recently hit a 40-year high. Home affordability is at 1971 levels, due to falling home prices and record low mortgage rates, pushing home ownership into reach for more families, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Rental prices are forecasted to rise during 2012, but at a slower pace. Mortgage rates are also expected to hover around historic lows, providing another incentive to buy rather than rent. If you haven’t heard it before, I will say it again, now is the time to buy!

Please contact us if you have any questions on the current real estate market or know of renters interested in purchasing a home.