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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Professional Home Staging Can Lead to a Quicker Sale, and More Money

By Judy Royal

All the world’s a stage, including your home. If you’re planning to sell a property in the Wilmington NC real estate market, you’ll want to make it as appealing as possible to the masses with an eye-catching first impression. Cleaning and fixing that doorknob that’s been broken for years aren’t the only things you can do to get ready. Home staging is the process of preparing your residence for the marketplace with the goal of making it attractive to the highest number of potential buyers through the use of the following components: artwork, painting, furniture, accessories, lighting, greenery, and carpet. Experts agree that a professionally staged home is likely to spend less time on the market and net a higher sales price.

“The first thing it does is it gives the buyer a vision and a lifestyle of how they can live in the home,” said Lyn Manning, interior decorator and staging specialist who works with many Intracoastal Realty clients. “It just sets up a whole visual appeal. When we go in model homes we typically like the model home, and part of that is because it’s all set up to visually appeal to and emotionally grab the buyer. It shows them that lifestyle that they can have in that home and helps them decide how they can set the furniture up.”

This is especially important in homes that have floor plans with irregularities, Manning said. Professional staging can smooth those out by adding visual items that might be similar to what the new owner would incorporate. “It kind of takes away that guessing game for a buyer who has seen that raw, open space,” she added.

Staging isn’t just for empty homes, though. Many potential sellers will need to continue living in their residences while they are on the market and open to buyer showings. While Manning can provide all the furniture and decor to stage an empty property, in a lived-in space she works with what’s already there. “The challenge is to show the homeowner that less is more and get them to understand that thinning out is really necessary,” she said. “I really need to use what they have, maybe adding a few inexpensive elements to dress up what they have, and that’s a key part of this. My job is not to critique or criticize how they have lived in the home or their choice of decor.”

The home staging concept was born in 1972 when Barb Schwarz left the interior design business and went into residential real estate in Bellevue, Washington. With a background in theater, she began to suggest to sellers that they set the scene for potential buyers. In 1985, Schwarz began touring the country to teach agents and decorators about home staging and how it can be an advantage when selling a house, and in 1999 she founded the International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®).

About 49 percent of Realtors® who work with buyers believe staging usually has an effect on the buyer’s view of the home, and another 47 percent believe staging sometimes has an impact on a buyer’s view of the home, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2015 Profile of Home Staging. The report, the first of its kind from NAR, also found that Realtors® on the buyer side believe staging makes an impact in several ways: 81 percent said staging helps buyers visualize the property as a future home, while 46 percent said it makes prospective buyers more willing to walk through a home they saw online.

Realtors® believe that buyers most often offer a 1-5 percent increase on the value of a staged home (37 percent from Realtors® representing sellers and 32 percent from Realtors® representing buyers). Additionally, 22 percent of Realtors® representing sellers and 16 percent of Realtors® representing buyers said the increase is closer to 6-10 percent.

For an empty home, Wilmington sellers can expect to pay an average of $1,595-$1,895 for home staging, depending on how many rooms need the service, and there is also a small fee for each month the staging specialist’s items remain on the property, Manning said. The cost for a detailed consultation that uses the homeowners’ existing belongings is $125-$155, she added.

So how do you get started when you have years or maybe even decades of accumulated goods in your dwelling space? Matthew Finlason, the host of HGTV’s television series “The Stagers,” offers these 10 rules for staging homes, according to an article on HGTV’s website:

  • Grab them from the curb: Add potted plants and flowers, pressure wash patios and walkways, weed the garden, and mow the lawn.
  • Make it sparkle: Mop, dust, vacuum, wash windows, and clean baseboards, inside cupboards, under sinks, and in closets. Also, be mindful of any odors.
  • Pay attention to color and light: Neutralize strong colors for the broadest appeal, and open up blinds and draperies to ensure sufficient natural light.
  • Depersonalize: Remove excessive personal items, such as photos, collections, personal awards, and electronics.
  • Consider replacing furnishings: Think about removing or replacing worn or outdated furnishings, and get rid of extra pieces.
  • Invest in new artwork: Breathe new life into your home with paintings and photography, which can be used to contemporize a room and add a splash of color.
  • Make repairs: Repair squeaky doors, chipped or smudged paint, and broken fixtures and fittings that you’ve neglected.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint: Refresh a dull, dated room by brushing on some neutral color.
  • Don’t forget the floors: Get rid of worn carpets, and consider refinishing shabby hardwood floors. An inexpensive new area rug may also be a quick fix.
  • Spring for new light fixtures: Renew the look of the room by replacing old or dated light fixtures, door hardware, light switches, and outlets.

While these tips are a good start for any seller, they cannot replace the aesthetic details a professional can impart for a perfect look that can help you grab top dollar for your property.

Whether you’re in the market to buy or sell, 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.

Selling Your Home, It’s a Business Decision

Blog Courtesy of Bobby Brandon, Broker/REALTOR® at Intracoastal Realty

Don’t Let Emotions Get in the Way!bobby-brandon-pp

When you purchased your home, you more than likely did so with lots of emotion, which is very normal. For example, you looked at homes with your real estate agent and narrowed it down to the two homes you like the best. Your kids probably ran through the house selecting which room would be theirs. You might have liked the backyard because that is where your family dog would get to play and be safe. You might have even like the kitchen space because it is large enough to have friends over and spend fun times together. Or this might have been the area of town that you had always wanted to live, etc.

These are all examples of emotions playing into the buying process. But now you are selling that same home. Once again, you are facing surfacing emotions. Hopefully, you have had a lot of great memories in the home you have spent so many years in and it might be a little hard for you to leave it. But a word of caution, when selling you should put your emotions to the side. It is now a business decision, and it all comes down to money.

Letting emotions get in the way is NOT a smart business decision. For example, you have negotiated with the buyer back and forth, and finally received the price you want. Now you and the buyer are fighting over the ten-year-old curtains in the home. You had it in your mind that you wanted to take the curtains with you, but this could be a deal breaker. As part of the negotiations, the buyer is asking for your grill, and you have your heels dug in NO. This minor conflict is the only thing that is stopping you from selling your home, obtaining the price you want and moving to the area in which you want to live. You could lose the entire deal over a $500 gas grill.

These are all examples of making an emotional decision verses a business decision. I have seen deals lost when emotions get in the way. I have seen deals go south over curtains and grills. Once the buyer has walked, the seller realizes what a bad decisions they have made and what it cost them in “winning the fight” (emotions). So remember, when selling, it’s all business!

For more information on buying and selling homes, go to www.BobbyBrandon.com. Bobby’s Team can provide expert advice and insight into current homes and land for sale in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender County.



REALTORs Recommend: Top 9 Wilmington Area Restaurants For Best Fried Oysters

Here are the results I got for best fried Oysters in town for my clients who were new to the area and wanted to know.

I will preface this with many agents said Dock Street Oyster Bar if looking for STEAMED oysters….but finding good consistent fried oysters is another thing and my clients were thrilled with the winner which was Hieronymous… 2nd runner up would be Cape Fear Seafood Company was also mentioned more than once. …..so here you go:


  • “We love Bridge Tender”~ Dan Willard
  • “I would send them about an hour south of Wilmington to Calabash, NC.  Ella’s is the best, and Ella’s has a great history, an old TV show host used to say at the end of every broadcast “Good Night Miss Calabash” because he had eaten there and loved it. here is the link  http://www.ellasofcalabash.com/ “   ~ Jamie Graham
  • “Something Fishy is the best” ~ Craig Stinson
  • “We like Boathouse & Dockside”. Hope your clients enjoy local seafood! 😄 ~Julie Pettee
  • “Take him to Heironymous Seafood.”~ Pam Kersting
  • “Cape Fear Seafood….haven’t had the fried oysters but the other seafood is great so I would assume the best! ~ Lois Potratz
  • “Niche & cape fear seafood company” ~ Susan Walker
  • “I’m a huge fan of oysters!!!! Hieronymus by far…5035 Market St near Target!~ Amy Brown


    1. Hieronymous Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar: Location: 5035 Market Street, Wilmington, NC 28405 Phone: 910-218-2048 Hours: Monday–Friday, 11:00 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Saturday, 12:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m., Sunday, 12:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m. Closing Hours May Vary According to the Season
    2. Cape Fear Seafood Company: Locations: Monkey Junction | 5226 S. College Road Suite 5 Wilmington, NC 28412 and Porters Neck 140 Hays Lane Suite 140 Wilmington, NC 28411 Phone: (910) 799-7077 Monkey Junction (910) 681-1140 Porters Neck Hours: Mon – Thur | 11:30am–9:00pm, Fri-Sat | 11:30am–10:00pm, Sunday | 11:30am–8:30pm
    3. Bridge Tender: Location: 1414 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403 Phone: 910-256-4519 Hours: Lunch: Monday – Friday 11:30am – 2pm Dinner: Nightly starting at 4pm
    4. Ella’s of Calabash: Location: 1148 River Road, Calabash, NC 28467 Phone: 910-579-6728 Hours: Open 7 days/week 11am-9pm
    5. Something Fishy: Location: 3436 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28412 Phone: 910-395-0909 Hours: 11 am to 9 pm Tuesday through Sunday
    6. Boathouse Restaurant: Location: 6328 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403 Phone:  910-679-4224 Hours: Open 7 days/week 7am-9pm
    7. DocksideLocation: 1308 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403 Phone: 910-256-2752  Hours: Open 7 days/week 11am-9pm
    8. Niche Kitchen and Bar: Location: 5954 Carolina Beach Rd, Wilmington, NC 28412 Phone: 910-684-5022 Hours: Tues – Sun : 11AM – 10PM
    9. Dock Street Oyster BarLocation: 12 Dock St, Wilmington, NC 28401 Phone: 910-762-2827 Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 11 am – 10 pm

Sarah Burris Intracoastal RealtySarah M. Burris, RRS, CRS, GRI