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!


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!


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.


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.