Brunswick County Real Estate market trending in positive direction

By Sam Hickman
Brunswick Beacon
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm

BOLIVIA — As numbers from last year’s trickled in at the beginning of the year, local real estate brokers had plenty of reason to be enthused about the market again.

Annual sales numbers obtained by the Beacon last week show that Brunswick County had a 7 percent increase from 2013 to 2014 in total sales revenue, which mostly include the housing market, according to figures from the Brunswick County Association of Realtors.

Leland is not included in the data provided by the Brunswick County Association of Realtors because is part of the Wilmington area multiple listing services when data is compiled, Carolina Plantations owner and broker-in-charge Doug Terhune said.

Date show 3,232 total sales transactions in 2013 while 100-plus more sales were made in 2014 — a 3-percent increase.

Brunswick County Association of Realtors CEO Steve Candler and administrative assistant Cynthia Cumbee attribute to the rise of total sales revenue and transactions to an improving economy.

“We’re encouraged by these recent trends,” Candler said. “These numbers are reflected by the fact that membership has increased in the association in the last couple years. The economy is improving enough to bring these folks back in the fold.”

When the economy began to plummet in the mid- to late 2000s, the housing market was no longer one that benefitted sellers, association member and Realtor Bruce Williams said.

“I’ve never seen it in the industry drop so dramatically,” Williams said. “To see it move and turn in the right direction, like it’s doing now, is certainly heartwarming. When the economy began to struggle, it was as if everything was just going downhill. Buyers, sellers, Realtors, moving companies, plumbers, electricians, roofers, the economy affects all of those individuals.”

“Those were lean and scary times for Brunswick County,” Terhune said. “There were several factors that fueled the downturn.

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The leading edges of the baby boomers were starting to retire. Developers and builders in this region couldn’t cut down trees and put four stakes in the ground fast enough.

“Back then, we were really selling virtual communities. When the economy halted, many developers were so leveraged that when they didn’t have a revenue stream, they couldn’t continue to stay open. Within years, thousands of people who bought home sites in these virtual communities had to decide whether to pay mortgage on their home in Maryland or pay the mortgage on their home site in Ocean Isle Beach. The value of land precipitously dropped to, in some cases, as much as 5 to 10 percent of the prices paid by this group of baby boomers.”

Terhune credits the upward trends, in part, to much better interest rates.
“The interest rates have been huge,” he said. “People back in the 1980s, in that market they paid 11 to 16 percent interest in a home at one point. Four percent interest rates, that’s like free money.”

Carolina Plantations conducted market research that showed almost 10,000 to 15,000 baby boomers were retiring per day, Terhune said.

“If those people have the means, they want to leave high taxes,” he said. “They want to leave the cold weather. They want to leave the congestion. They want to leave the bad traffic. They want to go someplace warmer and affordable.”

When the economy took a downturn, the baby boomers no longer had the resources to leave their permanent homes in the northeast region of the United States.

Terhune said those with the resources to move are starting to buy homes in Brunswick County again for several reasons. Prospective buyers always look at what he calls “the stuff.”

“They don’t want to live in the big city,” he said. “They want to be near the beach in a warm climate in an area with great medical services, shopping, dining, entertainment and airport accessibility. That’s what they’re looking for. Those folks don’t want to be isolated.”

When Terhune analyzes the east coast between Richmond, Va., and the Georgia-Florida boundary, he knows why Brunswick County has been so successful in landing retirees.
“The only other area that has what Brunswick County has is perhaps Wilmington, and the Hilton Head (S.C.) areas,” he said. “But even with Wilmington, people want to move away from that congestion.”

Terhune pointed out places like the Outer Banks, which is too isolated, Charleston, S.C., which has a big-city feel, and Savannah, Ga., as areas where retirees don’t want to settle when moving from a populous area in the north.

“Brunswick County has the stuff these individuals are looking for,” he said. “Right now, we’re in a rooftop economy. Brunswick County is building lots of rooftops.”

Terhune said Ocean Ridge has more than 30 homes under construction; St. James, 100; Compass Pointe near Leland, more than 40; and Brunswick Forest, more than 90.

“Just with those communities, that’s more than 300 homes currently under construction in this area,” he said. “We’re in a rooftop economy. That’s a lot of rooftops.”

When the economy is strong, Candler added, it naturally increases the tax base.

“There’s an increase in the tax base through natural inflation or the services the county can provide the citizens,” he said.

Candler, Williams and Cumbee said they realized the economy would rebound from the worst recession the country has seen in several years.

“Our chief economist (with the National Association of Realtors), Lawrence Yun, said it’d be a 10-year cycle,” Williams said. “Everything we’ve heard from him since has been much of the same.”

While Candler is excited about the trends in Brunswick County, he doesn’t want prices on homes to skyrocket as a result.

“I think for the benefit of the county, the slow, steady increase in price of the units sold, it’d be best if they’d continue to increase by 4 to 7 percent,” he said. “An increase of that amount each year would be more manageable than the ups and downs of a roller coaster. A manageable market is better for buyers and sellers.”

“That’s right,” Cumbee said. “When you have big ups, that means the big downs are coming.”

Candler said, “For every mountain, there’s a valley. That’s what you have to be mindful of.”

Additionally, real estate brokers are seeing less and less distressed properties through Brunswick County. Distressed properties include foreclosures, short sales and bank-owned homes, among other properties.

In recent years, federal legislation had quite an impact on the local housing market, especially after the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 was passed.

The act, which would have caused a dramatic increase in flood insurance rates for homeowners, especially in the coastal region, was eventually repealed, but still created ripple effects throughout the local real estate industry, Candler said.

“It affected people in several ways,” he said. “People wanted to see if federal insurance was available, first of all. People wanted to see if they could sell their homes because of the rate increases.”

Legislation has since been passed that repealed the provisions of the Biggert-Waters Act, restoring confidence in those deciding whether to sell or buy their secondary homes on the coast.

“I anticipate when the flood maps are redrawn and approved, several homes will move from the VE zone to the AE zones, which is much more affordable when it comes to flood insurance,” Candler said. “This will once again increase home ownership in Brunswick County.”

The real estate industry is vital to Brunswick County, Candler said.

“It really is. We just don’t have the other types of industries the places like Raleigh have,” he said. “The pendulum swings better when the housing market is doing well. The sales taxes are better, more people are employed and individuals are spending the money they’re making back into the local economy. It certainly helps.”

Terhune is confident in Brunswick County’s real estate market moving forward.

“Remember the numbers,” he said. “There are 10,000 to 15,000 retirees a day. They all want to get the heck out (of the north). Brunswick County will grow. Think about it: This week, they’re getting ready for this colossal snowstorm. When they retire, they want out.

“Can you imagine how many people up there are on the Internet this week looking for places to retire? That’s where Brunswick County will benefit. Southern Realtors love snow. We love lots of snow as long as it falls up north. That serves as the catalyst for people making the decision to move.”

The economic downturn served as a learning tool for lots of people in Brunswick County, Terhune said.

“I’m glad we’re getting back to those times when the economy is trending in the right direction,” he said. “American learned a lesson. We removed the word ‘risk’ from real estate. We want stable, financially sound communities. Thank goodness they exist in Brunswick County today.”

Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or shickman@brunswickbeacon.com.

The Villages at Brunswick Forest

What really separates Brunswick Forest from all other communities in Brunswick County is The Villages at Brunswick Forest, in Leland, North Carolina. Sure you are only 8 minutes to the waterfront Historic downtown of Wilmington, NC from Brunswick Forest, but you may not even need to leave your own community for many of your day to day needs.

lg_001Entrance Night

Inside The Villages at Brunswick Forest, you will find (and all of these have been built within the past four years) a 45,000’ Medical Center (New Hanover Regional Medical Center) – which has all your basic doctors; Blue Wave Dentist office; CVS Pharmacy; BB&T Bank; Lowe’s Grocery Store – regional upscale chain; Pizzetta’s Italian Restaurant – Sal and Vito are from NYC!; Murray Framing & Art Studio; Port City Java – areas #1 Coffee Chain; Veterinary Hospital with grooming and boarding and more.

Coming Soon (as in currently under construction) are Tideline Fabrics – complete window treatments and fabrics for your home; Cosmetic Surgery Center; Builder and more!!

Call Carolina Plantations Real Estate today at 910 755-7557 for a complete tour of The Villages at Brunswick Forest, the community of Brunswick Forest, Leland, Wilmington and all other communities that might suit your needs.

Mountains vs Beach?

mountains beach

As one travels down the east coast there are plenty of beaches to select from when looking for a place to retire to. Mountains living selections though draw from a much smaller list. The Smokey Mountains are located in both Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. Other than that, everything else on the east coast are just hills unless you head back north to New England. Therefore, I will concentrate on living either on the Coastal Carolina Beaches or in the Smokey Mountains.

Now it might alarm you that spending my entire youth in Bergen County, NJ that I made my way south to Knoxville to secure my degree in Marketing from the University of Tennessee. My Dad’s best friend and our next door neighbor was a UT grad and two of his three kids attended UT and all three of the kids in my family attended UTK.
One of the attractions to Knoxville was the short 50 minute drive over to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. Once there we loved to go tubing down The Little River, play Hillbilly miniature golf, walk around downtown Gatlinburg and go hiking in Cades Cove. So, this Jersey Boy has a special place in his heart for the Smokey Mountains.

The idea though of living in the mountains possesses several obstacles for many people. Here are a few:

  • Weather – not only do the Smokey’s get snow, but the constant foggy mist (aka Smokey) hovering over the trees can block the much sought after sunlight quite often
  • Roads – ever attempt to get from Point A to Point B in the mountains quickly? Just can’t be done as the winding, twisting, turning, hilly roads prevent efficient driving times
  • Sports – if you love to hunt and fish, the mountains can be a paradise. If however you like to play golf, walk or jog you are in for one heckuva workout!! OMG, 18 holes can feel like 100 holes if your course has a decent rolling topography, and I am talking WITH a cart!!
  • Proximity to Other Cities – Asheville and Knoxville are pretty much it. I lived in one and traveled to the other a whole bunch of times, and while both are nice small towns, they certainly are not Charleston, Charlotte or Raleigh. On a personal note, my first job out of UT was working for Duracell batteries and was based out of Greenville, SC. Back in 1979 I remember vividly that my first 9 trips to Asheville required an umbrella.
  • Building costs – several years ago I was up in the NC mountains visiting a few developments that buddies of mine worked at. I was alarmed/shocked when I learned that the cost per square foot to build in the mountains can often reach $300’. The undulating terrain can really add to your building expense and in most cases mountain living is cost prohibitive.

The #1 alternative to mountain living is living at the beach. From the VA border to the GA border, the Carolinas have hundreds and hundreds of miles of white soft sandy beach fronts. Along with the relaxed atmosphere you will almost always find at the beach, don’t be surprised if there’s a little Jimmy Buffett in all of us! Spending a day with soft white sand between your toes and your favorite adult beverage in your hand sounds a little like paradise, doesn’t? Here’s how the beach compares:

  • Weather – the thermal layer here protects us in the summer and in the winter, so we are considerably less extreme than our inland counterparts.
  • Roads – we have flat, straight roads where getting from Point A to Point B is easy and quick
  • Sports – surf casting, saltwater fishing, hundreds of (flat) golf courses, kayaking, tennis, windsurfing, walking…..
  • Proximity to Other Cities – Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Raleigh and even Charlotte are never far from you if you live on the coast
  • Building Costs – Customized homes run $110- $130’ while custom homes are $140 – $200’

One of the wild cards in all this is GRANDCHILDREN. Back about 12 years ago I was working with a nice couple from CT and I will never forget what the husband said after I gave him a thorough tour of the area. He said “Doug, this area is the honey for the bees”, and I knew right away he was referring to their grandchildren. Let’s face it; a week in Disney will cost your kids $5,000+ however, a FREE week at Grandma & Grandpa’s home at the beach…..Priceless!

Like we say to all of the great people we are fortunate to work with, you will never know if there is an area for you that matches your lifestyle requirements until you get out of the house and explore, so Happy Exploring!

Carolina Plantations Real Estate: #1 Selling Team at Brunswick Forest!!

Carolina Plantations Team

For the second year in a row, Carolina Plantations Real Estate, a 6 year old real estate brokerage, had more joint sales with the Sales Team at Brunswick Forest than any other real estate firm in North Carolina. Brunswick Forest, located just 5 minutes from downtown Wilmington, is also the fastest growing community in North & South Carolina.

Jerry Helms, Director of Sales at Brunswick Forest, presented the award to owner of Carolina Plantations Doug Terhune, at The City Club in downtown Wilmington. In addition to the #1 Brokerage firm, Pat Coye of Carolina Plantations was presented with the award for the most sales by a broker!!

Doug Terhune and OthersCarolina Plantations Real Estate is dedicated to insuring that our clients see all of their options, from Sunset Beach to Southport to Shallotte to Leland to Wilmington. We believe strongly in the Martini Theory, which simply states that the first priority is finding an area that satisfies your basic needs – such as medical, shopping, restaurants, culture, transportation, etc. Once you have selected your area, then you focus on which community/plantation best suits your lifestyle and budget requirements. Then and only then do you focus on the well soaked olive at the bottom of the glass, and that is your home.

According to Nancy Boston of Carolina Plantations, “we are proud to have welcomed nearly 40 families to Brunswick Forest during the past couple of years. It’s a great community and while it is not for everyone, it offers a whole lot more than just a great location!” And broker Christopher Columbus Creekmore adds “the Brunswick Forest sales team and entire management group and staff are always eager to assist us and our clients, which is not the case in every community.”

In 2012, a sampling of our clients that we helped introduce to Brunswick Forest came from South Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York, NJ, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and several other states. The opening of Park Landing, which is a neighborhood with prices beginning in the mid $200s, has been a very hot commodity for us as these prices allow people the opportunity to enjoy Brunswick Forest without being house poor. And be sure to ask us about the newest neighborhood to open in Brunswick Forest in 2013, along with all the new great floor plans!

If you have any questions at all about Brunswick Forest, such as land sales, new construction, town homes, amenities, lease backs and all resales, please contact Carolina Plantations today!