The Beach

Today I did something I am ashamed of that I don’t do more of. I went to the beach. I dug out a hole in the sand (no, not 6’ deep), laid my beach towel down, and took a glorious late afternoon Labor Day nap.

Funny though, just before I dozed off, I was thinking of ideas for the September Carolina Dreamin’ lead article. The more I thought about it, I looked around and realized how beautiful my surroundings were and said, “I will write about the beach”.

Growing up in northern NJ, I am glad to say that I took advantage of traveling into Manhattan on a fairly regular basis. My father’s company had season tickets to the Knicks and at age 14, he allowed me and a buddy to travel into the city to see the Knicks, Rangers, Yankees, Mets, Jets or Giants games. I also saw a handful of Broadway shows, WTC’s, Empire State Building, Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park and more. But as close as it was, I never went to see the Statue of Liberty and/or a handful of other great venues near us. Isn’t that just amazing how we can live so near to a wonderful national treasure, state park, mountain range, blue ocean or historic city but rarely take advantage of it!?

So, if you live here or somewhere near a beach and or want to live close to a beach someday, here are some random practical uses for the beach:

  • Buy white shirts and blouses along with khaki pants/shorts and have a family portrait taken
  • Go Shelling!
  • Take a nice walk with your dog or husband. Ok, leave the husband home!
  • Plan a family picnic at the beach
  • Go fishing from the pier (I do this more than golf now because I lose less golf balls fishing!)
  • Learn to paint at the beach. Grab an easel, chair and a bottle of wine!
  • Fly a kite. You don’t have to be a kid to have fun like a kid.
  • Read that book you have been meaning to read for months
  • Bring a bottle of Champagne to the beach and toast to a beautiful sunset, which you can do at Brunswick County beaches for 4-5 months per year
  • Take a nap! The pounding waves put me to sleep within 5 minutes
  • Bring the grandchildren down for a day of fun. Kids LOVE the beach
  • Practice your sand trap shots!! 🙂
  • Go Surf Casting for that big one!
  • Learn to use a Paddle Board
  • Body Surf like you did on the Jersey/NY/MA/MD shore as a kid
  • Swim!!!!!!

So, my new pledge is this: I am grateful to live so close to several beautiful beaches and vow to take advantage of them more often. How about you – got anything near you that you really should take more advantage of??

Are Investors Back???

Back in 2009, a proud young man from Miami called our office to inquire about the value of his investment homesite he purchased in 2006 during a developer ‘big event’ weekend. Believe he had $225,000+ invested in his 1/3 acre nature homesite. According to one of our Brokers here, the young man had also purchased some investment property in south Florida that was not faring very well and he just needed to be reassured that his NC property was still sound.

When my Broker researched the property, he asked the young man if he wanted the truth about the current status and value, and of course he said Yes! So that he had some perspective, we passed along to him that nothing had happened to his homesite in three years in terms of infrastructure (ie roads being paved, curbs, utilities, access to the homesite, etc.) and that there were no homes built yet in this section where 200+ homesites were sold to anxious buyers.

The young man seemed a bit dismayed by the lack of progress and the escalation of broken promises so he naturally asked the Broker what he felt he could get for the property if he were to put it on the market. Well, the reply was “your homesite is not worth a ham sandwich”. There was about 10 seconds of silence and the young man almost broke down in tears.

Investing in land, stocks, bonds, marriage, a business, sports or almost anything can be a nerve-wracking experience. That is why it is always good to take your time and research any investment you decide to jump into. Recently throughout the southeast a number of investment groups have been on the lookout for semi completed developments to invest in. In Brunswick County alone we had over a dozen communities that were in the process of being developed go belly up and leave the original development vacant. Some had roads and utilities while others had partial infrastructure.

Home and Land Investing

In the past several months I know of several WEEKEND LAND SALES EVENTS that have taken place in NC. Homesites have been reduced to a fraction of the initial intended prices and a marketing team comes in, builds a new entrance, surveys and stakes the homesites, advertises to everyone in their massive databases, puts up a tent, brings in 40 sales agents and attempts to use the herd mentality to sell all the homesites in 3 hours.

Some of these marketing groups have been successful and some not as much as the others. The key though is not whether the group that picked this property up from the bank makes money, but whether these are legitimately good bargains. Here are some Pros & Cons that everyone might want to consider:

PROS

  • The prices are reduced
  • Basic infrastructure should be in so that you can build right away

CONS

  • When you have 100 Buyers together under a tent and 50 homesites to sell, you invariably have a herd mentality going on, and many people the world over make huge mistakes in these pressure cooker environments
  • Most of these communities have zero amenities (pools, tennis, fitness, golf, etc.), so chances are strong that most people purchasing these sites will never build on the sites
  • That translates, down the road, to the overwhelming majority of these homesites coming back on the market – which in turn means values will drop significantly as investors simply want to get rid of their investments once they know they are not going to appreciate
  • These marketing groups are not developers. As soon as they have everyone’s money, they are down the road to their next opportunity never to be heard from again.

As a general real estate Broker, I am perplexed as to why someone would risk $39,000 on a homesite in a 4 street community with zero amenities or homes built. Plus, these slick marketing groups don’t even let you know where the community is located! (Don’t ignore all the Warning signs!) Conversely, anyone today can walk into St James, Sea Trail, Brunswick Plantation, Winding River, RiverSea and numerous other communities and purchase a $35,000 homesite in a plantation that has hundreds/thousands of homes built, all infrastructure & amenities in and community activities always going on.

While our market here is doing well, just go to this link and see the number of homesites that are on the market in twenty of the leading plantations in the area: Click Here.

In just these plantations alone there are over 1,100 homesites for sale, so with our current absorption rate we probably have a 5-7 year supply.

If you are going to invest in real estate again, do like you did years ago and research the developer, builder, sales team, etc. before you make any kind of commitment. In the past 7 years the average American has removed one word from the real estate vocabulary, and that is the word “risk”. And if you don’t investigate as to how much risk you are taking on, you just might wind up with a ham sandwich one day instead of a good investment.

Is There Anywhere Else?

If you read Carolina Dreamin’ on a fairly regular basis, it is no surprise that I tout the many positive attributes of Coastal Southeastern North Carolina, which currently is a very popular option for those looking for a second home or area to retire to. Miles and miles of soft sandy beaches, great year round weather, affordable lifestyle, tons to do, yada, yada, yada!!

Brunswick County beach
Last month I received a number of responses and comments from people about my article on eliminating areas on your search, as this is either a conscious or unconscious decision everyone partakes in during their journey to find paradise. In fact, the bulk of folks looking at this area are typically considering points as far north as Williamsburg, VA to southern Florida, so from my decades of travel up and down the east coast, here are some thoughts that you may wish to ponder when considering the following areas:

Southeastern Virginia

  • Weather-wise you are still in the snow/ice zone and you have winters
  • Norfolk and Newport News are quite industrial. VA Beach is very touristy
  • Williamsburg offers some nice plantations but also exudes a very touristy feel to it

NC Outer Banks Region

  • Other than the beach, there’s nothing to do on the OBX
  • Albemarle Plantation and New Bern are nice but very, very remote.
  • Morehead City and Beaufort, NC are quiet and next to Camp LeJeune Marine base

Myrtle Beach Region

  • #2 family vacation destination (12+ million visitors) in the US behind Orlando
  • You have to love 24/7 mega retail, traffic, golf, tourists and congestion to live in MB
  • Pawley’s Island & Litchfield are nice resort/vacation-oriented communities

Charleston

  • If you live in or near a large city now, why would you want to move to another one?
  • Area offers very few attractive/new retirement type plantations
  • Considerable urban sprawl occurring

Hilton Head Region

  • Huge tourist destination. Traffic is a nightmare all summer long.
  • Beach access is very minimal. No downtown – just strip shopping centers
  • Bluffton is up-and-coming but you must rely on Hilton Head or Savannah for anything

Florida

  • And it’s “Hot, Hot, Hot”!!! You are living in extreme weather, so why not escape it?
  • Many Floridians flee the state from May till September. Where would you go?
  • Very far from family and friends

Brunswick County offers a myriad of options with regards to real estate. The wide open barrier islands of Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island and Bald Head Island are perfect for summer getaways and family fun. The Plantations that have sprung from the Live Oaks and Sugar Magnolias are home to thousands looking for a rich and rewarding retirement. We have new homes starting at $100,000 ranging to multi-million dollar beach front estates on our five islands, so in terms of housing, we have you covered.

They say that many places look good on paper however, you know that the only way to place merit in what “they” say is to get out and explore these areas on your own. For those of us already living here, heck, we know we’ve got it good!!
Best of luck on your journey!