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.