Hurricanes

coast guard hurricane warning signs

In early 2002, when the Blue Green Corporation hired Doug to sell land at Winding River Plantation in Bolivia, NC, he taught him to refer to hurricanes as “storms” and do all he could to change the subject if it came up. Talking about hurricanes while trying to sell real estate is like asking a Yankees fan to root for the Red Sox.

With Ian wreaking havoc on the Caribbean, Florida, and the Carolinas a few weeks ago, we are going against the grain and speaking openly about one of mother nature’s worst occurrences. Wish us luck!

A Little Peek at Facts

First, though, let’s take a quick peek at some interesting statistics about the population of the US and where it resides:

  • About 94.7 million people, or about 29.1% of the total US population, lived in coastline counties in 2017, a 15.3% growth since 2000.
  • 81.4% of the population lives in coastal states on 57% of the nation’s land. 37.4% of the population can be found in counties adjacent to the oceans and Great Lakes. These counties occupy less than 18% of the land.
  • About 60.2 million people lived in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions – those most vulnerable to hurricanes. These areas added 8.3 million people between 2000 and 2017, a 16% increase.
  • Florida’s net annual gain of 404,000 (or 1106 a day) new residents in 2021 has increased Florida’s population to over 22,000,000. Only Texas and California are more populated.

We think you get the point. Coastal states and cities are popular destinations for people escaping the brutal winters and high taxes of the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and New England. The first goal is to find a warmer climate; for many, it is also to live somewhat close to the ocean. So, if the trends are for more Americans to move closer to the sea and warmer climates, then don’t these people know about hurricanes?

photo of the ocean, sand and a walkway to the beach with blue skies

It would be hard to believe that someone moving to a saltwater coastline is unaware that hurricanes are brewing in the oceans. The draw of living near a warm ocean is powerful, for here is where you’ll find more favorable weather, a plethora of beautiful, planned communities, a laid-back lifestyle, and tons of year-round activities.

Elevations

However, the downside is that you must be on the lookout for storms instead of hurricanes. For example, Governor DeSantis announced that Ian is a 500-year floodplain storm – so they got to go back in history to find similar damage in that area.

Oh, and Florida is quite different from North Carolina in elevation. The highest peaks in most of Florida are overpasses, with most people living on 3’ – 10’ of elevation. In Brunswick County, we are blessed with higher inland elevations, such as Brunswick Forest boasting 30’ – 40’ above sea level, Ocean Ridge is 30-55’, and Compass Pointe is 25-40’, etc.

Below you can see the paths of 57 storms that have landed on the shores of the US since 1985 (Ian is not on the map below.) It is safe to say that even people who live inland in coastal states experience their level of storm hits. What is also true is that there is no actual safe place on the coast from Brownsville up to Bangor. Doug has some friends in Winston-Salem, which is easily 3 hours from the NC coast, who received a bunch of rain and experienced high gusts from Ian.

photo showing a hurricane models

Flooding

One other item worth mentioning about hurricanes is that over 80% of the damages (and therefore costs) come from flooding. Winds will always be responsible for some damage, but the water produces most of the damage. Did you see the damage to Ft. Myers beach? Devastating is an understatement.

Picture on right is the water damage on the Federal Court House and the picture on the left is after the damages happened

And water damages occur in many ways. There is the obvious, such as water in buildings and homes and erosion, but in 2019 in downtown Wilmington, we experienced Florence. On Doug’s daily morning on the Riverwalk, he passes by the Federal Court House (formerly the US Customs House). Directly after Florence, none of the maintenance staff for the building came to check on the structure and air it out. What transpired during those 4-5 days was unimaginable. Mold spores grew inside the building because it was usually hot outside after a storm, and because they had some minor water intrusion in the building, it was like a terrarium inside. Today, over four years later, that building is still not inhabitable. They have been sucking out the moisture for four solid years, 24/7. Eventually, government officials decided to remove most of the drywall and replace all the windows. The repair cost to this building is astronomical now, and we still have no time on when it will reopen. Therefore, water damages come in all shapes and sizes and should be feared.

Hurricanes happen, and no place is without weather drawbacks. Since 1999, Doug has experienced two direct hits (relatively mild, though) and many drive-by’s. Before moving to Coastal NC in 1999, he lived north of Boston for seven years and experienced at least 4 Nor’easters – which is code for a wicked lousy winter storm. And before that, he spent three years in Milwaukee, where winter lasts seven months. No place is perfect. But if you are on the hunt for that Coastal NC home to retire in, then allow us at Carolina Plantations to help you with your search!

Diverting Your Water

In one’s search for a retirement home and community, many factors exist to consider. Many of the most common are demographics of the residents, location, age of the community, and more. How often, though, do people give serious consideration to the movement of water in the community?

two different ways to divert water from home.

Since 2007, the team at Carolina Plantations has helped thousands of people find their dream location and home to retire to – even if it was not in Coastal NC. During that time, we welcomed nearly 500 families to Brunswick Forest, located in Leland, NC – just 5 minutes from downtown Wilmington. We bring this to your attention because, being as involved as we have been, we have been close to allies with the developer and have been privy to some valuable information.

Anytime you are within 50 miles of the southeastern coast of the US, you need to be concerned with water, for when you hear the phrase “Low Country,” that should associate in your head that low terrain equals high water table. And while our rain levels are pretty standard during the year, we get heavy rainstorms and occasional storm water drains and pipes feverishly moving water – and sometimes, lots of water.

What Choices are there?

When entering a community, you are most aptly to see one of two methods of moving water. The first is using culverts/swales placed in front of your homes. When it rains, these fill up with water, and if it is heavy rain, you might just end up with Lake Winnipesauke on your front lawn. This is because culverts tend to collect water and not move it as intended. And probably most important to note is that these swales tend to get long-standing water, collect garbage, and are hard to maintain.

Choice #2 is where the developer uses curbs and gutters along with sidewalks. This is far more costly than the first option but by far the best for you, the homeowner. Home water is often directed to the street, whereby gravity sends it to a drain. The water goes down the drain and is carried along pipes to a retention pond.

Retention Ponds

Retention ponds can be your friend if the developer has a plan if the ponds overflow. Spillways are commonly factored in, and water from one pond will flow to another at a lower elevation. This continues till the water is sent off the property to an estuary or into the town’s drain system. Retention ponds that do not have a spillway can often flood the homes of those who live around the pond.

showing two different ways that a retention pond works

Numerous communities throughout Brunswick County and Coastal NC do not install stormwater drains, pipes, or sidewalks. Many are older communities but make no mistake; economics drive the water removal issue 99% of the time. Some may say they are more environmentally conscientious; however, now you are armed with the truth!

Be careful when selecting a community and pay attention to how water is moved off your personal property and the community. The last thing you want to do when you retire is to worry about a lake forming in your yard every time it rains. If you’re still on the hunt for a dream retirement home, give our team at Carolina Plantations a call today!

10 Years Later: The Housing Market Flip

We dug back into the archives on Carolina Plantations back to our eNewsletter dated October 2011. Exactly ten years ago, Doug penned an article “Selling for Less” in The Front Porch Gazette, which was the predecessor to Carolina Dreamin’, our current eNewsletter format.

The county was three years removed from the gut-wrenching financial collapse of our economy. Most homeowners across the country were selling their homes for less than they were valued in 2007 and early 2008.

The article pointed out that if you were selling your home in DC, NJ, PA, or MA, whatever you might be losing up there, you would be gaining down here, as our prices also tumbled. Fast forward ten years, and well, that certainly is not the case as just about every home listed in America sells within 48 hours.

But wait! Isn’t there some kind of irony going on here? We mean, does either market hurt you? Follow this logic for a second. Let’s look at what would have happened if you sold your home in 2011 for $400,000 or $500,000 in 2011.

Value of your Home Sale 2011           $400,000

Current Loan Balance 10/11               $100,000

Equity in your home                           $300,000

Cost of new home in NC                     $350,000

Net Cost of new Home                       $50,000


Value of Your Home in 2021              $500,000

Current Loan Balance 10/21               $50,000

Equity in your Home                           $450,000

Cost of new home in NC                     $450,000

Net Cost of New Home                       $0

We all know that the monthly cost of a $50,000 mortgage is relatively small (about $225 a month), so the irony lies in the fact that your home went up by $100,000. However, so did the cost to build a house down here in North Carolina. The net/net to you in this market is favorable but perhaps not as much as you had imagined due to the costs of building a home rising over the last ten years.

The problem today for many people deals with sitting on the sidelines waiting for lumber and materials prices to come down from their high earlier this summer. The retail costs have adjusted quite a bit; however, those prices adjustments just don’t seem to have made it through the supply chain yet, as many builders Doug has spoken to recently claim prices for almost all building products are still up sharply from the beginning of 2021. Until this occurs, resale homes appear to be the best bet financially, and this is what continues to drive a good portion of our real estate market in our country. If you’re ready to make that move from the Northeast to our beautiful shores of North Carolina, give us a call today. We are prepared to help you make the right decision to retire to Brunswick County.

Brunswick County: Thousands of New Homes Approved & Proposed

If there is one thing that we have a lot of in Brunswick County, it’s land. If there is one demand in and amongst Coastal NC that we have an abundance of, it’s for more homes. Put them together, and BOOM!!

From Sunset Beach to Shallotte to Bolivia to Leland, developers are pulling out their checkbooks and doing everything they can to get new homes out of the ground at lightning speed. America is shy 4,000,000 homes to satisfy consumer demand. Yes, we said 4 million homes shy?? That is like 8,000 homes per county, give or take a few thousand. That’s nuts and quite frankly probably conservative because not every county has a bullseye on it for retirees, as does Brunswick County, NC. It has been one of the top three retirement destinations on the east coast for years, but with COVID-Flight happening in so many New England, Mid Atlantic, and Midwestern cities, Brunswick County is en vogue! Check out this article that Wall Street Journal has recently put out on the housing shortage.

For decades, Brunswick County has been one of the leading growing counties in America, but don’t let that scare you, as that is based upon a percentage of growth, not by population numbers. For example, here are several of the largest cities and their respective counties population in North Carolina:

CHARLOTTE – Mecklenburg County                                                   1,143,570

RALEIGH – Wake County                                                                    1,142,740

ASHEVILLE – Buncombe County                                                         265,055

WINSTON SALEM – Forsyth County                                                   388,453

WILMINGTON – New Hanover County                                               238,907*

Brunswick County, NC                                                                       154,700*

*One interesting note is that Brunswick County encompasses 1,050 square miles, while New Hanover County to the north of us comes in 328 square miles. We have over three times the amount of land and only 64% of the population that Wilmington/NHC has. That is probably the #1 contributing factor to the continued growth of our little slice of heaven – we have the land!

If you are thinking of retiring to Brunswick County, give us a call today and allow one of our agents to help you in the process. Our little slice of heaven is waiting for you to call it you’re forever home today!

When Will it Stop? Not for a Long, Long Time!

A very dear friend of Doug’s, a giant in Brunswick County, said to him last week that Carolina Plantations should enjoy unparalleled growth for many years. His family were earlier settlers on one of our barrier islands, and he and his real estate empire focus on beach business. He mentioned this because beach real estate has slowed quite a bit due to a lack of inventory. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people are doing everything they can to escape colder climates and higher-tax states and find their place in the sun. We could not argue his point.

Covid, which hopefully will be under control soon, has merely accelerated the retirement plans of millions of Americans. Why live in cold weather when your kids have moved out of state, taxes only seem to be increasing as winters continue to be too long and too cold, and your homes can sell for more now than possibly ever?

A couple of weeks ago, Doug watched Chairman Powell of the Fed speak about the US’s chances of experiencing another 2008 debacle. Check out the 60 minutes interview.

He indicated that many factors are in place today that would severely decrease the chances of ever happening again. The first was changing predatory lending habits of lenders, which we can attest to. Years back, you might recall “No Doc Loans,” which allowed a person to walk in off the street and, without any documentation, secure a loan. Is anyone surprised that 2008 happened? Oh, my goodness, what were we thinking?! Oh, and one more thing Chairman Powell shared is that he does not see inflation on his radar. Chairman Powell believes the Fed has that well under control through the end of 2021 and beyond.

So, barring an economic meltdown again any time soon coupled with loads of Baby Boomers retiring and looking for a more economically feasible lifestyle, Coastal North Carolina is smack in the crosshairs of untold numbers of soon to retire Americans. And according to Wharton’s Professor Jeremy Siegal, stocks could post yet another 30-40% gain before any kind of a pullback. Check out some tips for buying a home during a pandemic here.

On a different note, a few days ago, Doug spoke with a client that said he is going to wait until fall to consider purchasing a home here on the coast. The reason, in his opinion, all this craziness with multiple offers and rising prices has got to end soon. Nope, it doesn’t.  Keeping this all in perspective, while our prices have increased this past year, most of it was driven by a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. These prices, though, have been felt in just about every market, so if you are selling your home today in Princeton, NJ for $525,000, that’s probably $50,000 more than you would have sold it for last summer, right?

Coastal North Carolina is still VERY affordable. We have inventory, and if we run lean, our builders build it because we are truly blessed to have an abundant inventory of land! Approximately 70% of our clients build new homes here because:

  1. They can!!
  2. They get to select all their floorplans, colors, flooring, countertops, appliances, etc.
  3. It fits into their timeframes with regards to retiring, selling, and moving.

So, when you consider Covid Flight (to the burbs), people retiring earlier than anticipated historic low-interest rates for mortgages, millions of Baby Boomers have yet to retire. A stable/growing economy, Carolina Plantations is expecting the real estate market here in Coastal North Carolina to stay very strong for the next 24-36 months. And as the adage goes, if you snooze, you lose. If you’re ready to start your search for your home to retire to the Coast of North Carolina, give us a call today!

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