In March 2007, Doug followed his entrepreneurial spirit and opened Carolina Plantations Real Estate. He leased a 1600 sq foot office directly off Hwy 17 in Ocean Isle Beach, just a half mile before Ocean Ridge Plantation. Doug was one of the first three business employees; boy, was he naïve.
The market in Brunswick County was just coming down from a utopian high where we all saw homesites selling as quickly as a bulldozer could knock down a few trees. It was the “Land Grab” of the early 2000s, and man, was it something to witness. It started in 2004, and in 2005 it was in full swing. The honeymoon continued into 2006 and even a bit of early 2007; however, the cold shower was in the works, as the economy officially slipped into a recession in December of 2007. Excellent time to open a real estate company, huh?
Before venturing out on my own in real estate, Doug had worked for a prominent local developer, a large regional developer, and a friend of mine who operated a general brokerage in Southport. Real estate seemed natural for him as it allowed him to use a lot of general life knowledge that he picked up by living in NJ, TN, SC, GA, WI, MA, and NC. So, what have we learned in the past 16 years? A Lot!
- Most realtors (unfortunately) know little to know about land
- Dreams begin with a parcel of land. From there, you design & build your Dream Home
- There is a lot to learn about what makes a suitable homesite: Wetlands, the direction of the sun, the topography of the land, soil composition, dimensions, location, pad ready, etc.
- Years back, flipping dirt was a profitable side business. That dried up here in 2008
- Do not purchase land haphazardly, if you don’t buy stocks haphazardly
- The land is an asset – not an expense. It does under your Dream Home
- Always check to see those utilities (water, cable, electric, gas, etc.) are available on your land
- Be very careful about building in a “virtual” community. That is one in which the sales team says to close your eyes and picture a pool, fitness center, houses, golf course, etc.
- Do your research on the developer, then do it again. There are way too many surprises out there lurking
- Kick the tires – drive around and introduce yourself to current neighbors. Get their take and try to find similar socioeconomics or political beliefs of the neighbors (if necessary)
- Finding a community that meets your active/inactive lifestyle is important
- Take the time to research your monthly/annual fees. HOA, POA, and possible assessments
- The newer a community is, the younger the residents are
- What is outside your community is more important than what is inside your community:
- Medical services, restaurants, shopping, entertainment venues, nightlife, big box stores, culture/museums, airports, beaches/mountains, etc.
- Climate – What is your ideal year-round climate? Don’t switch out three months of horrible cold winters for three months of blistering summer heat
- If you are an outdoor person (walking, gardening, tennis, golf, beach, etc.), a moderate year-round climate is best suited for you
- Measure how far your area is from good friends, family, or big cities/mountains/beaches
Real Estate Companies
- For the most part, Realtors generally have a small narrow geographic focus
- In most real estate offices, Realtors are on their own. Little teamwork can be found
- Real estate companies rarely provide their sales team leads, = you must produce your own
- To succeed in real estate, you need a great team of outside partners, such as mortgage brokers, closing attorneys, insurance agents, home inspectors, photographers, developers, etc. Many thanks to Tom, Jennifer, Lucas, Jules, Ashley, Laurel, Vince, Kiersten, Carol, Randy, Valirie, Charlie, Jim, Kate, Vann, Jerry, Chris, Shane, Any, Melanie, etc.
- You need a team of unselfish Brokers and admin folks to run an office. Our team is off the chart regarding teamwork, and our success thrives on this. All the thanks in the world to Patricia, Nancy, Pat, Patty, Nolan, Kyle, Bill, Seth, Mike, John, Bruce, Pam, Joe, Lori, Ryan, Christopher, Court, Haley, Mitch, Sabrina, Siy, Lindy, Sara, Casandra, Steve, Mandy and more!
Every year since 2007, our industry has faced countless challenges. Not just from the economy but external forces such as:
- Companies that list your home for a small % but provide nothing else
- Companies that buy your house for a reasonable price
- Big companies that commandeered the internet search engine optimization world have zero people to assist you (all work is farmed out)
One thing that has not changed in our industry is appreciating realtors who work hard to earn your trust and put your requirements ahead of theirs. We have seen a lot of ancillary parts to our business change over the past 16 years and, at times, fell for the hype of how much Realtors are a dying breed, but that is far from the truth. It is comforting to know that the real estate market is not soon be replaced by robots, internet-based companies, or artificial intelligence (AI)!