Zillow: The Realtor-Less Mega Disaster

Certain technologies in our lifetime have been game-changers. Doug remembers working in Milwaukee for Allen-Bradley/Rockwell Automation when he sent a Telex for the first time back in 1989. He hit a button and sent a message electronically to a coworker on a different floor. The message was typed on their local Telex, and presumably, an admin person ripped off the page and stuck the message in the mailbox for the intended person. Wow – How cool was that?

Not long after, which would have been in the 90s, Doug was living in Boston when we began sending emails worldwide and started using teleconferencing equipment without cohorts in France and Germany regularly. What were next, ordering shoes, furniture, and wine online? Yeah right.

From a small real estate firm’s perspective, Zillow has changed our industry’s face in many ways. Had you ever heard of a Zestimate 3 years ago? Did you know that Zillow can keep listings listed as “Active” on their site for as long as they wish? Were you aware they purchased the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) market for hundreds of millions of dollars on Google regarding real estate?

Zillow’s grand plan is to recreate the entire real estate market, just like Amazon did about retail shopping. While we will always need some stores for certain products, today’s kids could care less about going to a mall to buy something, for they have Amazon accounts to do that. They also don’t use cash – as they purchase even a stick of gum with their debit cards.

Someday, after many of us are probably pushing daisies, an entire real estate transaction might be done electronically and without human involvement. That is where Zillow is attempting to take our industry. Still, for the time being, they are finding out that while Amazon can replace the in-person shopping experience for hundreds of millions of people worldwide, real estate agents still provide too much personal knowledge that cannot be bottled up in an online app.

At Carolina Plantations, we focus on people that are considering our area for retirement. This is an incredibly significant move and includes so much more than just buying a house.

As our infamous Martini Theory states, first, you must find the AREA that meets your personal needs (such as medical services, shopping, dining, culture, beaches, etc.)—followed by finding which COMMUNITY matches your requirements (such as socio-economics of the residents, architectural styles, activities, fees, clubs, etc.). Once you have found the right AREA & COMMUNITY, finding you the right HOME is usually effortless. No app is going to help you sort through the first two steps of the Martini Theory.

Here is a laundry list of additional offerings we provide our clients and which an app simply cannot do:

  • Our website – www.carolinaplantations.com – is 100% accurate and current. Zillow and Trulia are inaccurate, as they do that to mislead you purposely.
  • We send our clients a Coastal Guide Book, a 1” binder customized to your requirements and jammed with great information on dining, medical, shopping, beaches, golf, fitness, weather, and more. (FYI: our clients go NUTS OVER OUR COASTAL GUIDE BOOKS as no real estate company in the world sends you something so comprehensive and specifically aimed at your search. Order yours NOW at //www.carolinaplantations.com/contact#contactForm)
  • We set up conference calls with both spouses/partners before your visit so that everyone is on the same page and so that we can make the best use of your time while you are here.
  • Our team will take you on a tour of the area. That could include Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach, Oak Island/Southport, Holden Beach/Shallotte, Leland, Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach, and more. We will have lunch on the ICW while we provide you with essential tips on Coastal NC.
  • With your permission, we will be your Buyer’s Agent, which means we work for you, not the builder, Developer, or Sellers. This is incredibly important as one should never attempt to purchase real estate somewhere where you are not familiar with local real estate rules, local zoning issues, lending practices, closing procedures, and more.
  • Since nearly 70% of our clients purchase land and later build their Dream Home on it, we are all extensively trained in understanding land purchases. That includes but is not limited to the slope of the land; researching available utilities; assisting with the direction of the sun rising and setting; designing custom-built homes; introduction to quality builders; positioning your home correctly on your homesite; assisting with the selections of your colors/cabinets/flooring/granite and more.
  • We are negotiating on your behalf. We usually know the other realtors involved in the transaction, which can be extremely helpful in getting you what you want at the best price.

Zillow has made its mark on real estate; however, it will be a while before they “are” real estate. Until then, the team at Carolina Plantations is still the #1 Retirement Experts in Coastal NC. We look forward to assisting you with your all vital retirement search, wherever it may lead you.

A Carolina Plantation Update

Many of you may recall the first Saturday Night Live post 9/11, when Mayor Giuliani is asked by Lorne Michaels if it is OK to be funny, to which the Mayor replied, “Why start now?”

A Carolina Plantations Update

With that frame of reference, is it OK to Buy/Sell real estate now?

Since March 1, 2020:

  • Our firm has received 221 real estate leads/inquiries
  • Our fantastic team of Brokers has closed on 48 homes/condos/homesites for $10,615,162
  • We have put 27 homes/condos/homesites under contract for a total of $6,403.132
  • We are busy, even in this uncertain time. Our closings are up 32% YTD, and we have clients calling us daily to say that they will come down here as soon as it is safe to leave their home.

 

Each Broker with Carolina Plantations is armed with masks, disinfectant wipes, and gloves. We adhere to Social Distancing and respect the Sellers of each home we visit. We utilize electronic signatures, scanning, and faxing whenever and wherever possible. And, not just with our clients, but with our inspectors, closing attorneys, mortgage brokers, etc.

A trend that has become popular of late is utilizing Facetime and Virtual Tours of homes with prospective Buyers.

At Carolina Plantations, each year, 5-8% of our annual sales are done via Facetime, emailing of pictures and Virtual Tours – so this is far from new to our team members.

Here is how our team employs technology concerning buying & selling real estate:

  • A client wants to move to our area. May have been here already, have friends here, visited here years ago or, just knows that Coastal North Carolina is where they want to be.
  • They spend a fair amount of time on our company website, for there is no other website with MLS access that is more current and factual than our site. CarolinaPlantations.com
  • A home of interest comes on the market in a community they like or think that they are going to want, and the pictures look good.
  • They converse with one of our Brokers who agrees to visit the home that afternoon.
  • The Carolina Plantations Broker uses Facetime to provide the clients with a full tour of the home, both inside and outside. (or, we make a video and email or text it to the client.)
  • There is much dialog during the tour, and questions are fully answered, enough so that the client either feels the home is or is not the right home for them.
  • If it is, and they have a trip, family, or work conflict during the next couple of weeks, an Offer to Purchase can be drawn up, signed, and presented to the Sellers, all electronically and without leaving the comforts of everyone’s home.
  • The Offer to Purchase is successfully negotiated, and the clients are Under contract.
  • In the North Carolina Offer to Purchase agreement, each Buyer has the right to exercise a Due Diligence period. Most are between 30-45 days, for this is the period where a loan is secured and/, or a home inspection carried out.
  • If, for ANY reason, prior to the end of the Due Diligence period, a Buyer wants to cancel a contract, they can and will receive 100% of their Earnest Money Deposit.
  • During this DD time, a client can also come and inspect the home. If they do not like it, they can cancel the Offer to Purchase and receive 100% of the EMD.
  • Sellers may not be crazy about this; however, Buyers need to know and understand their rights and, if need be, exercise them. After 2008, our Offer to Purchase agreements was rewritten to favor the Buyer.

This past weekend, John O’Connor from our Leland office, welcomed Maria and Vinny to their new home in Brunswick Forest. Maria saw her new home in person for the first time, as John had utilized Facetime leading up to their Offer to Purchase.

Please watch this short video of how Team Carolina Plantations helps many people escape up north (the Bronx in this case) and find a new life here on the coast of North Carolina! And, feel free to contact John at john@carolinaplantations.com.

Rest assured, though, that with the exception of occasional grocery store visits and time in the field with or without clients, our team has been hunkered down in our respectful homes since mid-March. Like for everyone, it has been a challenging time, and hopefully, we are one day closer to getting our lives back to what will be a new normal.

One thing that Doug has discovered during this time is the absolutely hates his dishwasher. No kidding. He will fill it up, start it, empty it, and within 24 hours, he will be doing it again. Now that is just not right, for, before lockdown, the fill and empty happened twice a week at best. Doug has a better appreciation for his cat – who sleeps all day and keeps him up all night. Oh, and dogs? Yes, Doug now understands why they chew on furniture. What else is there to do in your home 24/7?

Experts, non-experts, locals, friends, and professional prognosticators are predicting that when this virus is close to being behind us that many, many people from up north are going retire, throw in the towel and migrate somewhere warmer and less congested. There is absolutely no better team on Planet earth to assist you with your exploration of Coastal North Carolina than the team at Carolina Plantations. We have over 120 years of real estate experience behind us and probably close to a billion dollars in cumulative sales. We are tall, tan, good looking, and will make sure that your visit here is not only informative but fun for all!

Three Lease Back Opportunities

A common trend in planned communities (aka “Plantations”,) is for a builder to sell a Spec (speculative) home to a Buyer, and then lease the home back from the Buyer for an agreed upon time. Historically, lease backs range from 6-12 months and the reason for doing so is simple, as the Builder gets their home off the books, and the Buyer secures a new home (at a set price) that they will move into 6-12 months later.

Three Lease Back Opportunities

On any given day, our team of Brokers at Carolina Plantations is aware of 10-20 lease back opportunities in the area, as the list is constantly evolving. Here are three great LB opportunities available today in Brunswick Forest. Doug selected three different price points and if you are interested in learning more about the details of each opportunity, email him directly at Doug@CarolinaPlantations.com and he will direct you to one of our Brokers, who can walk you through the features of each home along with the process of purchasing a Lease Back home.

And FYI, if you were to visit Compass Pointe or Brunswick Forest today, it’s safe to say that 50-75% of their model homes have already been leased back by the builder from the buyers. Lease backs work really well when you have chosen your area and community, but still need some time to retire, sell your home, say goodbye to friends/family, and tell your non-friends that you are moving to Arizona!!

The Myrtle by Legacy Homes

Located in Park West * $360,650 * Completion: April 2020

The Mango Bay by Kent Homes

Located in The Lakes * $509,000 * Ready for Occupancy

The Bimini Bay by Fogleman Custom Builders

Located in The Lakes * $579,000 * Completion: May 2020
2,624’ 4BR/3.5BA
Email Doug or call the office at 910-755-7557 for additional information on these 3 Lease Back opportunities. They usually go quickly once construction is completed!

2019 in Review

Whew! The holiday are now in our rearview mirrors and it loos like we survived, literally 2019 had an auspicious beginning as our real estate market in Coastal North Carolina was suffering from a Florence hangover. Typically, any time in an area is affected by a natural disaster, real estate sales sag until the infrastructure is replaced and life gets back to normal. Florence, the woman who visited Coastal NC but outstayed her welcome is responsible for a downward blip on our radar screen however, it wasn’t really all that serious.

Demand for real estate in Brunswick County continues to outpace just just about every county in America. We are still the #1 fastest growing county in NC (by %, not # of people) and believe we are the 4th fastest growing county in America. Yes, little did old use here along the southernmost coast of NC but, why wouldn’t we be? We offer mild year round weather with four seasons, over 50 miles of beaches, very affordable housing/taxes, a large variety of retirement communities/plantations laden with endless amenities. Vibrant arts & theater presences, awesome dining options, upscale shopping and some of the friendliest people anywhere. Oh, an no traffic, potholes or snow!

Why Carolina Plantations

Carolina Plantations is clearly the #1 Retirement Expert in Coastal NC. We opened in 2007 and for 13 years in a row, we have surpassed the sales figures of the previous years. I cannot begin to explain to you how proud Doug is of this amazing group of Realtors we have assembled here with one goal in mind: provide our clients with important information so that they can make well-educated decisions.

With $75,873,083 in sales just in 2019, a 4.6% improvement on 2018, our offices together represent one of the Top 7 real estate companies in our county, and that is out of over 200! We once again were awarded the Top Referring Brokerage Firm at both Brunswick Forest (10 years in a row) and Compass Pointe – which means we have welcomed thousands of people to Coastal NC.

Thank You

These numbers though would have never happened if it wasn’t for our wonderful base of clients who have trusted us – and in many instances, with your friends & family members. We are honored to be of service to you and will always do everything we can for you. On behalf of our team, Thank You!!

Speaking of thanking, we secure prospective leads from a number of resources including our #1 website www.CarolinaPlantations.com, 55 places, Zillow, Realtor.com, SoutheasternDiscovery.com, Private Communities and a number of individual Realtors located across the states. We appreciate you trusting us with your clients as well.

As for 2020, history says that election years are generally very good for real estate, as nobody really wants to rock the apple cart. Just look at what the major stock market indices did in 2019 – up nearly 20 – 38% across the board!! That is just CRAZY! Employment and interest rates are at their lowest levels in our lifetimes, nationwide housing starts are up, car sales are over 17m annually again, plus we continue to have a wide selection of affordable new/resale homes here on the coast. We at Carolina Plantations look forward to helping you find your dream home on the Coast of North Carolina in 2020!

Furniture: Sell It, Donate It – But, Don’t Bring It!

Furniture: Sell It, Donate It - But, Don't Bring It!

You’ve done it! You sold your home of 30-something years and are moving south to your Dream Home, as your retirement has officially begun!! But wait, what about all your furniture and worldly possessions? The transition from a home you have dwelled in for decades to a new/newer home can be…well, quite traumatic. The amount of work that needs to occur is almost mindboggling, as before you can do anything, you must trudge through all that “schtuff” you have been collecting for ions.

What’s the Goal?

As a homeowner who is ready to make the move from the cold winters of the North to the warm climate of the south. This includes consolidating your worldly possessions down to three tubs and yes, we said 3 tubs!

Furniture: Sell It, Donate It - But, Don't Bring It!

Yes, Doug said it, get rid of Grandma’s needlepoint chair that she made by hand in 1915. And why bring that cedar chest that has sat in the attic for 27 years that’s full of various junk from your husband’s childhood? As for you men, do you really need to bring 35 pieces of yard equipment with you to your new home when all your yardwork is included in your POA fees?

What’s the Reality?

Here is the harsh reality of a big move like this. If something has been in your attic for the past couple to 30 or 40 years, you will pay for it to be moved to its next storage area. Why would you do that if you don’t plan on using it when you move to your new home? And, not just furniture mind you – but this includes doll collections, wooden golf clubs, roller skates, wooden nickels, etc.

Oh, and no we didn’t forget about you ladies during this move. If your current furniture goes nicely in your traditional New England house w/bold colors, why do you think it will look good in a brand-new Low Country Coastal home w/a pastel motif?! In an effort to get Doug’s personal home on the market ready for sale, he recently held an estate sale. He sold many items at about 10% of what he paid for them years ago because the cost to move something like a king bed suite to a storage unit would have been more expensive to do so. Doug would have had to pay for the unit every month and who knows for how long? Plus, it was his goal to have only 3 tubs and no storage unit to deal with!

Be Ready to Move

As you get your home ready to sell, make a list of all your furniture and identify what your plans are for each piece. If you absolutely positively must, and we mean must, bring it with you to North Carolina, that is fine. But if you think it might go in the attic once you move here then let it go. You can either sell it, bring it to a consignment shop, donate it to Goodwill or give it to the kids or a family member. We do suggest that you have it gone before the Mayflower Moving Truck gets to your home to load up the truck!

For what it is worth, when any team member from Carolina Plantations lists a home, we set an appointment with the homeowner to essentially stage the home. What does that mean? Simple, anything you do not use on a daily basis is moved into the basement, attic or garage, for it is our goal to make your home look and feel as spacious as possible.

Why It’s Important to Minimize Your Things

Therefore, with that in mind, that is almost the same litmus test for what furniture makes it on the truck, if in fact it will match the decorum of your new/newer home down south.

Furniture: Sell It, Donate It - But, Don't Bring It!

Taking the emotion out of furniture sometimes is not easy. We know for many that selling Grandma Gertrude’s dining room set is almost an unconscionable act of treason. But, does an 80-year-old dark cherry Queen Anne dining table really belong in a beautiful new Low Country cottage style home here in the south?? Yes, we understand that it can be difficult to get rid of the furniture that you’ve had for year. But have no fear because within a 3-hour drive from Wilmington is many furniture stores located in Hickory, NC.

Lastly, we often encounter clients that insist that their new home has tons of room for storage, and we often ask “why”? If you have family heirlooms your conscience cannot bare to see depart the family, then give them to the kids or your siblings now, as storing them in your 120-degree attic here doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?? If you are still searching for your forever home located on the coast of North Carolina we can help you today!