Living on H2O

For the past 20 years, Doug has been lucky to live on the water. Brackish water, mind you, which one might not equate with beauty, but when the mighty Atlantic Ocean is pushing and pulling on the body of water in front of your home 24/7, one really ought not to complain.

Currently, Doug lives on the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington. Across the river in Brunswick County, he owned a home on the Shallotte River for 17 years. Doug distinctly remembers looking out at the salt marsh and Shallotte River for my first time and thinking that this kind of looks like the swamps of NJ in Meadowlands’ vicinity – home of the NY Giants. He watched an old Sopranos episode recently, and during the intro, those same infamous NJ swamps, where things get lost pretty quickly, are featured.

Neighbors and very dear friends of his in Rivers Edge extolled a salt marsh and tidal river’s value and beauty. They professed that Doug’s backyard was a continual canvas and from sun up ‘till past sundown, the scenery would never cease changing, and boy were they right! And who’d have thought that 3 miles from the ocean that the tides would be so strong and so drastically different?

Doug’s neighbor, Harry, was a high-ranking Air Force officer who spent a lot of time at sea, and he asked him why in the world he would give up views of the ocean for pictures of the salt marsh. His answer was honest and straightforward, as he pretty much said that “the ocean is considerably more boring and that a salt marsh was/is much more colorful.” After living on the salt marsh for just a few months, Doug began to understand Harry’s viewpoint better.

When you have a view from your home that is hauntingly beautiful, the first thing you do almost every time you come home is head to the porch and peruse the magnificent landscape. And this was true of nighttime as well, as starry nights were as welcome as amazing sunrises. And full moons over the swollen river and marsh? OMG – it was simply magical!

In the fall of 2019, Doug sold his east-facing backyard home that sat directly on the 18th green of Rivers Edge, and that gazed out over the river and marsh. The hardest part of leaving that home was saying goodbye to such a good friend – the salt marsh, for he spent countless days and nights gazing in its direction. Leaving was difficult as he knew that view would be hard to replace.

All six of the new homes that Doug purchased or built resided in communities out in the burbs, so at the age of 62, he decided to take on the challenge of living downtown in an urban environment. The #1 factor was securing a view of the water, so he traded in his Shallotte River view for a beautiful view of the Cape Fear River, which lies on the northside of downtown Wilmington. As Doug punches away at the keyboard right now, he peers around his monitor and sees a boat speeding down the river. More than likely, it was out fishing at noon on Sunday, and who in the world would have known that 28 miles upriver from the Atlantic Ocean would we enjoy such a swiftly moving current and habitual and dramatic tidal change 24/7??

Here, Golfers, Egrets, Blue Herons, Blackbirds, and Purple Martins are replaced with sailboats, massive ships gliding upstream or downstream, tons of people walking along the Riverwalk, Jet Skis, and powerboats. As kids say, “the view doesn’t stink!”

If you have a penchant for living on the water, as in a pond, salt marsh, ICW, ocean, a small lake, or small creek, it would be wise to anticipate a 10-25% premium. If you are looking at oceanfront or OCW, you might be a 25-75% premium, so be sure to save well now!! The bottom line, though, is if you have an H20 dream, do all you can do to chase it, for there is something hopelessly intoxicating about living on the water. We here at Carolina Plantations can help you find your dream home with that beautiful water view from your porch today!

Crash Course for Northerners

Crash Course for Northerners

Doug’s Freshman year at University of Tennessee, a long, long time ago…., and Professor Spivey, his Economics 101 teacher, is being broadcast to about 100 Frosh via 6 TVs in a large classroom. He was very southern and said that he wanted to teach them Yankees a few things. First, he would ask us Yanks to raise our right hands and keep them up. He then would say to the southerners in the class to take note of who these hand raising folks are because hey, how can Prof Spivey know who has their hands raised since he is teaching the class remotely via TV?

Point taken Professor.

Next, he said that he was gonna say something in his East TN dialect and wanted to see if any northerners could figure out what he said. So, Doug’s leader says “Igots fer terse en ma ker” . He repeats and those who are from the land of snow and real pizza look at each other a bit bewildered until Mr. Spivey slowly enunciates “I got four tires on my car”.

For those of you who lives above the Mason Dixon line and are considering a move to the south in your future, we have compiled a few southern phrases and acronyms that might, just might help you navigate your way in these parts. Now, some are related to real estate and some don’t have a dang thing to do with real estate but, y’all just never know if one day you’ll have need for these translations, will ya?

Fun Southern Sayings

Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other – A common statement professing that it’s a 50/50 call

Give Me Some Sugar – No, not that kind of sugar, but give me some sweetness, aka a hug, kiss, etc.

OncetUsed in a sentence: Oncet I climbed a tree

Well Bless Your Heart – When said by a southern woman, generally she is referring to you as a dummy

You’re a Hot Mess – Simple translation means that you just aren’t right!

Holler – Nope, the other holler, as in “they live down yonder in the holler”, which is generally a valley or tucked away piece of land down south

He Ain’t Right – While as southern of a statement as you can find, it translates equally into Yankee

Southern Real Estate Sayings

F.R.O.G. – We do not have basements in the south but, we do have FROGs. These are the Finished Rooms Over Garage, otherwise known as Bonus Rooms. (Men often refer to FROGs as their Caves!)

POA – If you move south of the Mason Dixon, it’s a safe bet that the community you live in will have a Property Owners Association – which takes care of amenities, billing, gates, disputes, rules, etc.

ARB – The Architectural Review Board is the group of people that you hand in your home designs to and they hand it back to you and your designer/builder with all kinds of love notes and suggestions at correcting/improving your home

SubdivisionIn the south, this is a community that generally has a pool, two tennis courts and small clubhouse. These communities generally attract young/er families and, some retirees

HOA A Homeowners Association is typically in place when you have condos or townhomes, as this organization oversees the homes themselves (as in shingles, landscaping, painting, etc.)

Plantation – Some Marketing person began this terminology years ago for a community that is chock full of amenities such as golf course/s, pools, tennis courts, fitness center, exercise classes, parties, etc.

Carolina Plantations – Synonymous with the best damn real estate company on the planet that helps people discover all the great Plantations/Communites that we have here in Coastal North Carolina!!

Gated Community – Main focus of a gate is to increase sales. When the developer leaves, usually so do the guards – which are replaced with key fobs (FYI. A 24 hour, 7 Days a week Guard costs the homeowners $100,000 or more per year. Ouch!)

We can only hope that these few sayings above will help you as you transition to the area. If you are still looking for the perfect home and community, allow us at Carolina Plantations to help you out. We can give you all the best details on which community is right for you and your family! We hope to see you soon and we know you’ll be able to catch onto the southern talk in a jiffy.

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.

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!!

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!