What is the Cost of Risk?

Can you buy risk? No, not the old board game, but rather the intangible that has brought down mega conglomerates, countries and the one that has humbled millions of people. Does Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Niemen Marcus or Amazon carry it in their inventories? Chances are that if your retirement is on your horizon, you are going to be fairly risk aversive compared to the days of your youth, correct?

During the middle 2000s I was in real estate and experienced firsthand the almost total abandonment of the fear of the word risk. Good, hardworking, smart and diligent couples and individuals invaded our sleepy coastline and bought everything and anything they could. And I am talking anything here, as much of what was purchased was merely speculative in nature. (It was eerily similar to the 90s when people purchased tech stocks without doing any research on the firms they were invested in.)

Several of the larger plantations here and across the USA simply couldn’t cut down trees and put up four stakes fast enough due to the voracious appetite of the consumer. To many, there was MORE RISK at NOT purchasing a third of an acre dream homesite or 1,000’ condo than staying home and minding their own business. There were even lotteries where perhaps 100 homesites were released on any given weekend in 2006 yet, the sales and marketing machines brought in 150 Buyers to gobble them up. Many of those that lost out on the lottery went home in tears. Lucky them though, right?

Fast forward to 2013 and the market is coming back. Even a few of the abandoned communities where people sank a good portion of their savings into are beginning to be resuscitated. So the question now that has to be answered is have Americans learned their lesson? Are we a more risk aversive society today than half a decade ago?

In years past, American Pioneers were often rewarded for their vision and bravery and while that is still not out of the realm today, most folks have learned from the failures of the last wave of unlucky risk takers. Yet as you peruse the landscape of retirement type communities up and down the east coast, there is still plenty of risk out there.

So with regards to retirement and real estate, what are the risks that one must be aware of as you search from east to west and north to south?

Relax, there is plenty of inventory today in most areas
Years back, the lack thereof is what really drove the market. That and good sales hype!!
Brunswick County probably has 10+ years of inventory of developed homesites
Many homeowners are waiting for the market to turn before they put their homes on the market – so while the home inventory is good, there are many to yet be listed
There are a few exceptions today, and those are the few communities that are offering not only a good product (as in amenities, activities, homes, etc.), but a significant reduction of risk


  • If it isn’t there, can you afford to be there? 
  • The cost of installing roads, which includes water and sewer lines, sidewalks, curbs, storm water drains and landscaping is very costly – not to mention the engineering site plans and permits
  • For example, in 2004 the approximate fully burdened (above costs plus sales & marketing expenses) cost to improve a homesite was $25,000. Today the cost is over $40,000. 
  • Community infrastructure also includes on site drainage ponds, community entrances, gate houses, easements and much more


  • Once again, if it is promised but not yet built, can you afford to wait? And what happens if the sales team winds up being wrong? What is your real estate worth then? What happens to your retirement lifestyle? What if? What if? What if?…
  • If the amenities that are not yet built are important to your lifestyle when you retire, is there really no other community that can provide you comfort? Examples would be golf courses, indoor or outdoor pools, walking trails, fitness center, tennis courts and more


  • With the abundant information available to everyone today via the internet, do yourself a favor and Google your clients name. Spend some time and go to the third or fourth page and if by then you don’t see any negative blogs, chances are you should be ok
  • You can also check in with the local town or county government office where the community is and ask local officials if there is anything you need to know about your possible developer
  • There are good developers and those that for one reason or another, are not solid enough to invest your entire future with. Do your research on not only your developer, but perhaps your builder as well, as last thing you want is to live in a home without a roof!

Recently 3,350 thrill seeking passengers set sail on the Carnival Triumph to Mexico. They were in the middle of the ocean when a fire broke out that crippled the ship. It was an unfortunate incident but cruising anywhere consists of risk – considerable risk when you think about it. If done properly, removing risk from retirement or anything else you partake in can lead to a more enjoyable life. So do your research and try not to purchase too much risk because at the end of the day, you might not be able to afford it!! 🙂

February 2013 – Why Wilmington?

With a rich history of being a port city that served local residents from New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick County, Wilmington is the eighth largest city in North Carolina. Its earlier settlers had several names for her: New Carthage, New Liverpool and New Town, which later was Newton. Finally, in honor of Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington (England), the town nestled against the Cape Fear River, 28 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean, got her rightful name.

Fueled by the abundance of forest resources, the major industry here in the 18th and 19th century was timber. The “Port City” later became a strategic commercial ally in the opposition to British rule and was so vocal against the Stamp Act of 1765, that it was defeated the next year. In the 1800s, the city also built the longest railroad line in the world to Weldon, NC and was a major commercial and passenger hub for passengers & freight heading southwards to cities like Charleston.

Centuries later, Wilmington is a thriving small city sandwiched by the Cape Fear River to the West and the Atlantic Ocean to the East. While it still is a port town, it also is the commercial, medical and learning center of southeastern NC. Firms such as General Electric, PPD (Pharmaceuticals), Screen Gems, Corning and Verizon call ILM home, as well as Cape Fear Community College and University of North Carolina @ Wilmington.

However, the latest industry Wilmington is attracting is the influx of retirees from points north and west. With its wonderfully temperate year round weather, miles of white sandy beaches, exciting and eclectic downtown and riverfront park, new shopping venues, theater, fine dining and so much more, it’s no wonder that Wilmington is one of the largest destinations for the 10,000 Americans that retire each and every day.

On a quiet street in downtown Wilmington, the cries of “The British are Coming, The British are Coming” have been replaced by “The Retirees are Coming, The Retirees are Coming!!”

Since my move here from Boston in 1999, where I spent 7 frigid years, I have seen The Port City come into its own. While the changes have in and of themselves not been significant, in total they have helped transform a small, sleepy town into a fairly cosmopolitan little city with a Charlestonesque southern flair to her. Make no mistake about it, when people speak of retiring in Wilmington, others are no longer saying “Delaware”?

So in my time living in southeastern NC, here are the changes that I believe have helped Wilmington evolve from a moth into a butterfly:

  • MLK Jr Drive – prior to this road being built, going from east to west meant you were either on Oleander or Market street. MLK/Eastwood Road allows those in Brunswick County to scamper cross town to popular destinations like Wrightsville Beach, Mayfaire and ILM – our airport.
  • PPD //www.ppdi.com/  This home grown pharmaceutical firm, chose to build it’s beautiful campus like skyscraper along the north end of the Cape Fear River – breathing new life to what was one a disregarded step child part of downtown
  • Wilmington Convention Center//www.businessmadecasual.com/attend/event-calendar/  A beautiful waterfront facility tucked in behind Cape Fear Community College with more waterfront development pending! (ie hotel, shops and more)
  • Mayfaire at Town Centerwww.MayfaireTown.com  Several hundred acres that were formerly Parker Farms was converted into a shopping, dining, retail and commercial wonderland about seven years ago. Every day this exciting Mecca continues to add to your best shopping experience in SE NC (Chico’s, Coldwater Creek, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Barnes & Noble, Belks and more!)
  • Zimmer Cancer Center @ New Hanover Regional Medical Center – //www.nhrmc.org/zimmer-cancer-center Cancer is never a welcome word but in Eastern North Carolina, the Zimmer Cancer Center is a blessing.
  • The Betty Cameron Women’s & Children’s Hospital//www.nhrmc.org/betty-h-cameron
  • No place along the east coast of North Carolina takes better care of Women and Children than this amazing new facility
  • I-140 and Porters Neck By Pass – this long awaited highway connects the northern part of Wilmington/Hampstead to the Cape Fear River. Plus, within a year the extension will be completed, which will connect I-40 to Hwy 17 in Leland, just below Brunswick Forest. That will take a boat load of traffic off of hwy 17 in Leland.
  • Then there are the new(er) retail venues such as Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market, the addition to Lumina Station and many more.
  • New(er) restaurants include Ruth Chris Steak House, Manna, The Kitchen, Indochine, Circa, Brasserie du Soleil, Boca Bay, Port Land Grille, Melting Pot and many more

When our clients come for a visit, we always do our best to make sure that they see the highlights of our very own Port City. Wilmington is not necessarily though a town to retire in because it is chock full of subdivisions, which are simple neighborhoods with a pool and tennis court. Our clients are looking for an active lifestyle with amenities galore such as indoor/outdoor pools & hot tubs, golf, walking trails, tennis, fitness classes, cardio equipment, planned activities, restaurant, parties and more.

Therefore, the majority of our clients will agree that they “Buy Wilmington, but sleep in Brunswick County!”  So if you have not had one of our firm’s almost famous tours of the Port City, contact us so we can arrange for you to get intimate with one of the east coasts top destinations for retirees and those looking for a second home.

Carolina Plantations Real Estate: #1 Selling Team at Brunswick Forest!!


For the second year in a row, Carolina Plantations Real Estate, a 6 year old real estate brokerage, had more joint sales with the Sales Team at Brunswick Forest than any other real estate firm in North Carolina. Brunswick Forest, located just 5 minutes from downtown Wilmington, is also the fastest growing community in North & South Carolina.

Jerry Helms, Director of Sales at Brunswick Forest, presented the award to owner of Carolina Plantations Doug Terhune, at The City Club in downtown Wilmington. In addition to the #1 Brokerage firm, Pat Coye of Carolina Plantations was presented with the award for the most sales by a broker!!

Carolina Plantations Real Estate is dedicated to insuring that our clients see all of their options, from Sunset Beach to Southport to Shallotte to Leland to Wilmington. We believe strongly in the Martini Theory, which simply states that the first priority is finding an area that satisfies your basic needs – such as medical, shopping, restaurants, culture, transportation, etc. Once you have selected your area, then you focus on which community/plantation best suits your lifestyle and budget requirements. Then and only then do you focus on the well soaked olive at the bottom of the glass, and that is your home.

According to Nancy Boston of Carolina Plantations, “we are proud to have welcomed nearly 40 families to Brunswick Forest during the past couple of years. It’s a great community and while it is not for everyone, it offers a whole lot more than just a great location!” And broker Christopher Columbus Creekmore adds “the Brunswick Forest sales team and entire management group and staff are always eager to assist us and our clients, which is not the case in every community.”

In 2012, a sampling of our clients that we helped introduce to Brunswick Forest came from South Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York, NJ, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and several other states. The opening of Park Landing, which is a neighborhood with prices beginning in the mid $200s, has been a very hot commodity for us as these prices allow people the opportunity to enjoy Brunswick Forest without being house poor. And be sure to ask us about the newest neighborhood to open in Brunswick Forest in 2013, along with all the new great floor plans!

If you have any questions at all about Brunswick Forest, such as land sales, new construction, town homes, amenities, lease backs and all resales, please contact Carolina Plantations today!

2012 In Review

On behalf of the best real estate and custom home design teams on the east coast, Nancy Boston, Pat Coye, Court Terhune, Haley Wilson, Christopher Columbus Creekmore, Patty McGrath and myself Doug Terhune, wish for each of the 30,000+ recipients of our monthly eNewsletter a wonderful 2013!

2012 got off to a slow start for just about everyone in real estate here in Coastal NC, but by April we started clicking on all cylinders and finished with a very strong three quarters. For six years running, Carolina Plantations Real Estate increased our sales vs the previous year. We were very pleased with record sales of $14,032,915 as we welcomed over 100 families! That is an increase of 10% over 2012 and places us as one of the Top 20 Real Estate firms in Brunswick County, NC. Total MLS sales in the county also increased and here are Residential Home Sales in Brunswick County over the past 5 years:

Over the past six years, Carolina Plantations has established itself as the #1 Relocation Specialists in Southeastern North Carolina. Our company philosophy is different from every other firm in Coastal North Carolina, as our clients are almost solely living in points due north of us and are looking to retire or purchase a second home here. We list quite a bit of property but our forte is assisting those that are considering Brunswick County as a second home or place to retire to. In fact, here is how we ranked in a handful of local plantations in 2012.
I would be kidding you if I didn’t say that we are really proud of this accomplishment but more importantly, we are thankful that we had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful clients again this year. And btw, a good portion of them found that Coastal NC worked for them but, a few others found that it didn’t – and that is fine with us because unless you get down here and look, how will you know?

If I were to describe our typical clients, they own snow shovels, have built up considerable equity in their homes, want a fun community with lots of activities, don’t want to spend a lot on memberships, are budgeting between $250,000 – $400,000 for their Dream Home, don’t want to live somewhere remote and are 1-2 years away from pulling the plug on their careers and hopefully selling their homes.

In Southeastern NC, a typical Realtor usually has a small geographic territory (3-5 miles) that they work within. The old adage of working within one’s comfort zone is very apropos here. At Carolina Plantations, our Brokers are extensively trained and continually schooled weekly on understanding ALL options that our clients might throw at us. We must be proficient on ALL of Brunswick County – including intimate knowledge of Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. However, in order for our clients to really experience all their options, they must plan a day or two with us just to learn the lay of the land.

And FYI, our tours of Wilmington and Brunswick County are legendary as we focus on beaches, golf, shopping, dining, medical, entertainment and more shopping! 🙂

In Brunswick County there are over 20 plantations, and for one person/couple to drive in each one of them, meet the onsite sales representatives and spend 3-4 hours looking at homesites and spec homes would honestly take over a week. Our Brokers (who are also Realtors), once they learn about what you are looking for, will immediately reduce the number of plantations in half if not even more. Then when it is time to visit us, in one day we can provide you (for example) with a very thorough and personal tour of St James, Brunswick Forest, Ocean Ridge and Rivers Edge. All the while though we are listening and better understanding your needs, which by the way, often change once you come down and see your options firsthand.

Our business plan, which is continually evolving, looks something like this:


To the thousands of you that have already worked with us, we appreciate your faith in us as we are truly honored to have been part of your search. To those of you who have begun or are thinking of beginning your search, we hope that you provide us with that opportunity and we will work hard to gain your trust. (also see www.TheRetirementHandbook.com for tips on retiring)

2012 was a very good year as we reduced our inventories considerably (especially Bank Owned Properties) and welcomed thousands of new families. Therefore, prices will begin moving upwards in 2013 as we have already begun to see this occur in several plantations. Interest rates are still at historic lows (but might not be for long) and the economy continues to expand. 2013 will be a stronger year – so call us today at 910 755-7557 to arrange a visit before we get back to a Seller’s Market!

So just where and when did Elves enter our Christmas tradition in America? Was it in a Keebler tree?

In 1850, author Louisa May Alcott, who penned Little Women, wrote a book that was never published titled “Christmas Elves”. Seven years later, Harper’s Weekly kept the story of the Elves alive by publishing an anonymous poem “The Wonders of Santa Claus”. Here is the first known published mention of Elves, which have become as much a part of our Christmas folklore as Santa himself, reindeers, stockings and the North Pole.

Beyond the ocean many a mile,
And many a year ago,
There lived a wonderful queer old men
In a wonderful house of snow;
And every little boy and girl,
As Christmas Eves arrive,
No doubt will be very glad to hear,
The old man is still alive.

In his house upon the top of a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps a great many elves at work,
All working with all their might,
To make a million of pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up you know
By the little girls and boys.

It would be a capital treat be sure,
A glimpse of his wondrous ‘shop;
But the queer old man when a stranger comes,
Orders every elf to stop;
And the house, and work, and workmen all
Instantly take a twist,
And just you may think you are there,
They are off in a frosty mist.

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