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!

Hidden Aspects of a Gated Community

If Doug were to ask you why a developer installs a gate at the entrance to their community, what would be your answer? Go ahead and think about it, as he is 100% confident your answer will not be correct.

Need a little more time??

When a large community is getting off the ground, you drive through and see just two homes, usually a trailer, and head out the gate. You will not have had an on-site agent share with you the community’s vision – which in actuality, could be perfect for you if you are retiring in 1-2 years. Therefore, the developer puts in a gate to direct you to the on-site sales team.

As a by-product, the community has a gate and what appears to be a safer environment. But is it? Doug lived in a gated community for 17 years, and if someone wanted to bypass the gate, easy peasy. But it does keep out Sunday drivers and perhaps unwanted influences.

Are there any negatives to a gated community? Possibly, everyone who owns a house anywhere in America will pay real estate taxes on their home. Part of those taxes is diverted to the city or county road department to maintain the roads, which includes fixing potholes, resurfacing every 10-12 years, and possibly coating the streets with tar from time to time to preserve the blacktop. So, where is the negative?

When you place a gate in front of a community in our area (not 100% sure about other regions), the community residents are 100% responsible for maintaining the roads. County and town road repair people simply drive by the gates of those communities and that you for paying your taxes. However, don’t forget that while you are paying your local government to maintain your roads, you are also paying your Property Owners Association (POA) an additional fee to maintain your roads. Money is escrowed periodically, and budgets are formed on how much the road will cost the residents to maintain. So yes, in essence, you are paying taxes to keep your streets repaired by your Property Owners Association (POA).

As for the cost of maintaining a gate, years back, our community was paying a local security company over $100,000 a year to have someone operating the gate 24/7 a year. Eventually, we realized that we did not need to have someone at the entrance from dusk till dawn (as Chuck and Will usually slept anyways!), so we added electronics to our gates and gave everyone key fobs. Voila, $50,000 was saved each year!

When developers sell out a community, 100% of the costs to maintain the gate is turned over to the residents, but if they do, are the roads still private? If you are ready to find your dream retirement home located in Brunswick County, give us a call today! One of our agents would be more than willing to help you with your search for your home!

Why Are There No Trees?

In January of 2002, Doug began his real estate career working for the Blue Green Corporation, as an on-site agent at Winding River Plantation in Bolivia, NC. They sold dirt and nothing but the dirt.

Why Are There No Trees?

When we sold a homesite (learned to never call it a “lot” because a woman would never build her Dream Home on a “lot”!!), the dirt came with all the trees, valleys, gullies and pitches. So, when it came time for your builder to prepare you dirt for your Dream Home, the additional costs to clear, level and bring in soil could have bee a few thousand to over $20,000. These costs were often overlooked in the budget and quite honestly, stretched more budgets than people would have thought.

In a response to the negative press from builders and property owners, sometime around 2013, local developers here and from coast to coast, began “wholesaling” homesites – which is the practice of preparing the homesites to the point where they are referred to as “pad ready.”

Why Are There No Trees?

To provide a “pad ready” homesite, this is what a developer must do:

  • Remove the trees from the homesite. Keep in mind that in the past 10+ years, the average homesite decreased from 1/3 acre to 1/4 acre in size, so in essences, it’s almost impossible to save trees on 1/2 acre for by the time you place your Dream Home on the homesite and make room for the driveway, walkways and porches, you really have very little dirt left.
  • After the trees have been hauled away, it is time to dig down 3-6′ and clear our the twisted roots, dead branches and vines – otherwise known as mat.
  • Once the mat is removed, soil experts/engineers will weigh in on what needs to be added, such as crushed stone, fine gravel, sifted soil and/or sand.
  • The homesite will them be shaped properly, with the center being crowned and tilted back to front, as this will allow for proper drainage to the street and stormwater system. In essence, it will look like the field at the Giants Stadium, with a slight back to front tilt.
  • Lastly, the homesite will be compressed according to local engineering standards, as the soil needs a specific PSI (pounds per square inch) in order to be built upon.

If you have yet to build your Dream Home, there is a lot to know about with regards to dirt, so be sure to find a real estate Broker that is educated in these matters and can best represent your interests. A few more items worthy or passing along to you:

  • Be sure to ask if the homesite is in a flood zone. Walk around the property and up and down the streets of all homesites and locate the closest ponds and/or creeks/rivers/streams, for water damage to your home can be life-altering.
  • Ask and/or look-to-see if the developer has installed storm water drainage. If not, then there will be swales/gullies in your front yard that collect water when it rains. Many people do no like having a lake in their front yard every time they get a hard rain.
  • Ask neighbors about drainage. Don’t be shy either, as just about everyone will be more than happy to share whatever date/info you are looking for.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach down and put some of the topsoil in your hand. If it is hard and clay like, then you either might have to pay a lot for new sandy soil or, be stuck with drainage issues on your homesite.
  • Drive out to the homesite after or during a heavy rain. If you are purchasing a homesite, you more than likely have a 30-45 day closing, so you really do have plenty of time.

If you want to get the dirt on the dirt, call any of our Brokers today, as many of us worked previously for developers/builders. If you are looking elsewhere in the country, well, at least you know enough to be dangerous.

And, don’t forget about Haley Wilson with www.PlanViewDesign.com – who has designed more award-winning homes in Brunswick County than any home designer or Architect! If you’re ready to find your homesite to build your Dream Home, then contact us at Carolina Plantations to get started today!

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!