COVID-19’s (Real) Impact on the Real Estate Market in Coastal North Carolina

Nobody saw COVID-19 coming. Not Donald, Joe, the Amazing Kreskin, Gov Cuomo, Bill Maher, or Steve Wynn. And, like a bad dinner guest, it’s still here, and we’ve tried our best as a country to show it out the door.

2020 real estate closings here in Brunswick County were off the charts the first two months of the year, and ends have remained steadfast through April. If COVID-19 had not struck us down, Doug guesses that the area would still be upwards of 20-30% vs. YTD 2019. That would have been an enormous increase.

CAUTION: Interpreting the above numbers is imperative to understanding the real numbers. The numbers in the graph show closings on sales that were made before COVID-19, as in December 2019 – early March 2020. The effect of COVID-19 on our real estate sales will not likely be known until we have our final numbers from the end of June – August, as closings generally take 1-3 months to occur.

What we can offer you is a glimpse of is into the world of Carolina Plantations. Each week we run a Pending Sales Report through the end of the calendar year, and as of today, we have $12.6 million in Pending Sales for 2020. At the same time last year, we had Pending Sales of $14.7 million through the end of 2019 – so our Pending sales are off 16%.

Our closings through YTD are $29m vs. $26m YTD in 2019 – so closings wise, we are up 13%. If you had asked Doug in March when we were closing down the country what our Pending Sales would be today, he would have probably hoped that they were in the $5-7m range. Instead, they are $12.6m, which quite honestly, is astonishing – and Doug is serious about that. So, if our amazing sales team continues to be strong even amid a true global pandemic, who the heck is buying real estate here now?

Here are some examples:

  • Linda & Tom from Long Island is purchasing a transitional home sight unseen. They know the area and community they are buying in because they own a homesite there, and they trust their Realtor!
  • Diane & Steve live in Leland and are helping their daughter, SIL, and two children living in New Jersey purchase a home here. The family is moving from a 700’ condo to a 2400 ‘ new home. Woohoo!
  • Mark lives in Grand Junction, Colorado, and has wanted to move to the east coast for years and is building a new home here to fulfill his dream.
  • Paulette lives in Michigan and has a sister in Charlotte & Wilmington. She is a widow and is under contract on a home here on the coast. She is moving to a community that offers a lot of social interaction and clubs.
  • Jan and Doug are initially from CA and NJ, respectively, and currently live in Colorado. They visited Coastal NC last year and fell in love with the area. They are recently under contract on a home near the beach.
  • Robin & Dwayne live in North Carolina and have been looking near the coast for a year as they love the beach and family nearby. They closed on their home last month and are living the dream!
  • Tammy and Steve are from Winston Salem, NC, and for years have been looking for a vacation condo at the beach for their families to enjoy on long weekends. With COVID-19, they thought the time was right and are under contract, having won a competitive bid situation.

One additional set of matrices that we monitor are our YTD total leads received and how many of our customized Coastal Guide Books we have send out. (A CGB is custom made for each client and is chock full of great information on beaches, weather, dining, shopping, medical services, entertainment, etc.) And if by any chance you are wondering if this “small business” is going to make it through this pandemic, we believe our numbers should diminish those fears…!

So, is it a good time to Sell, Buy, or Ponder real estate? Yes, Yes, and Yes! The key for our firm though, is has COVID-19 affected the markets to sell homes (primarily up north)? From what we are hearing from our friends in Boston, NJ, NY, VA, MD, and elsewhere, is that demand, in general, remains stable for well-priced homes. Coastal NC has long been a trickle-down real estate economy ever since we began building communities here to retire to, so what happens in the areas mentioned above affects our market for sure.

If Coastal North Carolina is on your radar, contact one of the professionals on our team so that they can provide you an overview of life here on the coast. We hope that you and your family will find the perfect home, whether it’s a vacation home or your permanent residence here on the coast!

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.
  • 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

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!

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