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!

Caution: Closely Monitor Your Real Estate Market

Recently, Doug has read two articles that talk about a potential factor that will more than likely contribute to a slowdown in our national economy – the housing market. Trust us, we are not a naysayer at all, but there is some pretty strong logic to what lies ahead for much of the country.

The “Baby Boomers” are defined as people born between 1946 and 1964. Doug is a Baby Boomer and gust what? He is one of the 74.6 million Baby Boomers born in the post war era. Today, the population of BBs are down approximately 10 million. However, if you take into consideration immigration to the US during those years, we could still be looking at about 75 million Baby Boomers here in the states.

As a group, our wealth is staggering, and our buying power almost immeasurable. We are saving and hard workers, and many have paid off their full-time residences. We invest in the stock market (and other securities) and about 10,000 of us are retiring every day.

Should You Sell Your Home Now?

However, there is a glitch. The generations behind us are not nearly as diligent as we are and the percentage of homeowners are amongst those generations is lower than ours. In essence, there may not be enough of them to purchase all our homes when we put them on the market to retire. This is what economists are concerned about, and if it comes to fruition, will certainly sound the alarms for an economic slowdown here in the states.

The good news is that we should still have another good 3-7 years of Baby Boomers selling their homes for a fair market price and retiring preferable somewhere warmer, and purchasing a less expensive home. Although Doug still likes to quote a client of his from New Jersey who years ago said to his friends, “My wife and I are downsizing to a bigger home!!”

One factor though that could be exacerbating this market trend are the new tax laws up north that are limiting the amount of annual interest from you home mortgage that can be deducted. Due to these new rules and others that are being enacted, home ownership may not be as attractive as in decades past, so the results to home buyers in these states is a coin flip, for now.

How We Can Help

Our team of 10 Brokers has worked with tens of thousands of clients in our real estate careers. We know that timing a market, whether it be a stock market, housing market, futures market, etc., is nearly impossible to do a lay person. What we have been fortunate to see though over the years are people taking advantage of the old adage of “Selling High and Buying Low.” Imagine after 25 years you finally get around to cleaning up your house and yard to near new condition and whoah Nellie, there’s nobody knocking on your door to see your beautiful home? Said it ain’t so, Joe!!

So, today’s food for thought is passing along to you what some other folks have done:

  • Sell NOW, Rent, then Purchase – Take advantage of a strong market in your community, sell for a good profit, rent something in your area until you can retire. Then you can come south and purchase your Dream Home.
  • Retire Now, Sell Now and Move Now! If your home can bring you a profit that is nearly too good to pass up now, then factor that into your financial retirement plan and you might be telling your co-workers Adios as you take that sack of unmarked $100s from the sale of your home and head to warmer and greener pastures, wherever that might be.

Just don’t be that person who knows the market so well that you are the last in your neighborhood to place that “For Sale” Sign up in the yard. Keep in mind that the choice really is yours and walk away with guaranteed cash vs giving your home away. A little bit of jostling & inconvenience for 6-12 months might have everything to do with your successful retirement. Allow us at Carolina Plantations help you find your dream home here on the North Carolina Coast!


Don’t Be A Half Back!

Famous Halfbacks: Frank Gifford/New York Giants, Mercury Morris/Miami Dolphins, John Kuhn/Green Bay Packers, Sally and Bob Simpson/NJ/FL/NC
In the game of football, a Halfback is a player that lines up behind or to the side of the Quarterback. Quite often, it is an unglamorous position as blocking is often the forte of the HB, while the Fullback or Tailback follows the blocking of the HB and the offensive line. There are a handful of famous HBs but, a whole lot more Tailbacks and Fullbacks, as they typically score many touchdowns.
In the world of Real Estate, a halfback is a person/s that lives up north and moves to Florida, but soon realizes that Florida is not for them. So, what do they do? They move halfway back home, which would put them somewhere in the Carolinas. With its tremendous population explosion, year-round oppressive heat, traffic and congestion just about everywhere you turn, halfbacks are significantly increasing in numbers in our area.

Moving to North Carolina

Take a look below at an excerpt from a report put out by Carolina Demography and the University of North Carolina. Notice the top states where people are exiting and landing in North Carolina. Florida is at the top of the list, and it is safe to say that a large portion of those people were originally from up north, the Midwest of Mid-Atlantic states.
Most people moving to North Carolina in 2017 moved here from elsewhere within the United States: 314,000 or 85% of all in-migrants to NC.

Top states were:

  • Florida (32,000)
  • Virginia (29,000)
  • South Carolina (27,000)
  • New York (27,000)
  • California (20,000)
Why is becoming a Halfback statistic bad? Well for one, MONEY – lots and lots of money to be more specific. Moving is just a horrible and costly experience, but imagine moving after 30-40 years to a place you really don’t wind up liking? Talk about a HUGE mistake – OMG!! And if you move/retire to a place you don’t really like, all you are doing is delaying your well earned and long-awaited retirement, right?

Do Your Research

Research is your best friend when it comes to selecting a place to retire to. Reach out to your friends that have already retired and quiz them about their choice/s in depth. Visit areas that fit your lifestyle vs. cool, trendy places that you read about somewhere. Visit areas that are of interest to you in terms of weather, beaches, mountains, sports, culture, etc.
At Carolina Plantations, every day we employ “The Martini Theory” – which is a simple analogy of your search. The top part of a martini glass, called The Area, is also the largest and most important aspect of your search. Before you find a community or house that you fall in love with, be sure that you find an area that supports your active lifestyle, for what is outside your community is more important than what is inside your community.

Dream Home on the Coast of NC

Once you have selected the area, the community is the next step, or middle of the martini glass. Here is where you make sure that you are surrounded by people of similar interests and that there are plenty of activities to do that are in line with your interests.
The easiest part of your search is that well-soaked olive on the bottom of the glass, known as “your Dream Home.” There are tons of great homes everywhere and if by chance you don’t find one – have it built to your specifications – which is far more affordable than you think.
The team at Carolina Plantations has helped many Halfbacks, but quite honestly – we’d be a lot more happy if we could stop you and others from making that first costly step of moving to the Sunshine State, just like Sally and Bob Simmons (above picture) did recently.  And FYI, just because you might have an Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean that live in Florida, that is absolutely no reason that you need to live there!
Moral of The Story: Stop in and visit with us on your way to Florida – you’ll be glad you did!

Selecting an Agent to List Your Home

Selecting An Agent To List Your Home

This is about as slippery of a slope of a topic that we can take on, for to provide accurate information and suggestions. We will invariably step on the toes of some that make a living as so called “listing agents.” So, here it goes! And, hey wish us luck as you will not see the following in print anywhere else.

One of the hardest parts of being a Realtor can be working with other Realtors. Of Course, that is not inclusive of all Realtors mind you, as there are many true professionals out there that are a delight to work with. However, there are Realtors in all markets that list homes that are not up to par with others in the area. (FYI, this could be said of any profession, right?)

There, we are going to do our best to provide you with some general tips on how to select the best Realtor in your area to list your homes. And to be fair, our Team at Carolina Plantations are best known as Buyers Agents. That means we work primarily with people researching coastal North Carolina as a destination to retire to, and/or, secure a second home. And you will see this places us in a unique market position where we must work with Listing Agents on a very frequent basis.

Here are some traits that you should consider researching before selecting someone to represent your home in the market:

Answering Their Phones

Think about it. A local agent wants to show your home tomorrow at 4:00 pm, but they cannot reach your Listing Agent. Or wait, a local agent is sitting with their clients who love your home and they have pertinent questions about your home, but your listing agent doesn’t answer.

Selecting An Agent To List Your Home

Another scenario is a local agent has an offer on your home but absolutely cannon reach you Listing Agent because he/she doesn’t like to be bothered after 6:00 pm on weeknights or on weekends. You cannot in your wildest dreams begin to know how hard it can be to connect with some Listing Agents. Good, worthy Listing Agents should answer their phone 24/7, as the caller could be requesting a showing or bringing an offer to their Seller.

Historical Knowledge of Your Community

In our area of the world, the majority of folks live in either a subdivision or a plantation. Most of these have been around for up to 30 hours, but there can often be significant good/bad information on them. A Listing Agent must have all the answers when a Buyers Agent asks important questions as it pertains to your community. If your Listing Agent has no prior knowledge of issues, how can they represent you and your interests? Please keep in mind that the historical subjects could involve the developer/s, builder/s, POA/HOA, zoning, on-site selling team, broken promises, financial reports and more.

Negotiation Skills

In North Carolina, a person wanting to become a Realtor will spend over 100 hours in a classroom learning about real estate prior to possibility securing a NC real estate license. Exactly ZERO of those hours will be spent discussing negotiating. And, what is one of the most important skills a Listing Agent should possess if you are going to consider hiring them? Negotiating Skills.

Prior to becoming a Realtor, you could have been the best advertising manager, hairdresser, photographer, salesman, waiter/waitress, teacher, etc., but if negotiating important contracts was not part of your job description, why do you think that just because you have a real estate license with no training that you are qualified to negotiate on your Sellers (or Buyers) behalf?

Seasoned real estate veterans who rank in the top tier locally and who’ve represented both Sellers and Buyers on many transactions typically make the best negotiators. And when we say seasoned, we have Brokers working for our team that are in their late 20s and 30s that are as seasoned if not more so than older people who’ve been selling real estate (part time) for 30 years, so seasoned does not necessarily equate to “old”!!

Part-Time or Full-Time Realtor

Sally is a friend of Gloria, whom she goes to church with most every Sunday. Sally sold Gloria her home 21 years ago and insists that Gloria use her to list her home as Gloria has decided to move closer to her brother in Georgia. Problem is, Sally lists about 6-8 homes a year and sells some real estate here and there so as to not be bored in her retirement years. Randy on the other hand, is a full-time Realtor who works 7 days a week, sends out tons of email blasts about his listings. He was involved in 62 sales last year and is well connected with other local Realtors. Randy has a great website to capture buyers and answers his phone 96.4% of the time. Therefore, if you hire a part-time Realtor, you should expect part-time results, right? Real estate and medicine are two examples of 24/7 professions and if you are not answering your beeper, cell phone or text messages – you may want to consider changing occupations.

Familiarity with Local Realtors

If you live in Pleasantville and hire a Listing Agent that lives in Congestedville, the next town over, what are the chances that your Listing Agent knows the majority of Buyers Agents in Pleasantville? Slim to none, right? No matter what business you are in, the more we know those in our immediate circles, the better chances we have at accomplishing our goals. When Realtors work with colleagues they have done work with in the past, this can be advantageous to both parties.

Moral of the story is to use caution on hiring a Listing Agent that might not be familiar with the Brokers that would more than likely be bringing you an offer. One action a good Listing Agent should always do is holding a Broker Open House. Invitations are sent out to all local Realtors and the Listing Agent provides a meal or treats in exchange for the visiting Brokers filling out a feedback sheet. This feedback is presented to the Seller so that they can get a better understanding of the market. The other benefit is that the Brokers who’ve visited the home are armed with this home as a viable option to sell their clients.

Selecting An Agent To List Your Home

In summary, don’t select a Listing Agent solely based upon the face that they have a nice smile, sent you a postcard or have a billboard up on a local road. You home is an important part of you and finding the Realtor to represent you deserves thorough research. We at Carolina Plantations would love to help your family find your forever home here on the coast of North Carolina.

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!