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!

We’re Leaving The Bottom!

For the past two years I have been working closely with BB&T’s Loss Mitigation Group in Winston Salem. There are three folks in this group and they receive all the foreclosure homes, condos and homesites in Southeastern, NC. Carolina Plantations has listed and sold many homesites and homes for BB&T (Branch Banking & Trust) but that looks to be coming to an end.

Two weeks ago in a conversation with one of the BB&T VPs, it was clearly stated that the rate of incoming foreclosure requests have dropped off significantly. THIS IS GREAT, GREAT NEWS FOR OUR MARKET, and here’s why:

  • Bank owned sales have dominated the landscape for the past 2-3 years
  • Bank owned prices have set the pace for overall pricing
  • With bank owned product off the market, prices WILL INCREASE and overall inventory will decrease.
  • If you have been thinking of selling, this is wonderful news but don’t look for an overnight turnaround
  • IF YOU HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT BUYING, WELL, SPEAK NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE

Another phenom I wasn’t expecting to happen till perhaps next Summer is already starting to take shape, and this is more good news for the overall real estate market here in Brunswick County. Developments that pretty much closed their doors and the owners went belly up are now starting to get a bunch of attention from several regional Developers/Builders.

Think about it. In 2005-2008 a standard 1/3 acre homesite here was selling anywhere between $100,000 – $300,000. The developers put in some or all of the required infrastructure such as sewer lines, electric lines, water, roads, sidewalks, curb and gutter, storm water drains, etc. Several even put in a resemblance of amenities, including pools, tennis courts, ponds, walking trails, etc.

These developments are owned by the banks and the banks desperately want these off the books, as they are responsible for the carrying costs which include POA fees, taxes, insurance, etc. So, enter in a few regional developer/builders who can come in and purchase the remaining homesites at wholesale prices for $10,000 per homesite and BAM! – you have resuscitated a once struggling community and given it a transfusion of marketing dollars and building activity.

Several of the communities here where this phenom is occurring or might be occurring is Rutledge in Shallotte, Calabash Lakes, Rourk Woods in Shallotte, The Retreat in Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Ridge in Ocean Isle Beach and Tidal Walk in Wilmington. Heck, one of these players, who typically sells home/lot packages in the mid $200s range just purchased 30 or so homesites in Landfall, thee premiere gated community in Wilmington and already has broken ground on 6 spec homes with more coming out of the ground daily.

Carolina Dreamin’ has been predicting this turnaround for Southeastern NC for over a year now and our sales alone are up over 30% vs. 2011. This is real and my guess is that in our lifetime, we will never see these interest rates or prices again. Contact us today at 910 755-7557 if y