The Listing Agent

For the most part, either you specialize in listing homes or selling homes. The majority of Realtors do both but, sooner or later each finds their niche. Today I want to explore some myths and realities about “The Listing Agent,” and since I never practiced real estate anywhere else, my observations should not be projected outside of SE NC.

Getting listings can be easy or as tough as you want to make it. A fair number of Realtors simply log onto their local MLS on a daily or regular basis and research the list of properties that expired that day. They either send letters or call these Sellers and ask for their business. Now, do these potential listing agents have excellent knowledge of the property that they are canvassing? Probably not but of course there are a handful that do. Therefore, the danger in responding to solicitors wanting to list your property are that they may have little to no knowledge of your community and property. They simply want you to list with them because this is what they know.

If you spend your time chasing listings, you probably don’t have a source to secure Buyers. There’s nothing wrong with filling out paperwork all day long and uploading listings on MLS, but that means you are not in the field working with Buyers – the people that Buy your listings. Our market in Brunswick County is unique because the majority of the 20+ Plantations here don’t permit signs on the properties, so possible Buyers typically have to secure a Buyer’s agent to help them find the real estate that matches their requirements, vs calling someone with a sign in the front yard.

Anyone can list real estate. Other than 60 minutes of paperwork, it takes no talent whatsoever so therefore, one must ask themselves what intrinsic value does each potential Listing Agent bring to the table? Are they Master Negotiators? Do they advertize in the local paper or in other states? Are they skilled in working with a camera? Do they possess a historical perspective of your community sales? Do they hold community and or Broker Open Houses? Have they sold a bunch of real estate in and or around your community? Are they the only ones that would negotiate the Realtor Fee?

What you are looking for is someone who can bring in Buyers, right? If you said yes to this non trick question, than be sure to ask your potential Listing Agent where they get Buyers. If they simply rely upon other Brokers to do so, which a large percentage does – than NEXT! And as a Buyer’s Agent, one of the comments I loathe from Listing Agents is “hey Doug, are you going to sell my listing today?” Seriously, that is your strategy?

Last year Carolina Plantations sold more real estate in Brunswick Plantation, Rivers Edge, SeaScape, Brunswick Forest and several other communities because we work with a lot of Buyers. Where does your Buyer live? Well, if you live here in Brunswick County, your Buyers are in NJ, MD, VA, PA, MA, NY and so on. So ask your potential Listing Agent this question – “what advertising do you do in those aforementioned states”? Ever see a Possum in the headlights?

In defense of Listing Agents, probably 90% of Realtors representing Buyers do not provide feedback after a showing, and the reason is very simple: They are chasing a sale and have no time to do anything but find their clients what they are looking for. This is very frustrating for Sellers and we in the industry acknowledge this but we do have to prioritize and maximize our time. What Sellers can take to the bank is that if your property is at the top of the list, the Buyer’s agent will usually contact the Listing Agent with questions.

Many good Listing Agents work off of referrals – which mean they earned someone’s respect enough to have their name passed along. Do your research and see what kind of marketing your potential Listing Agent does in the states/regions/towns where your Buyers live. In Brunswick County, advertising in local papers is almost solely for the enjoyment of the Sellers as residents here don’t move across town or across the county (an exception could be beach homes). However, in other markets that have cross town transactions, local papers are important.

We are not a traditional market here in Brunswick County and for what it is worth, www.CarolinaPlantations.com is the #1 most viewed website for nearly every single Plantation in Brunswick County. Just Google a handful of Plantations here and we are either #1 or #2 in the search results. That is how we make sure that we are in every living room, office and kitchen in the world. And oh, we also are the only real estate firm in North Carolina that sends out an informative monthly email to over 28,000 email addresses – which you already knew because, well, you are reading Carolina Dreamin’ right now!! 🙂

Is There Anywhere Else?

If you read Carolina Dreamin’ on a fairly regular basis, it is no surprise that I tout the many positive attributes of Coastal Southeastern North Carolina, which currently is a very popular option for those looking for a second home or area to retire to. Miles and miles of soft sandy beaches, great year round weather, affordable lifestyle, tons to do, yada, yada, yada!!

Last month I received a number of responses and comments from people about my article on eliminating areas on your search, as this is either a conscious or unconscious decision everyone partakes in during their journey to find paradise. In fact, the bulk of folks looking at this area are typically considering points as far north as Williamsburg, VA to southern Florida, so from my decades of travel up and down the east coast, here are some thoughts that you may wish to ponder when considering the following areas:

Southeastern Virginia

  • Weather-wise you are still in the snow/ice zone and you have winters
  • Norfolk and Newport News are quite industrial. VA Beach is very touristy
  • Williamsburg offers some nice plantations but also exudes a very touristy feel to it

NC Outer Banks Region

  • Other than the beach, there’s nothing to do on the OBX
  • Albemarle Plantation and New Bern are nice but very, very remote.
  • Morehead City and Beaufort, NC are quiet and next to Camp LeJeune Marine base

Myrtle Beach Region

  • #2 family vacation destination (12+ million visitors) in the US behind Orlando
  • You have to love 24/7 mega retail, traffic, golf, tourists and congestion to live in MB
  • Pawley’s Island & Litchfield are nice resort/vacation-oriented communities

Charleston

  • If you live in or near a large city now, why would you want to move to another one?
  • Area offers very few attractive/new retirement type plantations
  • Considerable urban sprawl occurring

Hilton Head Region

  • Huge tourist destination. Traffic is a nightmare all summer long.
  • Beach access is very minimal. No downtown – just strip shopping centers
  • Bluffton is up-and-coming but you must rely on Hilton Head or Savannah for anything

Florida

  • And it’s “Hot, Hot, Hot”!!! You are living in extreme weather, so why not escape it?
  • Many Floridians flee the state from May till September. Where would you go?
  • Very far from family and friends

Brunswick County offers a myriad of options with regards to real estate. The wide open barrier islands of Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island and Bald Head Island are perfect for summer getaways and family fun. The Plantations that have sprung from the Live Oaks and Sugar Magnolias are home to thousands looking for a rich and rewarding retirement. We have new homes starting at $100,000 ranging to multi-million dollar beach front estates on our five islands, so in terms of housing, we have you covered.

They say that many places look good on paper however, you know that the only way to place merit in what “they” say is to get out and explore these areas on your own. For those of us already living here, heck, we know we’ve got it good!!
Best of luck on your journey!

Designing Your Dream Home

I can remember it like yesterday, but it was 11 years ago. I was working with a couple from the DC area and we were looking at homesite T2-8 on Heatherwood Court in Winding River Plantation. My clients were having trouble visualizing a home sitting on this vacant lot, so I had them turn their backs to the property and look directly across the street at a brand new home. I put my arms up as to frame the home and said “take a mental picture of this home and simply turn slowly towards T2-8 behind you”. The couple both put up their arms, took a mental picture of the home and moved around 180 degrees and placed the image of the home on the homesite.

The wife said that this was very helpful but the husband quizzically said ‘but where’s the driveway?” Wow! I turned him back around 180 degrees and said that it is still on the left side of the home. Apparently he could move the home across the street but not the driveway.

It is not uncommon nor should it be embarrassing that one or both people in a relationship do not possess good visualization skills, so in late 2007 when a client from Ocean Ridge Plantation called me to introduce this truly amazing and wonderful company called Plan View Design, I made a beeline over to their office here in Shallotte. I sat in front of this 45” monitor and saw CAD drawings come to life in full color 3D. My jaw slammed on the desk as I felt as I was the first one to discover/invent the internet!

 

Plan View Design quickly became the leading custom home design firm in Brunswick County as not only homeowners were delighted to employ such a tool but, many local builders also saw the numerous advantages to working with 3D Designs. A year later I had the opportunity to purchase the company and PVD has designed over 200 custom built homes in Southeastern NC since.

Clients/Builders quickly learn that they can request changes to the structure, materials, paint colors and so on both inside/outside the home and typically get them returned the next day. According to Haley Wilson, VP of Plan View Design, “homeowners often don’t know what floor plan will work for them until after we combine a survey of their property, a set of their HOA building guidelines, budget, personal lifestyle and personal selections (granite, paint colors, flooring, lighting, materials, etc.). Once the first draft is completed, PVD clients are provided a downloadable viewer to see their plans from the comfort of their own home and/or office.

Local builders that have worked with PVD include Ernie Crews, Blue Sky Building Company, Barker & Canady, Mark Saunders Luxury Homes, Sacchetti Construction, Ward Construction, Whitney Blair, Homes of Distinction, Plantation Building Corporation, Bill Clark Homes and more. Communities where you can find PVD homes include Ocean Ridge Plantation, Landfall, Sea Trail, Rivers Edge, SeaScape, St James Plantation, Brunswick Forest, River Landing, Waterford, Winding River Plantation, RiverSea Plantation and throughout Brunswick County beaches.

In addition to seeing your home from every possible angle before the first shovel is in the ground, homeowners are encouraged to seek bids from several builders as America’s free enterprise system will save you Ten$ of Thousand$ of Dollar$. “If you don’t go out for bids, how will you know if you are getting a good price,” according to Doug Terhune, owner of Plan View Design.

If you have a homesite and/or are considering acquiring a homesite, Plan View Design can design your home anywhere in the world, so please visit www.PlanViewDesign.com and take our virtual tour on the bottom of the home page plus, please view our Gallery of Homes and see if you can detect which is 3D and which is real! Contact Haley Wilson, CPBD (Certified Professional Building Designer) for ALL of your design needs, as PVD is a full service custom home design firm. (local builders build homes from our plans) We share the new Carolina Plantations Real Estate building on Hwy 17 in Shallotte right next to The Golden Corral restaurant. 4660 East Coast Lane Shallotte, NC 28470 910 754-9999

Eliminate. Eliminate. Eliminate.

In every job we accept, we learn at least one thing. Right/Wrong, Good/Bad – as long as our brain is still sending impulses to the rest of our bodies, we must be learning something at work. Perhaps not everyday nor as often as we wish, but learning happens. In fact, I feel very comfortable that I would not be alone by stating that I learned more about how “not” to manage people and a company from my previous employers than learning the correct way to manage. Sound familiar anyone?

At the end of 2001, I made a bold personal decision to leave a 20 year career in Industrial Automation and jump into real estate – an industry that had long piqued my interest. My first boss in the business was an ear to ear grinner from the Bay State that provided me the basic platform of information needed to be successful in this arena. Dan Shattuck was one of those rare bosses whose teachings were actually valuable and had practical use.

My first gig was at Winding River Plantation in Brunswick County, NC. Our sales office, which was several attached mobile homes with a teal colored metal roof, is still located on the corner of Hwy 211 and Zion Hill Road. Dan had been with the Blue Green Corporation for about seven years and had recently relocated from a project at Fairfield Glade in Tennessee. Dan liked to teach and well, I needed to learn, so it proved to be a good combination.

Something Dan shared with me 11 years ago still rings very true today, and that is when people come down to Brunswick County to visit St. James, Sea Trail, Ocean Ridge, Brunswick Plantation, Winding River Plantation, Rivers Edge, Crow Creek, Brunswick Forest, etc., they are actually coming down to eliminate. In addition to eliminating communities/plantations, many of our clients have other destinations to preview such as Charleston, Asheville, Florida, Hilton Head, and so on. Dan explained that on someone’s first visit down, your #1 goal was to make sure you are on their list for their second visit down!

Whether it is a conscious thought or not, people are eliminating as they tour each area, home and community. And this is a good thing because if you don’t eliminate the possibilities, your search for that perfect community to retire to will stall.

 

So if you have yet to set out on your journey to find retirement utopia, do yourself a huge favor and write down a list of destinations and communities that are in the running. At the end of every day of your search, eliminate something. Could be just a home style, a community or a particular town, but make progress and you will be grateful as every strike of the pen gets you one step closer to the rest of your life!

Your Top 10 Priorities

In 1999 I sold my home north of Boston and came to Wilmington with a fistful of hot cash. I had owned five homes up till my move to North Carolina and all had been in planned communities. This time though I was bound and determined to break the mold. I was headed to the warm sands of Wrightsville Beach and nothing was going to stop me.

The first home my Realtor showed me was about 7 homes from the beach. Wow – imagine being able to hear the roar of the Atlantic at night from your bedroom window? However, on closer review, the house was in shambles and still had shag carpet from the 70s. Nothing in the house was new and fresh like I was accustomed to plus the price was about $150,000 over my pain level. So off we went to look at a condo on the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). Bingo! l love boats and I was going to make this work. Well, that was until I realized the condo consisted of only one bedroom which was stuck in a loft whose only access was a small spiral staircase. Oh, and did I mention the entire square footage was 587’?

Eventually I built a new custom built home in a very nice community that was about 10 minutes from Wrightsville Beach but, at least I did give the beach a try, albeit an unsuccessful one at that. It was then that I learned a valuable lesson on priorities and expectations of real estate.

Moving is without a doubt one of the most exciting yet terrifying experiences one encounters in their lives. Often though moving enables dreams to come true, be it a bigger home, newer home, closer to the beach or family, etc. And whether you consciously create a list of priorities for your new place or not, you have them, I promise.

For fun, I thought I would attempt to show how women’s priorities often change as well as men’s priorities both before and after their first trip south. Keep in mind that while I am using generalities here, there is more truth to what I print than one might initially think!

 

And here is what a guy’s view of moving south looks like before and after his first trip south.

 

When I entered Real Estate many years ago, I learned of a bit of a controversial phrase that has been kicked around for years – “Buyers are Liars”. I take exception to this fable because Buyer’s often do not have all the information they need to make a well informed decision as they begin their search. However, once they do have this information, they quite often change their minds. This is not lying mind you, this is just the natural flow of processing information.

A good example is that a couple could come down and be very focused on living on the water. However, after a week of scouring the area, several communities and numerous homes, they abandon their search for water views in exchange for a brand new home in a very friendly golf course community. This happens every day of the week here and is no surprise to those of us in the industry of making dreams come true!

If you have not begun your search, have some fun and write down your Top 10 Priorities for your eventual move south. Put it somewhere you will be able to find it in a year or so and once you find your ideal location/community/home, pull it out to compare with your original priorities. Our team of professionals have been doing this for years and we know that in order for our clients to make well informed decisions that they require significant information.