Finding You a Solution

Many moons ago, Doug coined “The Martini Theory.” It’s a simple analogy for a place to retire:

  1. Top of Glass: Find the right AREA.
  2. Middle of Glass: Find the right COMMUNITY.
  3. Bottom of Glass or Well Soaked Olive: Find your DREAM HOME.

Tens of thousands of people have been introduced to this catchy analysis, and one thing that was always a given about the theory was finding your DREAM HOME. If you found the right area and community, one of the professional Brokers at Carolina Plantations would always find you a home.

That is not as quickly said as done today, but approximately 70% of our clients built a new home in years past. Why? Because after living in homes where there was no pantry, the laundry room was in the basement, the rooms were choppy, and the bathrooms & closets were minuscule. Therefore, the building has been the overwhelming choice of people migrating to Coastal NC for nearly three decades.

Two homes, one home on left in the process of being built with a construction worker and home on the right is gray with being brand new

A lot has changed in our landscape today with regards to building:

  • Most of our large developers have sold out their inventory of homesites.
  • Building costs have skyrocketed, mainly in part to supply issues and Covid.
  • Trained labor is limited in our area, so builders can only build “X” number of homes a year.

St. James Plantation, one of the oldest gated communities laden with amenities, has SOLD OUT of its inventory of over 6,000 homesites. Only resale homes or homesites remain. At Brunswick Forest, there is just a tiny handful of homesites remaining, but new homes are popping up. Compass Pointe is expecting a new crop of homesites within the next few months, but it has been slim pickings there since last summer. And at River Bluffs, they too have new homesites coming down the road but not anytime soon.

The number of inquiries at Carolina Plantations continues to set annual records, as many people have been itching to sell their homes up north in the congested and colder climates and move to the sunny and warm coast of North Carolina. We are fighting a daily supply and demand situation as we’ve never seen before, yet the fantastic team at Carolina Plantations keeps finding solutions.

Our company sales are almost equal yearly versus the 2021 year to date; however, our pending sales are nearly 40% more. This is almost inexplicable, ladies & gentlemen, for our top developers are virtual without new products to sell. So, just how are we keeping pace with last year?

Expanding our Search Criteria

Instead of limiting oneself to just one town or one or two communities, our Brokers are as well versed as any local real estate firm within a 50-mile radius. This is very beneficial to our clients because we are not limited by town borders or only a small handful of beautiful communities.

map showing of coastal brunswick county nc showing new communities

We Work with Local Builders Extensively

Even though building material costs have gone up significantly across the country, building a new home in Coastal NC is still a bargain compared to where most clients live. With homesite inventory dwindling, builders are being more creative and finding new/er communities to put up spec homes, for if they don’t have land to build on, they will go out of business. And for 15 years, no real estate firm has guided more people through the building process with our local builders than the team at Carolina Plantations.

Increased Listings and Teamwork

In addition to our monthly Carolina Dreamin’ eNewsletter, each of our Brokers sends out a quarterly newsletter. This helps us stay in contact with our potential Buyers and previous Buyers, who often sell their homes, condos, and homesites. Possibly knowing about inventory coming on the market provides us with a valuable “heads up,” so to speak.

We probably have over 50 people in the queue to purchase. We have seen a nice increase in inventory in specific areas or markets recently, making solutions possible again. And as we all know, life and real estate are cyclical, so be sure to have the best trained and most responsive real estate Broker fighting for you, for if you don’t, you will receive rejection after rejection – and that isn’t fun, is it?

Choose Your Neighbors

As we cruise through life, most adults accumulate an inner circle of friends and family. We know that this is hard to believe for some of you, but on occasion, the wife’s inner circle doesn’t always coincide with her husband’s. Wait, how is that even possible?

two couples sharing fun outdoors in their neighborhood

When and if you decide to leave the tundra of New England or the overcrowded and expensive suburbs of cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, DC, etc. You can choose some of your future neighbors. How about that?

First, to properly engage in this conversation, we think we all should have a common platform of understanding on levels of friendship. We’d like to provide you with an example. Sally and Bob live in New Jersey, and Bob’s best friend Jeff & his wife, Sarah, live just down the street. For years, Sally has placated Bob and agreed to socialize on many occasions with this couple; however, Sally is not a fan of Jeff and cannot wait to move somewhere warm and sunny sans Jeff.

Therefore, let’s have a little fun and see if we can determine a rating system for friends and family members that you both can agree on (and please keep in mind that this works for single people).

BFF

For a couple to be given the prestigious BFF classification (this is Best Friend/Family Forever), both the wife and the husband must be classified as BFFs. This probably narrows the playing field considerably as most couples probably have only 1-3 BFFs in their lives. These are couples you have vacationed with before, supported during a crisis, dined with often, etc.

GF

Good Friends are people you currently see less often than BFFs, which could be due to geographic constrictions, jobs, or other restrictions. Many couples have considerable people that fall into the GF category, be it from work, the neighborhood, church, college, golf, tennis, etc.

F

Each of you has accumulated lists of friends over the years. You probably only see them occasionally, either by running into them at the store or large functions.

A

From time to time, Acquaintances could be synonymous with Annoying, for we all have a category of people that you try to avoid in life. This could be from people you work with to those you went to school with and knowledge of them but don’t hang out with often.

OK, so back to Sally and Bob, the couple from Jersey who has decided to retire to Coastal North Carolina. Sally has two BFFs, Barbara and Lisa. Barb is married to Kevin, and Lisa is single. Bob likes all three of them and has no trouble if any or all of them move to Coastal NC. On the other hand, Bob’s best buddy (BFF) is Kevin, who unfortunately annoys the ever-living doo-doo out of Sally. In essence, they are NOT welcome to move to Coastal NC, but if they must, it will NOT be in the same community as Sally and Bob – not if Sally has anything to do about it.

Two different families enjoying time together

Sally and Bob also each have one brother, and because they are family, they both agree that they would be fine if either brother or their respective wives moved to Coastal NC. Oh, and Bob’s mother, Ruth is still alive and living in an assisted living facility; however, she is not welcome to move in with Bob and Sally. However, it is possible that Ruth could move into an assisted living facility in Wilmington to be closer to family.

So, if you are thinking of moving or you’re finding the perfect place to retire to, keep in mind that you have a lot of options with who your future neighbors will be. We at Carolina Plantations are ready to assist you in your search for your dream retirement home today!

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.

Retirement Years: The Importance of “Stuff”

So, imagine it is your first full day of retirement in your Dream Home – you know, the one you have been thinking about for years? You and your loved one cook a healthy breakfast of stewed kale and dried prunes (major yuck, by the way) with a touch of nutmeg and a sprig of mint (double yuck) and enjoy reading the local newspaper from front to back, all the while holding hands and saying “I love you” for two hours.

Man & Woman sitting at kitchen table eating breakfast. Says on the picture "A Healthy Retirement Breakfast"

And when you’re finished, the clock on the wall says 7:30 am, and you two lovebirds realize that you need some time apart, as in perhaps 8 – 10 hours??

Since January of 2002, when Doug joined the on-site sales team at Winding River Plantation in Brunswick County, he helped thousands of couples and singles determine if living in Coastal North Carolina met their requirements. Fourteen years ago, Doug opened Carolina Plantations Real Estate in Shallotte with the company’s backbone being out “Martini Theory.” Simply put, incorporating this 3-step philosophy of Area first, followed by Community, and lastly,y the Dream House has been a life-changer for thousands upon thousands of retirees.

When we speak of Area, our fantastic team of Brokers often interject the word “stuff” to describe the goods and services most of us depend on daily, monthly, or weekly. When you leave the breakfast table at 7:30 with or without your loved one, you will be more than likely to seek numerous goods and services outside your community. Yes, what is inside your community essential. However, what lies outside the finely maintained front entrance can often be more critical.

Let’s see if we can break down the technical word “stuff” for a better understanding of your lifestyle when you retire, ok?

Medical

  • First, you might be surprised how many people assume that there are good medical services wherever they search. Man, how wrong can they be? Imagine being a 45-minute to an hour drive from your primary provider, specialists, or hospital?
  • FACT: Yes, we are getting older, and most of us will need to seek more medical care as the year’s stream past us.
  • While many of us have been healthy for our first 60 or so years, we need to “anticipate” the fact that God will deal with us. So locating yourself nearby to medical care is critical.
5 pictures in one picture, first picture of doctor and patient in a office, 2nd picture is family on a vacation, 3rd picture two woman shopping, 4th picture is the blue man group beating on drums with paint, last picture is man golfing

Dining

  • Many retirees will become “foodies” and “wine connoisseurs.”
  • This is hard to do if your round trips to such dining establishments are 90 minutes or more.
  • The further away eclectic dining, fine dining, international dining, and fun dining are away from your home, the less likely you will be to experience what the area has to offer.

Shopping

  • Not that shopping is critical to most retirees, but when your days are full of nothing to do vs. boardroom meetings, business trips, PTA meetings, and Rotary luncheons, you will shop.
  • And we are talking about Costco, grocery stores, Walmart, malls, gift shops, downtowns, and more.
  • Don’t forget that as we age, our eyesight and desire to drive often wains.

Entertainment

  • You are retired, and you will take advantage of them if you live close to lovely venues.
  • We are talking movie theaters, museums, live theater productions, concerts, and more.
  • Do you want to attend these events, have a few pops, and drive 30+ miles home when you’re 70?

Sports & Outdoor Activities

  • You cannot stay home seven days a week and watch Mary Tyler Moore reruns. You need to find outside activities to participate in (outside your community).
  • For example, additional golf courses, walking on the beach, visiting gardens, walking on a Riverwalk, spending time in a park, hiking, walking downtown are just a few to mention.
  • You might also want to join a gym or the YMCA, learn to kayak, fish on the beach, take up tennis. There is so much to do on the coast.

“Stuff” can make or break a happy retirement. Over the years, we have met hundreds of people who honestly made the simple mistake of “assuming” that all they needed was just down the street. But imagine your grocery store of choice is a 90-minute roundtrip drive. What about driving 2 hours roundtrip to get to your doctor’s. Those distances might have been acceptable in our 30s & 40s, but they will not be in our 60s and up.

When you search for a place to retire to, remember that an essential part of the search is “The Area” – and what makes up the area is “Stuff.” It’s also critical to consider that in 10 years, you’ll be in your 70s or 80s, so the distance to “Stuff” can be a game-changer for driving 90 minutes roundtrip to your doctor or favorite grocery store where it may not be an option. We at Carolina Plantations are here to help you find your retirement home here on the North Carolina Coast.

Retirement: Don’t Overdo It

A few weeks ago, Doug did an online search for “top retirement issues.” The results were not surprising and rising to the top of every list was financial issues. In essence, make sure that you have enough to retire on comfortably.

stacks of money all over the picture.

He took away from those articles a plan to expect the unexpected, as many surprises can occur in our 60s and beyond. The following is a quick snapshot of actual numbers for a person retiring.

  • Let’s say that Sally is about to retire and currently earns $100,000 a year
  • Assume Sally does not have any kind of pension
  • The rule of thumb says Sally will need 80% of her pre-retirement income
  • So, how does Sally get to $80,000 a year in retirement income?
  • Let’s assume her Social Security is $3,000 a month or $36,000 a year
  • That leaves a shortfall of $44,000
  • If Sally has $1,000,000 in stocks, she will need a 55% return annually or $50,000
  • This equation stipulates that Sally does not touch the principle
  • This would provide Sally with $86,000 a year

Here are the significant variables that could influence the above scenario:

  • Sally will need to receive a 5% return annually. More is better, however, if the market tanks. Sally will have to dig into her principle probably. That means Sally will have to rebuild that principle soon.
  • Sally’s most significant variable is her health, as her insurance and Medicaid do not cover 100% of her bills. A couple of unexpected hospital or doctor visits can quickly cause Sally to dig into her principle.
  • Children, siblings, parents, and grandchildren can also easily add to Sally’s financial obligations, as family issues can come out of nowhere and cause significant short-term and long-term financial constraints.
  • Managing debt can also be a silent killer for many. Piling up credit card debt, in particular, is more common than most of us think. Plus, the costs associated with purchasing a new home or car can also increase debt dramatically.
  • Gifts. It is pretty standard for grandparents to want to support their children and grandchildren. This could be money for a house down payment, a car, college tuition, and more. Plus, many people like supporting their church, alma mater, civic organization, etc.

In essence, most retirees live on a fixed income. There are no more overtime hours to count on, quarterly or annual bonuses, pay raises and promotions, etc. And while inheritances from parents or other relatives can happen, it is wise not to count too much on them for unexpected expenses can severely curtail your possible windfall.

Over the years, Doug has seen some retired people forced to make tough decisions regarding their finances. He guesses that they did not invest enough time and effort into laying out their expected and unexpected costs – aka budget. The results ran the gamut of selling their Dream Home and downsizing, moving back home, and getting back in the job market.

You’ve worked hard for 30-40 years, building up a nest egg so that you can retire comfortably. One last variable that can affect your financial stability is managing your ego.

yellow expensive car on left, white boat on right on the water speeding

Let’s fast forward to your retirement day, and you have $3.5M with a stockbroker, half a million in your savings, and your $475,000 is paid off. You’re rich, rich beyond your wildest dreams, and it’s time to pound your chest a little bit and let the world know so that you can go on a bit of a spending spree. Sure, you may only spend $40,000 (or more) on a new car, boat, jewelry, artwork, or a trip around the world. But for the most part, that was an expense that is either gone or probably severely devalued the minute you laid down your American Express Platinum Card.

We’ve seen professional athletes for decades sign multi-million-dollar contracts only to find out years later that they have nothing left. Be careful not to allow your ego to ruin your retirement because it can and will. Don’t become a statistic of poor judgment.

When we look back at the slide of 2008/2009, many people said that their retirement planning was sound and they were safe from unknown variables. Let those who suffered so mightily be our guiding lights to live a long and prosperous future! If you’re ready to sit down and find your dream retirement home here on the beautiful coast of North Carolina, we’re here for you.

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