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?

When Will It Be My Time?

In friendships, relationships, and business partnerships, one just seems to know when the timing is right to jump in or bailout. Over decades, the accumulation of experience at many levels provides us with an innate sense of good timing. Granted, we sometimes overstay our welcome and bow out prematurely, but wisdom on minor and major decisions is a learned experience.

Retiring, though, is hopefully only done once. And therefore, it’s not like we have a set of handy CliffsNotes to follow. Winging is ok if you go to a horse track and place a $2 bet or throw caution to the wind and try some $6 fancy coffee that you can’t even pronounce—but winging it on retirement? No way, right?!

Retirement encompasses several definitions for many people. Of course, the most common is saying goodbye to your office/work friends and set out to define/redefine yourself. To many others, people commonly might say, “I’m retiring to North Carolina,” which one would interpret as not only leaving your job but selling the house in Jersey and moving somewhere warmer, friendlier, and more economical.

watch, with time, dark background

So, just when do you put all of this into motion? What is the magical date to pull the plug at work or sell the business and set yourself out to pasture? Are there advisors or counselors to assist you with this mega-task? Do you have to make the decision all on your own? What happens if you make the wrong decision? Kind of daunting, isn’t it?

Finances

It’s a no-brainer that, historically – your finances are the #1 most crucial concern in if-and-when you are going to retire. Millions of Americans will never be financially stable enough to hang up their work boots or nurse’s license. These people will work until there’s no work left in them and pray that their meager savings or government contributions keep them comfortable for that duration.

For those fortunate enough to amass sufficient funds, pensions, or Social Security benefits, it’s often a daunting task to set in stone your “end date.” Cutting the proverbial umbilical cord is scary, and rightfully so – as no one wants to retire and then un-retire months/years later. That would be tough to handle mentally!

three white eggs with gold lettering of ROTH, IRA & 401K with dollar bills in background

Over Doug’s 20 years in real estate, many clients have said they need to speak with their economic advisor before purchasing real estate. Often these advisors are stockbrokers – so one must learn to take what they say with a grain of salt because very few are ever in favor of you selling some or all of your stocks. This is because that decision affects them negatively financially. So, be careful with whom you enlist financial advice. Your loved ones, family members, work friends, church members, neighbors, and others can be good sounding boards for collecting advice and suggestions on how much moola it will take to retire comfortably.

Health

Lord knows that this issue, with the advent of COVID, has risen significantly in the past two years. Instead of focusing on good, healthy practices, we have been a hundred down; in some cases, we are just trying to stay healthy and out of the hospital. Health issues certainly can trump financial matters, for if you are not healthy, the number of reserves you have is almost a moot point, correct?

COVID aside, getting healthy, staying healthy, and securing affordable healthcare in your retirement years is monstrously important. Doug turns 65 this year and is just beginning to address the mountain of paperwork required to sign up for Medicare and supplemental insurance coverage. He has many friends who have already enrolled and are pleasantly satisfied with their new set of instructions for securing medical services, so he’s keeping his fingers crossed that his transition period is minimally difficult.

older gentleman at the doctor getting his blood pressure checked with female doctor

One of the newer phrases of the past ten years is “reinventing yourself.” Instead of working 40-50 hours a week along with no longer fighting traffic for 5-7 hours a week, all with less sleep, of course, you suddenly will have 168 hours a week to fill up! This is a huge opportunity for most retirees to begin that exercise regime you have been lying about for decades. Any day now, right?

Get out of the house and just do it! Walk 4 miles a day, ride a bike, swim, relearn to play tennis, take up kayaking, golf, learn to play pickleball, ski, or buy that Peloton bike and bike until your legs ache 304 times a week. Exercise is the number one most critical element to your success, for if you choose to ignore it: the length of your healthy retirement years will inevitably be shortened.

Involvement

Retiring to your couch is not an option. Sure, you worked your butt off for 38 years and deserved a few quiet years on the couch, but not living a healthy lifestyle is like waking up every day and playing Russian Roulette.

Many years ago, Doug was a training instructor in industrial automation (boring, right?) During his tenure at that position, he took a class on training adults. Not only do most adults have the attention span of a tiny gnat, but if adults stopped learning and challenging their minds, their brains would turn to mush. Mental activities such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, board games, reading, writing, and taking courses are just as important in some cases as performing physical workouts.

3 men and one woman working outdoors

We all know that if you have a special event planned for today, no matter how minor it may be, it’s far easier to get up and get your groove thing going, right? Therefore, if you are not involved with your family, your community, a local service organization, or volunteer work, you will be shortening your retirement and probably not enjoying whatever time left you have. So, get off your Butkus and dive into something, really anything.

The magical date to set all this in motion lies between your heart, wallet, and noggin. One significant advantage that our generation has over our parents and grandparents’ generations is the internet. Here lies vast information and opinions about every imaginable subject, including where to retire! We are here to help you with that decision in finding your dream retirement home located on the beautiful North Carolina Coast.

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.

Brunswick County: Thousands of New Homes Approved & Proposed

If there is one thing that we have a lot of in Brunswick County, it’s land. If there is one demand in and amongst Coastal NC that we have an abundance of, it’s for more homes. Put them together, and BOOM!!

From Sunset Beach to Shallotte to Bolivia to Leland, developers are pulling out their checkbooks and doing everything they can to get new homes out of the ground at lightning speed. America is shy 4,000,000 homes to satisfy consumer demand. Yes, we said 4 million homes shy?? That is like 8,000 homes per county, give or take a few thousand. That’s nuts and quite frankly probably conservative because not every county has a bullseye on it for retirees, as does Brunswick County, NC. It has been one of the top three retirement destinations on the east coast for years, but with COVID-Flight happening in so many New England, Mid Atlantic, and Midwestern cities, Brunswick County is en vogue! Check out this article that Wall Street Journal has recently put out on the housing shortage.

For decades, Brunswick County has been one of the leading growing counties in America, but don’t let that scare you, as that is based upon a percentage of growth, not by population numbers. For example, here are several of the largest cities and their respective counties population in North Carolina:

CHARLOTTE – Mecklenburg County                                                   1,143,570

RALEIGH – Wake County                                                                    1,142,740

ASHEVILLE – Buncombe County                                                         265,055

WINSTON SALEM – Forsyth County                                                   388,453

WILMINGTON – New Hanover County                                               238,907*

Brunswick County, NC                                                                       154,700*

*One interesting note is that Brunswick County encompasses 1,050 square miles, while New Hanover County to the north of us comes in 328 square miles. We have over three times the amount of land and only 64% of the population that Wilmington/NHC has. That is probably the #1 contributing factor to the continued growth of our little slice of heaven – we have the land!

If you are thinking of retiring to Brunswick County, give us a call today and allow one of our agents to help you in the process. Our little slice of heaven is waiting for you to call it you’re forever home today!

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