The “Southern Friendly” Effect

The "Southern Friendly" Effect

When our team at Carolina Plantations hosts folks that are looking at Coastal NC for a possible place to retire to, many are quite stunned that when driving through communities where people randomly wave at us. “Are these people planted, Doug”?  No, in fact, most of them are former hardened and bitter northerners!

So, can it be? Can true yankees who trudge through life actually learn to smile and be friendly to strangers when they move south? Say it ain’t so, please!!

In the winter of 2002, Doug was an on-site agent for Winding River Plantation in Sublivia, (Supply & Bolivia) when he ventured to his home state of New Jersey for one of the Live South real estate shows. He manned a 10’ x 10’ booth solo for the weekend and quite often found people 3-4 deep listening to his presentation about life in Coastal NC.

One afternoon, a behemoth of a man in the 5th row towering over the rest of us mortals bellowed out something like “Those southerners really cannot be that friendly”. He repeats this to grab Doug’s attention and totally sucks the life out of his presentation, so he did something a bit out of the ordinary and walked around the crowd and stood toe to toe with him. The crowd was apprehensive, but Doug assure you, not nearly as much as he was! Anyway, he reached up and put Doug’s finger on his chest and said “Sir, do you know what the top benefit is for northerners who move to the south is”. He replied “No” and Doug continued with “most everyone of them learns how to be friendly!”

Well, the crowd quietly gasped and his small, diminutive wife looked at Doug and said, “thank you”, and Andre the Giant slowly disappeared into the crowd. In minutes he was back in front of the crowd with his large map extolling the highlights of living in Coastal North Carolina.

About five years ago, Doug was out on Long Island in Huntington to do a seminar on real estate when he found himself at the local grocery store. He just needed a few things, and after he circled around the parking lot twice looking for a spot to park, Doug’s blood pressure went through the roof. In North Carolina, we have thousands of parking places at our stores and unless it is Christmas at the mall, you will always find a parking place here! However, this incident hit him like a ton of bricks and helped Doug understand why Andre the Giant and millions of others up north could be grumpy people. It’s because there are just too many people living in a small, confined area. No matter where you go, it’s crowded. Church, barber shop, Yankees game, I-495/DC, LaGuardia, butcher, deli, hair salon, nails place, hardware store, LIE, I-80, bakery, Garden State Parkway, I-93, downtown Philly, etc. – they are all lined up out the door more often than not, right?

Doug’s guess is that the average northerner needs 6-12 months to unwind before they begin to wave to strangers driving past their home. Imagine if folks did that in Boston? There, you only wave to your family members and friends from high school. And FYI, the fines for unwanted waving are rather steep in Mass, esp. on the south shore…!

Crowds, traffic, long lines, horrible commutes, undependable public transportation, etc. make even the nicest of people a bit crabby – it’s just human nature. And the more we have to deal with the aforementioned, the crabbier we get, right? So, when you are living in states north of the Mason Dixon line and wind up heading to explore the palm tree lined communities of Coastal North Carolina, don’t be surprised to find many genuinely happy people! And why not, right? Here you can enjoy your own private parking place just about anywhere you go, plus experience virtually zero traffic and almost no lines, and friendly faces waiting to serve you. Heck, it’s no wonder that so many people add on years to their lives by moving to a warmer climate with lots of open space and almost zero crowds!

Over the years, Doug has had a number of clients come down, and due to their own stubbornness, have seen them wrestle with their transition for years while they hold onto their northern ways and attitudes. Eventually, they all accept the friendly and southern way of life or, United Van Lines just found another return customer!

So, when you come down to visit us here in Coastal North Carolina, don’t be surprised if some of those people waving to us as we drive through the communities were some of the meanest, ornery and bitter people on the planet just two years ago!! We hope that we at Carolina Plantations can help you and your family find the perfect home on Coastal North Carolina!

Hurricane Florence Summary

For nearly a week, it appeared a Category 2, 3 or 4 was headed our way. Luckily, when Florence came ashore, she was downgraded to a Cat 1, and I might say, a STRONG Cat 1. 

Hurricane Florence SummaryCarolina Plantations guess was that 50% stayed and the rest sought shelter elsewhere. Were those of us who stayed nuts? Were those who departed overly cautious? What I think a lot of new people to the coast of NC learned is that a storm is as unpredictable as your local weatherperson’s daily forecast. Things change but, tis always better to err on the side of caution, a wise person once said.

The track of Florence was aimed directly at us versus the other handful of tropical storms and Cat 1’s I have witnessed which came up from the coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. That made Flo a tough one to predict, so I applaud those who leaned on the side of caution. In her aftermath, here are a few observations:

Flooding

The number one cause of damage in a large storm is flooding, not the wind. And, let’s be clear here, as there are two types: Surge/Saltwater and Fresh Water.

The eye of Flo went directly over Wrightsville Beach and then traveled along the coast of Brunswick County. If by chance you are not aware, the northern bands of rain produce the most rain and are often accompanied by the most wind. So, if you often saw live storm coverage from New Bern, which is about 100 miles north of Wilmington, this would be expected as this is where the strongest rain bands landed. And if by chance you didn’t see the coverage there, it was mostly shots of flooding. Creeks, rivers and streams overran their banks.

 

The good news for most people directly on the beaches is that the storm surge was less than was predicted. No surge is good though as all surges erode our precious and expensive beach fronts, along with protective dunes and foliage. The most flood damage in our area was from the overflowing of fresh water ponds, lakes, streams, creeks and rivers – so homes in low-lying areas or closely situated near these bodies of water prone to flooding are who took the brunt of the storm’s impacts.

Wind Damage

While Florence was a Cat. 1 at landfall, The Wilmington airport clocked a gust at 105 mph, as did other beaches in the area. These winds, if sustained, will cause minor home/building damage and uproot trees – and that is what we experienced here along the coast.
Hurricane Florence Summary
In many of our travels around Brunswick and New Hanover county since landfall, the largest amount of tree damage appeared to be in the city of Wilmington – just on the north side of downtown. Mother Nature spared the strong and took the weakest, of which many were quite large. Let’s just say that if you need some wood mulch that prices will be next to nothing for the next 30-45 days!

Bringing Our Community Together

Hurricane Florence Summary

Two days after the storm, we received a call from a local church saying that they needed supplies to help the firefighters that arrived from out of town and were stay in their gymnasium. This group of 30+ firemen are deployed to areas hit by mother nature and are there to help the local firemen, provide counseling and responding to calls.
Shortly after making it known that Grace United Methodist’s kitchen was open, requests for meals for people without power started pouring in. Within 24 hours, the church was feeding 400 local residents. Stories like this were a commonplace across the region. If history has told American one thing, it is that nothing pulls a group of people together like a crisis.
Hurricane Florence Summary
Southeastern North Carolina and parts of South Carolina will be back to normal in no time. In fact, many areas here had their trees cleared and power back on within 48 hours of the storm. And, for those that experienced more severe damage, our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
Storms happen, just like tornadoes, snow storms, wild fires, ice storms, mudslides, sink holes, volcanoes and other natural occurrences that can affect our day to day lives. We all get through them, don’t we?

Due Diligence Period is for Buyers

In the state of North Carolina, anyone making an offer on residential real estate use the standard Offer to Purchase and Contract document (12-T), that was revised and launched by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission on January 1, 2011.
The predecessor to this document was more “Seller” friendly, for if you were a Buyer, your only real recourse once you had a fully executed contract was not qualifying for a loan. Therefore, after the cataclysmic collapse of our economy in 2008, the NCREC decided to revise our contract to be more “Buyer” friendly.
One of the significant additions to our 12-T, was the inclusion of a “Due Diligence “ (DD) clause, which was borrowed in part from our commercial contracts. In commercial contracts, buyers were afforded a period of time to perform the appropriate due diligence activities to determine if they wanted to move forward with the purchase. Some activities commercial buyers utilized were soil tests, asbestos tests, radon tests, research of local/regional/state zoning laws, transportation studies, marketing analysis, etc. If for any reason during the DD period the Buyer was not satisfied, they could terminate the contract with little to no damages required.
Our buyers in North Carolina today are afforded the same leeway as those entering commercial contracts, and this is a good thing as back in 2007 and 2008, so many buyers were taken advantage of by the real estate and banking industries.
When a 12-T is filled out by your Realtor, they will confer with the you to state the closing date and DD date on the contract. For historical purposes, let’s say that the average closing date is set 45 days after the full execution of the contract. If the buyer is securing a loan, the DD date should be at least 30-35 days from date of execution to provide your lender ample time to get your lead approved. Here are some issues that are generally addressed during your DD period:
  • Finances – securing a loan commitment from your lender
  • Inspection – hire a home inspector, review the report and negotiate repairs with the Seller
  • Soil/Termite/HVAC tests – hire respective experts to perform these tests
The good news for buyers today is that if any of the above do not meet the expectations of the buyer, the buyer can terminate the contract and receive their Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) back. In fact, ANY reason to terminate is now permissible during the DD period of our contract – and that should be very comforting for buyers in North Carolinas.
Perhaps though one of the most tangible benefits of the DD period is the ability for the buyer to place real estate under contract before they even see it. Carolina Plantations clients pretty much all live out of state, and with the market here turning more and more into a Sellers’ market, buyers must often move quickly on a property for fear of losing it to someone else.
Say for example Sally and Bob Wilson from Long Island have visited Compass Pointe on several occasions but, never found the home they were looking for. On March 1, a home comes on the market that appears to meet 90%+ of their requirements. They call Chris Creekmore from Carolina Plantations and Chris agrees that this home will not last on the market very long. So, they make an offer on the home (sight unseen) and negotiate a contract with a due diligence date of April 7 and a closing date of April 25.
Sally and Bob cannot make it down to North Carolina till March 10th, and on that day, Chris shows them the home that they are under contract with. If they like the home, everything moves forward according to the contract. If the house does not work for them, the contract is terminated, and the earnest money deposit is returned. (The main caveat to this situation is that if the Seller requires Due Diligence money, which is in addition to earnest money, the DD money stays with the Sellers if for any reason the Buyers back out. And FYI, this occurs though on less than 10% of all transactions today here at the coast)
The Due Diligence period today for sure favors the Buyer – so if you have any questions about it, please contact any team member of Carolina Plantations today for a further explanation. Call 910 755-7557 for our Shallotte office and  910 408-1000 for our Leland office.

How Far is Coastal North Carolina?

Map of Coastal North Carolina

Map of Coastal North Carolina

How far is Coastal North Carolina?

As millions of people search for an idyllic place to retire, the number of factors to be considered can be overwhelming. Healthcare, weather, cost of living, friendliness, available dining & retail and culture are just a few items that typically are on the matrix. But, so is distance back to ground zero – and that is where you currently live.

Town Clock

Moving is one of the most difficult tasks that one can take on, and the older we get, the harder it is because we have ‘set up shop’ someplace for 20 – 40 years and well, we know who are neighbors are; can drive to see our kids & grandkids; know where the Bakery and Butcher are located; have attended our place of worship for decades and, still remember where we go to get our diver license renewed. This is part of why leaving home is so difficult.

So, to add insult to injury, if you move far away from all this and more, than it’s like cutting the umbilical cord to your childhood and adulthood, once and for all. A good example is growing up in New Jersey and moving to Florida. How often do you really think you will come back? For example, just this morning Doug booked a flight to Boston for a weekend and his roundtrip airfare is over $400 and a rental car was $350. Doug lived in Boston for 7 years during the 90s and will be having a mini-reunion on the Cape one evening, however, flying back for weekends can be very expensive!

Drive Time to Take in Consideration

Drive time to your retirement destination is important, as not only will you endure the travels several times a year but, so will family and friends who come to visit you. And as we age, it seems most of us pretty much tap out at 12 hours of driving per day, with the sweet spot being less. The key though is to head far enough south, for the most part, to where the weather is significantly better and the prices are also in your favor.

Packed Cars for a Trip

The below chart of drive times is from places I have lived to, Wilmington, North Carolina. I have also added in Hilton Head and Orlando, Florida, just for comparison.

Driving Time Between Cities

  Wilmington, NC Hilton Head, SC Orlando, FL
Ridgewood, NJ 9 hrs 18 mins 12 hrs 10 mins 16 hrs
North Andover, MA 12 hrs 35 mins 15 hrs 20 mins 19 hrs 10 mins
Knoxville, TN 6 hrs 53 mins 6 hrs 16 mins 9 hrs 19 mins
Atlanta, GA 5 hrs 59 mins 4 hrs 7 mins 6 hrs 13 mins
Milwaukee, WI 15 hrs 42 mins 15 hrs 40 mins 18 hrs 14 mins

When one’s destination by car is 2 days away, you have to use 4 days of your vacation on transportation, and that stinks – especially considering the majority of Americans take 7-day vacations. And as parents or grandparents, living more than 12 hours away from your family and loved ones means that someone (as in Grandma and/or Grandpa) has to fund the cost of airline tickets for the whole family, and that can be expensive, especially if their visit(s) are more than once a year.

Moral of the story: keep in mind the drive time distance between your current home and your idyllic place to retire, as not only does a shorter distance provide you more face to face time w/family & friends but, can cut down transportation costs quite significantly. (as in, imagine the cost for a family of 5 to fly from LaGuardia to West Palm Beach 2-3 times per year? Ouch!) We understand that finding a retirement home can be challenging but our experts look forward to helping you and your family.

The History of Hushpuppies

Back in 1999, Doug Terhune had the pleasure of visiting Poplar Grove Plantation. Some friends were visiting and together they took a tour of this wonderful historical plantation. During the tour they were told the story behind hushpuppies, which are to be eaten here in the south, not worn!!

 

Back in the 1800s, homes did not have kitchens in them because there wasn’t a Fire Department anywhere within a million miles! So, to avoid fire in the main house, the homeowners would build separate detached brick homes behind the main home and this is where the cooking was done. (And talk about hot, oh my goodness!!)

When the cooks finished preparing the food, they had to get the vittles to the main house, however, there was a very annoying obstacle on almost every plantation — dogs.

The dogs would disrupt the transportation of meals to and from the cook’s house and so the women/cooks would toss some cornmeal in the deep fryers just before the heavy trays of food were to be carried to the main house.

The women would toss some of the sizzling hot corn meal out on the yard and say “Hush puppies, Hush!” while those carrying the food would escape into the home unscathed.

And as broadcaster and master storyteller Paul Harvey used to say “And now you know the REST of the story!”