6 Fantastic Reasons to Buy an Outer Banks Home Before 2014

6 Fantastic Reasons to Buy an Outer Banks Home Before 2014If you have been on the fence about buying a home on the Outer Banks before the New Year, the last quarter of 2013 may be the perfect time to act.

An Outer Banks home is more than a place to enjoy our pristine beaches and fantastic year-round weather, it’s also an incredible investment opportunity that could pay BIG dividends later on.

Here are six great reasons to buy a home on the OBX before the end of 2013:

  1. Mortgage rates are still low.  The national average for a 30-year fixed rate loan is right around 4.50% percent today.  Although this is 1.15% percent more than the historically low 3.35% percent last year, it’s still a very attractive rate for prospective home buyers.
  2. Home prices are still affordable.  Overall home prices on the OBX are still down from pre-recession. However the gap is getting smaller and northeastern North Carolina home prices have increased several percentage points this year alone.
  3. It may be easier to get a mortgage in 2013.  Local banks may be making it easier for some prospective buyers to qualify for a mortgage on a northeastern North Carolina house. Like most mortgage advisers will say, having good credit and a sizable down payment will increase your chances of buying the perfect oceanfront home on the Outer Banks.
  4. Fewer home flippers right now. Many investors are looking to buy and flip houses but are unable to move as quickly as they did in recent years. Housing prices are increasing which has made house flippers less common. There are plenty of deals on bank-owned properties and short-sales on the OBX, you just have to find a great local real estate agent.
  5. Avoid the cost of rising rent. This year has been predominantly a buyer’s market.  If you are currently renting a home and tired of giving your landlord all of your money, consider the benefits of buying a home instead.   If you have an outstanding credit history, you may be able to secure a fantastic rate and end up paying the equivalent or less in monthly payments as you build equity in a home.  Renting can be a more affordable option for the short term, but renters are helpless when facing rising rental costs year after year.
  6. Invest in your future! When you make your mortgage payment each month, you are building equity and investing in your financial future.  Even if you end up parting ways with your northeastern North Carolina home in five or ten years, you could profit from the sale and invest that money in a bigger home.

5 Ways to Prep Your Outer Banks Home for an Open House

Outer Banks Home

Preparing your Outer Banks home for an open house can be similar to getting ready for a blind date.  For instance, you don’t know what you may be facing but it is important to look your best and go into the date (open house) with an optimistic mindset.

Open houses can be quite stressful for homeowners.   You’ve prepared your house and got into tip-top-shape and now a stream of total strangers will be tromping through your door nitpicking every detail of your house.  You probably already know that the home needs to be as clean as possible, but here are a few other things to keep in mind as you prepare.

1. Eliminate the Clutter
If you want to give yourself the best chance of having a successful open house, than you need to get all of your clutter out of sight. You can remove it temporarily; just make sure not to store it in the attic, garage, basement or any closets.  If someone is serious about buying your home, chances are that they’ll thoroughly look through every nook in your home.  Ask relatives or friends if you can temporarily store some of your items with them.  You should also consider renting a storage space while you are showing your home.

2. Depersonalize as Much as Possible
Strangers don’t want to see all of your personal photos, awards and sentimental objects.  All of your personal things will only be distracting to the potential home buyer and they could spend more time focusing on photos of your family than looking at your nice stainless steel appliances.  Your goal should be to have your home appear to be a blank slate that waiting for a new buyer to make it their own.

3. Warm it up
The old trick of baking bread or cookies works because it makes the home feel warm and lived in. Scented candles can work a similar magic. Fresh flowers or plants are also a nice touch and one that stagers often use.

Another trick from professional stagers is to use colorful pillows and softly draped throws to provide a bit of color in bedrooms and living spaces. The home needs to be depersonalized but it still needs to look lived in.  Leave plates on the counter, fruit in the fruit bowl, towels in the bathroom, all go toward showing that the home is a great place to live.

4. Light up Your Space
Good lighting can make or break you.  Windows should be clean on both the inside and outside for maximum sunlight potential.  Make sure all of your light bulbs are working and that they are bright enough for the space.  Open all curtains and shades and take down any heavy curtains that might block some of the natural light.

5. Have Fun
You probably know that you shouldn’t be hovering around your house but instead of going down to the local coffee shop and waiting until it’s over, reward yourself with a real mini vacation.  Even the happiest of moves are stressful, so defuse some of the stress by taking your family out for a little reward.  Put some distance between you and the house by going on a short day trip.  When you come back from your trip, you can reconnect with your Realtor after he/she has had time to gather up all the impressions about the home.

Remember, you may not get an offer on the first day but an open house can lead to future showings for your Outer Banks house and an eventual sale.  Good luck!

More Couples Choosing Mortgage Before Marriage

More Couples Choosing Mortgage Before Marriage
More Couples Choosing Mortgage Before Marriage

A recent survey by Coldwell Banker found that 1 in 4 married couples between the ages of 18 and 34 purchased a home together before getting married.

This new trend follows the increase in non-married couples living together documented by the 2010 census and in a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The CDC study found that nearly half of all women up to age 44 had cohabited between 2006 and 2010.  This is a 16% increase from the CDC’s 1995 study.  The study also found that 40% of those couples got married within three years of living together.

Why Buy Before Tying The Knot?

Over the past few years the real estate market has been a “buyer’s market” meaning it was a great time to buy a new home.  Mortgage rates were at all-time lows and the market was flooded with homes that we priced to sell.  This led to more couples deciding to take advantage of the slumped housing market and choose home ownership over renting.

The housing market has been steadily increasing and is still a “buyer’s market”.

Testing the relationship

Purchasing your first home is a big deal and there are a plethora of unforeseen obstacles (and expenses) that you will encounter with your partner.  You would think that purchasing a home together before getting married would put a strain on your relationship.  However the recent Coldwell Banker survey found that 80% of people said buying a home with their spouse did more to strengthen their relationship than any other purchase they have made together.

Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, who worked with Coldwell Banker on the home buying study, says couples who are purchasing homes together are definitely commitment-minded, but that the difficult economy has prompted a shift in priorities.

Ludwig shared these four tips for married and unmarried couples who are going through the home buying process:

  1. Decide “needs” versus “wants” and be willing to compromise. Everyone won’t get everything they want on their checklist, so it’s important to get a home that pleases you both. When you’re under the pressure that comes with shopping for a home, you might uncover conflicting values, interests, likes, dislikes and tastes, and those differences can create tension. Your ideas about what’s important will be influenced by your background, childhood and the home in which you grew up. Those ideas can also be influenced by the fantasy of the homes in which you always wanted to grow up. Patience, understanding, compassion and compromise are key to neutralizing conflict and overcoming differences.
  2. Prioritize what’s important in a home, together.
    Does the location work? Do you plan to stay in the area for a few years? Make an independent list and then compare notes. Even the closest couples are still two separate people with two separate ideas and agendas. Searching for a home can surface a couple’s differences in priorities and ideas about life. Working together to decide what is best for a combined future strengthens the bond between individuals and prepares couples to effectively deal with future disagreements when they arise.
  3. Be open, honest and organized with your finances.
    This includes the ability to talk about personal savings, debts, budgets and credit ratings. Money is one of the leading causes of marital discord. Studies indicate that women view money as a sign of security, stability and lifestyle, while money tends to be more about winning, losing and self-esteem for men. Being able to communicate effectively about your finances is a critical component of a successful relationship.
  4. Think about your future for three, five and even 10 years down the road.
    Before buying a home, talk to your partner about plans for your career, having a family and what that means in terms of neighborhood and space. For some people, being asked to think about future needs can create anxiety. It’s important for couples to learn how to support each other when these anxieties and fears come up during the home buying process.

How do I know if I can get a mortgage?

Outer Banks Real Estate

How do I know if I can get a mortgage?

The best way to know if you are qualified for a home loan is by researching exactly what lenders look for when determining if you are qualified.  All of the factors below may be taken into account when applying for a mortgage (factors listed in no particular order of importance).

  • Potential lenders will look at your employment and credit history.  Financial stability shows that you can afford to make monthly mortgage payments.
  • Steady employment is very important, lenders prefer to see someone who has been with a single employer for several years or at least had somewhat consistent income for multiple years.
  • The will make sure your credit history has little to no late payments.  Lenders pay close attention to any rent or mortgage payments that were 30+ days past due.
  • Most lenders require that you have a debt-to-income ratio (blog on that) of 28/36. This means that no more than 28 percent of your total monthly income (from all sources before taxes) can go toward your housing expense.  No more than 36 percent of your monthly income can go toward your fixed monthly costs (this includes your mortgage payment).
  • Lenders will also verify your bank account information and may ask for a history of previous transactions from the past few years.

Depending on what type of mortgage you are trying to obtain, lenders may ask you to provide some or all of the financial documentation listed below.

  • Credit report
  • Paystubs for the last 30 days
  • W-2 Forms for the previous two years
  • Information about different debts you may currently have.  This includes: student loans, tax liabilities, liens, car loans, bankruptcies, etc.
  • Proof of any supplemental income you earn.
  • Records of child support or alimony.

If you have a high credit score, steady employment, acceptable debt-to-income ratio, you should be great shape to qualify for a home loan.  If you are still unsure if you can get a mortgage, your realtor may be able to answer any questions you might have.

9 Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector


The following post comes from Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty, Inc. agent, Kim Knapp. Kim is an experienced agent in Northern Florida and has a great team who has worked with countless first-time home buyers. Below is Kim’s list of questions you should ask your home inspector before agreeing to use them.

Before you make your final buying or selling decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision. Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:

1. Will your inspection meet recognized standards?

Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as the one adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. Customers can view each group’s standards of practice and code of ethics online at ASHI or ASHI. ASHI’s Web site also provides a database of state regulations.

2. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association?

There are many state and national associations for home inspectors, including the two groups mentioned in No. 1. Unfortunately, some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.

3. How experienced are you?

Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they’ve completed. They should provide customer referrals on request. New inspectors also may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and let you know whether they plan to work with a more experienced partner.

4. How do you keep your expertise up to date?

Inspectors’ commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.

5. Do you focus on residential inspection?

Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. If your customers are buying a unique property, such as a historic home, they may want to ask whether the inspector has experience with that type of property in particular.

6. How long will the inspection take?

On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough. If your customers are purchasing an especially large property, they may want to ask whether additional inspectors will be brought in.

7. What’s the cost?

Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more. Customers should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

8. What type of inspection report do you provide?

Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector’s reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.

9. Will I be able to attend the inspection?

The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector’s refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.

OBX Market Report 1st Quarter 2013

headline q1

The OBX MLS started out much slower this year than in 2012. Everyone seems to be in agreement that 2013 will be even better than last year, just spread out a bit different. This can be attributed to the slower traffic in December – smaller pendings in December always result in fewer closings in the first quarter of the New Year. However, the pendings are up for the first quarter and there is increased activity which will result in future sales!

Recap of all Property Sold in the 1st Quarter

On a positive note, our average days on the market continues to shrink. Inventory has declined and the sellers are pricing more in line with the market which results in a shorter listing period.

OBX Market Report 1Q 2013_Page_1

For the full report, Click Here.

Serious Talks Regarding Kitty Hawk’s Deteriorating Shoreline

The Kitty Hawk shoreline has been hit hard in terms of flooding and deterioration. Houses have been lost, business flooded, and the road washed out. What is in store in terms of saving this “beaten shore”? The Outer Banks Voice reports that at the last town Planning Board Meeting the citizens heard that the town is taking this threat seriously. Here are a few highlights from the article, and you can Read the full article here.

Breaking the silence on Kitty Hawk’s beaten shore – By Russ Lay                            

We’re hearing some encouraging news from Kitty Hawk. At the town’s last Planning Board meeting, citizens were informed that Kitty Hawk is taking the threat to its beleaguered shoreline seriously.

In an April 9, 2012 article on the N.C. Bar Association web site, Stacey Carless reiterates North Carolina’s preferred “concept of maintaining natural beaches by not allowing hardened structures” on the state’s coastlines.

Ironically, that is the exact situation prevailing in Kitty Hawk today, with one glaring exception.The hardened structure serving as the last line of defense between the town’s infrastructure and the Atlantic Ocean isn’t a groin, a jetty, a seawall or an offshore artificial reef.

News analysis

The hardened structure that defines the town’s boundaries between the land and sea is a road, specifically N.C. 12.

Over a decade ago the dire status of the town’s shoreline was revealed when the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a study on the efficacy of beach nourishment along Dare’s northern beaches.It was that study and an initial funding promise from Congress that prompted the so-called “sand tax” to be considered to generate the local portion of revenue needed to fund the mostly-federal project.

Even then, it was uncertain if much of Kitty Hawk’s oceanfront would be covered by a federal project. The Army Corps bases some of its qualifications for nourishment programs on the value of the infrastructure the wider beach would protect.In much of Kitty Hawk, the oceanfront infrastructure of revenue-generating rental homes had already been lost to the ocean.

Constant flooding has not only eliminated most of the town’s oceanfront — and the revenue oceanfront properties generate — it now threatens homes and businesses on the west side that no one could argue were built “too close to the beach.”Popular spots such as The Black Pelican and Ocean Boulevard have been slammed by these storms.

Uncertainty about the future is likely affecting investment decisions as far west as U.S. 158, which is also increasingly subject to flooding as the beach continues to disappear and wave energy is not absorbed until it reaches the Beach Road.

Whether the answer lies in beach nourishment, the relocation of the Beach Road, a change in the state’s position on offshore storm abatement structures — or some combination of all three — we leave to others to decide.But a basic rule of economics is that uncertainty causes more economic damage than onerous regulations and even taxes. Investors may not like rules and taxes, but they and the market can adapt.

But no business can adapt to uncertainty or silence — and Kitty Hawk has been silent about the situation along their oceanfront for too long.We are encouraged by the recent discussions on the Planning Board.Our hope is those discussions continue and advance to the Town Council and public meetings and hearings.



2012 Agent of the Year – Heather Sakers

CBSR Photos 396 (600x800)

Congratulations to Heather Sakers for being named our 2012 Agent of the Year. In the picture above Heather is awarded for her acheivement by Gordon Jones, President/Owner of Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty, and Pamela Kulsa-Smith, Vice President of Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty, at our annual breakfast meeting that was held at Chilli Peppers Restaurant.

When asked about Heather’s accomplishment, Pamela said, “Heather is a full time agent with outstanding customer service skills.  In the five years she has been with our firm, she has built a successful business by prospecting and using the tools and resources available to her through Coldwell Banker.   Heather has a very aggressive marketing plan in place and works hard to sell her listings.   She has a very loyal client base and continues to generate new business and is a consistent top producer and well deserving of our Agent of the Year award.  She is also a recipient of the 2013 Coldwell Banker International Presidents Circle Society Award, placing her in the top 8% of all Coldwell Banker agents throughout the world.  We’re glad Heather is on our team!”

Kudos to you Heather! You are a shining example of how hard work and persistence comes out on top.

2012 Listing Agent of the Year – Marty Griffin

CBSR Photos 395 (600x800)

Congratulations to Marty Griffin our 2012 Listing Agent of the Year! Marty had over 30 listings for 2012 which put him on top at our firm.  In the picture above Gordon Jones, President/Owner of CBSR, and Pamela Kulsa-Smith, Vice President of CBSR, award Marty for his accomplishment at our end of the year breakfast meeting that was held at Chilli Peppers Restauarant. Pamela said, “I’m excited that Marty has earned the Listing Agent of the Year award.  I’ve worked with Marty for over ten years and he goes above and beyond for his sellers!  Marty has earned the Coldwell Banker International Sterling Society award, placing him in the top 20% of all Coldwell Banker agents throughout the world.  Congratulations Marty!”

Way to go Marty and a big kuddos to you!


Existing Home Sales Hit a 5 Year High in 2012

For Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty, 2012 was our strongest volume year since 2005.  We ended the year with a 30% increase in sales over 2011, making this the fourth year in a row with increased sales.  Our market has shown substantial improvement and we anticipate 2013 will be another successful year for Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty.

Existing Home Sales Hit 5-year High in 2012

By Ruth Mantell


[1](MCT)—Sales of existing homes ticked down in December from the month before, while the total for 2012 hit the highest level in five years, according to data released Tuesday by the National Association of REALTORS®.

The pace of sales fell 1 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million, according to NAR. For all of 2012, existing-home sales hit 4.65 million, the highest level since 2007 and up 9.2 percent from 2011.

“Record-low mortgage interest rates clearly are helping many home buyers, but tight inventory [Read more…]