Shelly Island

shelly island
Photo by Melodi Gray Schwartz

The Outer Banks is well known for the beautiful landscapes and natural beauty. Around every corner, there is more nature and recreational activities to enjoy such as hiking in Nags Head Woods, hang-gliding at Jockey’s Ridge, fishing on Pea Island, kite surfing in Buxton, and watching sunrises on the beach and sunsets on the Pamlico or Currituck sounds. The star of all the attractions, that brings flocks of visitors to the Outer Banks, is the beachfront. One of the jewels of the Outer Banks is the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is known throughout the East Coast as a premier location for surf fishing, surfing, and shelling. Cape Point, located in Buxton, is especially a point of interest, as it is the eastern most beach of the Outer Banks.  The Cape Point area juts out stretching very close to the Gulf Stream. Recently, Cape Point has made national news with the formation of an island known of Shelly Island.

The unique structure of the Outer Banks creates a vast history dating back to the 1500’s.  As a string of peninsulas and islands, the Outer Banks can be occasionally known for the treacherous seas, which in the past has created a large amount of shipwrecks resulting in the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.  Harsh winds, whirling tides, and concealed shoals all come together to create a combination that can be deadly to ships.  The distinctiveness of these circumstances also allows for areas of beach to be eroded away as rapidly as they come into sight.  The shorelines of the coast are constantly shifting and moving due to currents and storms, causing land to vanish or spread out creating a wider beach.

shells on shelly island
Photo by Melodi Gray Schwartz

These sources of tides and currents create sandbars and are believed to have created Shelly Island off of Cape Point.  The newest attraction of the Outer Banks has everyone buzzing and excited visitors and locals going to check it out.  The crescent shaped island started appearing in April of 2017 and very rapidly formed into an island measuring a mile long and 500 feet wide.  The presence of bountiful and beautiful seashells has given Shelly Island its namesake.

Strong rip currents flow between Shelly Island and Cape Point.  Visitors should use extreme caution when attempting to get to Shelly Island. Cape Hatteras National Seashore and emergency officials have strongly urged visitors to not attempt to get to the island via swimming or walking. While access may be easier during periods of low tide, high tide can result in people being stranded or having to be rescued. Shelly Island is surrounded by extremely strong currents, so access to the island should be done by kayak, paddleboard, or boat.  Many sharks and manta rays have been reported to be seen on the way to the island.

For adventurers wanting to visit Shelly Island, time is of the essence.  The Island scattered with beautiful, pristine shells is far from permanent. The ever changing coastlines of the Outer Banks will take away Shelly Island as quickly as it appeared.

The Best Real Estate MarketDanielle-2015-10-14-1For more information please feel free to call Danielle and Danny Fenyak at (252) 256-1818 or email Danny at dfenyak@outerbanksblue.com.

Getting to Know the Outer Banks: The Cultural Scene

Getting to Know The Outer Banks The Cultural Scene

Living on the Outer Banks is an interesting proposition. Just about everyone who lives here owes their livelihood to the four or five million visitors who find there way to this strip of sand every year.

Full time residents love living here—most of us feel as though we have found a small slice of paradise on earth, although it does create an interesting way of life.

In the summer it is just go, go, go. And anyone who wants to work should have no problem finding a job during peak season. A lot of our retirement community take advantage of that, working 12 or 15 weeks over the summer and using that as “mad money” for a special trip or purchase.

In the off season, the Outer Banks has a surprisingly vibrant music and art scene. It’s not as diverse or as large as a major metropolitan city, but for an area with a total population of maybe 40,000 if Corolla and Ocracoke are included, this area does very well.

Our summer visitors may not be aware of how strong that scene is for a simple reason—the groups that sponsor the art shows and concerts are volunteer, nonprofit organizations and the membership is too busy during the summer to put organize those types of events.

After the summer rush, though, things really pick up for the Outer Banks cultural scene. Here’s a list of some of the nonprofit cultural organizations, what they do and how to contact them.

Dare County Arts Council

If there is a father of the Outer Banks nonprofits, the DCAC is it. Marking its official birth in 1975, it was the outgrowth of a number of working artists who felt an organization was needed to promote the arts and creativity in Dare County.

The offices and gallery are located in the Old Courthouse in downtown Manteo, and the gallery is worth a visit, with the works of some of the best artists on the Outer Banks on display.

The Gallery has become the focal point of much of the cultural activity of Manteo. A favorite happening in the town is First Friday that runs from April to December—although the December First Friday is the town’s tree lighting…a must see event.

First Friday is a celebration of small town life, with live music, restaurants and bars serving food and drinks at sidewalk cafes and businesses staying open late. In the DCAC Gallery the featured artist for the month is introduced

The Gallery is also the home to two annual art shows—the Frank Stick Memorial Art Show in late January into February and the Mollie Fearing Memorial Art Show in May.

The DCAC also sponsors Surfalorus, a surf film festival in September and Artrageous—a celebration of kids and the arts—in the fall.

The DCAC is always looking for volunteers and artists. For more information call 252-256-1610 or online at darearts.org.

Outer Banks Forum

The full name for the organization is the Outer Banks Forum for the Lively Arts, and it has been bringing outstanding music to the Outer Banks since 1988.

When First Flight High School was built, the Forum was the first group to understand that the auditorium was better than anything that had been seen on the Outer Banks and as good as any school auditorium anywhere. That is where all of their shows are held.

The Forum generally opens their season with the Richmond Ballet in September and close with the Virginian Symphony Orchestra in late April or early May. In between there is a remarkable diversity of performers. Last year that included April Verch, a Canadian fiddle player and step dancer and AJ Croce, Jim Croce’s son. Both concerts were outstanding.

For ticket information or to join call 252-256-9361 or online outerbanksforum.org.

The Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Series

Don Bryan was a remarkable man. joining the Army Air Corps in 1942, he rose through the ranks, retiring as a full Colonel in the Air Force in 1972, when he moved to the Outer Banks.

He went on to become the mayor of Nags Head, but what he was probably best known for was his artwork. His paintings are wonderfully real depictions of life.

Near the end of his life, he established the The Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Series to bring a variety of cultural events to the Outer Banks.

Because Don’s mandate was not limited to art or music, what the Cultural Series offers is remarkably diverse. Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough has given lectures in conjunction with his book, The Wright Brothers, the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players have made two trips to the Outer Banks, and working with the state of North Carolina, a traveling art exhibit has been part of the mix.

It is a wonderfully eclectic mix of lectures, music and art and it has helped to create a more vibrant Outer Banks culture.

For more information check them out online: bryanculturalseries.org.

Real Estate Selling Tips for Your Home on the Outer Banks

“US homes more valuable than ever before.” and “buyers unable to find homes” are the most typical headlines you will see any real estate news page. The reason is simple- shortage in the market. But, to you, as a seller, that does not mean that you should just go out there and list you home straight away, no! Here are some tips for sellers in Nags Head, Corolla, Duck, Kill Devil Hills or anywhere on the North Carolina beaches.

The First Impression is the Last Impression

Sounds old, but still it’s the most practical thing, especially when you are selling your home. Just imagine you want to buy a vacation home, you drive by the house before setting an appointment and it doesn’t look good form the outside. You would just drive to the next home.

What to do?

  • Green your lawn. Clean it, make sure all the dried leaves are swept out.
  • Clean. Sweep the walkways and remove all the debris.
  • Trim the trees and shrubs, mow and edge the grass.
  • Paint- just a touch up to make it look fresh

Invest Wisely

One of the most common mistakes sellers make is investing too much in renovation and remodeling. Consider your likely return on investment before going for a whole kitchen remodeling or bathroom redesign. Talk to your Realtor about this!

What to do?

  • Do not over invest.
  • Make small improvements- getting your home painted always works. Get plumbing repairs done.
  • Do a little research. Find the preferences of buyers in the region, see what colors they prefer.

Appoint the Right Real Estate Agent

This is the most important part. Firstly, don’t do it by yourself. Real estate market is complex, it’s competitive. Hiring a professional is the only way to get the top dollar for your home. Secondly, hire the right one. Ask questions, consider their experience, and know the expected sale value they can deliver. Not just that, make sure their goal synchronize with yours.

What to do?

  • Don’t to it by yourself. Never.
  • Get in touch with recent clients
  • Have a look at their current projects.
  • Do your research.

List and Price It Right

Sellers usually tend to price it high initially, and when the home fails to sell at the price, they lower it. The fact is, the first thirty days of activity in the market when you list your home is the best activity for you. If you want to sell it quick and for the best price:

What to do?

  • Don’t overprice. In fact, experts believe that pricing it lower than the numbers you get actually helps.
  • List when the time is right. Do your homework, research for the perfect timing before you list. Your agent will help you out here.

Present a Clean House

When the buyers come to see your home, they visualize themselves living in it. Make it easy for them, make them feel that it could be their dream home.

What to do?

  • Remove all your personals. They distract the buyers.
  • Clean, clean and clean. Make your house look well maintained.

 

Apart from that, market your home well, trust your real estate agent and know that the competent professional will bring you more return than you spend on their commission.

If your interested in finding out about the best way to market your home on the Outer Banks give me call.

Ken Baittinger
252-305-5255
ken@outerbanksblue.com

What’s Happening with the Mid-Currituck Bridge

mid-currituck bridgeThat the Outer Banks is a wonderful place to visit is a given. A beautiful setting, soft sand, ideal for a family vacation and reasonably priced compared to most tourist destinations, it makes sense that so many people choose to come.

If there is a consistent complaint from our visitors  though, it is getting here in the summer, especially on weekends, has become a time-consuming undertaking. As it stands right now, most of our visitors come from the north and arrive on the Outer Banks via the Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge that exits at Kitty Hawk.

About a mile past the bridge there is an intersection that leads north to Southern Shores, Duck and Corolla or south to the main towns of the Outer Banks or Hatteras Island. The intersection is inadequate to handle the volume of summer traffic and consequently, traffic regularly backs up to the mainland.

To alleviate traffic at the intersection a bridge spanning Currituck Sound has been seen as the best solution for a number of year. First envisioned in 1978 as part of a planning exercise for the UNC School of Government, the Mid-Currituck Bridge has had to fight for its life since it first became part of North Carolina Department of Transportation plans.

Current Status of the Project

The Mid-Currituck Bridge is included in current North Carolina Department of Transportation plans; however, the start date has been moved back. As recently as 2016, the construction schedule had the bridge completed in 2022. Although still on the books, it is difficult to know when the bridge is scheduled to be completed.

There is an extensive permitting process that is involved in moving any project like the Mid-Currituck Bridge forward, and the most daunting task had been completed in January of 2012 when a Final Environmental Impact Statement was issued. The next step would have been issuing a Record of Decision, but a change in the political makeup of the state legislature created a change in how North Carolina Department of Transportation evaluated projects and the Record of Decision was never issued.

Because of the delay, the Environmental Impact Statement will have to be re-evaluated and how extensive the re-evaluation process is may determine the schedule.

When the bridge was re-included as part of the state’s transportation improvement plan in 2015, a new schedule of completion of the project was issued that had a date of 2022. That date was contingent on a Record of Decision being issued in the spring of this year.

That did not happen and the new Record of Decision date is spring of 2018.

It is unclear how much of an effect that will have on the overall schedule. Typically contracts are not let until the Record of Decision is issued; it is possible contracts could be awarded more quickly than usual in which case the delay would be minimal.

At this point the North Carolina Department of Transportation website lists the opening date as to be determined.

Possible Impacts

North Carolina Department of Transportation projections for traffic growth on the Outer Banks point to the necessity of building the bridge. If and when the bridge is finally built, provided the projections are accurate, the impact on traffic will be dramatic.

At this point in time, people living on the southern Currituck mainland repeatedly express frustration with being trapped in their homes on summer weekends. The bridge should remedy that. Additionally traffic that slows to a crawl through Duck and Southern Shores should move mover efficiently.

The Mid-Currituck Bridge, though, enjoys widespread regional support, not just a vote of confidence from Dare and Currituck County officials.

For the counties that makeup Northeastern North Carolina the Mid-Currituck Bridge represents employment opportunities for their residents. Unemployment rates in neighboring counties tend to be higher than the beach communities and with quicker access to Corolla, the belief is jobs would be available.

Employers in the Corolla area would also like to see the bridge completed. Because there are relatively few year round residents in the area, finding employees to fill summer needs has been a consistent problem and like the neighboring county officials, the bridge is seen as a way to relieve employee shortfalls.

If the bridge is built, it’s difficult to predict what the effect on real estate and business will be. The preferred alternative will connect Aydlett with Corolla, landing in the Outer Banks between Timbuck II and the Whalehead Club.

On the Outer Banks side, the impact will probably be minimal; buildout is continuing regardless of what happens with the bridge.

On the Currituck mainland side, it may be a different story.

There is very little commercial development in the area that will be the corridor for the bridge—at this point it’s farmland and swamp. The swamp is Maple Swamp and is protected wetlands, so there will be no building there, but there may be opportunity in the areas that will allow construction.

Will It Be Built?

That is an interesting question.

The short answer is probably but there are some significant hurdles to cross.

There are still question about how the project will be funded. Plans call for a Private Public Partnership, with financing that will be paid for by tolls. The total cost of the project is approximately $500 million, although that may go up if the delays continue.

Questions have been raised asking if the tolls will be adequate to satisfy repayment of the debt and maintain the bridge.

There is almost certainly going to be a lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The Southern Environmental Law Center has been on record as opposing the project for some time. They have raised concerns about environmental damage and continuing buildout of the Currituck Banks. The organization has presented an alternative plan that would include flyovers at the troublesome intersection and other road improvements.

The plan is similar, although not identical to, one of the alternatives rejected by North Carolina Department of Transportation.

If the Southern Environmental Law Center does sue to stop the project, they will do so after the Record of Decision is issued, since the project is not officially on the books until that time.

Getting to Know the Outer Banks: The Schools

Getting-to-Know-The-Outer-Banks-2-The-SchoolsMoving a family to a new home involves a lot of decisions and some very real concerns. One of the most important considerations for parents is the quality of the education their children are going to receive.

The good news for families coming to the Outer Banks is the schools here are excellent—consistently rated among some of the best in the state.

This article will focus on Dare County Schools; although there are schools in Ocracoke and Corolla, most of the population of the Outer Banks and most of the schools are located in Dare County.

For information on Corolla schools contact Waters Edge Village School, 252-455-9449—a K-8 charter school, or Currituck County Schools, 252-232-2223. For information on the Ocracoke school, K-12, contact Hyde County Schools, 252-926-3281.

Dare County Schools Overview

There are approximately 5100 students in Dare County public schools. The student to teach ration is 13:1, which is notably better than the national average of 16:1.

In North Carolina, teacher pay is determined by the state and public school teachers are state employees. However, county commissioners can provide additional funds for teacher salaries and Dare County commissioners have consistently supported teacher pay. As a consequence, compensation for county teachers is better than surrounding areas. Teachers also tend to be better qualified, with better skills and the turnover rate is low.

The four year graduation rate for Dare County High Schools has been between 93-95% for some time. That is a remarkable achievement and the school system typically ranks in the top ten in the state for graduation rates.

High Schools do participate in the College Promise: Tuition-Free Courses for High School and College Credit program. Juniors and Seniors who meet course and GPA requirements can take college level classes at the College of the Albemarle, a community college that serves northeastern North Carolina. Course credits are fully transferable to any state school in the University of North Carolina system.

There are 10 campuses and 11 schools in the Dare County system. The Alternative High School is housed in First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills.

The Schools

Elementary Schools
Dare County elementary schools are K-5 schools. Although all elementary schools in the system rank well, Kitty Hawk Elementary has consistently stood out as a top tier school in state rankings. Elementary schools in particular feature very active parent participation. School PTOs sponsor annual fairs that are used to finance a number of improvements and programs in the schools. All elementary schools offer after school programs.

Kitty Hawk Elementary
16 South Dogwood Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
Phone: 252-261-2313

First Flight Elementary
107 Veterans Drive
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
Telephone: 252-441-1111

Nags Head Elementary
3100 S. Wrightsville Ave
Nags Head, NC 27959
Phone: 252-480-8880

Manteo Elementary
701 North Highway 64/264
Manteo, NC  27954
Phone: 252-473-2742

Cape Hatteras Elementary
47500 Middle Ridge Trail
Buxton, NC 27920
Phone: 252-995-6196

Middle Schools
Dare County middle schools are grades 6-8. On Hatteras Island the middle school is part of Cape Hatteras Secondary School. In addition to offering a full range of team sports, county middle schools also offer band and chorus.

First Flight Middle School
109 Veterans Drive
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
Phone: 252-441-8888

Manteo Middle School
1000 Hwy 64-264
Manteo, NC 27954
Phone: 252-473-5549

High School

The three Dare County high schools rank very well in statewide evaluations. Manteo and First Flight High Schools do rank higher than Cape Hatteras Secondary School, though.

Cape Hatteras with a limited student body cannot provide the full range of athletic teams that Manteo and First Flight offer. In general, Dare County Schools compete very well in athletics and sometimes excel. The First Flight Men’s Soccer team took home the state title in 2016 and were runners up in 2015.

The schools, though, offer much more than athletics for extra-curricular activities.The three schools have very active arts programs that include award winning jazz bands, outstanding chorale groups and performance of very challenging plays.

As a gage of how popular theatre is at the schools, performances at First Flight and Manteo regularly use 60-100 students in their productions.

First Flight High School
100 Veterans Drive
Kill Devil Hills, NC, 27948
Phone: 252-449-7000

Manteo High School
829 Wingina Avenue
Manteo, NC 27954
Phone: 252-473-5841

Cape Hatteras Secondary School (6-12)
48576 Hwy 12
Buxton, NC 27920
Phone: 252-995-5730

Getting to Know the Outer Banks: Basic Orientation

Getting-to-Know-The-Outer-Banks-1-basic-orientationVacationers find the Outer Banks to be a beautiful and pretty straightforward place to visit—there’s Corolla on the north end, Ocracoke to the south, and everything for the most part is aligned north and south.

However, for anyone who has made the decision to move to the Outer Banks, it quickly becomes apparent this is a more complex area than it appears at first. Different groups, of course, will have different needs and different questions; a retired couple will want to know about cultural activities, maybe a part time job and a social network; a family with children will want to know about the school systems and recreational activities.

There is some knowledge, though, that anyone moving to the Outer Banks will find useful, so we’ll start there and provide more specific information in the future.

Counties, Towns and Communities

From the Virginia state line to Ocracoke is about 125 miles and includes three counties. Currituck is the northernmost, Dare County begins at Duck on the northern end and includes most of the Outer Banks, and Ocracoke is part of Hyde County.

The Outer Banks north of Duck is sometimes referred to as the Currituck Banks and it consists of two communities. Corolla is the area from the county line to the end of the paved section of NC 12; Carova begins at the end of the paved road and extends to the Virginia state line. Carova, the home of the Corolla Wild Mustangs, has no paved roads and is accessible by 4WD vehicle only.

During the summer Corolla is a thriving small city of 40,000-45,000 new residents every week. During the winter the population shrinks to 800 permanent residents including Carova.

The Dare County Outer Banks consists of the northern Outer Banks—Duck to Oregon Inlet, and Hatteras Island or the southern Outer Banks—Oregon Inlet south to Hatteras Village.

The towns of the northern Dare County are, from north to south, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are the original towns of the Outer Banks and have the most concentrated populations and the most services.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore begins in Nags Head and extends south to Ocracoke Island.

After crossing Oregon Inlet, the northern 12 miles of Hatteras Island is Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The first community is Rodanthe, which is the northern most of the Tri-Villages—Rodanthe, Salvo and Waves.

Although they have never boasted large populations, the Tri-Villages have a rich cultural history that extends to colonial times.

After the Tri-Villages the next town south is Avon. Old timers will sometimes refer to it as Kinakeet, which was its original name. In some ways, Avon is the commercial center of Hatteras Island with the only true supermarket and shopping center south of Oregon Inlet.

Between Avon and Buxton there is a beautiful stretch of open road where Cape Hatteras Light is located. The road then goes through Frisco and finally Hatteras Village.

At Hatteras Village there is a ferry to Ocracoke. The only way on or off Ocracoke is by boat…or aircraft. Ocracoke is a beautiful little village with a permanent population of 900.

Local Representation

Neither Corolla nor Carova are incorporated towns, and zoning decisions, local fees and ordinances are made by County Commissioners who meet in the town of Currituck on the mainland. The combined populations of Corolla and Carova elect a County Commissioner who represents them.

The northern Outer Banks towns are incorporated, as is the county seat of Manteo. The towns are responsible for fire and police protection as well as enforcing their own zoning and permitting procedures.

County Commissioners are elected from the incorporated towns and work with the towns on a number of issues. Town and county cooperation was particularly important in developing an Intra-local funding formula for beach nourishment.

None of the communities of Hatteras Island are incorporated and they are represented by a county commissioner.

Rental Property Furnishings

So you have done it.  After weeks, months or maybe even years of debate you have decided to jump into the investment property swimming pool and you aren’t quite sure what is in the water.  You know the numbers based on your dealings with your Outer Banks Blue Sales agent who has shown you the long and steady historical gain of owning property at the OBX, and the decision was obvious.  Congratulations on being an Outer Banks property owner!

The house you have purchased needs some work, but you have plans to make improvements and put it in a vacation rental company’s pool of properties (Outer Banks Blue we hope) to help with the bottom line on the investment.

Over the years I have encouraged vacation rental property owners to keep in mind how lucky they are to have a place to use themselves 9 months of the year to enjoy with their family, but the fact is you have opened up a business on the Outer Banks and you need to approach the ownership of your property in just that manner.  What will help my property stand out and gain repeat clientele?  What should I do with décor and equipping the house for my future guests?  In short, what is your why?  Why your property?!

I was reading an article recently in the Miami Herald where a designer gave some great advice when it comes to décor of your vacation rental property.  “Consider a design that reflects the area where your vacation property is.  Keep the décor universal and look at it as an investment.  This is not a place for fine art, irreplaceable family items or things like bearskin rugs or antlers.”

Amen sister!   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a property and seen family heirlooms, high end art, or furniture that the owner would be upset if someone spilled something on.   As a property owner of a vacation rental you have to get used to the term “cost of doing business” when it comes to décor and guest experience.

Here are some other practical tips that I can pass along from 3 decades of managing properties on the OBX regarding equipping your property:

Rental Property Furnishings

Rental Property FurnishingsYou want furniture to be practical and durable (Cargo or This End Up furniture is neither).  With that said you also should think of style.   You want top dollar for your vacation rental, and just as I said you should not put items in that you get attached to, that doesn’t mean going the cheap route.  Today’s guests know when you cut corners and put inferior items in place.  Be sure you have enough seats for the amount of people your property sleeps, and don’t overcrowd rooms.  There are lots of flooring options, but the latest durable and practical products do not involve carpet.  Think LVT (Luxury vinyl tile that looks just like hardwood), tile or hardwoods.   Costs have come down, and you don’t have to worry about a spilled glass of punch.   Another thing to consider is “solution-dyed fabrics” popularly known as Sunbrealla fabrics.   They hold up incredibly well inside and out.

Rental Property FurnishingsDon’t Block The View

I can’t tell you how many times I go into a property and see potentially great views marred by either plastic vertical blinds (seemingly always with two or three slats missing) or ornate complex pull string/chain draperies on the sliding glass doors.   Keep it simple, but practical here too.  Large curtain rod with wooden loops holding fabric drapes are the way to go.   No strings to get tangled, no plastic blinds to break and fall out, and no instructions needed.

Sleeping Accommodations

The local health departments on the Outer Banks have a renewed emphasis on enforcing permitted sleeping capacity over the past couple of years (two people per bedroom unless your septic permit says otherwise).   No double bunk beds is the rule if you have a septic tank.  Don’t overload your house as it will directly impact the wear and tear on everything else.

There are lots more design and décor tips that we can share on this.   Be on the lookout for our next article on what items bring the biggest return on your investment.

Until then….all the best from the beach!

Contributed by Tim Cafferty, President of Outer Banks Blue.

My Behind The Scenes of HGTV’s Beachfront Bargain Hunt on the Outer Banks

Do you love HGTV?  Of course you do.  Who doesn’t love watching all the home shows and seeing the new decor trends or what property values are in different parts of the country? Or better yet, you watch to see the big reveal at the end.  Whether it’s a renovation show or a house hunting show there’s always the big reveal at the end.  Have you ever wondered how people end up on those shows and what it is like to film a “reality” TV show?  Here’s my experience of 30 minutes of fame from HGTV’s Beachfront Bargain Hunt on the Outer Banks.

My road to TV fame started back in November of 2015.  It was a typical day at the office.  I was sitting at my desk working away when I was interrupted by the phone ringing.  It was a number I did not know, but it came up as a New York number.  Since we have many people from New York that buy and sell vacation rental or second homes on the Outer Banks I was excited that it could be a call for a new listing or a buyer interested in purchasing.  It was neither.

The phone call was from a production company called Magilla.  They film the show Beachfront Bargain Hunt that airs on HGTV.  They explained that they were going to be filming in my area and wanted to know if I would be interested in filming an episode of the show for them.  I was ecstatic!  They explained  the process and the criteria, and my adventure began.

The Search for the Perfect Client

The search began for the perfect client to film the show with me.  The format of the show follows a couple or family that is looking to buy a beach house on a budget.  A real estate agent shows the buyers several homes and then they reveal their choice at the end.  Normally people apply for this show and are prepared.  From what I understand most people are on the show because either they are the buyer, have bought their home already and submit their story and home to be on the show or a real estate agent applies on behalf of their buyers that are already under contract or have recently purchased. But I was sought out and was taken completely off guard.

I had 2 months to submit my client choice to the production company.  Since this is a show about finding a bargain I was up against some tough criteria.  My buyer had to be under contract or had to have recently purchased their home.  The property had to be waterfront or have a water view.  And the price had to be under $400,000.

If you know a thing or two about Outer Banks Real Estate, you know that to find something waterfront for under $400,000 is not an easy task. At the time I had a handful of buyers I was working with all of which were in the market for homes over $600,000 so clearly they weren’t going to work with the budget restrictions. Every day I hoped the phone would ring and it would be a new client that wanted to buy a home with a water view and their budget was only $400,000.

As my deadline approached I still did not have a buyer that met all the criteria. I felt a little bit of heartbreak over potentially miss out on this great opportunity.

One Great Idea Changed Everything

One day in late January I was driving home from photographing a house in Kill Devil Hills and the idea suddenly hit me.  I called my husband, Andy, right away and told him that I had a great idea for the show.  He was a little hesitant as some of my ideas can be a little out there sometimes, but he patiently listened.  I told him we should do the show. He was confused. I explained that we personally met all the criteria for the show.  He asked me who the real estate agent would be if we were the ones acting as the buyer.  I nicely reminded him that we happened to be real estate agents and we could do the show representing ourselves in buying a new home.

Andy and I lived in Corolla for 9 years and had just recently moved to Kitty Hawk.  Our son, Charlie, was getting ready to start kindergarten and we wanted him to attend Kitty Hawk Elementary School so we made the decision to move from Corolla to Kitty Hawk.  Since we are real estate agents we represented ourselves in purchasing our new home.  And our home fit all the criteria.  It was not waterfront, but we do have a water view.

Andy agreed that we didn’t want to miss out on filming and suggested I talk it over with our casting producer to see what they thought.  Later that day I sent an email to the production company with my idea and they said they would have to get approval from HGTV directly since it did not fit their typical format of having a couple and a real estate agent.  The next day I received an email from the producer saying HGTV loved the idea and wanted to proceed.  Now that the first hurdle was jumped, it was then on to the reality that I was going to film a show for HGTV!!

Filming Began

HGTV Beachfront Bargain HuntersFast forward to March of 2016 and it was finally time to film.  I had no idea what to expect.  The production company tried to prep us as much as possible in advance, but it is completely different to actually be there with the crew in person with cameras and lights and fuzzy microphones in my face and people everywhere.  It took 4 days to film our episode.  We did 12-14 hours of filming each day and it was exhausting to say the least.  But what an amazing experience.

We filmed in March, but they wanted us to act as if it were summer.  We had strong winds and cold temps during our 4 days of filming, yet we were in bathing suits on the beach and in shorts and sleeveless tops.  Our teeth were chattering and our bodies were shivering, but somehow we managed to smile through it all and get it done.

Since we had already purchased our home, the portion of the show that has us looking at different homes was more of an example of what we would have done and not actual homes we considered buying.  Before we bought our home we did look at many homes all over Southern Shores, Duck and Kitty Hawk before finally buying the home we did.  So they just recreated the process and we filmed in homes that might have been options we would have considered that all fit the criteria of the show.

HGTV Beachfront Bargain HuntersWe also decided that filming the show would have been easier if we had a script that we could have memorized.  We would walk into a house and they would film our initial reaction and comments and then they would ask us to it again so they could get a different camera angle.  And, “oh yeah please repeat what you just said.”  We were constantly asking “What did we say?” as it was difficult to remember everything we had just said about what we were seeing.  For each room and house we had to film it at least 2-4 different times so they could get different angles of us and the room.  And that doesn’t count all the times they’d yell “CUT” because something wasn’t right or we said something we weren’t supposed to.

We had certain words or phrases that were banned.  You never realize how often you say a particular word or phrase until you’re told you can’t say it.  My word was nice.  I was not allowed to say the word nice.  I quickly discovered that I really like to say the word nice.  They let a few slide here and there, but we had to start several scenes over.

We spent most of one day doing what they called interview scenes.  It was just the two of us sitting somewhere answering questions that you don’t hear asked when watching.  We went to a few local restaurants (thank you Black Pelican and Blue Point for hosting us!), sat on an oceanfront deck(thanks to a wonderful client that allowed us to film at his home) and had several scenes of us driving in our car.  The field producer would ask us a question.  We would have to repeat the question in our answer and then elaborate.  It was the same process for these interview scenes as it was for the house hunting scenes.  We would go through all the questions, think we were done, and they would say that was great now let’s do it again from another angle.  It was grueling at times, but again, an amazing experience.

HGTV Beachfront Bargain HuntersThere were several fun scenes that we got to film too.  Charlie got to go hang gliding off Jockey’s Ridge, we went tubing and boating in the sound, we played at the beach (and in the freezing cold ocean!) and we went cruising in our 1968 Mustang convertible to go crabbing and then had a crab feast with steamed blue crabs in the backyard of our new home.

On the fourth day of filming, after a little over 12 hours, we were finally done.  One of the cameramen has been on the production team since the show started several years ago.  He told us he has filmed hundreds of episodes and has never filmed an episode quite like ours before.  In the typical format of the show, while the real estate agent is filming, the buyers have a break. When the buyers are filming then the agent has a break.  Since we were both the agents and the buyers we had to do it all.

When it was all over we were exhausted and excited.  But then the waiting game began.  The production company wasn’t sure when the episode was going to air, but told us it could be 10 to 12 months.  They were right!

Our episode finally aired on HGTV on Sunday January 8th, 2017.  Originally, we were told it would be late January, but they moved our episode up to early January. This gave us very little time to get the word out to our friends, family, and clients.  There will be a second airing of the show in the near future.  If you missed the show in January and would like to be notified of the next airing, please send me an email. I’d be happy to let you know when it airs again.

Have you ever wanted to be on HGTV?  If so, contact me. I have been in talks with a production company to film 4 more episodes.  The criteria is a bit different, but if you are thinking of buying a home in the Outer Banks we would love to be part of your story!

Getting your Home Exterior into Shape

Full time residents and visitors alike will agree that the Outer Banks comes alive the second the weather even mildly resembles that of the spring. Children of the neighborhoods congregate and neighbors enjoy conversations sitting on the front porch with the nice breeze. With the spring weather comes spring cleaning. Spring cleaning should not just apply to the interior of the home. The exterior of homes should be considered in the process and a few changes can increase home value and curb appeal. Functional outdoor living space is a trend that is here to stay. Focusing on the outside of your home can not only increase the value, but can also create a wonderful and enjoyable space to entertain and relax all year long. With spring around the corner, now is the perfect time to consider making some changes to the outside of your home.

exterior beach style porchPeople often only worry about the interior of the home, but often the exterior could use a face-lift. A fresh new color outside or just pressure washing will make a noticeable difference. A fun bright color applied to the front door will add a pop of color to your home to make it stand out and increase the curb appeal. Front door hardware is another area which may be in need of an update and is often overlooked. To add a personal touch while also increasing curb appeal, update your house numbers. To make a home really stand out and look finished, consider adding shutters to the windows. By adding shutters, you can turn a drab and boring house into a polished home. While black or white will always work, choosing a brighter and fun color will make the home pop and stand out amongst all the plain houses around. Any or all of those ideas are worth considering this spring to give the exterior of your home a revamp.

exterior victorian landscapeNumber one on the to-do list for the spring is often landscaping. Having maintained and visually appealing yard shows that you take pride in your home and it is well cared for. Maintained yards also make homes look clean and tidy. Saving your money and your time can be done by investing in low maintenance vegetation. There are many options for hardy plants that require minimal upkeep. Edging walkways with flowers, rocks, or shrubs are very visually appealing. Lighting around the walkways link and extend of living to the outside space.

exterior mediterranean patioLinking the indoor living area to the outdoor living area adds additional functional living space to a home. Maximize your outdoor living space will create a wonderful place to enjoy and entertain. Adding a fireplace outside complete with comfortable furnishings is an area that can be enjoyed year-round. There are many options available for outdoor cushions and pillows that are mostly waterproof and can be easily cleaned. You can tie in the colors of the cushions and pillows with outdoor planters with coordinating flowers. A huge trend that is also functional is the outdoor kitchen and dining area. Imagine grilling out in your grilling area with food you prepared on your stone countertop in your outdoor kitchen. Many outdoor kitchens have their own refrigerators, storage, sinks, and even pizza ovens. Patios with dining areas are great for entertaining and really enjoying the wonderful weather of the Outer Banks.

Outside living is something that can be enjoyed year-round, so it is important to consider changing it up so you will not only extend your living area but create a visually appealing home that exemplifies pride and gratification. No matter how long the winter may seem, spring is sure to follow, so make this spring the one for revamping, redecorating, and renewing the exterior of your home.

Outer Banks Real Estate Sales Update

As an Outer Banks real estate agent for 31 year I’ve heard these questions almost every day, “How is the market?,” “What is selling?,” “How is my neighborhood doing?,” etc.

To answer these questions we put together an Inventory Matching Market Analysis for the market my team works from which includes Corolla through South Nags Head, Colington Island and Colington Harbour and Lower Currituck County:

Single Family, Condos & Townhomes
Inventory Matching 12-2-15 through 12-2-16
Price Range # Ave/Month %
$100,000 – $149,999 46 3.8333 3.9519%
$150,000 -$199,999 110 9.1667 9.4502%
$200,000 – $249,999 159 13.2500 13.6598%
$250,000 – $299,999 199 16.5833 17.0962%
$300,000-$349,999 142 11.8333 12.1993%
$350,000-$399,999 120 10.0000 10.3093%
$400,000-$449,999 79 6.5833 6.7869%
$450,000-$499,999 76 6.3333 6.5292%
$500,000-$549,999 49 4.0833 4.2096%
$550-000-$599,999 37 3.0833 3.1787%
$600,000-$649,999 12 1.0000 1.0309%
$650,000-$699,999 19 1.5833 1.6323%
$700,000-$749,999 14 1.1667 1.2027%
$750,000-$799,999 14 1.1667 1.2027%
$800,000-$849,999 10 0.8333 0.8591%
$850,000-$899,999 9 0.7500 0.7732%
$900,000-$949,999 11 0.9167 0.9450%
$950,000-$999,999 7 0.5833 0.6014%
$1,000,000-$1,099,999 7 0.5833 0.6014%
$1,100,000-$1,199,999 3 0.2500 0.2577%
$1,200,000-$1,299,999 7 0.5833 0.6014%
$1,300,000 – $1,399,999 7 0.58 0.6014%
$1,400,000 – $1,499,999 3 0.25 0.2577%
$1,500,000 – $1,599,999 3 0.25 0.2577%
$1,600,000 – $1,699,999 4 0.33 0.3436%
$1,700,000 – $1,799,999 4 0.33 0.3436%
$1,800,000 – $1,899,999 1 0.08 0.0859%
$1,900,000 – $1,999,999 3 0.25 0.2577%
$2,000,000 – + 9 0.75 0.7732%
TOTAL 1164 97.00 98.9691%

Current Inventory 12/20/2012  = 957 Homes for sale (a 10 month absorption rate).
Average Sales price = $410,000.
67% of sales were between $200,000 and $500,000.
Southern Shores North = 421 Homes Sold (36%) (Average Sales price = $559,000).
Corolla Sales = 238 Homes Sold (20%).

We had 1164 sales the past year, with +/- 1 – 5% of the previous two years. 957 homes currently for sale. A 10 month absorption rate or 10 month supply.

BUYERS VERSUS SELLERS MARKET:  The National Association of REALTORS chief economist suggest that when there is a six month supply of active listings (unsold inventory) the market is neutral or balanced with any equal number of buyers and sellers.  My experience indicates that a five to eight month supply is the range for a generally balanced market; that a seller’s market is when there is a three month or less supply; and that a buyer’s market exists when there is a twelve month or great supply.  Prices generally react faster in a seller’s market than in a buyer’s market since the individual home owner will raise their price quickly but will resist lowering their price.   This is a basic function of the human trait of “greed”.

Our average sales price is $410,000 and our market “sweet spot,” the price range where 65% to 75% of the sales occur, is between $200,000 to $500,000. 67% of all sales fall in this price range.

Our most productive range is between $250,000 and $299,999 where 17% (1 in 6) of all homes are selling.  This market overlaps year round/2nd home purchases.

For Southern Shores, Duck and Corolla the average sales price is $559,000. 20% of all sales are in Corolla.

I hope this information is helpful! Maybe a little more information than the answer.  But as my old friend Ed Rabbel would say, “it’s picking up.” He was a garbage man!

The Best Real Estate MarketFor more detailed information on the current state of the Outer Banks real estate market, please feel free to call Danny or Danielle Fenyak at (252) 256-1818 or email him at dfenyak@outerbanksblue.com.