All I want for Christmas is… A Beach House

Christmas beach houseSo if your office is anything like mine at this time of the year it is less than a finely tuned machine running at full speed. Between the 2nd week of December and the end of the year we have staff out of the office for just under 100 days of combined work. It seems that when you call on any service firm (plumber, surveyor, electrician, etc.) to perform a job at this time of year the story is the same “sorry, we aren’t going to get to that until after the first of the year, you know with the holidays and all we just can’t get it done.”

The same may thought to be true in real estate sales at this time of year as many of our local attorneys on the Outer Banks close for that week between Christmas and New Year’s day (making it very difficult to get a sale closed and recorded), but hold on just a jingle bell minute. I am here to tell you….you never know!

There are still properties going under contract and selling at this time of the year. There is no reason to think that just because winter is arriving this month that sales on the Outer Banks go into a deep freeze. In fact if the property is listed at the right price you just never know when it will sell so be ready!

Just this past week I had notice of a property going under contract in Corolla and the buyer wants to close on the transaction before Christmas. That is less than 3 weeks between contract and close! This is a very unusual circumstance as most properties take 45 or more days to close, but it does happen that we get serious buyers and short closing times at this time of the year.

But the story to beat all is several years ago I was in real estate sales and had the experience of a real estate lifetime.

I was in the office on Christmas Eve morning wrapping up some loose ends before heading out to visit family that evening. I had some shopping to do and was organizing myself to head to the mall and do just that. As you can imagine from the 1st paragraph in this article that indeed things were pretty slow around the office. I was there, one of our receptionists was there, and someone in the accounting department was working for a half day that day as the company owner was closing the office at noon on Christmas Eve. Well imagine my surprise when I was called to the lobby to meet a prospective buyer who walked in and wanted to see a real estate agent to show some real estate. On Christmas Eve!

That surprise turned to stunned silence when I met the man, exchanged pleasantries and he promptly announced he wanted to buy his wife a beach house for Christmas.

Three hours later we had an offer to purchase written, and by 6 PM that night I had a copy of a full price cash contract to sell a house to this gentleman which he photocopied and presumably put under his Christmas tree for the Christmas present of a lifetime for his wife (no she did not see the house before he contracted to buy it). Talk about a Christmas miracle!  It was truly an unbelievable situation. To top it off the transaction closed without incident 2 weeks later.

Of course that doesn’t happen often (in fact I’ve never heard of it happening before or since), but it just goes to show you that as a seller you never know the motivation or timing of a buyer. As the great showman and World Wrestling Federation champion “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair said once “You don’t have to get ready – when you stay ready.”

Happy Holidays!

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.

7 Reasons Why This Is The Best Real Estate Market In 5 Years

Let’s take a moment and review why this is the greatest Real Estate market we’ve seen in the last 5 to 7 years. There are 7 very specific reasons why it is, although I’m sure I’m missing a few, which is motivating many, including your friends and family, and maybe even you, to consider buying or selling in 2015.

7 Reasons Why This Is The Best Real Estate Market In 5 Years

  1. Interest rates are extremely low and are projected to rise over the next 12 months.  3.625% now vs. 5.25% according to the Association of Realtors’ projection, which equals a 9% savings!
  2. The banks have money to lend and are lending it. They’ve had a lot of money for a long time and because of the nature of the market they are now starting to lend that money out.
  3. Prices in most areas of the Outer Banks are incredibly low because of the recession we’ve experienced.
  4. The inventory is low, partially because of the shrinkage in the REO side, and because demand is building.
  5. There’s a tremendous number of first time buyers for primary, second, and vacation homes in the marketplace because of points one through four.
  6. The appraisers are finally playing nice for the first time in a long time, which always makes everybody happy.
  7. In the U.S. there is a national election coming up in November 2016 and the market always gets better before a national election.

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 Denyak at (252) 256-1818 or email him at dfenyak@outerbanksblue.com.

5 Reasons Why Now Is The Perfect Time To Buy Outer Banks Real Estate

Outer Banks real estateA home on the beach exudes a certain appeal unlike any other, and Outer Banks real estate offers some of the most beautiful beachfront properties you will ever see. In the midst of work demands, family conflicts, and fatigue, it is easy to imagine yourself relaxing on the front porch of your oceanfront home, sipping a cool drink, and breathing in the fresh salt air. If this dream sounds too good to be true, think again! If you have ever considered purchasing a home on the Outer Banks, now is the time to make that dream a reality.

5 Reasons To Make Your Dream Come True

The current state of the economy has created the ideal climate in which to purchase a new home at the Outer Banks. In real estate, this is known as a buyer’s market. Here are five reasons to consider purchasing an Outer Banks home this year:

  • The economy is turning around. The economy has just experienced a significant recession, but now it has turned. Unemployment rates are falling, desirable jobs can be found more easily, and most people feel more stable financially. As financial pressures ease and the economy begins supporting positive gains, it will be more feasible to find an affordable home that meets your expectations.
  • Foreclosures for sale. The economic downturn meant that many people were not able to make the payments on their homes. These homes went into foreclosure and can now be purchased for a fraction of the original cost. Many Outer Banks homes have reached the lowest prices realtors have seen, and they may not ever be this low again. You can benefit from these low prices by acting now to get a wonderful deal on a luxurious island home.
  • Lower property taxes than many other resort areas. Many resort areas have notoriously high property taxes, creating a financial burden for people seeking to own a home there. The Outer Banks, however, has lower property taxes than many other coastal resort markets, meaning that you can own and maintain a property in the Outer Banks much more affordably than you could elsewhere.
  • Low interest rates. Interest rates can sometimes make or break a sale. Right now, interest rates continue to remain at historically low rates. These low rates drive the current buyer’s market and make it easy to purchase a home. You can get an attractive interest rate even on a large loan, meaning that the home you want to buy may be more affordable than you thought.
  • Year-round activities. The Outer Banks boasts some of the best fishing, hunting, and water sports recreation you’ll find on the East Coast. But don’t think of it as a summer destination only. During the fall, you’ll enjoy balmy weather, fewer crowds, and some of the Outer Banks’ best cultural offerings. In addition, the water is still warm enough for swimming, while chilly evenings allow for a crackling fire in the fireplace. If you’re considering a Christmas visit, you won’t be disappointed! The Outer Banks holiday calendar is chock full of festive, family-friendly events. Enjoy twinkling Christmas lights, attend the First Flight celebration, indulge in island Christmas shopping, and visit Santa at some of the area parades or special events. And of course, spring offers many attractions as well, giving you the opportunity to relish the beauty of nature before the summer tourist season begins.

Making Your Dreams Come True

A dream isn’t just a wish your heart makes; it also requires some effort to make it a reality. Your first step in purchasing your Outer Banks dream home should be to talk with a realtor about your options. Whether you’re looking for a small, low-cost home where you can put your feet up in the evenings after a day in the sun or a luxurious coastal home designed for entertaining and relaxation, your realtor will show you a variety of options that fit your needs and price expectations.

Once you know what homes are available, you can visit them to gain a better feel for the islands and for the houses themselves. Your realtor can help you research tax records, interest rates, available foreclosures and area attractions that may influence your buying decision.

Whether your ideal island getaway includes a full schedule of activities or whether you plan to spend your days lounging on the beach, your home will serve as the staging ground for many years of memories and relaxation. Low prices and interest rates combined with a favorable economy mean that you have more purchasing power now than you may see again for many years. If you’ve been longing for a home at the Outer Banks, now is the time to make that dream a reality. Your beach home is waiting!