August 2020 OBX Market Report

How does inventory truly affect the real estate market? In a big way!!

Take a look at these two charts outlining the absorption rate for each location. FYI – absorption rate is a breakdown of how many months it would take to sell out the current inventory based on number of homes selling each month. This is important because it is the primary factor in determining if there is a rising, stable, stagnant or declining market (see graph below for more explanation).

 

As you can see, every location has experienced a decline in the amount of available inventory, some a very dramatic and sharp decline.  This is the precursor to the next step, rising prices.  It’s important we see prices rise gradually, over time, or we will experience another cycle like we saw in 2005.  I don’t think anyone wants to do that over again.

Bottom line, if you are on the fence about buying or selling, jump!  The market is ready for you.  To strategize to your specific needs, please contact me.

 

July 2020 OBX Market Report

A lot of people have been asking me why the market has suddenly taken a turn. Fortunately this time, it’s a really good turn! The answer is quite simple if we take a look at the history of these real estate cycles.

I’ve been saying for over a decade now that these cycles, in recorded history, generally take about 20 years each turn. This is proven true over and over for the last 80 plus years. So, if we take a look at the last few cycle timelines, it just makes sense for this to be happening right now.

1985/6 – Real estate was booming – then – stock market issues, S&L crisis began
1988/9 – Things really fell apart – prices were at an all time high.
1998 – Prices started to return to the pre-boom spot (I specifically remember an oceanfront lot in Sanderling that we couldn’t give away for $250,000)
2000 – Activity went through the roof – the 10% ratio was introduced – property was selling fast, but no discernible increase in pricing, as the recovery was still in place.
2003 – 2005 – All hell broke loose. Prices soared, inventory was low, multiple offers on almost everything. We all remember those years.
2008/2009 – Once again, 20 years later another mortgage crisis and the whole thing fell apart.
2010 – 2019 – Very volatile times, especially for the northern beaches.
2020 – Once again, 20 years later we have another BOOM in activity, some areas are seeing a little boost in price, but overall no real trackable difference. It’s coming though!

All that being said, if you are thinking about buying – rates and prices are still quite reasonable. Income is high. I wouldn’t wait.

If you have been wanting to sell, get this…as of this week there are 850 properties under contract and only 792 single family homes active for sale. This is what anyone watching would call the “tipping point”.

I have seen in the last couple of weeks, multiple homes that have been for sale for YEARS, finally going under contract. Pay attention friends, it’s about to be another wild ride!

Here are some weekly stats to consider: (I’ve always said who needs a crystal ball when you track the statistics. This tells us everything we need to know.)

A new strategy is now needed to meet your real estate goals. If you would like to discuss the best strategy for you, please contact me right away!

What To Expect When Expecting To Buy a Home on the OBX

What to expect when you’re expecting…to buy a home on the Outer Banks!

Navigating the home buying process can be a complex process. Knowing in advance what to expect regarding the condition of the home can make it a lot smoother. Here are the main things to consider regarding this process.

1. Create realistic expectations on condition. In most cases these homes are anywhere from 20 to 40 years old. The main reasons the condition might not be where a buyer is expecting it are:

  • We live in an environment that has harsh weather and it is tough on these homes
  • Most homes are rented anywhere from 15 to 25 weeks a year with multiple families occupying them. Wear and tear is going to happen
  • Since this isn’t the primary home, owners aren’t seeing it every day and often aren’t aware of what needs to be done
  • No one else is telling them about things that need to be addressed
  • Most homes are owned for several decades and owners get to an age where it’s more difficult to do the work themselves
  • Finding and managing good contractors from a distance is a challenge, especially as owners age
  • Sellers have disengaged from the property – this happens for many, many reasons.

2. It is standard language in our Offer To Purchase contract for North Carolina that buyers are purchasing the home “AS-IS”. Yet many buyers are never told this. When you make an offer to purchase a home you need to factor in the condition/maintenance items that you can already visibly see into the offer price. Once you settle on a price and go under contract, it’s important to remember those items have already been accounted for.

So many times we see great deals go awry because the buyer is never educated on how to handle the home inspection results. This can create some unnecessary difficulties
and even result in the buyer terminating the contract on a great home, simply because they didn’t understand the process.

Here’s the actual language from the contract:

Paragraph 4(c) Buyer acknowledges and understands that unless the parties agree otherwise, THE PROPERTY IS BEING SOLD IN ITS CURRENT CONDITION. Buyer and Seller acknowledge that they may, but are not required to, engage in negotiations for repairs/improvements to the Property.

As you can see, it is not mandatory, nor really expected for the seller to agree to repairs after the initial agreement is signed. It is imperative that a thorough, on-site review of the property is conducted prior to making the initial offer so that all visible maintenance items are considered in the pricing strategy. The goal when listing a home is to have it priced in relation to those items to begin with. However, it is important to understand value is relative from person to person.

3. What exactly is the purpose/scope of a home inspection? There are several things to consider about the home inspection process. The primary function of a home inspection is the following:

  • Find hidden defects
  • Building code check – for information purposes. It is not realistic to require a seller to bring every outdated code up to par
  • Professional opinion of the functionality of the main systems of the home
  • Expanded review of the home (attics, roof, crawl space, etc)
  • Inspectors are paid to find problems. No home is perfect and items will be found commensurate with the age of the home. It’s important to have that expectation up front.

4. Because of the nature of the in depth inspection, it is not uncommon for unexpected issues to be revealed. How do we then handle the unexpected?

  • First, quickly remember Paragraph 4(c), the seller is not under any obligation to do anything at all.
  • We need to quickly organize some quotes so we know exactly what we are dealing with, even if the buyer is going to take on the repairs.
  • We have to decide whether we want the seller to actually fix the issues or if we want to receive a credit at closing instead. There are pros and cons to both of these.
  • We need to share the report with the seller so they can be educated on the condition of things
  • Recognize once these items are discovered they become a material defect that will have to be disclosed to any future buyers, should the buyer decide to walk away.
  • Prioritize the list of repairs that are important, rather than just asking for the entire list to be addressed. Especially since we already factored into our pricing strategy the items we could already see.
  • Understand that perfect condition will be reflected in the price. Chances are the home is already priced commensurate to the condition and age.

Main walkaway points:

  • Be realistic – you’re not buying a brand new home
  • Be flexible and willing to compromise – no house is going to be perfect
  • Weigh out the options – don’t lose a great house over a few needed repairs

Checklist For Readiness

It’s no secret the real estate market on the Outer Banks is starting to shift. Even as we move into a seller’s market, keep in mind a majority of our home sales are secondary homes. This means more than 50% of our home buyers will spend up to 2 years searching for the right home. They can do that because they aren’t physically moving into the home.

Being a discretionary purchase, they have the time to wait for the right house. That means even if you have the upper hand in terms of lower inventory and potentially rising prices, buyers still want what they want. Your home can still sit on the market for a prolonged period of time if it’s not set up to sell in today’s real estate market.

We’ve put together a checklist of readiness to ensure your home can hit the market and sell for the best price in the fastest time frame. Consider the following market statistics:

  • In 2019 there were 1,842 single family homes sold
  • Currently there are only 1,079 single family homes listed for sale
  • Almost 60% (58%) of all properties sell in the first 90 days
  • Median days on market is 69
  • They are selling within 4% to 5% of asking price

If closed sales for January and current Under Contract numbers are at record highs, we could easily see 2020 hit the 2,000 single family homes sold mark. That means we barely have half the homes on the market right now that could potentially sell this year.

The following checklist is designed to get you the most for your home in the current market.

1. Have a Home Inspection
Let’s face it, the last time we had this kind of market shift in 2000, a home built in 1985 was only 15 years old. Today, that home is now 35 years old. In the extreme weather environment we have on the OBX, a lot can happen in 35 years. If your home is more than 10 years old, you need a pre-listing home inspection. The number one cause for deals to fall apart is a home inspection revealing more than the eye can see. Buyers get nervous and walk. When that happens, the entire world knows your home sold, then un-sold, and everyone wants to know why. The items discovered will most likely become a material fact and have to be disclosed to future buyers. If an inspection is done beforehand, major items can be addressed and taken care of. End of story. There is no reason to list your home blindly and set yourself up to negotiate the “unknown” 2 to 3 weeks into a sale.

2. Maintenance items
Even if a home inspection reveals no issues, sometimes systems will be at the end of. their life expectancy. Buyers today do not want to walk into automatic maintenance without expecting a deep discount. If your 20 year roof is on year 18, it is wise to replace it. There’s no guarantee you can add that cost to the top of your asking price, but what it can do is sway a buyer towards your property versus another. The number one concern for buyers today is condition. Your home does not become more valuable because the systems work. However, it does immediately become more saleable.

3. Powerwash/Clean
This should be a no-brainer, yet all the time I show or preview homes that look like they’ve been abandoned. Everyone likes things that look nice. Take an honest look at your home’s exterior and interior. One of the easiest spaces to turn off a buyer is the carport and outside shower area. Buyers say all the time, you can tell how well the owners have cared for this home by how those areas look. Clean up the leaves, sand, junk that can accumulate. Power wash the gunk off the decks and siding. Get the interior a nice spring clean. First impressions don’t generally get a do-over.

4. Prepare the entry way
What will buyers see as they approach your home, climb the stairs and enter the front door? Is it inviting? Is the door rotted or rusted. Does the key work easily? Are there spider webs or over grown plants and weeds? This will set the tone for the entire showing. Sometimes buyers will change their mind about seeing a home all together if the entry isn’t pleasant. Be mindful of the best way to enter your home. If your electronic keypad is on a door that isn’t the best entry, insist on giving your agent a key to the best entrance and have buyers go in that way. I recently went into preview a $750,000 home that was quite lovely. The entrance had imported tile, great artwork and felt very welcoming. The agent gave me a keycode that opened a door to an empty two car, cold, garage. This is not the first impression you want.

5. Yardwork
No matter what time of year you list your home for sale, take a good look at the landscape of your yard, which is the main aspect of curb appeal. Having branches scraping the side of your car as you pull into the driveway is not a good look! Do what you can to clean it up for whatever is appropriate for the season.

6. Declutter or staging
Whether you live in the home or it’s your vacation home, have a professional eye look and give advice on how to stage it to sell. Most people need to see space, rather than. stuff, in order to envision themselves in your home. Less is more when it comes to wall hangings and nick-knacks. Updating bedspreads and shower curtains is an easy way to give the home a fresh look. If the home is being sold furnished, some fresh, beachy furnishings can make all the difference.

7. Upgrades
With the new HGTV culture, buyers expect homes to be already updated. This type of preparation can take several months to do. These are the things you want to plan 6 months to a year before you list your home for sale. Depending on whether you live there or rent, everyone can also get a chance to enjoy the upgrades as well. Before spending any money, decide what your budget is and have an agent come over to advise the best use of that money. Some updates will prove a better return than others. We talk to hundreds of buyers a year, so we have a clear idea of what will get you the most for your money. Be prepared though, construction costs have doubled in the last 10 years. You’ll want to really follow a plan to stay on budget and get the most out of it.

8. Property Management Details
With the growing popularity of VRBO and Air BnB type of rental arrangements, there are some real challenges when selling. Those types of reservations, when done solely through the property owner, are automatically not transferrable when selling. If a buyer is relying on the income of your home to make the purchase, you could run into some real issues at the closing table. Even if you are renting through a traditional property management company, there can be cancellation fees you incur if the new buyer doesn’t stick with the company. It’s becoming increasingly more important to employ the proper timing strategy to sell, depending on the source of your weekly guests. Talking to an agent ahead of listing about how the transfer works will help avoid any major stresses once the home is under contract.

COVID-19 & the OBX Real Estate Market

The real estate market is adapting quite well to the current restrictions and Stay at Home order that is in place for North Carolina. While we are doing some things the same, since our market is largely based on out of town property owners, many things have changed to keep things going smoothly.

Here’s what’s new:
1. Virtual Showings – While my listings always feature high end professional photography, this week I’m also getting them all set up with 3D Virtual Tours. This will give prospective buyers the feeling of actually being in the room. We are doing FaceTime and Zoom showings for buyers as well.

2. Virtual Open House – Our local MLS is implementing a new feature to promote and hold and Open House virtually. The details of this feature are still being released. This is an exciting update to a market like ours. I can see this being a great new tool used on the regular after this event is over. I’ll be setting up a few of these in the next week. Contact me if you’d like to participate.

3. Appraisals – Local lenders have assured me that when it makes sense, underwriters are giving appraisers the green light to perform desktop appraisals. This way, properties with high risk inhabitants don’t have to be exposed, yet we can still make progress on the sale of the home.

4. Lenders – With the IRS unable to process any transcript requests before closing, our local lenders have been authorized to skip that requirement for the time being. It will no longer be needed to receive a clear to close. This is showing great versatility and willingness to keep transactions moving.

5. Virtual Closings – While NC does not currently support virtual notaries, you may be in a state that does. We have been doing out of town closings as long as I’ve been in the business, so that part of it is nothing new. Virtual notaries are approved in 35 states. So if you have a closing coming up and need documents notarized check and see if they can do it online instead.

6. COVID-19 Addendum – NC Realtors did quickly create and distribute a special addendum regarding this pandemic that allows buyers and sellers to have a little more time to close if delays occur related to the shutdowns. It also allows the buyer to cancel if they get laid off and become unable to close due to not obtaining loan approval. Lenders will still be verifying employment 5 days before closing.

7. Some not so welcome news – minimum credit scores have been raised to 640 or 680, depending on lender. This is up from 580 minimum. We are also seeing some lenders no longer locking in Jumbo rates. So we may see Jumbo loan guidelines get an overhaul and be much stricter (anything over $510,400), and some no longer doing these loans at all for a while.

Overall, it’s all about adapting. Which we are doing. If you are thinking about buying or selling, we can still make that happen for you.

In fact, of the 112 properties that have gone under contract in the last 30 days, more than 50% of them were also just listed in the same 30 days. Some will be more comfortable moving forward at this time, and some won’t. Either way, please let me know how I can help.

Vendor List

It’s that time of year again!  Time to start planning those spring cleans and updates to get the house ready for the season.  Below is a list of vendors I can personally verify to do a good job, show up and charge a reasonable fee. Be sure to give them my name!!!

If you need a vendor not listed below, let me know!

Small Construction & Repair:

Daniel A. Lee
252-599-3904

Landscaping:

Chase Patterson
Albemarle Landscapes
252-256-1883
[email protected]

Jason Woodard
Green Gator Lawn Care
252-204-1537
[email protected]

Carpet Care/Upholstery Cleaning:

Steve Howard
Howards Flooring & Upholstery
252-305-2293

Painting:

John Lifsey 
Kitty Hawk Painting
252-261-1146 office, 252-207-3366 cell

Roofing:

Marion Gee
252-267-5110

Redecorating/Organizing/Staging:

Amy Hilliker Klebitz
Certified Interior Design
910-297-8566
[email protected]
www.amyklebitz.com

Shearl Bell
252-202-3200

Mortgage/Refinance:

Drew Wright
Citizens One
252-256-2018                                                                                                                [email protected]

Kelly Bergenstock
252-619-9037
Shane Cook
Guaranteed Rate
252-207-2665

February 2020 OBX Market Update

For 2020, it looks like good news for the OBX market finally!  Some spots are really on fire right now.  My prediction is we should see some pretty steady growth in the area for the next 3 to more likely 5 years.  This is right in line with the 20 year cycle I’ve mentioned before.  If you remember 2000, we had the big building boom, we started seeing inventory levels drop and noticed a feeling of something big happening.

This is the same feeling we have right now.  Inventory levels are low, interest rates are super low and activity is on the rise.  Here are the specifics:

  • January residential sales were up 22% over January 2019
  • January 2020 had the highest January sales numbers since 2005
  • Under contract numbers for January are up 18% from Jan 2019 and are even up 17% just compared to December 2019
  • Residential inventory is down 11%

Let’s now look at how each area is performing:

Corolla

306 Active Listings      36 Under Contract      10.5% of inventory selling

Duck

68 Active Listings        21 Under Contract      24% of inventory selling

Southern Shores

47 Active Listings           9 Under Contract      17% of inventory selling

Kitty Hawk

35 Active Listings        18 Under Contract      35% of inventory selling

Kill Devil Hills

101 Active Listings      44 Under Contract      31% of inventory selling

Nags Head

121 Active Listings      44 Under Contract      27% of inventory selling

While Corolla is still behind the curve, I do feel like this may be the last year it’s struggling.  It’s about time for a turn around.

If you are thinking of selling now, or in the next year or two, please give me a call so we can discuss what needs to be done to get your home ready for the market.  Buyers needs have changed quite a bit.  To ensure a fast sale for the most money, you’ll need to put your home through my proven checklist of readiness.

2019 OBX Market Report

Being a Listing Specialist requires a certain level of understanding of the local market statistics. Taking an in depth look at the trends causing homes to sell is critical to knowing the big picture.

In the chart presented below, I’ve broken down the relationship between the following:

  • The number of days a home took to sell – which means receive a ratified contract
  • The percentage of final sales price to the original listing price
  • The percentage of final sales price to the listing price at the time of sale

Each of these figures on its own tells a lot, and when combined into a complete picture, tells us many more things. Here are the basic takeaways from this particular data:

  • Out of 2,142 total sales, 32% sold in 30 days or less
  • The homes selling in the fastest amount of time receive the highest percentage of asking price as the final selling price – 97%
  • Properties sold in 31 to 60 days make up 15% of all sold
  • Yet, it seems even these quick sales a small adjustment in price was needed
  • 47% of all properties sold last year did so in 60 days or less

With nearly half of all sales taking place in 2 months time, it presents a clear picture that buyers are ready and willing to take action when they find the right property. Selling at 97% and 95 of asking price, this tells us that price is the main attraction to their fast action. They see value and move quickly.

What does overpricing your home actually cost? Notice the bottom 20% of properties sold, took 6 months to over 1 year to sell.

  • Final sales price was 12% to 17% lower than the original asking price
  • Continue paying monthly for a home they no longer want to own
  • Any repair issues that may have popped up
  • Additional repairs requested from buyer during the sale from inspections
  • Missed opportunity cost from waiting it out

Overall what we can take away from this kind of detailed analysis is, pricing your home to fit the current market conditions will actually net you more in the end. This is why as a highly skilled agent, I’ve learned to always ask you the question – Is it more important to get your price, or to get the home sold?

I’ve studied the data and know, you’ll net more by approaching the market with a value-based price than by “leaving room to negotiate.” That is an outdated strategy that just doesn’t work anymore.

December 2019 OBX Market Report

This month I want to take some time out to go over from a linear perspective, why the Outer Banks market is still experiencing some challenges.  Below you’ll find a snapshot review from 2005 in three year increments to show how things have transitioned during this particular market cycle.

Year                Units sold      Average Price sold

2005                   2104               $555,973

2008                   1045               $427,718

2011                     1333               $370,569

2014                     1611               $370,351

2017                     1995               $385,774

2019                     1959               $401,186

Here’s what this tells us:

  • 2005 was considered the peak
  • 2008 was the beginning of the decline, starting with a 50% drop in units sold
  • 2011 – 2014 was the lowest point for price, showing a 32% drop for the overall OBX market (some areas it was a higher percentage)
  • Units sold has made an incredible rebound from the peak in 2005 with only a 7% difference in the number of homes sold from then to 2019
  • Average price has only recovered by 5% since 2011
  • Average price is still 28% less than the peak in 2005
  • In 8 years, the pricing has changed by only 5% for the entire market

You can see here that while we are selling almost as many homes as before, the appreciation has been extremely slow.  Thus, expecting the price of your home to change drastically in a short period of time on the Outer Banks has proven to be non-existent.

This can also explain why if you purchased a home on the Outer Banks between 2009 and 2017, there may not be much, if any change to the market value of your home.  This is more amplified on the Northern Beaches (Corolla, Duck, 4 Wheel Area) as those pockets of our market are still experiencing an excess of 14 months of inventory.

Without strategic timing, real estate still remains a long-term investment for maximum return.  If you have been thinking about selling your home, consider the following:  If this cycle mimics the last century of recorded history, we are right about year 11 of a 20 year cycle.  Based on that, we should start to see prices really making changes around 2023 – 2025.

Keep in mind though, buyers’ demands have changed.  They no longer want to put in sweat equity, they want homes move-in ready with updates already done.  If you want to wait out the market for the next up cycle, now is the time to start planning any maintenance and upgrades to make your home more valuable and saleable.  If you would like a list of where to best spend your remodeling dollars, send me an email and I will get that to you.  Construction costs have changed drastically since I first began my career in 1997.  Most projects have nearly doubled in cost.  It is prudent to get a trained professional to give you some guidance on how to get the most out of your home projects.

Lending Worksheet

Thinking of buying a vacation property or second home on the Outer Banks? Here’s a quick
look at the most important information to know as you begin the process. While none of these
are absolute hard and fast rules, here are some basic guidelines to create the easiest and best
experience.

Securing the best rate requires:

  • Credit scores of 740 or higher
  • Non-Conforming loans allow a 43% debt to income ratio, 45% on Conforming
    (exceptions apply)
  • Tangible assets are key (i.e.: checking, savings, 401K etc.)

Second Home MUST do’s for best experience:

  • 20% or more down payment
  • Live at least 50 miles away
  • Must have access at least 2 weeks of the year- no full-time tenants
  • Use a local lender – Out of town lenders won’t know what to do with the Bill of Sale,
    Vacation Rental Addendum and might use an appraiser who isn’t as familiar with the
    area
  • Don’t own another beach house in the area (some exceptions apply)

Investment Loan Quickies:

  • If you need the rental income to qualify for the loan it becomes an investment loan
  • Investment loans carry a higher rate, but the down payment can remain 20% (lower
    down payments carry higher rates)
  • The income to qualify will be determined by an appraiser. Appraiser will do an analysis
    of the reasonable rental income available and you can use 75% of that amount
  • Titling in an LLC will carry a higher interest rate

Best practices for any loan:

  • Flood insurance has to be escrowed and the 1 st years payment is required at closing
  • To waive escrows there is a .25% fee on loan amount due at closing
  • If you are self-employed you will need to fully qualify through underwriting to be sure of
    the amount qualified for
  • If you own multiple rental properties you will also need to be fully qualified up front to
    be sure
  • If you have declining income, the lender will take the worst of the last 2 years as the
    basis from which to work
  • Don’t buy anything requiring financing once you start the lending process

Best sources for down payment:

  • Mutual funds/stocks
  • Savings/Checking
  • 401K Loan – not counted in your debt to income ratio
  • Home Equity – will use full line payment for qualifying
  • Gifted funds can sometimes work

Worst sources for down payment:

  • Any funds that are untraceable or unseasoned
  • “Mattress Money”
  • Business funds will require additional documentation from a CPA