Friday, April 25, 2014

Pet-Friendly Beaches

Want to know the best beaches to take your pup to in the Wilmington area?   

Since getting Izzy, my poodle/schnauzer (schnoodle) ball of energy, 18 months ago, I've made a study of this.   Just say the word, "beach," and Izzy starts running circles at the door.  Dogs and beaches just seem to go together.

My personal favorite is the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, one of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of shoreline on the southern coast.  Beautiful, pristine and usually uncrowded.  Free parking, too.   (I'm so lucky -- Izzy and I can jump in the car and be there in about 15 minutes.)   Most of the local beaches don't allow dogs on the strand during the summer season, but at Fort Fisher she can go year-round.  The rules say she needs to stay on the leash, though.  And do be sure to keep your dog away from any of the loggerhead turtle nests, which can be found on this beach.  
Fort Fisher.   Just look at this amazing beach!
Can you just see yourself here with Fido?

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is on the southern tip of Pleasure Island, with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the widening mouth of the Cape Fear River on the west.  It is south of Wilmington, south of Carolina Beach, and south of Kure Beach.

If you want the opportunity to let your dog off leash for some real fun in the sand, there are some local options for that, too -- at least during off season.   Freeman Park, north of Carolina Beach, on the far north end of Pleasure Island, allows dogs off-leash from November 1 - February 29.  Dogs are allowed on the beach at Freeman Park the rest of the year as long as they are on leash.   This is also one of the few beaches where you can drive and park your 4-wheel drive onto the beach and camp overnight.   Lots of party fun goes on here!  Don't forget to buy your permit for this beach.

Topsail Beach also allows dogs off-leash from October 1 to May 14, but better leash them up during the summer season.  Topsail Beach is on the southern end of family-friendly Topsail Island, a 26-mile barrier island just south of Camp Lejeune and north of Wilmington.  Historians says pirates used to hide in the channel behind Topsail Island, waiting to pounce on passing merchant ships on the ocean side -- but your dog will be more interested in trying to pounce on the numerous sea birds.  (So far, I haven't seen any success with that.)

If you are one of those people who would rather not share your beach with other people's pets, you'll be happy to know that no dogs are allowed on the strand during the summer season at Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach.

Is that a swim suit pose?
I've included details of the local leash laws below.   Keep in mind these laws change fairly often, so be sure to double check the town ordinances from time to time.

Go have some fun in the sun!   And take Fido!

Wilmington, NC Leash Law

Wilmington, NC adheres to the New Hanover County leash law which means when a dog is off its owner’s property it must be controlled by the means of a leash.
Citations (2012): Dogs/Cats/Ferrets Running-at-Large, Leash Requirement
  • First Violation: $25.00
  • Second Violation: $75.00
  • Third or More Violations: $500.00

Wrightsville Beach Leash Law and Pet Rules:

  • Your pet must always be on a leash while in the Town of Wrightsville Beach.
  • You are required to clean up after your pet, and have the means to do so, at all times, and dispose of pet waste in available trash cans.
  • No pets are allowed on the beach strand from April 1 through September 30. Pets must be on a leash if on the beach strand from October 1 through March 31.
  • Never leave your animal in a vehicle!
  • Violation of these pet regulations may result in a $250 fine for the first offense!

Town of Carolina Beach Pet Rules:

  • All dogs are required to be on a leash at all times.
  • Dogs are allowed on the beach from November 1st to February 28th.
  • You must have a plastic or paper container that can be used to clean up and contain dog waste until it can be disposed of in an appropriate container.
  • This container must be on your person at all times, and must be produced and shown, upon request, to anyone authorized to enforce this ordinance.

Freeman Park, Carolina Beach Pet Rules:

  • The north end of Pleasure Island is dog-friendly.
  • Dogs are required to be on a leash from March 1st to Oct. 31.
  • The rest of the year (November 1 through February 29) dogs are allowed off leash, but they must remain under voice command and the owner must be within a reasonable distance.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area Pet Rules:

  • Dogs on leashes are allowed on the beach at Fort Fisher year round.

Carolina Beach State Park Pet Rules:

  • Dogs must be on a leash (no more than 6 feet) and are not allowed in any park buildings or swimming areas.

Kure Beach Pet Rules:

  • You may walk your leashed dog on the Kure Beach strand from October 1st to March 31st.
  • However, it is unlawful for any person to have or allow their dog to be upon the beach strand of Kure Beach during the period of April 1st through September 30th of each year.
  • Anyone violating this ordinance is subject to a civil citation in the amount of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for the first offense, and the second offense shall subject the person to a misdemeanor charge.
  • Ft. Fisher State Recreation Area allows dogs on their beach year-round. Call 910-458-5798 for directions and additional information.

Topsail Beach Pet Rules:

  • Dogs are allowed on Topsail Beach but they must be on a leash from May 15th through September 30th. At other times (October 1 through May 14) the dog must be under voice command of a responsible person, but does not have to be on a leash.
  • The person must always be prepared to remove any waste left by the dog. These regulations apply to the entire town including the beach.

North Topsail Beach Pet Rules:

  • Dogs must be on a leash at all times, year-round. The town’s law calls for the leash to be no more than 25 feet long.

Surf City, NC Pet Rules:

  • Surf City has a year-round, no exceptions leash policy. If a dog is not on property owned or rented by the pet owner, the dog must be on a leash.

My Izzy with a sandy nose.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Open House!

1721 Pinfish Lane, Kure Beach NC

I'm hosting an open house this Saturday, 26 April, from 1-4 p.m. at this great 3 bedroom, 2 bath Cape Cod.  It just had a complete upgrade by its owner.   Just a short walk to the beach in a nice, quiet neighborhood.  (Plug in that link at the top to see photos and details about this property.)

Just like a cherry on top -- it's also the monthly Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage Coast In and Win Open House Weekend.    Come by any Sea Coast open house (like mine!) this weekend and register to win $500!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring Selling Season - Market Trends for New Hanover County

Here's just a quick snapshot of trends for New Hanover County,  looking at single family homes sales:

January 2014:    206
February 2014:  235
March 2014:      285

The number of home sales rose 21.3 % just between February and March.   

How's April doing so far?   

As of 20 April, with 10 days left in the month, 161 single family homes have sold.  If sales remained steady at the pace set by the first three weeks, it would seem April sales would end up being stronger than February, but not as good as March.   
BUT, check out how many contracts are currently pending -- 332!  Not all of these contracts will go through, of course--and many won't finalize until May--but April should finish strong, and May looks promising as well.

Here are some more interesting facts…

                     Average selling prices:           Median price:           Average Sq Ft Price
January:       $250,000                                 $188,000                   128
February:     $257,000                                 $210,000                   132

March:         $248,000                                 $195,000                   135

Average continuous days on the market before a house sells was 124 days in March.

A Discourse about Strategic Pricing on a Rainy Afternoon
(or "Getting It Right")

My brother Jerry and his family were here for a great visit in rainy Wilmington NC this week. (Not sure why, but it always rains when he comes to town.  They're welcome anytime, but I'll be sure to invite him back when we're having a drought.)

Not surprisingly, we got on the subject of real estate.   He said he read somewhere that a real estate agent will almost always try to get their client's house sold quickly with a low price -- not for the client's benefit, but so they can get their commission sooner.  And that many or most sellers would rather take longer to sell if they can get even a few extra thousand dollars.

Now, my brother knows me, and he knows I'm honest and would always put the interest of my clients first, so I didn't take personal offense.  I also know that there are some agents out there who do put their own interests before those of their clients -- just as there are agents with real integrity.
But I definitely had to take some issue with his statement.  The situation is just not that simple -- taking longer to sell does not necessary translate to more money for the buyer!  As it happens, just recently I finished an advanced course to become a Strategic Pricing Specialist (SPS) -- so I knew I could speak with some authority.   (Poor Jerry.   I'll shorten my discourse (rant) here.)

First, a good professional real estate agent will have determined the priorities of the sellers -- money, time or convenience.   If there is an important reason the sellers need to move quickly -- say, within two months because of a job transfer -- and the agent knows that the average time for a home to sell in that particular market is four months -- then to ensure the house sells in time to meet the needs of the seller, it will have to be priced below market value.    If there's no rush to sell, then pricing at or near market value can make more sense for the seller.   (FYI, the average time on the market for a home here in Wilmington right now is 4 1/2 months -- which is a nice improvement over previous statistics.)

But what happens the longer a house sits on the market?  It can start to look stale and problematic to buyers -- who accordingly drop the price of their offers.  Or offers stop coming in.

Most of the time, real estate agents are struggling with sellers who insist on overpricing their homes for various reasons.   They are emotionally invested in the home, don't understand the current market trends, or the fact that it is the market that sets the value of their home (not their financial investment in the house).

An initially overpriced home ultimately costs the seller money.  It is crucial to set the price right from the start.  The longer it sits on the market, the more difficult it is to sell.  And something a little scary happens when a seller is forced to start dropping the price.  According to statistics compiled by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes that need to have a price reduction take 3 times longer to sell, and on average sell for only 86% of the last list price.   Usually, the seller nets less money by initially overpricing than if he/she had priced it right to start.

The key, of course is being confident you know the real market value, and then how to strategically price a home to best meet the client's need.  Going well beyond the traditional comparative market analysis (CMA) used by most agents, the Strategic Pricing Specialist (SPS) class taught me skills needed to navigate pricing strategies, understand and apply market trends, and put a value to 'how buyers buy.'   Also, how to help a client understand the process.   All this to ensure my clients get the best net in their pockets, within the period of time they need, and with the least hassle.   I'm so excited to be using this process now!

As you can see, my brother got an earful!

One important thing I've learned about being a real estate agent ...  I will never be done learning!    I could spend all my time in training classes, in continuing education, studying the neighborhoods, analyzing the markets, learning about home construction, figuring out the technology, deciphering contracts, etc.  The SPS class was, so far, one of the best classes I've taken.  For me, the best part of real estate is working with and helping people, but it's been really great keeping those brain cells snapping.  I'm enjoying the educational and analytic side of the business, and know ultimately it will benefit my clients.  Now--while I'm building a client base--is also a great time to focus on training.

Got any questions?    Let me know.