Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Good News, Wilmington! (updated Aug 12)

Here's a new collection of stories about what's happening in and around Wilmington NC -- from municipal plans, to new restaurants opening, to special events, and more.  It's all good news for Wilmington!  I'll update frequently.   Let me know if you're aware of interesting stories you think should be in this list.

August 12 2016 Edition

Hitting Academy for Baseball Players

The UNCW Seahawks baseball team hopes to start a Hitting Academy for local baseball players who want to take their batting to the next level.  The Seahawks--coaches and players--will host the academy during their off-season, starting later this month, every Monday evening for four weeks.  
The Seahawks have had a strong season.  As a team, the Seahawks finished in the top 10 in seven offensive categories last season, including batting average, home runs, runs, hits, slugging percentage and runs per game. 
If you'd like more info about the camp, check out the link below.

Operation Pretty Things

Wilmington is a city known for its volunteerism.  There are many worthy causes, and many, many individuals willing to commit their time and effort to making the world around them a better place for everyone.  This week I'd like to focus on Operation Pretty Things (OPT), a non-profit committed to loving and empowering victims of domestic violence.  OPT works along side a number of domestic shelters throughout the region, supplying cosmetic necessities and useful community connections to clients in the shelters.  Upcoming events for OPT include their annual fund-raising gala on August 12.  But if you've missed that this year (it's sold out now), definitely attend the Wine and Fashion Show, where we'll shine a spotlight on OPT and 10% of all proceeds from the event will go to OPT.  This really fun event will be Aug 23, 6-9 pm, at Jenn's Vin wine boutique at Chandler's Wharf, 225 S. Water St., Wilmington.  The event is being sponsored by Women's Power Networking.  Use the links below to sign up to attend!

Link:  Wine and Fashion Show - Eventbrite
Link: Operation Pretty Things Website

July 28 2016 Edition

Paw's Place - Opening New Indoor/Outdoor Facility

Since Paw's Place Animal Rescue opened in 1999, it has helped find loving homes for hundreds of abandoned or lost dogs.  This wonderful no-kill, non-profit organization is looking for families who will adopt their many available dogs (like Kyle, pictured here).  They also love volunteers and appreciate donations.  Coming up in September is the Raise the Ruff Gala to raise funds for the new, bigger, better indoor/outdoor kennel facility.  This will be a worthwhile AND very fun event! Check out the link for info about Paw's Place and how to buy tickets to the Gala.

Link:  Paw's Place Raise the Ruff Benefit Gala

Have You Seen What's Happening at The Pointe?

I drove by the building site for The Pointe at Barclay today and was impressed with progress being made on this new entertainment and dining mecca which will be opening at the corner of Independence and 17th.  They are scheduled for a late 2016 opening -- and maybe they'll make it!  The Pointe is the retail/commercial center of a 500-acre master-planned community.  Anchored by a 14-screen theater, the Pointe will include a mix of premium restaurants, retail stores, services and a grocery store.  (Check out the link below to see the restaurants that have already pre-leased space!)  

BTW, The Forks at Barclay planned community will include a mix of 72 single family, detached homes and 52 townhomes that will feature traditional architecture characterized by southern style, charm and character.  Interested in a new home in this perfect mid-town location?  I can help with that!

Family Fun Night at Airlie Gardens

One of the treasures of the Wilmington area is the gorgeous, 67-acre Airlie Gardens, which boasts some stunning and varied habitat -- magnolia forests, ancient live oak trees, salt marshes, freshwater ponds, acres of flowers and more.  There are lots of events and activities to choose from here, from Bird Hikes to the Summer Concert Series, and Butterfly Releases to Tram Tours.  This Saturday, July 30, is Family Fun Night, with activities for both the young and young at heart.  BTW, participants also will get a chance to meet Reilly, the goose-herding Border Collie who has been 'hired' by Airlie Gardens for a very special job.   

Link: Airlie Gardens Family Fun Night

New Visitor Center/Museum for Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Did you know the Fort Fisher State Historic Site was the most visited state historic site in North Carolina last year, with over 800,000 people walking through the museum doors and over the grounds of this Civil War battlefield?  The current visitor's center was only built to accommodate about 40,000 visitors per year, so there has been an understandable push to enlarge the facility.  Happily, State funding was just approved this month to allocate $400,000 toward creation of a new visitors center and Civil War museum.   The total cost of the new facility will be several million dollars, and The Friends of Fort Fisher organization will be responsible for raising a large portion of the additional funds needed.


July 15 Edition

Wake N Bake to Open Downtown Location

Downtown residents and visitors are in luck!  Although many thought it was well worth the drive to Carolina Beach to get their favorite Wake N Bake donut selections, very soon they will be able to simply walk to their own local neighborhood shop for a sugar over-load.  Owner Danny Tangredi recently announced plans for a Downtown satellite store at 114 Princess Street (near the popular Hell's Kitchen and Beer Barrio, if that helps to orient you.)  My recommendations in order of preference...  The Twisted Turtle (chocolate, salted carmel and pecans); The Samoas (yes, just like the Girl Scout cookies); and The Maple Bacon (you don't even have to be rabidly crazy about bacon to like this!)

Link: Wake N Bake Satellite Store

Opera Wilmington

Opera may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love that "Opera Wilmington" has added a new dimension to Wilmington's already thriving arts and cultural scene.  Opera Wilmington made its debut as an organization in July 2014 with a luscious production of "The Merry Widow."  Opera Wilmington's goal is to draw on the rich resources of local talent to provide live, high-quality operatic performances, and to cultivate a new generation of opera lovers through educational outreach programs. So far, they are doing a spectacular job!  Coming up next is their production of Mozart's comedic opera, "Cosi Fan Tutte."  Performances are July 29 and 31, and Aug 5 and 7.  Better get your tickets quick because it will definitely sell out.   I can't wait!

Planned Expansion at New Hanover Regional Medical Center

It's a little ways down the road, but New Hanover Regional Medical Center is making plans--hopefully to start in 2017--to build a new Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at the 17th St main campus.  It could take 3 to 5 years to construct.  The Orthopedic team, currently working out of the Cape Fear campus on Wrightsville Avenue, has been recognized by Healthgrades for 12 years in a row with a Five-Star ranking for total knee replacement.  It is also considered one of the top 10 U.S. hospitals for hip and knee replacement and one of America's top 100 hospitals for patient experience.

Fun Facts about Carolina Beach Boardwalk

 Carolina Beach Boardwalk- New

Carolina Beach Boardwalk - Old 

Did you know that the Carolina Beach Boardwalk was voted the #3 best boardwalk in America in a USAToday poll?  If you've been to the boardwalk lately and seen all the improvements and fun activities, you know why it ranks so high.  If you haven't visited in a while, check out the link to the video below -- and then plan a trip.

Did you know that the first Carolina Beach Boardwalk, which was just a flat wooden walkway on the beach, was built in 1887?   Since roads were rough or non-existent, early visitors took a steamboat down the Cape Fear River to "Sugar Loaf" (now part of Carolina Beach State Park) and then transferred to the "Shoe-Fly Train" for the trip from the riverside to the ocean.  Carnival rides have been a part of the Boardwalk experience since at least 1925.

After you've enjoyed the rides, the fireworks, the music and more of Carolina Beach -- and if you are looking for a quieter beach experience -- just head down the road to Kure Beach or the undeveloped beach at Fort Fisher State Park.

Link: WRAR Travel/Lifestyles video "Iconic CB Boardwalk"

Link: Visit Carolina Beach website

Carolina Beach in Top 12 Anchorages

As long as we're bragging about Carolina Beach this week, I'll also mention another accolade...   Marinelife magazine recently did an article on their favorite, Top 12 anchorages.  Carolina Beach was named #4, and described as "the perfect anchorage."  We all think its pretty great, too...

Area Home Sales Continue to Rebound

If you've been watching the local real estate market this summer, you know it's been a hot market.  How hot?  For home sales, this June was the best in 11 years (yes, since 2005 when we were still in the bubble).  We're up 15% over June of 2015, and this May was up 21% over May last year.   Inventory for homes under $200,000 is scant.  Do keep in mind that real estate is hyper local, so one neighborhood may see faster recoveries than others, and certainly sales of homes over $400,000 are slower than those under $200,000.  BTW, as of July 11, interest rates for a 30 yr fixed loan had fallen again, to 3.44%.  Amazing.

(July 1 edition)

Historic Preservation Committee approves policy to preserve Wilmington brick streets

Preserving Historic Brick Streets (link)

City Council approves Water Street development project

After years of discussion, this potentially amazing downtown riverfront location (currently the Water St. Parking Deck) will be developed into a mixed use property that will include apartments, retail shops, offices and parking.
 Water Street development project (link)

Great new Eateries and specialty shops opening

Already known for its great restaurants, bars and shops, there are some new names in town.  

For example, new in Monkey Junction is "Roots," a vegetarian restaurant that will bring a whole new appreciation for vegetables. 

You'll always want to check out "Grand Cru" in Lumina Station - an establishment opening soon that pairs an extensive selection of (mostly French) wines with yummy specialty dishes great for sharing.
Grand Cru - coming soon in Lumina Station

Already a big hit at his S. College Rd location, Brandon Korman just opened his second Tropical Smoothie Cafe, this time in Porter's Neck.  (It's not just about the smoothies; the food is amazing, too!)  

HGTV shines spotlight on Wilmington

HGTV's episode of their new program "Hunting Vintage," filmed in Wilmington, will air at 10 pm Tuesday July 12, and again at 1 am on Wednesday July 13.  This episode follows the efforts of a family to purchase and renovate a vintage home.  The spotlight will shine brightly on the Legacy Architectural Salvage Shop, belonging to the Historic Wilmington Foundation.  (Be sure to set your DVR!)
HGTV spotlight on Wilmington

No Surprise! Wilmington is top city for retirement in North Carolina

Recently, Bankrate came up with their list of top 200 cities nationally that are the best for retirement. Wilmington is 40 on this list -- and of the several cities name in North Carolina, Wilmington was the top.   

Next big things! Development Projects in the area

Thousands of new homes and businesses, a transformed downtown, an improved industrial corridor and the challenges associated with growth.  These were the topics of discussed at "The Next Big Things" Power Breakfast hosted by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal on June 28.  Here's a summary of the discussion of these major projects.
Next Big Things Power Breakfast

Monday, June 27, 2016

Rip Current Survival Guide - Stay Safe at the Beach!

Summer vacations are in full swing, and a lot of you are heading for the beach. Have fun! But be sure you know how to stay safe.
Rip currents account for 80% of beach rescues. Learn how to spot one, and how to escape one if you happen to be caught in it, by watching this video provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Rip Current Survival Guide video link - NOAA

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What’s Happening in the Real Estate Market?

This is a pretty common question that a potential home buyer or seller may be asking themselves. Leading economists in real estate converged in New Orleans this past week as they presented their answer to this question at the 50thAnnual Real Estate Journalism Conference for the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

Here are the top takeaways from the week of presentations:

Many of the conversations at the conference came back to the impact that Millennials and first-time home buyers will have on the market in the future. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for realtor.com had this to say: 
“At any given time in our history, demographics would explain 60-80% of what’s happening [in the market], and we are in a period of time where Millennials make up the largest demographic group according to the Census, at 84 million.”
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median first-time home buyer age is 30, and many millennials are entering a prime age to drive the housing market into the future.
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR shared that myths and affordability may be holding back potential buyers:
“84% of current renters have the desire to own. 36% believe they cannot afford a home and 60% of renters believe it would be ‘difficult’ to qualify for a mortgage.
Ellie Mae’s Vice President, Jonas Moe, encouraged buyers to know their options before assuming that they do not qualify for a mortgage: 
“Many potential home buyers are 'disqualifying' themselves. You don't need a 750 FICO Score and a 20% down payment to buy.”
The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) revealed that Millennials and Baby Boomers are often competing for the same housing inventory, causing a challenge as these two groups are the largest generations by population.
Both groups are looking for affordable, convenient homes close to city centers and ‘what’s happening.’

Bottom Line

The experts agree that homeownership is still desirable across all demographic groups, with Millennials and Baby Boomers having a great impact on available supply. If your dreams include owning your own home, let’s get together and evaluate your ability to buy now!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rehab or Rent Out? Real Estate Investment Tips for Beginners

A Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing

Despite the grim economic outlook for some industries, one sector is gaining viability -- real estate. According to the 2016 Emerging Trends in Real Estate, which was released by the Urban Land Institute earlier this year, trends such as “18-hour cities” and millennial parents increasingly moving from urban areas out into the suburbs signal that real estate as an industry is gaining strength every passing day in 2016. One lending officer at a large financial institution even went to far as to say that “the next 24 months look doggone good for real estate.”

These trends make real estate a smart place to invest and grow your wealth. A housing shortage means that flipped homes tend to sell quickly and for high prices, and an increased demand across all age groups for rental properties means that finding tenants for your buy-and-hold properties should be a breeze.  

Of course, these trends also mean that the real estate market is highly competitive right now. If you want to make a foray into real estate investing, you’ll need to educate yourself and be strategic in who you work with and where you look for investment opportunities. Read on for my beginner’s guide to real estate investing.

Assemble your real estate team before you buy

Building relationships with your team will empower you to make serious offers that will more likely get accepted by sellers. Among your team members, you will want to include:

      A mortgage broker or banker, who can help you get the financing for your deal
      A real estate attorney to protect you by reviewing and revising contracts
      An appraiser who can help you get a correct appraisal for your potential property
      An accountant who is well versed in real estate investments
      A good contractor, for repairs whether you’re rehabbing or buying rental property

How to find rehab or wholesale deals

You can buy properties to fix up and resell (flip) or you can buy and hold properties that you rent out for monthly cash flow.

The advantage of flipping properties is that you can end up with a good return on investment (ROI) in the short term. For example, you buy a property for $100,000, and invest $50,000 into repairs. Once it’s rehabbed, your property is valued at $200,000, and you sell it for a $50,000 profit.

This is an extremely simplified version of ROI. There are many other factors that you need to determine to see if the numbers work in your favor — that is, you’re not overpaying initially when you buy the properties or for the renovations or holding costs.

Flipping properties means that you will need to spend more time looking for fixer uppers that may be under market value. These may be more difficult to find in a hot market with rising property prices. Beyond the actual purchase price, you will also need to factor in fixed purchase costs for inspections, closing, and lender fees.

You’ll also need to factor in holding costs. Your budget should include funds for making repairs, whether you are doing them yourself or hiring contractors. While you’re upgrading the property, you’ll need to carry mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.

Because of rising property values, fix-and-flip deals in good neighborhoods can be hard to find. But once you know where to find rehab opportunities, you can easily repeat the process by reinvesting proceeds from a previous flip into the next property, which can be bigger, in a more desirable neighborhood, or finished out more luxuriously, and therefore sold for more cash!

Working with the right real estate professionals will help you learn which neighborhoods to consider and determine where you should focus your search. We can help you find the right fixer-uppers that may be under market value. Also, a Realtor will have access to many properties that may not be publicly available.

Finding buy-and-hold rental properties

A buy-and-hold rental property is one that your purchase with the intent of renting it out to tenants. If you find the right long-term buy-and-hold rental property, you can earn consistent cash flow each month, which can be a great source of supplemental income.

You’ll need to carefully review the operating expenses on the property and what tenants are willing to pay for the space to know if you’ll make or lose money each month. For example, say your total costs to buy a duplex was $20,000, including down payment and closing costs. You can rent each of the units for $600. Assuming your building is 100% occupied, you’ll make $1200 per month in income. Your expenses include mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, utilities, and management fees, and you want to set aside some cash each month for capital expenditures and routine repairs. You calculate that your expenses add up to $1100 per month. Once you subtract your expenses from your income, you’ll have a positive cash flow of $100 per month.

Of course, this is a very simplified example, and it doesn’t take into account that problems will inevitably arise. Emergency roof repairs, heating system breakdowns, broken windows that need replacing, and other unexpected expenses can eat away at your profits. One of your units may be vacant for a month or more -- for example, vacancies are high in the summer months in buildings around universities -- or you could have a tenant who fails to pay their monthly rent.

The more you can anticipate problems before they happen, however, the easier it will be for you to recover from setbacks! Moreover, rent isn’t the only way to make money on a buy-and-hold property. You can also add amenities, such as coin laundry and vending machines, to increase your potential monthly income. If your property has space to add a billboard, you can earn advertising revenue from renting that space, too. And when you decide to sell, your property’s value will likely have increased both from the overall rising property values and by the improvements you made to increase the cash flow. 

Once you find and invest in your rental property, you’ll need to decide how you want it managed from month to month.

Getting the right property manager

Do you want to manage your own property or hire a manager? Property management can become a full-time job. As a property manager, you’ll have to deal not only with maintenance, repairs and tenant issues, but also with insurance, fair rental regulations, and building code compliance. So if you’re not an expert in these areas, managing your own properties may not be worth your time and effort.

Hiring a professional manager can save you headaches over the long term. While you’ll have to factor in management as a fixed expense, your property manager will likely know how to better take care of routine repairs, tenant issues, and keeping your property near 100% occupancy.

Your real estate professional can refer you to reputable property management companies to help you take care of your investment.

Where should I start investing in local real estate?

Work with a knowledgeable real estate professional who knows about the different neighborhoods. I can help you find properties that will fit into your budget and your overall goals. Whether you’re seeking a duplex or multifamily property so you can maximize your rental income or whether you want a condo or single-family home to improve for resale, I can guide you to the best property to suit your needs. 

Contact me to learn more about investment properties in our area.