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June 25, 2018

When It Comes to Flooding, Low Risk Is Not No Risk

Are you aware that flood zone maps are being redrawn for Dare County? Today I would like to go over a few key things you should consider as these changes are made.

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Have you heard? Dare County flood maps are being redrawn in the coming six months.

These changes will impact insurance requirements for residents, but it is important to realize that if these newly drawn zones indicate your property is at low risk of flooding, it does not mean that there is no risk.

Homeowners using borrowed money to purchase a home within a flood zone, which are labeled on zone maps as AE or VE, will be required to take out flood insurance. But flood insurance is not a requirement for cash buyers or for those purchasing within zone X. 

Many hope that recently collected storm and flooding data will lower insurance premiums once mapping is approved, but in the meantime, Dare County’s “Know Your Zone” pamphlet may serve as a helpful guide for area homeowners. 

As stated on the cover of the Dare County “Know Your Zone” pamphlet, “Low risk is not no risk.” Especially given that for every inch of water, homeowners can expect about $21,000 worth of damage. 

If you would like a copy of this pamphlet, I would be happy to provide you with one. So please reach out to obtain yours. You can also check out the information that's available on www.obxfloodmaps.com. 

For every inch of water, homeowners can expect about $21,000 worth of damage.

Going back to how these changes will impact Dare County, it is important to note that a large portion of our elevated areas currently zoned in AE is set to be mapped in X. Yet, it takes very little water for massive damage to occur. So be mindful that while premiums may be decreasing, the risks associated with flooding are not. 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Colony Realty
June 12, 2018

It May Be Summer Now, But Winter Is Coming: Is Your Home Ready?

It is summer now, but time slips by quickly. It is never too early to think about winterizing your home.

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If you already own property on the Outer Banks or are thinking about purchasing a property there soon, you should take some time to hire a professional to come in and winterize your home.

Yes, I said ‘winterize,’ and yes, I realize that it is summer.

If the astounding past winter taught us anything, it is that time is fleeting. A lot of homeowners were unaware their house was not winter-ready until the cold months arrived and madness had begun to take its toll—water sprayed out from behind ice makers and turned into icicles, toilets cracked, and pipes leaked. These are all expensive repairs to make, and certainly no fun to do in the dead of winter.

If the astounding past winter taught us anything, it is that time is fleeting.

That is why I am recommending that you take some time to get it taken care of now. My best estimate would be that it will cost about $150 to winterize and $75 to de-winterize. It will be much more cost-effective than replacing drywall, insulation, and potentially flooring because your home was not ready to take the brunt of winter.

If you have questions about winterizing your home or about buying Outer Banks properties, feel free to reach out to me directly. I would be glad to help you.

Posted in Colony Realty
May 29, 2018

Debunking 15 Real Estate Myths

Do you think you know everything about real estate? A lot of what you may know could actually be a myth.

 

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Today I have a list of 15 real estate myths that people actually believe and the truths behind them. Here are the ones you need to keep an eye on:

 

1. Real estate agents are paid a salary. 99% of agents work on commission split with their brokerage firm. They only get a percentage for themselves.

 

2. The agent keeps all of the commission. There are overhead and expenses with any firm—employees, insurance, marketing costs, etc., all have to be paid.

 

3. The typical commission is 6%. It depends on the property, actually. Some pieces of land have a higher commission rate.

4. An agent’s gas mileage and other transportation expenses are reimbursable. We do get to write them off, but if we don’t have income, write-offs do not help us. If your income is zero, then your expense write-off is still zero.

 

5. Marketing expenses aren’t the agent’s responsibility. They are. In fact, agents pay a lot of money every month to market and sell your property.

 

6. The home either passes or fails an inspection. This is all in the eyes of the beholder. One thing may be an issue for one client that is not for another.

 

7. Inspectors have to find something. While they may seem like they do, their overall objective is to find any material defect in a structure. It could be something as simple as a GFI on an outside deck that is not tripping. It is their job to find it so that future accidents do not happen.

 

8. Weekends bring out the most serious buyers. We are in a second home market, so that's not necessarily true. Weekdays during this time of year actually bring out a lot of buyers—if it's raining.

 

9. Zillow says it’s the case, therefore it is. 98% of the information on Zillow, because of the algorithms they use to combine data, is incorrect. For those that love to look at Zillow’s Zestimate, be aware that your home may not be worth as much as the quote.

 

10. It is better to price a home high as a seller. After all, you can always come down, right? The reality is that buyers will actually look past you and buy other homes which are priced to the market. The market dictates prices based on what buyers are willing to spend and sellers are willing to take.

 

11. When making an offer on a home, you need to start low. You have to be realistic about the current market and the home’s condition. As long as the property is not overpriced to the market conditions compared to similar homes with similar features, you have to go in with a realistic offer. In some areas, homes listed properly will actually sell above asking.

 

12. The longer the home is on the market, the more negotiable the deal. There are some markets like that, but here we have 3.5 years of inventory in a certain area. If a home sits on the market for a year and the average time on the market is a year, you do not have a big negotiating point.

I personally prize candor and truthfulness when dealing with buyers and sellers.

13. Multiple price reductions means the seller is desperate to sell. Actually, they may just be trying to feel the market to see where they can attract the most buyers.

 

14. Multiple offers give the seller an advantage. Sometimes this is true. Buyers may really love the house so they up their offer if they know that there are other people interested. They may even make the contingencies less restrictive for the seller. 

 

15. All agents are the same. They are not. I personally prize candor and truthfulness when dealing with buyers and sellers. The reality is that I am watching the market every day as a full-time profession. Someone who does this job part-time cannot understand the market if they are spending time elsewhere.

 

If you have any questions, comments, or real estate needs in our area, please feel free to reach out to me. Even if you are looking in another area, please contact me. I will gladly refer you to another great agent that can help you. I hope to hear from you soon. See you on the beach!

May 4, 2018

Prepare and Protect Your Home for the Summer Season With These 7 Tips

Summer will be here before you know it, so here are some tips that will help protect your second home or investment property.
 
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Summer is approaching fast, so if you have a second home or an investment property in the Outer Banks area, here are a few tips that will prepare and protect that home for the season:

1. Make sure your home is adequately insured. This is tough in our area because most of our insurance for investment properties is done through a federal fund with the state. Reach out to your insurance agent and ask them if you’re adequately insured for the coming season. Talk about what you need to do or whether you need to amend your policy in certain areas. 


2. Take a proactive position in maintaining your home. This point was reiterated to me just this morning—a client of mine in Frisco had their hot water tank fail even though they installed it brand new back in 2016. They got it replaced and now they’re being proactive with upgrades that will make their home look better and rent better in the long term.  


3. Keep an eye on your plumbing and fixtures. This primarily means keeping an eye on any drippy faucets or running toilets. Monitoring these items can save you a lot in terms of repair costs. 


4. Have an electrician walk through your home and make sure your outlets are working. Your GFI outlets in your bathrooms and on your deck should be functioning properly. In the second home market, this is especially important to pay attention to as we head toward summer. If you have a property management company, you can give them a call and have them do this for you.  


5. Check your fire alarms, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. Hopefully you never have to use these items, but you should make sure they’re working and their batteries are up to date. Remember, these items are now required to have 10-year batteries. 

"Be proactive with any upgrades your home needs."

6. Have your roof inspected. Wind loads will be picking up as we approach summer, and we may have a storm or two as well. Historically, shingle tabs (especially cap shingles) can peel or prop during high wind loads, so make sure there’s no potential for water infiltration around your home’s attic space. 

7. Trim your trees. If you have trees up against your property, you can reach out to one of the tree-trimming services here on the island and have them thin them out. If you’re considering selling, this will help with your home’s curb appeal. 


If you have any questions about any of these tips or you have any other real estate needs, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I’d be glad to help you. 

 

 

April 24, 2018

Should You Interview More Than 1 Agent?

Should you interview more than one agent for the job? Today I’ll answer that question and talk about what qualities a good agent should have.
 
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The old Frisco Pier you see in the photo in the background of my video is one of my favorite places. Actually, what drew me there 20 or so years ago was the question, “Should I interview more than one agent for the job of representing me in my real estate endeavors?”

For the purposes of today’s topic, I’m going to focus on the selling side of real estate transactions. My response to the question is, unequivocally, yes, you should interview more than one agent for the job. 

Our industry has changed drastically in the last 20 years that I’ve been practicing, but some agents are still performing the same way they did their first year. The dynamics of marketing and communications have changed. You have to be willing to adapt to that and move on; it’s a skill set we’re constantly developing. Is the agent you’re considering to work for you an avid learner? Are they participating in Realtor skill-development programs? What are they doing to stay on the cutting edge of technology?

I would say that you should interview at least three agents. You need someone who is assertive and always willing to learn. They need to be a full-time professional working in a resort/second-home market. Our industry lends itself to a lot of part-time retirees, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You just have to want to do the job, and that requires a large time commitment.

Ask your agent, “How many transactions did you close last year?” If they answer “three,” I would end there and go to the next interview. If it’s “33 transactions,” I’d say to keep talking to them. If it’s “103 transactions,” you’ve got a great agent who is working full-time with a staff behind them and helping facilitate and negotiate the transaction to a successful close.

Part of our code of ethics is to tell you the truth about the value of your property. That’s not always an easy pill to swallow, but that’s what we as Realtors do. We want to be honest in all occasions.

You need someone who is assertive and always willing to learn.”

That said, if you were interviewing me today, I want to let you know some answers to the questions that would be likely come up.

Suppose you asked me, “What are you hoping to accomplish in our meeting today?”  To that, I’d say one of three things can happen: You’ll decide to list your home with me, you’ll decide not to list your home at all, or I’ll decide not to take your listing. Why wouldn’t I take your listing? If we don’t have a viable marketing opportunity after we get done with our discussions today, it just may not be best for both of us to move forward in marketing the sale of your home. 

In a perfect world, I’d ask you, “What date would you like to have this done by?” What is your time frame for this transaction? Two, three, six, nine months?

I’d also ask, “What happened to make you want to sell this home? When you were looking at homes initially and you bought this one, what really excited you about the purchase?” Those are the difficult questions that a professional should ask. We want to know your motivation; you bought this home for a reason, so it will be helpful to know what it is that drew you here.

Finally, I’d ask you, “On a scale of one to ten, what is your motivation to sell? What would it take to get it to a nine or ten if it isn’t already?” When I ask this, I’m looking to see what the real motivation is to sell this property in the shortest amount of time and to net you the most money in your pocket. A listing that sits out there for two or three years is probably not going to get you the most money.

These are just a few of the points of conversation that are likely to come up, but I actually have numerous pages of questions that I like to hit on in the interview process. Many people have different standards for what they look for in an agent, but sometimes, in order to get what you want, you have to ask yourself if you want a professional who really cares that they can net you the most for your home.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, please keep me in mind. I’d love to help you reach your goals in the time frame you desire.

Posted in Home Seller Tips
April 5, 2018

6 Ways to up Your Chances of Securing a Vacation Rental Property

Today, let’s talk about the six ways you can improve your chances when searching for a vacation rental property.

 
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Today I’ll be covering the six ways to up your chances of buying your first vacation rental home. 

  1. Find an agent with a lot of experience and a history of success. Purchasing a vacation rental home is likely not the time to entrust your transaction to a new agent. This kind of purchase is a major investment, so it’s important that you work with a full-time, dedicated agent. 
  2. Work closely with a local lender. When you work with a lender for this kind of purchase, it’s important that they understand the vacation rental market. Also, I definitely recommend working with someone local. Once you’ve begun working with this lender, get a pre-approval letter. In our fast-paced market, this pre-approval letter will help set you ahead of the competition. 
  3. Consider a fixer-upper. This can be a great option for those who don’t have the means or aren’t interested in working in a higher price range. The use of a rehab loan can make the transition into this investment much more smooth. 
  4. Consider a property in a transitioning neighborhood. To illustrate why this is a good idea, I’d like to give you a key example. Years ago, Salvo had a very eclectic mix of homes. Then, all of a sudden, beautiful properties began popping up all around in that area. Transitioning neighborhoods present a great opportunity for investors, since they allow you to make a less expensive purchase and then capitalize on later improvements. 
  5. Reconsider your budget. If you’re able to do so, going slightly above your current price bracket could really open up your options.
  6. Talk to your lender about how to earn extra leverage. When you work with a lender who has experience in the vacation rental market, they will be able to provide key insight on how you can gain more leverage. 

Transitioning neighborhoods present a great opportunity for investors.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

March 21, 2018

The Best Time for You to List Your Outer Banks Home

The best times to sell in the second-home market here on the Outer Banks is from the late winter through the early spring and in the fall.
 
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When’s the best time to list in our Outer Banks market?

Before I answer that question, if you’re one of the many who’ve been wondering why I have a painting of a cow hanging up in my office, today I have your answer. 

Now, onto our topic. The reality of our market compared to other locations is we’re a second-home market, and the two best time periods to list and sell have been, customarily, from September to November and then until late winter. 

The main reason for this is the potential buyers who are coming here to investigate a purchase are more available to view homes any day of the week and they have readily accessible homes to preview. If you wait until late spring or early summer to list, you might get a good deal of exposure, but the likelihood of getting a potential buyer to see your home in-person while they’re here gets drastically smaller. 

After Easter, once vacation rentals start to pick up, you’ll be limited to maybe one day a week to get buyers into your home, or during the changeover day, which is historically either Saturday or Sunday. That means we have to try to keep buyers here on Saturday or Sunday, and that window to show properties is roughly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We’re not the only agents showing properties during these times, either. 

If you’re thinking about selling, I recommend listing as soon as possible.”

So, if you’re thinking about selling your home in our area, I recommend listing it as soon as possible. Also, list it with a great agent who can tell you the truth about what’s happening in our market. As I told you about in my last video, on the southern beaches of Hatteras Island, we dominate a good portion of the marketplace, and there’s a good chance we can get you what you need out of your house and net you the most in your pocket in the shortest amount of time in the Nags Head or Kill Devils Hill areas as well. 

If you have a rental home and it’s already booking, you may want to consider waiting until mid-to-late August to list it. Then by September, when vacation rentals start to slow down, you can have more people come through your house and generate more offers. 

If you have any other questions about our market or about when you should list, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help you.

March 2, 2018

Reflecting on a Successful 2017 and Looking Forward to an Even Greater 2018

2017 was a great year for Colony Realty, and we want to thank you for helping us achieve our goals.
 
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Last year was a great year for Colony Realty. I want to take a moment to look back on our successes and give thanks to all those we were able to help and those who were able to help us. 

As you may recall, I was the 2017 president of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors. This position required a lot of time and energy being spent both in and out of the Outer Banks area over the course of the year. In the midst of those duties, my team was still able to serve our customers day in and day out and help them buy and sell many homes.  

Once the 2017 numbers came in, it was revealed that we were still among the top 25 highest-selling agents in the Outer Banks. On the southern beaches of the Outer Banks, we were among the top four. In my hometown, we stayed ranked No. 1 in terms of both units sold and the total volume of sales. 

What’s the difference between unit sales and the total volume of sales? A unit sold represents a buyer buying a home and/or a seller selling a home. The total volume of sales represents the dollar amount of those sales. I don’t set yearly goals based on dollars, though. I like working with people. It doesn’t matter to me whether you want to buy or sell a $150,000 home or one worth $2 million. 

       “We’re always looking to help you fulfill your real estate dream.”

I’ve been a real estate agent since the fall of 1998, so I’ve been doing this a long time. Along with that tenure comes experience and wisdom relating to our market. We’re always looking to help you fulfill your dream of owning a home on the Outer Banks or divesting yourself from one, if need be. If you’re one of the people who allowed us to serve your real estate needs in 2017, I want to thank you personally. Although our team didn’t accomplish every goal we set out to achieve last year, we were still very successful. 

For 2018, we’ve set a goal of 50 transaction sides. If you’re looking to sell a property on the Outer Banks, I’d like to apply for the job of being your Realtor. There are many things Colony Realty (and our sales team, specifically) can do that make us different from other agents, including our excellent communication. We can keep you informed during the entire home sale process, give you an estimation of your home’s value, and provide a time frame of the sale itself. 

Now that I’ve passed the gavel to 2018 president of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors, I want to say that I was thankful for the opportunity to serve our association and all of our clients and customers. 

As always, if you have any real estate questions or you’re looking to buy or sell a home in the Outer Banks area, don’t hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an email. I’d love to help you.

Posted in General
Feb. 16, 2018

The Keys to Pricing Your Home to Sell

In order to price your home to sell, leave your emotions out of the equation and examine the facts about your house. 
 
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What’s the best way to price your home to sell?

First, you need to know that the situation in our second-home market is different than the rest of the country. The average days on market for homes here is much higher because it’s based on buyers’ discretionary income. 

If you’re thinking about selling your home, the most important thing you can do is get the professional advice of a local Realtor. If you need help finding someone, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Another key point to remember is a lot of sellers are making decisions based on emotion (which happens in the vacation rental market as well). What I mean by that is they’re attached to the history of their primary home and thinking about all the things they’ve done to make it theirs. 

The question to ask, though, is what are the facts? When hiring a professional Realtor, make sure they’ll provide the facts of your house so you can make an informed and educated pricing decision. 

What do those facts look like? Look at the most recent sales of comparable homes in the area, or the prices of active listings that are similar or somewhat similar to your home. Ask your agent how they’ll price your property based on the other active listings so yours can be competitive in the marketplace. If you’re interviewing multiple agents, ask them to give you the best options moving forward so you can market your home effectively and efficiently and get top dollar for its sale. 

Price your home competitively to attract buyers’ interest.”

 

When it comes to the emotions involved in selling your home, I’m not immune either. I have a home that my wife and I remodeled personally, and we built those features for us specifically. They’re not necessarily the best options for a potential buyer, though, so they might not give those features as high of a value as we would. Keep that in mind when pricing your home—it may have wonderful features and you may think very highly of them, but that might not be the case for potential buyers. 

When it comes to the vacation market, if you want to sell your vacation home, you have to be realistic as well. Again, having a professional agent there telling you what the most realistic sale is and being willing to accept that is paramount to getting a realistic price in the shortest amount of time. 

A lot of people want to price their home high in order to leave room for negotiation. If you do that, you’re eating up a lot of buyers in the second-home market. If your home is on the market but there are only so many buyers coming to the marketplace and you’ve outpaced your competitors by pricing too high, your home might get looked at, but it won’t see any offers. If you don’t see any offers, there’s nothing to negotiate. That’s why it’s key to price your home competitively so you can attract buyers’ interest. 

Finally, whether it’s a primary home or a second home, not many buyers will want to buy one with a to-do list. That’s why it’s best to either have your house ready to go or at least disclose what kind of repairs need to be done. 

If you have any other questions or you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I’d be happy to help you.

Posted in Home Seller Tips
Jan. 26, 2018

Introducing Our Newest Buyer's Agent: Sylvia Mattingly

Today, we’re excited to introduce our team’s newest member. Let’s take a look at what she had to say about what she brings to the buying process.
 
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Allow me to introduce Colony Realty’s newest member: Sylvia Mattingly.  We’re so excited to have her on our team as a buyer’s agent. 

Sylvia is eager to help people make their real estate dreams come true. So if you’ve ever thought about owning property on the Outer Banks, please get in touch with her. She would be more than happy to help in any way possible. 

Sylvia has been a resident of Hatteras Island for the past 25 years, and while she isn’t new to real estate, she is very excited to be joining our team. Sylvia has always had strong business aspirations, having been an entrepreneur at Equine Adventures for 18 years. 

When it comes to why clients should work with Sylvia as a buyer’s agent, she says, “It’s very important for buyers to have their own representation.”

“I want to represent you, provide quality information, and help you make an informed decision when purchasing real estate on Hatteras Island,” Sylvia continued. 

Those of you who have past experience in buying real estate will know that pitfalls can sometimes occur during the process. The cost of flood insurance for different areas, for example, can sometimes pose an issue for buyers. 

“Sylvia is eager to help people make their real estate dreams come true.

Buyers thinking of purchasing property in areas such as the village of Avon need to realize the additional costs associated with living in certain flood zones. These zones were remapped in 2008, and certain zones can be very expensive in terms of flood insurance. 

When you work with Sylvia, you can be confident in her ability to identify and work through these kinds of pitfalls. She will help you narrow down the properties you’re interested in before your first meeting. To achieve this, the process might involve Sylvia visiting properties to preview them for you. 

This “boots-on-the-ground” approach is greatly helpful in the real estate process. The internet is obviously an amazing tool, but it still isn’t able to show you every aspect of a property you may be interested in. This is exactly why it’s so important that Sylvia makes a point to visit properties for her clients, to preview them in person. 

I think Sylvia is going to bring a dynamic aspect to our team. You can text or call Sylvia at (252) 996-5208 or email her at sylvia@colonyrealtycorp.com

And as always, if you have any other questions for me or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Agents