For New Hanover County there was a 14.2 percent rise in the overall list and sold volume to $1.68 billion. This was a gain of $212 million in 5,687 sales, an increase in properties sold over 2016 of 4.5 percent, leaving brokers and their teams somewhat giddy.
"Everything was up. The market is really hot," Carla Lewis of Intracoastal Realty says. "We had an excellent year. Things that have been out there a while -- water properties, water view, boat slip -- were in high demand and now getting snapped up."
High-end and waterfront sales again dominated. Eclipsing 2016, which saw just one sale over $4 million, and three additional sales above $3 million, New Hanover County roared into big numbers, recording a dozen sales over $3 million, with a whopping four sales closing upward of $4 million -- a 200 percent increase in the over $3 million category by year end. Two of the 12 sales exceeding $3 million were developable land.
"2017 was just an incredible year for real estate across the board," Intracoastal Realty's Michelle Clark says. "The numbers were up everywhere, whether it was the number of units sold, the average sales price -- everything was up, and homes were selling quicker and inventory shrinking."
Three million and up home sales ranged from the 5,850sf ICWW nautical-influenced home at the end of a gated lane, 417 Bradley Creek Point Road, all the way to $4.8 million for oceanfront with a heated pool and 5 bedrooms at 226 Beach Road North on Figure Eight Island. This top sale in the county was a full $500,000 more than the previous year's best.
"The market has been very strong. This is the first year we've seen multiple properties transact over the $3 million price point. And all of them have been cash transactions," Kirra Sutton of Figure Eight Realty says.
Figure Eight Island once again dominated the high-end home sales, capturing eight of the top 20 highest sales, while Wrightsville Beach took four of these top sales with closed prices between $4.5 million and $2.6 million, the former being the highest price single-family house on an oceanfront lot in the town's history.
"We are seeing the number of homes for sale continue to tighten, which means less competition for sellers," says Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage's Jessica Edwards. "For many sellers, they again are seeing gains in equity in their properties and finding it may be a good time to make a move."
Landfall closed two in the top 20. The first was $4.5 million for high bluff waterfront in Pembroke Park, at 2336 Ocean Point Drive, which was a full $1 million higher than the country club community's top 2016 sale. Landfall's second top sale was $3.2 million, also waterfront. The 11,262sf, 8 bedroom, 8 bath, and 7-car garage home on 2.69 acres is at 1120 Harborway Place.
Off historic Airlie Road, Bradley Creek Point Road saw two big-ticket sales in the top 20, both between 5,800 and 6,000sf at 417 and 311 Bradley Creek Point Road, which closed at $3 million and $2.65 million, respectively.
"Bradley Creek Point has that old neighborhood feel, and it is just a short hop, skip and jump to the beach," says Landmark Sotheby's International Realty's Sam Crittenden, who resides there.
"417 Bradley Creek Point Road was a fabulous house," says Vance Young of Intracoastal Realty. "The seller was British, who went to school here at Carolina, but ended up staying in Britain."
The couple that bought it came by way of Chapel Hill, but lived on Harbor Island and relocated from North Chanel Drive. They wanted to have something with more yard space for kids.
"They were looking specifically in Wrightsville Beach; the Wrightsville school district was very important to them," Crittenden says. "We were looking for deep-water access on the beach and couldn't find it. I said, 'Let's take a short ride over the bridge, and just keep your mind open.' And they fell in love."
A spectacular 7,080sf waterfront home at 334 Cabbage Inlet Lane, which sold for $3.295 million, was the ninth-highest sale in the county.
"We had calls from all over the world about that property," says Landmark Sotheby's International Realty's Nick Phillips. "The owner had originally seen it in a Nicholas Sparks film, 'A Walk to Remember.' When they came down from New York, they were drawn to that property. They tore down what was there to build this house. It was designed by a Hamptons architect, a blend of Hamptons and tidewater. They had it drawn to fit the topography and to fit between the mature live oaks."
The buyers are from Chapel Hill: a retired pharmaceuticals executive and University of North Carolina Board of Trustees chair.
This sale's big price tag was followed by 7617 Masonboro Sound Road on 2.8 acres, which included an offshore deeded island connected by bridge with oyster pit, water, electricity and private pier on the ICWW. The 1992 home, remodeled in 2004, offered 6400sf, and sold for $3.2 million.
"If you look at the number of sales, and the dollar volume, it was a very, very healthy market. It is a continuation of the recovery from the Great Recession. And if you look at our three closest metro markets, Raleigh, Charlotte and Charleston, those markets are now averaging 35 percent above their 2006 peak. We've just this year gone back to our '06 numbers," Vance Young says.
"With our market, it has continually improved, but it has not gotten crazy out there. You talk to people in Raleigh and Charlotte and they say it's just kinda nuts," says Lee Crouch also of Intracoastal Realty.
Vance Young attributes this in part to how slowly the area has rebounded in comparison with the other luxury markets on the Southeast Coast.
"If you are in Raleigh or Charlotte and you're looking at getting something on the coast, or relocating, a lot of those people will look at the bigger picture. They'll compare Wilmington to Charleston or Savannah or some of the Florida markets. When you can buy a comparable house in Landfall for $1 million that at Kiawah [Island, S.C.,] is going to be $2.5 million, it is an easy decision, because those markets have gone up so much and we are lagging behind. It's just kind of the rising tide is lifting all boats," Young says.
The waterfront is raising everything. For 2017, New Hanover County saw a 14 percent gain in the number of sales on the water to 340.
The trend of cash sales as well as waterfront heated pools continues, although at Figure Eight the rise in popularity in oceanfront pools is challenging.
"During the past three to four years we have seen a huge influx of people wanting oceanfront with a pool," Kirra Sutton says. "We are starting to see people from other market areas where every house has a pool, like Duck, Corolla, the Outer Banks -- all of those properties have pools. The younger generation definitely wants a pool. And for me, cash sales have been the norm for the past several years."
Seventy percent of the top 20 sales in New Hanover County, 12, were all cash. These included the 15.58 tract of developable land that sold for $3.315 million on the corner of River Road and Halyburton at 7285 River Road, and 12.74 acres at 3828 Carolina Beach Road at the corner of Independence Blvd. that sold for $3 million.
"I've had more big cash buyers than years before," says Barbara Pugh of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, as so many area brokers did. "I've had several instances where the buyer didn't care that the home didn't appraise. If it was in the location they wanted and condition was good, they paid over the appraised value for the home, which does drive the market even higher."
The buyers of these properties are experienced.
"They are people who have seen the best of the best. It's not like they're sheltered and all they know is Wrightsville Beach. They've been to La Jolla, and Hawaii and you name it -- the Hamptons, the best beaches of Florida. They could go anywhere, money is no object, this is where they are coming," Vance Young says.
And the market reflects this with a 44 percent increase in all sales over $1 million.
"The luxury market saw a noticeable increase in activity from 2016," Jessica Edwards says. "There were 108 homes sold over $1 million in 2017, versus only 75 in 2016, which had been a slight bump down from the 82 sold in 2015."
"Although all positive, it does not mean you can put a house on the market without proper preparation, pricing, and planning. Sellers still have to be realistic. The majority of buyers now are market-savvy and looking for homes that are move-in ready and up to date," Edwards says, echoing the sentiment of brokers in 2016.
Lack of inventory, rather than a lack of buyers, is becoming a lament for Realtors.
"The big problem with me this year was having really qualified buyers with nothing to sell them. It is an inventory problem in the luxury market," says Sam Crittendon.
"Homes that are updated and staged, and move-in ready are certainly more popular and will sell quicker than those that are in need of a facelift. Buyers still do not want a project," Michelle Clark says.
And it was not just the high end suffering for lack of inventory.
"Anything under $350,000 was really difficult to find. Low inventory. If you put a ranch-style South Oleander/Forest Hills house on the market, it was gone within a few days," says Carla Lewis.
This may have something to do with the proximity to nearby Live Oak Bank and the cadre of professionals being attracted to the work there.
"It's that, and also the hospital, the medical community and the legal community, and Live Oak," Lee Crouch says. "And then Cape Fear Country Club is a driver, too, the young families that are members."
Describing the area known as midtown, Forest Hills all the way to Barclay -- Market Street all the way to the 17th extension -- he notes a number of seniors live there.
"In midtown, there's an aging community that when they opened up Carolina Bay a number of those folks would go to Carolina Bay. The ones that didn't want to go would talk to their friends that went and they would say, 'oh, how wonderful it was.' And they'd say, 'Maybe I should go and look at it.' That kinda gets the ball rolling," Crouch says.
Jimmy Hopkins of RE/MAX Executive says a lot of his buyers are young couples who now have a family and are moving to a larger home -- a more expensive home.
"Downtown is booming," Hopkins says. "Even the Southside with Vivian Howard's restaurant. The buzz of people wanting to move back down. For years, the downtown had moved to the Mayfaire area, that became Wilmington's downtown. And now folks are coming back to the historic downtown."
While each location or town varied the amount of time a property took to sell, the county-wide average shrank by 22 percent from 100 in 2016 to just 78 days. And to listing agents' delight, multiple offers were frequent.
"We definitely saw the return of the multiple offer," says Carla Lewis. "Multiple offers came into the county the likes of which we had not seen since 2005. They came back with a fury."
"The top sale off the beach was at Landfall, 2336 Ocean Point Drive," says Nick Phillips. "It was a spectacular Mediterranean Revival design by [architect] George Alsina, who was perhaps best known for designing [Dino] De Laurentiis' house at the beach."
Now downsized into another smaller home they already owned, the owners built the house to be their dream home from ideas gathered over their 30 years of designing their houses.
"They built several houses on Figure Eight prior to building several more in Landfall," Phillips says.
Purchasing it as a second home, the buyer was a Fortune 500 executive, originally from North Carolina.
"They have North Carolina roots and wanted to one day end up in North Carolina. They have had 15 career moves, lived all over the country and internationally, and he said there's no place better than what he's seen right here in Wilmington, Landfall and Wrightsville Beach," Vance Young says.
The top 20 group in New Hanover County included two new constructions. The more than 5,000sf 1409 Tidalwalk Drive off Myrtle Grove Road in the southern portion of the county closed at $2.975 million; and to the north at Porters Neck, a 4,600sf new construction on the ICWW with dock and bulkhead, 8708 Bald Eagle Lane, brought $2.604 million.
"Bald Eagle is a story in itself," says Young. "Because of Eagle Point [Golf Club], it is one of the hottest streets in the county. Phenomenal views and great elevation -- most of those homes are out of the flood plain."
Wrightsville had some significant sales, and a 45 percent increase in the number of sales to 149, closing out the year with $127,409,839 in list and sale volume, a significant 51 percent increase. This included seven lot sales, and two commercial sales of local businesses.
"The Wrightsville Beach real estate market was hot from the bottom to the top, meaning all segments of the market got action," Randall Williams of Hardee Hunt & Williams says. "We had multiple offers, and in several cases, we had buyer clients lined up on listings that were just coming onto the market."
Of the 147 residential and lot sales in 2017, 38 sold for more than $1 million. Nine additional sold between $905,000 and $995,000. Seventy-eight, or 52 percent, were waterfront in the two-island town.
Bobby Brandon of Intracoastal Realty says Realtors started seeing the trend switch from sound-front properties to oceanfront in late 2015.
"The trend increased in 2016 and 2017 with demand stronger than the supply for oceanfront, creating an upward push on prices. Oceanfront lots went crazy last year," Brandon says. He says it may indicate a trend away from buyers wanting a dock for a boat versus the view of the ocean.
Days on market at Wrightsville were significantly shorter. The average was 160 days, but 22 properties sold in less than two weeks and 41 sold in less than a month. Eighty-three properties, or 69 percent, sold in six months or less, not counting the nine that show zero days on market, indicating they sold before or just at the time they were listed by Realtors.
The top Wrightsville sale of $4.25 million, 513 S. Lumina Ave., was the No. 4 sale in all of New Hanover County. This was a cash purchase of a second home by a multigenerational Georgia family businessman.
513 S. Lumina Ave. is an old South-styled luxury home on which painstakingly detailed construction began in 2014. Amenities include oceanfront heated pool and hot tub, breathtaking ocean, inlet and sunrise and sunset views, Carrara gold marble and Via Lactea black granite in 5 bedrooms, 6 baths. Randall Williams says the sale set the bar for construction on Wrightsville, selling at a cost of $1,005.59 per square foot.
The buyer is a Tar Heel fan.
"That's a common theme: he has roots in North Carolina by way of going to school here, and the guy that bought the big house on Ocean Point in Landfall had roots in North Carolina and went to N.C. State. A lot of these folks have gone out and done well and are coming back to their roots," Vance Young says.
Another top sale was a $2.85 million cash sale at 813 S. Lumina Ave., the 15th top sale for New Hanover County. This 1982 south end oceanfront 4,219sf home boasts a special sawtooth design and porches to capture maximum views and outdoor living.
"Every price range increased," Bobby Brandon says.
Condominium sales caught on fire. This long, sluggish sector of the market took off with units selling in buildings great and small that have not seen a sale in years.
A stunning total of 84 out of the town's 149 sales were condominiums, 77 percent. Ten of these sold for over $1 million, with two selling at $2.3 million.
The top condo sale was 618 Waynick Blvd. Both sides A and B sold to one buyer for $2.3 million. He is local, living in one unit and his family uses the other, Carla Lewis says. The seller also stayed local, moving into another property.
Closely following at $2.296 million was oceanfront 205B S. Lumina Ave., 5 bedrooms, 6 baths in 4,215sf.
"The property was purchased by a family from Raleigh. The same buyer purchased a home on the north end of the beach 15 years ago and then I sold it for him about 12 years ago. They had continued interest over the years in buying another second home on the beach. This property really fit their needs. Great ocean and sound views with all one-level living. Beautifully decorated and came fully furnished," Keith Beatty of Intracoastal Realty says.
In the top four condo sales at the beach was 119B S. Lumina Ave., 6 bedrooms 8 baths, on four levels with a total of 4,839sf, which sold for $1.685 million.
212B S. Lumina sold for $1.610 million.
"It was a beautifully decorated property, nicely renovated, with a boat slip and a little beach area," says Laura Betz, who co-listed the unit with Sarah Kober of RE/MAX Essentials.
The listing agents had a lot of interest in the condo, which, Betz says, was atypical of what was on the market.
"It was not an isolated buyer. I believe if we had had it longer, we'd have had multiple offers," she says.
Carla Lewis understands.
"One example I had on a beach property, he was waiting on the market to rebound. And on a single weekend in the spring, I ended up with multiple offers and that house went for more than asking price," she explains.
The renovated 3 bedroom, 3 bath townhouse, built in 1985, with Wrightsville ocean views, 15 E Columbia Unit A, sold for $793,400.
At Wrightsville Dunes, 13 units sold, with a top price tag for 3-D of $1.4 million down to $580,000 for H1-E.
Station One saw nine sales ranging in price from $1.2 million for townhouse unit 11 to $527,000 in the tower for 1-G.
Other units sold include 3 Duneridge Resort, 14 at Channel Walk, 9 at Shell Island Resort, 2 at Seapath Tower, 3 at Harbor Inn and 3 at Sand Peddler Inn.
Fifteen or more condo/hotel units sold were under 700sf, including tiny Shorebreak, at 40 N. Lumina Ave., which saw three sales ranging in price from $276,500 for a 728sf unit to $190,000 for a 336sf unit in this single-level, nine-unit condo building in the heart of the downtown district.
"I have been astounded at the gross rental income figures for properties that are on some type of rental program, typically second homes the clients also rent out seasonally. I think it's indicative of the growing popularity not just of Wrightsville Beach, but Wilmington in general. We are increasingly being viewed as more of a year-round destination," says Randall Williams.
Twenty-seven percent of Wrightsville's sales were cash (three were 1031 tax-free exchanges.) Of the 149 sales, 103 were on Wrightsville and 46 were on Harbor Island.
107 W. Salisbury Street, on Keanan's Creek, went under contract in February 2016 and closed as a $1.55 million short sale on June 7, 2017. The three-story house with C-1 zoning was remodeled/renovated on the bones of the former Elizabeth Bland real estate office on a .49 acre lot. At one time the owners had applied for a permit to turn the 4,520sf house into a bed-and-breakfast.
In an almost entirely built-out town, lot sales astonished with multimillion-dollar sales. Five were on Harbor Island, including the vacant lot at 6 Shore Drive on South Harbor Island, which sold for $2 million in September despite not being on the market.
"He would accept nothing else -- wanted deep water, wanted South Harbor Island. It is as good as it gets," says Vance Young.
Also on Harbor Island, on deep-water Lees Cut, 80 Pelican Drive sold for $2.1 million. Oceanfront south end 819 S. Lumina Ave. sold for $1.95 million. Lot number 30 oceanfront at 15 Raleigh Street sold for $1.685 million. This never-built parcel in front of the McCoy family cottage was portioned and four of the prime lots listed for sale. The buyers were a Pennsylvania couple already owning a condo. Carla Lewis says they'll start building on it with a local builder. She predicts the remaining lots will go this year.
The least expensive lot sale was the corner lot at 101 Cypress Ave., on South Harbor Island, which sold for $465,000, as did the adjoining lot next door, 103 Cypress Ave. in matching sales.
Cypress was a hot street; the two unit house at 204 Cypress first built in 1957 sold for $905,000 and 206 Cypress Ave. built in 1952 sold for $505,000.
Oceanfront 819 S. Lumina Ave., which sold for $2.15 million, was a teardown, Bobby Brandon says. It was not alone.
Selling at $2.6 million, oceanfront 423 S. Lumina Ave. was the 20th top residential sale in New Hanover County and No. 4 at Wrightsville Beach. This 1979-built property with 5 bedrooms and 5 baths in the main cottage that additionally included a 2 bedroom and 1 bath guest cottage on 1.5 lots was purchased as a teardown, and a new home will go up soon.
"These people are very excited about what is coming next for them on that property. They have been working with the architect to design something incredible to take advantage of the location and the view," Michelle Clark says.
Ten building permits were issued in the town in 2017, ranging from project costs of $450,000 for 207 Water Street, to $1 million for 524 S. Lumina Ave. They included a permit for new construction on 405 N. Lumina Ave., purchased by builders and preservationists Debbie and Chris Strickland for $1.2 million in February. The donated 1924-built Ewing-Bordeaux Cottage was moved Jan. 11, 2018, to its new location in the town's historic square.
lL of them were demos, with new houses built in their place, except 17 Myrtle, 826 Schloss, and 826 S. Lumina. And of course, 405 N. Lumina, the house was moved," says Danielle Villegas, planning technician with the Town of Wrightsville Beach. (See chart page 94)
"High-end residential construction on the island continued unabated. Curiously, despite the fact that conventionally constructed wooden houses have weathered the test of time, architects and builders are increasingly integrating concrete and steel materials into their projects. Although this drives up the cost of construction significantly, the clients seem undeterred, and I suspect the motivation for selecting these materials has as much to do with status as it does with the potential longevity and functional life," says Randall Williams.
112 Live Oak Drive on South Harbor Island may very well be the best value. This 1,806sf cottage on the live oak shaded street has 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a charming front porch, and a tiny studio or workshop space out back.
At a price of $1,709 per square foot, 12 Island Drive on Motts Creek built in 1947 sold for $1.61 million, capturing the top price per square foot honor for the year. The modest 942sf brick single-story bungalow had a new 20,000-pound boat lift and dock.
"I sold this property twice, assuming it would be torn down both times. But this fantastic little beach cottage just keeps charming everyone and still stands," says Shannon Andrews of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage."
The oldest house to sell in the town was the cottage at 520 S. Lumina Ave., built in 1912, on a 50-by-106-foot lot. It was not torn down.
"My clients gutted it," says Sam Crittenden. The remodel was done by Chris Parker. It looks amazing."
The top single-family home sale on Harbor Island was 52 Pelican Drive, waterfront built in 2004 with dockage and twin boat lifts on Lees Cut, which sold for $2.325 million.
"Waterfront with a deep-water boat slip is gold at Wrightsville Beach," listing agent Barbara Pugh says.
Another much-discussed trend was consistent purchases by a handful of individuals.
"Something quietly happening on the island is a consolidation of properties being acquired by a handful of unaffiliated private investors," Randall Williams says. "This includes commercial as well as residential real estate. These are not the cowboys and flippers we dealt with in the last boom, these are financially well-heeled buyers making strategic long-term investments. They are making calculated decisions, and they are betting on Wrightsville Beach."
Figure Eight Island ended the year with $48.9 million in list and sold volume, 20 homes sold.
"Inventory is a big, big part of what is going on at Figure Eight," Intracoastal Realty's Buzzy Northen says. "Five years ago, there were 52 houses for sale, today there are approximately 15."
The reported average days on market was 189, down from 205 the previous year.
The top sale was 226 Beach Road North, a 5,680sf, 4 bedroom, 6 bath oceanfront with a heated pool, which sold for $4.8 million to a family from Forest, Virginia. It sold in 67 days.
Kirra Sutton says the home's number of days on the market was low compared to what she has seen for the last five to six years.
"It was not on the market for as long as a typical property on Figure Eight," she says. "There were multiple people interested in that property."
Again mirroring the county, the second-highest sale was oceanfront with a heated pool, and 4-car garage and 6,440sf at 90 Beach Road North, sold for $4.6 million.
"The family that bought 90 Beach Road South looked for years," Kirra Sutton says. "The husband is originally from North Carolina. They wanted something that was high quality or to build custom, and that house fit most of the bullet points for them. You get unobstructed ocean and sound views and are able to accommodate a pool."
Both of these homes were of high-quality construction and finish.
"Quality of home and location on the island is the driving force behind the pricing right now," says Buzzy Northen. "And from Topsail to Wrightsville Beach, we really have unspoiled waters that don't exist until you get down to Florida."
The fifth top sale in the county was 286 Beach Road N., which sold to a family from Charlotte.
"286 Beach Road N. was the first $1,000-per-square-foot home sold at Figure Eight. It was a barrier breaker," says Northen.
Boasting African teak ceilings and cabinetry, the renovated 1985 home with under 3500sf, on a secluded .78-acre lot on the north end, sold for $3.9 million.
The average sales price on the private barrier island enclave was $2,446,750.
With a price tag of $3.265 million, on a sound-front sandy beach, 26 Pipers Neck Road was the sixth top sale on Figure Eight and was sold to a family from Atlanta.
"That's a fun house," Kirra Sutton says. "It has great views and was a pretty impressive cash transaction on the sound."
All were cash sales. All were waterfront. Privacy and the quality of the beaches at Figure Eight are a big draw.
"Right now, the buyers at Figure Eight are still coming from North Carolina, Atlanta, Virginia and New York," Buzzy Northen says.
At $1.3 billion, list and sold volume in Brunswick County came in just under that of New Hanover County, but closed more sales with 6,122. Days on market dropped nearly 16 percent. The county saw a 10 percent increase in median sales price and ended the year with 758 additional sales waiting to close.
Half of the top 10 sales in Brunswick County were on Bald Head Island. Prices declined on the private island with the top sale being 22 percent less than the previous year's top dollar sale of $2.4 million. Yet it was still a strong year.
"Real Estate sales on Bald Head Island saw a dramatic turn in 2017 from 2016. Sales grew 54 percent in all areas of real estate, and residential home sales grew by percent," says Wendy Wilmot of Wendy Wilmot Properties.
The top sale county-wide and on Bald Head Island was waterfront, No. 207 Row Boat Row, Bald Head Island Harbour Village, which sold for $1.851 million in May. This 4,000sf, 4 bedroom, 5 bath home was built in 2006.
The second-highest sale in the county and at Bald Head Island was not waterfront. 1 Keelson Row Unit A, also at Bald Head Island Harbour Village, with 4 bedrooms and 6 baths, sold for $1.8 million in August.
The top sale at Oak Island, 121 SE 67th Street, was the No. 4 sale in the county. This waterfront Turtle Creek, 2-story, 4 bedroom, 6 bath home sold for $1.583 million in June.
Sunset Beach's top sale was just slightly lower at $1.525 million for 158 East First St., the fifth top sale for the county, sold in May.
On Ocean Isle Beach, the top sale was waterfront 5 bedroom, 5 bath at 105 West Main Street, selling in April for $1.505 million.
The eighth highest sale in the county was Holden Beach's waterfront 1353 Ocean Blvd. West. This 6 bedroom, 6 bath, 2-story home sold for $1.5 million in September.
Pender County saw an 8.37 percent gain in list and sold volume, ending the year with $402,761,949 in list and sold volume, an 8.37 percent gain over 2016.
"Topsail Beach and Surf City markets have been very, very active. Nice oceanfront properties are moving very, very quickly," Nick Phillips says.
With 1,640 sales, Pender County saw sales volume of $402.8 million, The Pender County top sale of $1.640 million in July was 330 Olde Point Loop in Hampstead, a 4 bedroom, 3 bath waterfront home.
The No. 2 sale was waterfront at Surf City, with 7 bedrooms and 7 baths at 1328 S Shore Drive, selling for $1.362 million in May.
The third top sale and No. 1 at Topsail Island was the 5 bedroom, 5 bath 111 S. Anderson Blvd. waterfront, which sold in June for $1.305 million.
"Buyers are drawn to Topsail for the quiet, laid-back lifestyle that the island offers. It is truly one of the last sleepy beach towns. There are no crowds," Phillips says.
Topsail's No. 1 Anderson Blvd. water view, at $1.030 million, was the top residential lot sale.
Some of the big-ticket increases seen locally could be attributed to the prestigious 2017 Wells Fargo Golf Tournament held the first week in May at the ultra-private Eagle Point Golf Club. Others see it as influencing future sales for 2018 and 2019.
Buzzy Northen touts the tournament.
"We had over 20,000 people a day attend the golf tournament and were introduced to the area," he says. "Worldwide TV viewing was phenomenal. The tournament was viewed by over 20 million people from 225 countries, and it showcased Wilmington. Most of those who came had never been here before and they could not believe how nice the golf course was, the location and the quality of life in Wilmington."
Vance Young agrees the exposure was undoubtedly valuable.
"The Eagle Point golf experience is such an out-of-this-world experience, it's responsible for bringing in a lot of folks for the golf tournament. It was incredible exposure," he says.
Michelle Clark sees it as a long-term impact.
"It's hard to quantify what kind of impact that made on us," she says. "It certainly made an impact on our area; we had great visibility to people that had never heard of Wilmington before. The fact that the $1 million plus, the $2 million plus, the $3 million plus -- those price ranges are all better than they were in 2016 could be a direct result of that. However, I haven't had someone call me and say, 'I didn't know of Wilmington until the PGA tournament was held there and now I want to live there.' But if you look at the numbers, it wouldn't surprise me if there was some kind of impact. I think it's going to be more long-term."
Regardless, it set the stage for a promising year ahead.
Pat Bradford has been a licensed NC Real Estate Broker since the early 1980s, and was actively engaged in real estate brokerage in the greater Wilmington area from 1993 to 2001. All numbers reported and used for analysis are from the Cape Fear Realtors MLS System as of Dec. 31, 2017. Additional 2017 sales may have posted or even been corrected after the Jan. 10, 2018, date drawn.