Gaining Ground: 14th Annual Real Estate Roundup

BY Pat Bradford



It was a breakout yearKeith Beatty


The market is reboundingMargaret Collins


Second consecutive growth yearChris Livengood


Buyers were back in the marketplaceVance Young


A seller s marketBuzzy Northen


More of our clients are considering Wrightsville Beach a place to live full timeRandall J. Williams



Overall total residential sales volume in New Hanover County was up $57 million for a year-end sold volume of $1 093 869 124 a solid 5.5 percent gain over 2013.

2014 was a second consecutive growth year in New Hanover County up 5 percent versus 2013 which also grew versus 2012 Intracoastal Realty Corporation Vice President of Sales Chris Livengood says of the gain.

It was just a safer environment in that sellers and buyers felt like they could triangulate on values easier says Intracoastal Realty s Vance Young the No. 1 ranked Broker in New Hanover County with a combined sold and list total of 96 sales for $75 million in sold property. The buyer felt more comfortable in the marketplace and the sellers felt comfortable coming to the market.

That comfort translated into 90 more New Hanover County sales than 2013.

Buyers were back in the marketplace Young continues. However he says They had a sharp pencil; they had to take their medicine to sell what they were selling [to turn around and buy]. The buyer last year was as educated as ever they had been through the downturn and they had an appreciation of capital much more so than ten years previously so what I am saying — the buyers were by no means a pushover — but they were in the marketplace ready to buy.

The exclusive enclave of Figure Eight Island again dominated the top dollar sales in New Hanover County with nine of the Top 20 big-ticket sales occurring there closing out 2014 with $37 million in Realtor-assisted sales.

The top sale in the county oceanfront at No. 6 Beach Road South sold furnished for $3.5 million. The home while a 20 percent decrease from the previous year (see WBM February 2013) offered a fabulous floorplan with a professional Palm Beach d?cor 4 bedrooms 5 and one-half baths with a yacht club warranty.

Kirra Sutton listing agent for Figure Eight Realty says Buyers were already a part of the island because their families already have homes here. They wanted something virtually move-in ready that they could upgrade at a later date.

Climbing from a ranking of 13th in 2013 to No. 6 in New Hanover County Intracoastal Realty s Buzzy Northen was again the selling agent on 2014 s top sale as well as the 2013 listing and selling agent on the county s top sale ($4.375 million) plus that year s listing agent on the second top sale ($4.150 million).

We have really seen it turn at Figure Eight it definitely has become a seller s market because of the declining inventory Northen says. The inventory has been cut more than half in the last two years; sellers are able to command more on their pricing that is the biggest thing going at Figure Eight. It is totally different because a year ago I had three or four houses to show people flying in but now it is tough.

Full of expectation founding a new firm Pier House Group Broker Margaret Collins returned to the real estate market in the spring of 2014 after several years in retirement.

The market is rebounding Collins says. I think 2015 is going to be another year similar but better.

Wrightsville Beach had seven of the Top 20 sales all over $1.8 million. Of these two were on Wrightsville s Harbor Island.

Randall J. Williams Broker on Team Hardee Hunt and Williams says I would characterize 2014 as a solid year in real estate. He sees a shift in the buyer demographic at Wrightsville.

A subtle change in the demographic of the buyers is the number of homes that are being bought as primary residences Williams says. That adds a layer to the marketplace that may not be as prevalent in other more seasonal beach communities. As Wilmington has evolved more and more of our clients are considering Wrightsville Beach as a place to live full time. That in part may explain the number of homes that have been purchased in recent years for substantial prices only to be razed to make way for extravagant new homes.

Landfall with $92 million in Realtor-assisted sales saw three sales in the Top 20 followed by one on the waterway at nearby Summer Rest and one at White Hall.

The No. 9 high dollar sale at $2.150 million was the modern version of the Summer Rest cottage designed by Scott Sullivan at 315 Summer Rest Road. The 5-bedroom 5 and one-half bath 4 700sf home on a one-acre lot has a private pier with a 60ft floating dock and boatlift. Listing agent Karen Allison from Laney Real Estate Co. says there was continuous activity on the listing almost from day one. She notes very few properties off the beaches sold for over $2 million.

The third highest sale was in Landfall at 1255 Great Oaks Drive. The 5 800sf Michael Kersting architect-designed home with a detached guest house on a high bluff lot totaling over one and one-half acres featuring over 135 feet of Intracoastal water frontage sold for $2.9 million.

Of the Top 20 sales just one was not waterfront: No. 18 at 2325 Ocean Point Drive in Landfall selling for $1.675 million. The old-world architecture expressed in the French Country style house with a pool house and picnic pavilion was sited overlooking the No. 5 tee on the country club s Nicklaus Ocean Course. Allison Bernhart Broker at Landfall Realty who ranked 45 in New Hanover County with 19 sales totaling $8.6 million says the home built in 1990 with more than 6 000sf is an exquisite house. The sellers of that property had purchased a property only about five houses away and razed the house she says. They went from the golf course side to the waterfront.



It was the best of all worlds if you were a Realtor Young says. My least favorite market was back in 2005 and  06 when things were running up so quickly. It was really hard to counsel people on how to price a home or what was a fair price to pay for a home as it was going up exponentially month to month. So 2014 was one of those years when everything was in perfect harmony. It was much easier to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Intracoastal s Keith Beatty who ranked No. 2 in New Hanover County and No. 3 in Wrightsville Beach with a prolific volume of 229 sales totaling just under $71 million says I felt it was a breakout year when a lot of people who had been sitting on the fence from all over the place came in and got a lot more consumer confidence and started to buy. Consequently the inventory the listing inventory is being reduced substantially and prices have started to rise at a historically average price.

Days on market the number of days a house remains on the market before selling decreased everywhere except at Figure Eight Island. County-wide the decrease was 4.6 percent with Wrightsville posting the highest decrease of 26.5 percent in the amount of time it took to sell a property.

It was a continuation of gaining ground it continues to creep up in some form or fashion as a market as a whole says Jessica Edwards Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty Broker ranked No. 10 in New Hanover County with 69 sales and a combined list and sold volume of $18 million for the county.

At the top end of the county Porters Neck saw the biggest increase in sales 18 percent.

It was a healthy year says Bruce R. Koch Broker of Porters Neck Co. credited with 44 sales a volume of $16.2 million and a No. 15 ranking in New Hanover County sales. We have 15 sales pending closing from 2014. Lots of people have bought lots and then built; we have 11 lots under construction right now.

To the south on Pleasure Island the towns of Kure and Carolina beaches saw a gain of just under $8.4 million in sales and the days on market went down more than 22 percent. Ranked No. 9 in New Hanover County sales Justin Donato of Coastwalk Real Estate is credited with 62 sales having a combined sold volume of just less than $18.8 million. Things are pretty strong right now especially in the resale $300 000 to $500 000 price range he says. New construction is very strong. Land prices and dirt have skyrocketed. The inventory of good available land building lots has somewhat plummeted. One slow area is older oceanfront condos.

The average sales price in the county has increased 3.3 percent to $258 537. Wrightsville s average sale price increased to $731 998 Landfall s $572 639 and Pleasure Island s to $253 774 while Porters Neck and Figure Eight Island dropped to $370 155 and $1.864 million respectively.

We are still teetering in between — that neutral market Jessica Edwards says. There s pockets here and there throughout the county that definitely are seeing less inventory and more demand but it is not blanketed across the whole marketplace. It depends on the location and the price point. There are some neighborhoods or price points where there is very little inventory and sometimes there is a lot more.

Donato says he assumes the economy in the Raleigh region is currently strong because he has many buyers from the area purchasing a second home on Pleasure Island.

We have really seen the emergence of the baby boomer generation buying those retirement homes he says. Not buying to retire but people in their 50s 60s buying that second home for the next couple of years and then moving down here full time when they retire.

Margaret Collins says New Hanover County follows a bell-curve trend.

Raleigh and Charleston we follow them and their markets are booming she says. We come 12 months behind that sort of surge there.

Chris Livengood adds In our area we are starting to see the secondary home markets improve as individuals balance their investment portfolios and use their recent stock market gains to fund real-estate purchases.


Foreclosure filing volume was again down statewide with an overall decline to 32 771 since the 2010 high of 66 232. New Hanover County experienced a decrease of 30 percent from the previous year with 681 reported an average of 57 court filings per month.

Neighboring Brunswick County mirrored New Hanover with 632 foreclosure filings. To the north Pender fared better at 235 for 2014. Both are decreases.


Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville saw a steady 3.5 percent increase in residential sales with a sold volume totaling just under $83 million for 112 residential sales a Realtor-assisted boat slip plus one commercial sale for a total of 114 recorded sales.

Beach sales are up. It was an exciting fast year. It was busy busy says Carla Lewis Intracoastal Realty Broker the No. 2 ranked Broker at Wrightsville Beach and No. 3 in New Hanover County. We thought it probably would slow down at the end of the year but it didn t.

At just under $2.4 million the top sale on Wrightsville was the No. 2 sale in New Hanover County. Sited on 70ft of prime oceanfront this 5-bedroom 5 and one-half bath home at 11 North Ridge Lane is in Duneridge Estates on Wrightsville s north end. Listing agent Lewis says It is an amazing custom oceanfront home on the beach.

Wrightsville s No. 2 sale fifth in the county was on north Harbor Island where again just under $2.4 million was paid for new construction a 4-bedroom 4 and one-half bath waterfront home with two 30ft boat slips at 112 North Channel Drive. The new home was constructed on the 75ft bulkheaded former 1954 Johnson property purchased in 2003 at $950 000 and razed.

Selling agent JB Fox of Intracoastal Realty says the house is exceptional and the buyer is a young high-level financial industry executive who relocated his family to Wilmington and purchased the house as a second home.

They have two great young boys and love that section of the island Fox says. They wanted the boys to have the whole Wrightsville experience: to be able to go out on the pier and crab and fish go sailing.

The No. 3 sale jumps back to oceanfront at Duneridge to the 5-bedroom 6 and one-half bath at 11 South Ridge Lane which sold for not quite $2.27 million and offers over 5 000 sf.

No. 4 at $2.025 million was also soundfront on north Harbor Island at 14 North Channel Drive featuring a 5-bedroom 5 and one-half bath waterfront Dennis Moeller construction built in 2006. This home also includes two 25-foot boat slips. Listing agent Marcello Caliva ranked No. 8 at Wrightsville Beach with five sales says the buyer was the buying agent s cousin who is a successful attorney from Raleigh.

They got a great deal on this house Caliva says. It has 10-foot ceilings on the first floor and 7-foot roll out casement windows a lot of value with that house with the third floor. Houses sold down the street did not have a third floor.

At $1.89 million the fifth top Wrightsville sale and the oldest house sold on the beach was the 1925 Catherine Emerson Cottage anchoring the corner at 426 Waynick Boulevard. This 5-bedroom 4-bath classic beach cottage included five 17- to 24-foot boatslips. Listing agent Young says It is in that one or two blocks of Wrightsville Beach that old Wilmington adores cherishes and pays a premium for. Those houses just hardly ever come available. A local family bought it that wanted that corner exposure and close proximity to the beach and a boat in the backyard. Young is ranked No. 4 at Wrightsville Beach.

The sixth top Wrightsville sale 15 Bermuda Drive one of four sales on Parmele Isle sold for $1.8 million. This 5-bedroom 4 and one-half bath home built in 1969 features 63ft of waterfront with a private pier and dockage.

That house was a redo everybody that came in that house was blown away says Intracoastal s Bobby Brandon listing agent ranked No. 6 at Wrightsville Beach in sales with five sales for a combined sales volume of $7.3 million. It is tucked away there is no public parking back there. Every house has water access at the end of the street.

A teardown of the oversized waterfront two-unit 1954 house at No. 8 Water Street took seventh place in top sales prices at $1.6 million.

Holding down the eighth slot was a bank-owned sale at 2601 North Lumina Avenue West Shell Island Village. This iconic 1989 pink palatial home features 4 bedrooms 4 and one- half baths with 100ft of waterfront on the low water creek which boasts a small pier. The home sold for just under $1.3 million.

Ninth place island-wide went to 103 Island Drive: unique because while not waterfront it offers sunset water views from the rooftop and views from every deck. The almost 4 000sf home built in 2003 sold for $1.3 million. Beatty says This was a local buyer that lived on the beach and wanted a bigger home.

No. 10 also not waterfront but oceanview at 15 East Asheville Street with 6 bedrooms and 5 baths was built in 2009 and sold for $1.299 million.

On Wrightsville there were 27 single-family house sales 11 for Harbor Island bringing the total for single-family free-standing home sales to 38 an increase of 12 percent over 2013.

One Realtor-assisted commercial sale occurred: the unique commercial structure at 96 West Salisbury Street sold for $1.3 million in June after languishing on the market. The new owner and tenant hope to revitalize the waterfront point as a boat club.

Two Realtor-assisted lot sales were recorded: the 50- by 80ft lot at 837 Schloss Street which sold for $460 000 in August. No. 7 Myrtle Court also sold; this 60- by 85ft neighborhood lot offered potential non-waterfront views and sold in May for $325 000.

Twenty duplex units sold outside of the planned unit communities listed in the chart on the opposite page. These were the traditional side-by-side duplex units as well as the standard over-under two-unit dwellings. Multiple offers occurred on the over-under duplex units at No. 4 Sandpiper Street which sold in February for $908 000. All remaining sales were at least water view (6) while 11 were waterfront on the sound or ocean. One of these the four-unit waterfront North Shores with pier also sold in November for $1.185 million.



An emerging trend seen at Wrightsville is the number of properties houses and older duplex units dating from 1950 to 2006 sold as teardowns like the year-round in-good-condition house sold and torn down for new construction for a Wilmington chiropractor and his family at 4326 Causeway Drive.

In many of these cases clients are paying millions of dollars to essentially obtain a desired location and are somewhat unconcerned about the immediate value of the new home Williams says. They are approaching it from a different perspective taking a longer view of the value of an asset they are likely to own for a long time. As more of these homes are built the complexion of the island will change and real estate values will continue to escalate.

Built in 1969 waterfront with a boatslip and lift No. 56B Pelican Drive sold in October for $560 000 and 56A Pelican closed the next day for $700 000. The buyer who purchased both sides from two different sellers is going to raze the lot and build a single-family home.

It will be more of a residence than a beach cottage says selling agent Jim Hardee of Team Hardee Hunt and Williams ranked No. 4 in New Hanover County and No. 1 at Wrightsville Beach with 44 sales totaling just under $30 million. That is one thing I am seeing in the market: more people buying residential homes waterfront homes to live in versus beach cottages.

Down the street side-by-side No. 20 A and B Pelican Drive sold in December for $1.225 million. These units totaled 6 bedrooms 4 baths and 4 boatslips on this Lees Cut waterfront property. The house was razed in January 2015.

The buyer is a local resident who lives on the beach and wanted something with better water access and a newer more customized home on the water for his family Keith Beatty says.



Condo sales in planned developments totaled just under $23.6 million. Of these five were fractional ownership of vacation rentals for details see the chart on page 48.

Two condo units sold for more than $1 million: the first 2500 North Lumina Avenue a Wrightsville Dunes oceanfront unit No. 3D. Then soundfront between the fixed bridges Unit A at Channel Avenue by the Banks Channel Causeway Drive bridge. Two Marina Street units sold unique in their mixed-use zoning allowing the use to be either residential or commercial. No. 10 Marina Street A1 sold for $350 000 in May and the extensively remodeled A4 sold in July for $530 000 to be used as a real estate office.

Vance Young says his market is what some agents are calling the bubble: a 3-4 mile radius from the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge including Landfall Airlie Road Greenville Loop Road Masonboro Loop Road and Figure Eight Island.

Most people want to stay close to the beach and don t want to go into Brunswick and much further into Pender County Young says. Those people are used to the better shops and restaurants of Lumina Station Wrightsville Beach the Mayfaire corridor — that is their hunting grounds where they want to eat shop work play.

Most encouraging is individual home prices are expected to grow at a healthy 5 percent per year for the next few years making a slow and steady recovery to the peaks we saw in 2005 and 2006 Chris Livengood predicts.

I expect the cost of a Carolina dog at the Trolly Stop to increase in the very near future Randal J. Williams says.


Footnote: Pat Bradford has been a licensed NC Real Estate Broker since the early 1980s. She was a top producer in the greater Wilmington area from 1993 to 2001. All numbers reported and used for analysis of New Hanover County (only) real estate sales are from the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors MLS Rapattoni system as of December 31 2014. Additional 2014 sales may have posted or even been corrected after date drawn.