Stepping to the Beat of a Different Drummer

BY Pat Bradford

Real estate professionals from Wrightsville were pretty vocal all throughout the year claiming that despite the national slump sales were improving. They were telling the truth — the numbers don’t lie and the numbers were up. Not the boom times of 2005 but certainly stronger than the preceding year with a sales volume of $112 million for Wrightsville which was a 7.7-percent increase over 2006.

Danny McPherson chief financial officer RE/MAX Coastal Properties says a combination of forces is at work on Wrightsville Beach and is directly attributable to the success of the market here. Not a licensed Broker Danny McPherson is a financial guy. He says the typical buyer at Wrightsville Beach is a sophisticated client who understands all the advantages this market provides — a buyer in essence who understands Warren Buffett’s theory of when it’s time to buy.

In addition he comments that some of the most talented and knowledgeable agents in the real estate community are those representing the properties for sale on Wrightsville.

Add to this he says that to people living in Wilmington Wrightsville Beach has seen a huge spike in prices. But Wrightsville’s prices when compared to some of the private exclusive beaches around the country seem reasonable. The sophisticated buyer knows this having done his or her homework.

122 Parmele Blvd. the most expensive home sold in New Hanover county in 2007. File photo.

Intracoastal Realty founder and CEO Jim Wallace believes another Wrightsville Beach advantage is being attached to Wilmington’s economy and all the amenities and benefits of the nearby thriving city. “These other places other barrier islands and resorts don’t have that “he says ” and they depend entirely on the investor and second-home buyer. There were not as many of those last year in the market.”

There’s no question that while the rest of the nation’s real estate industry slipped into near panic locally things held and improved. “What impressed me most in ’07 ” says the county’s “Top Broker ” Vance Young of Intracoastal Realty “was the flight to quality — the higher the price the better — it just legitimized what I’ve said all along when advising people. To me the epicenter of where you want to be in real estate for this area is — take the drawbridge to Wrightsville Beach and draw a concentric circle around it a mile to 3 miles out — and that’s where you want to be whether you’re on the beach or Landfall Mayfaire or Airlie Road or Bradley Creek.”

The “Top Agent” at Wrightsville Beach was Ronnie Hunt from the three-man firm of Hardee Hunt & Williams with $21.4 million in list and sold volume. Overall his firm had a great year cornering 19 percent of the market share ranking second behind Intracoastal Realty in overall sales for Wrightsville.

Top Six Wrightsville Beach Realtors

by listing and selling volume

The number one listing and selling firm on both sides of the drawbridge is Intracoastal Realty Corp.; with more than 200 agents Intracoastal Realty handled more than half the sales in Wrightsville Beach. Three Intracoastal Realtors — Michelle Clark Debbie Mitchell and Vance Young — ranked in the top six Brokers at Wrightsville Beach.

But the big news this year is that the top agent on the beach by listing and selling volume was Ronnie Hunt from the three-man firm of Hardee Hunt & Williams. This boutique grassroots firm is also the number two company at Wrightsville Beach capturing 19 percent of the market share with an average sale of $1 257 000.

1. Ronnie J. Hunt Hardee Hunt & Williams

2. Michelle L. Clark Intracoastal Realty

3. Debbie R. Mitchell Intracoastal Realty

4. Vance B. Young Intracoastal Realty

5. Randall J. Williams Hardee Hunt & Williams

6. Jim M. Hardee Hardee Hunt & Williams

Ronnie Hunt uses words sparingly “You see the numbers ” he says. “We had a good year for our group.” He attributes his and the firm’s high numbers to referrals from clients past business and previous clients buying new things.

“It could have been some sales that kind of drug on in ’06 that actually landed in ’07. I know I had a couple who were looking in ’06 who wouldn’t pull the trigger and then in ’07 … the seller came around a bit and made it work for both parties ” Ronnie Hunt says.

Speaking to the agents who made the sales there’s no question that real estate sales at Wrightsville were pretty good. “I thought it was a good year ” Intracoastal Realty’s Michelle L. Clark remarks. Typical of the other top producers she adds “It wasn’t our best year but it was a good year. Volume was up on the beach over 2006 and so were units sold. It was a normal year.”

Wrightsville Beach Realtors ended the year closing on 98 properties a 17-percent increase from 2006’s disappointing low of 84 sales. “Wrightsville Beach for the most part was healthy in the way that values stayed up in spite of the dramatic appreciation in the previous three or four years ” Vance Young says. “It was comforting to see property values and the sentiment hold up in a challenging market when it was being beaten up by the press.”

“There was a price adjustment ” Randy Williams of Hardee Hunt & Williams agrees. “There was some inventory buildup but overall it was a pretty good year here.”

Million Dollar Babies

The average list price at Wrightsville Beach was $1 258 315 with the median sales price $937 500. However a good number — 44 percent of the total sales at Wrightsville — were in the more-than-a-million-dollar category.

Of those 43 22 were freestanding homes 24 were waterfront or water view 14 were sound-front six oceanfront and eight were sound or ocean view a few were both.

Intacoastal Realty’s Debbie Mitchell has a theory about these high-end properties and the ones she describes as the signature properties on the beach. “If I had something to say for the beach this year it was that the signature properties were still selling and they probably always will. To me when the market’s off everything’s off except for the signature properties — the rare waterfront top-of-the-line properties that don’t come up that often are still going to sell. The properties that there are more of and that are more easily accessible … the people that are nervous or want to wait out the market or buy at the right time they’re not worried about grabbing a Station One or grabbing a Wrightsville Dune because they are always going to be available. There’s always going to be one or two or three or four on the market. I don’t know when there’s been a brand-new house on the Lollipop for sale. There might be two in one year; there might be none for two years.”

A total of 31 freestanding single-family homes were sold in Wrightsville Beach. Of these eight sales were on Harbor Island and 23 were on Wrightsville proper.

Interior properties lagged behind those on the waterfront especially those on the sound-front with deep-water boat slips.

“How many really nice top-of-the-line oceanfront houses are on the market or actually come up for sale? Not that many ” Debbie Mitchell says continuing her analysis as to why the top-end properties sell in a slower market. “You get an old one that’s halfway fixed up. You get a fixer-upper but for the person who is looking for a really high end really nice home in a great location there’s just not that many of them that come available. In my opinion those are the ones that sell in a slower market because those are signature properties that people have got to buy while they’re available.”

“I think people down here when the market is cooling off are still going to come down here and buy waterfront — oceanfront or sound-front ” agrees Randy Williams. “That’s mostly what we sold. Naturally the interior properties took a hit.”

“You’ve got the safe stuff on the periphery — be it oceanfront or sound-front ” says Vance Young. “It held better than the interior stuff. There was more of an adjustment on the interior; and the single-family held better moreso than the multi-family; again an indication of flight to quality people with more money paying more on a relative basis paying more for single-family or waterfront.”

Randy Williams says “The new construction product and we had some of that listed — we don’t have it listed now — that are on interior lots mainly the duplexes which are technically condominiums a lot of that product got built and if it’s not waterfront and the market does cool down then it’s probably going to be a lot more difficult to sell than when it was such a hot market. Outside of the fact that it’s new — you can’t move the building it’s got the view it’s got and the views are limited.”

“I think the boat slip properties do pretty well ” Debbie Mitchell says “because there’s just not that many with a decent-sized boat slip that come on the market. They don’t do as well as the signature properties but the deep-water boat slip properties with a decent-sized good boat slip there’s really just not that many of them available. Those still held up pretty well.”

Just one boat slip sold through Realtors a shared 1/7 ownership which sold for $142 000.

“The boat slips have actually gone up in value from the peak of the market ” says Vance Young.

At Wrightsville it took a while longer to move properties in 2007 an average of 141 days while throughout the county the days on the market averaged just 95 days.

“I think our strong point is that the buyers never lose interest ” says Randy Williams. “They’re always very curious and interested in it. They just got on the sidelines to some extent to see where the bottom was going to be. We may have reached the bottom. The deals that we wrote were not all fire sale deals. One of them — which we don’t get credit for — was the most expensive property sold in the history of Wrightsville Beach the single-family house that Debbie Mitchell had listed on Parmele.”

Click for Wrightsville Beach Statistics

The highest priced sale in the history of Wrightsville Beach was also the most expensive single-family home in the county to sell; the large brand-new waterfront construction at 122 Parmele Boulevard which sold in April for $4.5 million. It sits on deep water anchored by an 80-foot boat slip; the lot is 100 by 200 feet on Wrightsville’s coveted body of water known as the Lollipop.

Its sale was extraordinary. The home was not speculative but being custom built for a primary residence and the homeowner’s personal circumstances changed necessitating not making the move from Charlotte after all. The buyer was waiting in the wings hoping a brand-new house on the Lollipop would come up.

“It sold quickly ” Debbie Mitchell describes. “Just in a couple of weeks. It was a unique situation with the lot where you could look across the street — nobody was across the street — you could see the sunset and it was a 5 000-plus-square-foot house all the bells and whistles heated tile floors … you know … top of the line. Those people could walk right in … he’s a CEO … he probably didn’t have time to build a house but wanted a new house. It was perfect for him. I know it was a stiff price tag but if you really looked at what sold on the water it was actually very fairly priced.”

The least expensive sale in this freestanding single-family category was an oldie the 1950s vintage beach cottage at 106 Live Oak Drive which sold for $487 500 or $464 per square foot.

Harbor Island

The oldest home to sell was also on Harbor Island 602 North Channel Drive a 1926 two-bedroom two-bath “as is” historic waterfront cottage which sold for $1 650 000. This quiet dead-end street cottage included ground-level in-laws quarters 55 x 82.5-foot lot framed by live oak trees.

The most expensive to sell in 2007 on Harbor Island sold in just 55 days. It was the waterfront home built in 1991 at 26 Shore Drive which sold for $3.75 million in October.

“That end of the market held up as far as us having some really nice properties that came and went ” Debbie Mitchell notes. Another of these homes was the 1942 renovated cottage at 205 North Lumina Avenue which was Realty World Broker Harold Chappell’s personal home. The large cottage which sold for $2.9 million embodies all of the classic elements of old Wrightsville. Most of the house was original with seven bedrooms and five baths interior painted cypress wood paneling poplar wood floors and multiple deep-covered porches. Harold Chappell describes the house as having exquisite views from every room. “The buyers are actually three couples from an old Wrightsville family two sisters and a brother Holmes Davis ” he says.

“Harold’s house was another example ” Debbie Mitchell says of the home which sold at the end of June. “It was a beautiful old Wrightsville Beach cottage on an oversized lot. There’s hardly any lots that big. It had been redone completely inside. You didn’t have to have a beautiful old home and deal with the old home issues. You had a beautiful new home that was completely updated. That was a signature property. That location that size lot that it had been redone.”

Both of these homes offered dockage for multiple boats and sold at $899 and $795 per square foot respectively.

An additional 20 single-family townhouse/duplex units that were not located within a planned community sold. Of these it is again notable that 14 were new construction.

The top sale in an independent townhouse/duplex was recorded at 723 South Lumina Avenue Unit B a five-bedroom five-bath brand new oceanfront unit which sold for $2.6 million.

Planned Communities

There’s no question the beach experienced a slowdown in condo/townhouse sales.

Debbie Mitchell’s theory about signature properties selling while others don’t holds up here. “It’s just the more common properties where there’s always going to be the duplexes and the condos … they’re the ones that people aren’t in a hurry to buy if they’re nervous about the market; they’re going wait and make sure they’re buying at the right time.”

Within the planned communities of condos and townhouses five sales each were recorded at Channel Walk Cordgrass Bay and Station One. The previous year saw eight sales at Channel Walk none at Cordgrass Bay and five sales at Station One.

Located at 95 South Lumina Avenue the top sale at Station One was $1.2 million for unit 8K while the least was $700 000 for Unit 6H.

Cordgrass Bay on North Lumina Avenue recorded a top sale of $975 000 for 2307-B while the least expensive unit to sell there was 2301-F at $825 000.

Channel Walk saw a top sale at 105 Seaside Lane of $1 million. This Shoreline unit included a 35-foot boat slip. The least expensive sale at Channel Walk was the end unit at 110 Driftwood Court which sold for $412 000.

“Prices saw a 15-20 percent adjustment off the high of 2005 ” the third broker at Hardee Hunt & Williams Jim Hardee says. “But overall the prices held and the volume was consistent with previous years.”

Two of the island’s other premium oceanfront condo projects Wrightsville Dunes and Duneridge posting just one sale each in 2006 fared much better for 2007.

Wrightsville Dunes had four sales but took top money in this planned unit category with the sale of oceanfront Unit 2A which sold in 12 days for $1.45 million.

Duneridge saw three sales not counting the fractional ownership sales which are taking place there. The top sale at Duneridge was Unit 2203. This second-floor oceanfront unit sold for $1 215 000 which was a sales price of $934 per square foot.

Both of the other sales were for more than a million dollars. Additionally Unit 2107 divided into fractional ownership sold two quarter shares at $310 000 apiece.

“If I’ve got a seller ” Randy Williams says “let’s say I had a condo at Duneridge and the guy’s been there 10 years if it doesn’t sell he’ll just rent it this summer and come down and use it when he wants. He’s got utilization he’s got cash flow on it and he gets to use it. I don’t know of any seller we represented who actually had to sell their property. They’re motivated by other things — they’re not using the property anymore they’re worried about coming to board meetings they want to get rid of it.”

The Moorings experienced just one sale the eastern end unit. This waterfront three-bedroom townhouse included two boat slips and sold fully-furnished for $1 158 500.

Harbor Island’s Lookout Harbour racked up two sales with water-view Unit 7 bringing the highest price selling for $805 000 in just 82 days.


In the condo/hotel category Shell Island had the most sales eight with Unit 414 being the top sale of $286 000. Two units 613 and 510 sold at $215 000 each which were the least expensive sales recorded in 2007 by Realtors in this oceanfront tower.

One South Lumina posted one Realtor-assisted sale Unit 202 which sold for $350 000 as did Sandpeddler Motel & Suites on Nathan Street Unit 205 which sold for $394 000. Harbor Inn saw two sales the top sale being $337 000 for Unit 1B.

Ten Marina Street Wrightsville Marina Pierhouses on the Intracoastal Waterway south of the drawbridge also saw one sale in the residential/commercial category. The second-floor unit A-3 sold for $645 000.

Active Market

On January 8 2008 there were 147 active single-family listings (homes townhouses and condos) at Wrightsville Beach four lots and 14 boatslips.

Entry level price point freestanding homes are still to be found on Harbor Island. Listed for $625 000 115 Cypress Avenue was the least expensive of these listed for sale in January 2008.

The most expensive home listed on the active market is the oceanfront new construction at 14 Southridge Road on Wrightsville’s high dune north end which is listed at $5.25 million.

It is noteworthy that besides this fabulous new construction at Southridge of the active listings at least 32 others are new construction listed for more than $1 million.

In addition of these all but one of the top six active listings at Wrightsville are waterfront new construction so as 2008 progresses the speculative new home inventory will be driving sales at Wrightsville Beach.

New Construction

The question on many minds may be: “With so much inventory sitting empty can the developers hold out in this buyer’s market?” Randy Williams answers “Those guys are well-heeled financially and they can weather the storm. They’ll just put renters in [the interior stuff] and wait until the market heats back up. The waterfront stuff that’s sitting here we’re going to have to wait and see if there’s going to be a price adjustment on the part of the developer now. If there’s not and the buyers are still on hold then those guys will be in a tight spot. Unlike most of my clients who actually use their second homes these guys don’t have any utilization of the property — it’s not for rent. They don’t use it (it sits vacant) … they’re paying interest on it.”

Wrightsville Beach New Construction Permits 2007

The slowdown in new construction speculative sales was most certainly a relief to the overworked staff at Wrightsville Beach’s planning and inspections department.

Click to see the 2007 permits

Developers continued to demolish or haul away homes on large lots to erect grand new homes or duplexes and townhouses.

Permits for 10 new single-family dwellings were approved by the planning staff in 2007 a sharp decline from the 39 of the previous year.

However the value of building permits issued for the year rose to $27 306 744.00 an increase of 9.67 percent from 2006.

While the expenses to run the planning department increased just less than 22 percent total calendar year fees collected were $442 385 a 24.7-percent decrease from the runaway activity of calendar year 2006. The planning division continued to operate as an enterprise fund posting a net gain of more than $5 000.

Value of building permts issued

2003 $6.6 million

2004 $15 million

2005 23.6 million

2006 24.9 million

2007 27.3 million

The top portion of the up-and-down new construction speculative duplex built by developer Dennis Moeller erected on the South Lumina Avenue site of the oceanfront Carolina Temple Apartments is the leader in the active market for a duplex. Listed at $2 699 000 this unit’s downstairs sister is also on the market at $100 000 less.

Michelle Clark working with partner Margaret Collins (now retired) can attribute much of their business to working for developers. She comments “There is a lot of new construction sitting empty. That’s part of the reason that some of the developers slowed down on their construction of new property.”

Fractional Ownership

Fractional ownership from condos to boat slips is continuing to gain in popularity. Numerous examples exist to purchase fractional ownership at Wrightsville.

One is 8E Shearwater Unit A as a 10 share on the market for $160 000. A 10 share is also available at 7 Sea Oats for $170 000 another one at 11E Columbia Street Unit B for $189 900. We can expect this trend to continue as Middle America is priced out of whole vacation home ownership here on the coast.

Lots and Boat Slips

Vacant lots at Wrightsville Beach are a rare commodity. Lot sales at Wrightsville are created when what formerly occupied the lot is torn down or hauled away for a rehab in another location be it commercial property like our Pizza Hut or historic cottages deemed outdated.

The three waterfront Banks Channel lots on Auditorium Circle which are listed for sale were created with the removal of the LaQue Center saltwater corrosion testing site on the Causeway just before the Banks Channel bridge. These three lots remain on the market with an average price of $3 million. One other lot that has the potential to be the year’s top seller rounds out the lot offerings at Wrightsville 14-18 East Raleigh Street described as 0.22 acres — is listed for $5.9 million. In this category 10 yacht club memberships with boat slips are available as well as three boat slips and one timeshare of a dock and pier.

Looking Forward

“Last year we got back to a normal year and I think 2008 will be a good year too ” Michelle Clark says. She cites low interest rates and great properties for sale at some really good prices as the recipe for a good year.

“There are still a lot of great properties out there. We’ve got a good supply now which means it’s a great time to buy especially with interest rates being low. People who were saying ‘Oh I wish I’d bought in’ … and you fill in the number … people who don’t buy now are going to say that again ‘Oh I wish I’d have bought in 2007 ’ because it’s Wrightsville and prices are going to continue to either hold steady or go up. Wrightsville’s properties always appreciate. You know you’re getting a good solid investment when you invest in Wrightsville Beach.”

Randy Williams describes what lies ahead “You’ll continue to see some prices adjusted down here but I think the buyers are realizing that the bottom’s not going to fall out at Wrightsville Beach. It didn’t in ’06 and that was a slim year. I think we’re in a unique spot.”

“We’re in such a strong area ” Randy Williams’ teammate Jim Hardee says. “When it turns around it’s going to turn around fast. People need to get ready. Get your bucket out.”

Sales statistics reflect Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors agent-assisted listings and sales only the vast majority of which are reported as of January 8 2008. While every effort has been made to verify the information contained in this feature numbers may change as agents report sales after the pull dates for this article.

The Wider Region

As the nation’s economy slides further toward a recession the good news is that the greater New Hanover County real estate market is holding its own.

Amid prolific national news coverage of a failing market the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service reports just a 19-percent decline in the number of units sold from the previous year. The total sales volume for single-family homes dropped 17 percent to $1 764 190 779 for 2007.

“I thought ’07 was a cleansing process. It was a healthy and much needed stabilization period ” Intracoastal Realty’s Vance Young says of how the year went. Vance Young was the “Top Broker” for New Hanover County with a system-wide total of almost $85 million in listing and sales volume selling 79 units.

Vance Young was also the number four Broker in listing and sales volume at Wrightsville Beach.

While dollar volume was down in the county unit sales were up 31.6 percent from 2006 with a total of 6 449 units selling board-wide.

More good news is that the average sale price of a single-family home rose greater than $9 000 while the median sales price rose more than $7 800.

The way Vance Young sees it “’07 was just a confirmation of people in uncertain times going back to what’s safest. We saw that in big ways in ’07.”

The “Top Sale in the County” honor moved to Wrightsville Beach from Figure Eight (2005 and 2006) with the sale of the brand new sound-front home at 122 Parmele Boulevard for $4.5 million.

Sales of other big ticket homes in the county were strong with 99 sales of single-family homes along with seven lots selling for more than $1 million.

Of the 99 $1-million-plus single-family home sales in the county 38 were at Wrightsville down 24 percent from the 2006 high of 47.

Just over the bridge from Wrightsville Beach the gated community of Landfall sports nearly four miles of waterfront property on the Intracoastal Waterway and Howe Creek. Landfall’s nearly 2 000 acres have been developed over the last 15 years into many different neighborhoods.

Twenty-two $1 million and higher priced homes sold inside Landfall in 2007 and two waterfront lots sold for $2 million each. “Landfall had a big year in ’07 ” Vance Young says.

Most Expensive Homes Sold in New Hanover County 2007

Of the top 15 sales six were on Wrightsville Beach four in Landfall four on Figure Eight Island and one on River Road. Of these two are tied for $3.5 million two tied for $3 million and one property sold twice.

122 Parmele Blvd — WB
$4 500 000

1035 Ocean Ridge Drive — LF
$4 000 000 (sold twice)

25 Pipers Neck Road — F8
$ 3 900 000

9116 River Road
$3 800 000

26 Shore Drive — WB
$3 750 000

2332 Ocean Point Drive — LF

12 Sandpiper Street — WB
$3 500 000

264 Beach Road North — F8
$ 3 150 000

24 Saltmeadow Road — F8
$3 075 000

1 Bay Street — WB
$3 000 000

1903 North Lumina Ave — WB
$3 000 000

205 North Lumina Avenue — WB
$2 900 000

1417 Landfall Drive — LF
$2 850 000

1247 Great Oaks Drive — LF
$2 800 000

11 Salters Road — F8
$2 750 000

WB = Wrightsville Beach • LF = Landfall
F8 = Figure Eight Island

Of the top 15 highest priced sales in the county four were in Landfall.

Ken Kirkman general manager of Landfall Realty is observing the second anniversary of the community’s council of associations’ ownership of the in-house real estate company. Kirkman was upfront about the cyclical challenges of the 2007 market.

“What affects Landfall and in fact most of our Carolina market is not a mortgage problem not a foreclosure problem or a subprime problem ” Kirkman says. There were two economic factors impacting sales: sluggish sales in the northeast market and the psychological fear factor.

“People are having difficulty selling their homes and so we get a pent-up demand of people who are ready to retire [but cannot] until they can sell a home. The second thing is the psychology of it. You don’t pick up the newspaper without reading about mortgage lending problems and they’re going to be worse next year. There is a fear factor in some buyers that this is a bad time to buy real estate. The prices are still going to be going down and we’re better off waiting. Those are the two things that impact the total market.”

Realtors closed 112 units in Landfall for a total sales volume of $100 177 183. The median sales price in this gated community was $706 205.

The average number of days on the market was 172.

“My sales — the higher the price the better — and homes in Landfall that had been on the market for three or four years — in previously good markets — sold ” Vance Young says. “One of them sold twice last year.”

The “sold twice” home was Landfall’s top sale and the number two sale in the county for the year. With its distinctive Cape Cod lighthouse-style guest cottage the 6 700-square-foot home located on 2.5 waterfront lots at 1035 Ocean Ridge Drive sold first in September for $3.5 million to an investor-type and then a few weeks later this 1995 bluff beauty sold again for $4 million in October to a couple who wanted it for their primary residence.

Landfall also had an impressive lot sale. The 192-foot bulk headed waterfront lot at 1000 Turnberry Place sold for $2 million to a gentleman who wants to build his retirement house on the water.

Accessible only by a bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway Figure Eight Island is a 1 300-acre island with less than 450 private homes. It’s edged by five miles of white sandy beaches and backed by plentiful canals leading out to Banks Channel but no commercial developments of any kind.

“I think the market at Figure Eight is still going strong ” Bunnie Bachman says. Bachman a Broker who specializes in Figure Eight sales has also listed her personal home for sale on the island. She sees the market as holding its own — atypical of what’s happening nationally. “Generally Wilmington is not like the rest of the United States. They keep crying [about] how terrible real estate is but they’re talking about places like Florida Nevada and … places where the prices were sky-high and super-inflated.”

Judy Parlatore Broker at Figure Eight Realty comments “While the number of transactions were down in 2007 property values on Figure Eight have remained strong.” Her office describes a “flurry” of activity at the end of December with several properties going under contract. “With the increase in activity at the end of 2007 Figure Eight is off to a good start.”

Figure Eight Island closed out the year with just nine sales seven of which were in the $1 million-plus category for single-family homes. This was down from a high in 2006 of 20 sales for the year.

“There’s always a market at Figure Eight in the second home market. Properties are always going to sell there — it might be more one year and less the next — but there’s always a market ” says Intracoastal Realty’s Margaret Barclay who teamed up last year to work with another Intracoastal top Broker Lee Crouch.

Figure Eight Island also saw the sale of four homes rank in the top-priced 15 county-wide sales. The median sales price was $2 510 000.

Total sold volume on the nine sales was more than $23 million and the median sales price was $2.5 million. Average number of days on the market on this island retreat was 144.

The top-priced sale at Figure Eight Island was 25 Piper’s Neck Road. This 4 000-square-foot 1996 home on 103 feet of deep water bulk-headed sound-front sold in 81 days for $3.9 million. This top sale was down $200 000 from the highest sale of 2006.

Figure Eight’s high-dollar lot sale was 44 South Beach Road which sold for $1.825 million. A home is already started on this oceanfront south end lot across from the tennis courts and boat ramp.

To the south Kure Beach racked up an impressive nine sales of more than $1 million but neighboring Carolina Beach had just one.

Kure Beach saw 79 units sold with a sales volume of less than $45 million. The median sales price was $465 000. The average number of days on market was 165.

The highest-priced sale at Kure Beach was a 6 000-square-foot multi-family site just north of the pier 329 North Atlantic Avenue built in 1997 which included a lighthouse and was used as a bed and breakfast. Listed at $2.9 million the property sold in just 49 days for $2.5 million. This top price was up 6 percent more than the previous year’s leader.

Realtors at Carolina Beach closed an impressive 175 sales for a sales volume of less than $63 million. The average number of days on market was 150.

The top sale at Carolina Beach and what may have been the best deal of the year in the county was 400 North Lake Park Boulevard a wood-framed 3 500-square-foot home located right at the yacht basin that included two deep-water boat slips on the canal. Listed at $2 million this property sold after 117 days for $1.775 million a gain of $475 000 more than 2006’s top sale.

In the more-than-$1 million category two occurred along the waterfront on River Road. One of these a 64-plus-acre tract that offered 3 500 feet of riverfront was reputedly purchased by a Hollywood film star for just less than $8.99 million in June.

Porters Neck saw three big-ticket sales exceeding $1 million.

Topsail Beach top honors went to 95 N. Anderson Boulevard a 3 600-square-foot oceanfront spec home built in 2005 but left standing empty for 698 days sold for $1 152 500 or $320 per square foot. The highest record sale in 2006 on Topsail was $1.54 million.

Marimar McNaughton contributed to this article.