CoastLine: Real Estate in the Cape Fear Region

Jul 28, 2016

We all know that the Wilmington area, including the housing market, suffered through the Great Recession 8 years ago. For many people, home values have climbed back up in the last few years. And all it takes is a drive around the area to see new construction in many areas, such as South 17th Street and Kerr Avenue in Wilmington, lifestyle communities in Brunswick county and elsewhere, and more. 

Guests: 

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Cleve Callison: What would you say is the current status of the real estate market here, Don?

Don Harris: I would say, overall, it’s robust. I would say that robustness is in a specific price point. Below $400,000 is very, very active. Above that, there’s some delays in selling.

Cleve Callison: Is there a reason for that delay? It sounds like there’s an imbalance with supply and demand.  

Don Harris: Well, exactly. Under 400,000, there’s a supply and demand issue. There’s more demand than there is supply. That’s why it’s so active. The price points above $400,000, and all the way up to over one million dollars, there’s more of a supply than there is a demand.

Cleve Callison: So one is a buyer’s market, and one is a seller’s market. Is that a shorthand way of saying that?

Don Harris: Exactly, yes.

Cleve Callison: Cameron, does that jive with what you see around here in terms of activity from the homebuilder’s side of things?

Cameron Moore: It does. I’d say we have a lot of different ranges, but that sweet spot that Don mentioned is roughly in that $300,000-425,000 price range. We see that really working well within our market. And when I’m saying “the market,” I’m looking at it from a regional perspective because the lifestyle communities that you mentioned, we have a lot of those, obviously, right across the bridge in Brunswick County. We’re starting to see more of that here in New Hanover County. There’s differences in those markets, kind of a subset market as we get into that.

Cleve Callison: What is behind the construction boom in apartments that’s going on? Everywhere you look, it seems there’s something happening. Cece, is this unusual, or is it just the result of pent-up demand?

Cece Nunn: It’s definitely the result of pent-up demand. There was virtually no apartment development in Wilmington from about 2009 to 2012, and it started to pick up a bit between 2013 and 2015. Between 2013 and 2015, there’s been about 2,800 apartment projects completed. Under construction and in the pipeline now, we’ve got 3,500, and I would guess that that’s going to go up to 4,000 by the end of the year.

Cleve Callison: So, when you say apartments, these are all rental units, right? Or are some of them condos?

Cece Nunn: These are all rental units.

Cleve Callison:  So we really expect that these will be mostly filled up within a reasonably short time of construction, is that already happening?

Cece Nunn: They are getting filled up. Some of the developers are saying that lease-up mode occupancy is 93%, and the vacancy is less than 6%.

Cleve Callison:  What do you mean exactly by lease-up mode? What is that in reference to?

Cece Nunn: As they’re finishing up these projects. They seem to be having a lot of activity with people being interested and already being leased even before they’re completely finished with the communities. Some developers think that could slow down eventually because it is a cycle, just like everything else.

Cleve Callison: Are these mostly aimed at a younger population, say students or young workers? Is there some generalization across the board about that?  

Cece Nunn: Not really. There’s kind of a mix. Probably more Baby Boomers than people would think. I know at the Broker Breakfast, that the homebuilders had recently, they were talking about— Some people are finding it easier to rent than buy a small home in some cases too because there’s a lot that comes with homeownership versus renting.

Don Harris: While it’s hard to realize that all these apartments being built are needed, they really are. There’s a dynamic going on in our community, where we have a lot of seniors or Baby Boomers who may not want to purchase in their next stage of life. They want to rent and have the availability of a carefree lifestyle. The Millennials may or may not want to be homeowners right now or they may not be able to find that home that they can afford with their current salary in this community.

There’s a lot of houses, if you can find them, that are cheaper than renting an apartment. The problem is finding that house with you income and your credit and all those things that go along with getting a mortgage. The biggest thing that Cameron and I hound on with our community is that we have to have jobs, and we have to have good-paying jobs. Housing affordability is a challenge here in Wilmington based on the average salaries of our service economy. We need more white collar jobs that have higher salaries because our land costs here are not inexpensive. Cameron can speak to the development side of it, but when you have high priced land, it’s not going to be inexpensive to build on.

Cleve Callison: And particularly when you think of the tri-county area here, of the three counties, New Hanover is certainly the most built-up. Would you all agree with that?

Cameron Moore: We would. It is the urban county. From a coastal perspective in North Carolina, it’s the most urban county we have, particularly with the city of Wilmington.

To kind of speak to what Cece and Don are saying, it does come down to jobs. It comes down to economic development. We hear those two terms, they’ve been echoed in this community now for the last two years, but they’re very important. We’re a very service-oriented, construction and real estate oriented economy and we have been for many years. That will continue mainly because of the beaches and the rivers and everything that we have, the tourism. But also from the construction side, we are a very desirable place to live. Folks are going to continue to move here. We are sought out not only on a regional perspective, but sought out on a national perspective now, so that’s important to note. The other thing though is that the Millennial generation, due to debt, not quite knowing if they want to stay here, if they want to make roots into our area, and those are big factors for someone who is getting ready to go out and work with a realtor and look at home ownership because it’s the next big step. That’s key. From the multifamily sector, I think Cece really hit the nail on the head there. I think it’s a dichotomy of all sorts of income levels and demographic levels. We have a growing student population at Cape Fear Community College. We have a growing student population at UNCW. But we don’t have growing student housing complexes, so that’s something that’s always going to be looked for there, as far as the multifamily sector.

Cece Nunn: I emailed a fellow, one of the developers of affordable housing in the area who is trying to do an 80-unit apartment community that would be workforce housing, for teachers, you know, people who can’t afford those kinds of rents that are going into 900, 1000 dollars, but he is waiting to hear whether he is going to get federal tax credits for that project because if he can’t, he can’t make it work. It’s not going to be announced until August, but I did check in with him to see if it had been announced yet. Really, eighty apartments isn’t going to— I mean, it will help, but I know there’s a waiting list for the workforce apartments that exist now.

Paul (emailer): We hear from many realtors who discuss that there is not enough entry-level housing in New Hanover County, homes under, say, $150,000-$175,000. As a reminder, many of our workers in the area are lower-income service workers, up to 60% and mentioned in the Garner Report. These qualified buyers then end up going to Pender or Brunswick, which is fine, but also puts that many more cars on the roads and adds to the transportation costs for employees, both in time and money. Or they end up renting to be closer to work and delaying homeownership and that investment. How can we get developers to build houses for sale in this price range, and as an NPR story suggested yesterday, is there an answer in condos and homeownership?

Cameron Moore: It’s a very important question, one that both our city and county are starting to look at and provide answers for. Paul has been appointed on the city side to be on the Affordable Housing Committee that the city and county have put together. Ourselves and Don from the realtors association have key folks on that as well because we’re going to have that conversation, and it’s a conversation that needs to be had.

I think some of the things to look at, from the developer side and the builder side, first and foremost, it’s going to be cost, land cost. We’re coming at it from a lot of different parameters—buying the property, figuring out how we can make the numbers work on all sorts of different price points, and also trying to figure out something that’s going to be readily available to sell in the market that we are in.

One of the keys too is that, during the recession, what we did not see were subdivisions being approved for 4-5, maybe even over 6 years. You can look at the planning board’s docket—TRC, which is the technical review committee—all of these go through the process of approving those plans, and it was intriguing because when the recession hit, everything shut down and went into shut-down mode, so you did not see those developments going through that process. That’s really noteworthy because the time it takes to go from plan-approval to seeing someone on the site, starting to develop it, it could be eighteen months to two years from a permitting, regulation, approval stage. From a housing spectrum, we do have a couple years there, where we didn’t see plans approved. I think that’s changed dramatically just in the last 3-4 years, we’re starting to see more and more of those subdivisions approved. Which means more opportunity for that.

Cleve Callison: When you say approved, what is the governing body? The county, the city, the state?

Cameron Moore: It’s everything. Of course, you’ll have to get all the regulation, the permits, the regulatory permits. That can be anything from local to state permits, and if you have to go through the wetlands and stuff like that, those permits. But really, approval is that you have the title and everything in hand to go out there and start that construction process.

Don Harris: It goes back to supply and demand. We’re the second smallest county in the state out of one hundred. We have land, but not all the land has the infrastructure, the utilities there to develop it—sewer, water. So, when we look at building a community affordably, the land cost has to be at a certain point where the builder can make a profit. It is profit based. If we want affordable housing or more housing affordability here, the regulatory or governmental agencies here are going to have to incentivize the builder with tax credits or something, but they have to make it attractive for the builder to want to build a product that they can still make money on.

Bert (caller): I have a single-family home, but it’s a little too much for me to maintain because I get quite involved with yard work. I’m legally blind. What you see from 30 feet, I see from 2 feet. I’m probably going to downsize into something smaller and probably leave the area. My suggestion for a builder would be possibly a fourplex or a couple of fourplexes, similar to a townhome where they could maintain a reasonable cost and yet make a profit as well, maybe even two or three fourplexes on the same one-acre area with some green space in the middle. I see it in my mind’s eye, that this could be a possible, doable thing.

Don Harris: The concept is very attractive, and I agree with Bert. We have zoning that we have to comply with in the city and the county. Cameron can speak better to that because we’re going through a comprehensive plan with zoning and future land use, and Cameron has been very instrumental in that.

Cameron Moore: Bert’s question, it goes back to the demographics side that Cece mentioned earlier. In our area, we have a little bit of everything. Obviously, we have a mixture of everything. He’s looking to maybe downsize. A townhome product is obviously very ideal in those situations, but I think also, within the city itself and in the city proper, we have a lot of opportunity. There’s a lot of two, three, five, ten acre parcels where developers are starting to come in. We call that infill development, in planning terms. I think within the new concepts and new EDO that’ll be coming out—obviously, it’s going to take a while to get through that process, as far as revising the zoning ordinance—you’re going to see, most likely a lot of codes that are going to allow for flexibility on those particular lots. If you come in to them and try to cut it up and put in setbacks and single-family lots everywhere, it almost becomes unbuildable, but if you look at it in a cluster design, you can start to arrange housing in a different pattern—townhomes, mixture of a single-family and a townhome, and even maybe some duplexes. Those work very well. Kerr Avenue, right there, there’s a duplex community, the name escapes me—

Cece Nunn: Aspen Heights.

Cameron Moore: Aspen Heights, thank you. It’s very well thought-out and planned. It’s common areas—

Cece Nunn: That’s student housing though.

Cameron Moore: Yes, but products like that, I think you’ll see more and more of.

Cece Nunn: The townhomes under development are typically in that $300,000 and above range right now. Another factor when it comes to townhome development is that when neighbors hear “townhomes,” there’s a great deal of opposition, for whatever reason—traffic or home values. So even when developers are working on adding townhomes to their communities, you do run up against some opposition at times from neighbors.

Don Harris: We’ve got townhomes. We’ve got single-family townhomes. We’ve got two-story townhomes. But in order to get density, where the builders need to make a profit, a lot of times, those two-story townhomes are going to have all the bedrooms upstairs. That works for a younger demographic, but for someone my age or the Baby Boomers, we want that master on the first floor, and that’s a lifestyle choice.

Mark (caller): My comment is about the older folks who have suffered from the recession. Many have lost their homes, lost the equity in their homes, have lost their credits, are living on social security. Where are they supposed to live? What plans are being made for them? There’s no more Section 8. There’s a few HUD apartments that the government subsidizes, but there doesn’t seem to be any plans made for people who have suffered from the economic downturn.

Don Harris: I respect your question, and I feel for your pain. I also suffered in the downturn. I lost all of my retirement during the recession from all the investments I had made through my previous career. If there’s equity in the home and they own the home outright, the reverse mortgage concept is very applicable these days. It didn’t used to be. But if there’s equity in the home, I would counsel someone to talk about a reverse mortgage, and it could help them live out the remainder of their years.

Andy (caller): I have a question about what’s referred to here as “accessory housing.” I grew up in Chicago, and many families lived in two- or three-unit family buildings, where you had multigenerational families under one roof. Where do you see that fitting into the Wilmington market? If you see something going that way, what would stand in its way?

Cameron Moore: A lot of the duplex units, and essentially they’re called “mother-in-law flats,” “grandmother flats”— The city and county have had conversations in regard to that, from the zoning and land-use perspective. That’s going to be a policy decision from our local leaders. I think those questions probably would be better served and maybe answered during the UDO discussions, when the city and county start that process, and actually, they already have. What I’m alluding to is that both have approved a comprehensive plan that outlines where patterns of growth that will go through the city and county, and at the same time, what we’re going to see along with that is an updated zoning ordinance that dictates the land use patterns that we’re going to see in the next ten to fifteen years.

Cleve Callison: How cooperative do you find the city and county to be in working with builders in these issues? Is it a difficult process to go through?

Cameron Moore: They’re hearing the same type of questions that we’re fielding today, not just from the private side. The public side is hearing it as well. I had breakfast yesterday morning with Katrina Redmon from the Wilmington Housing Authority. We had a great conversation, and a lot of it was not so much answers but talking about the challenges. Those challenges are not just faced on the private side. They’re on the public side too. You’re going to see more collaboration to make this work, and what I mean by that is, more partnerships where the city and the county and private developers come together to make projects work.

Hank (caller): Recently, I intended to get housing around UNCW campus, and I noticed that almost all of the apartment complexes around there were owned by a single company, and that company seemed to be able to control the rent price around UNCW, and that seems like a huge concern for students and for student welfare. I was just wondering, is there any sort of municipal mechanism to address and potentially redress this sort of thing?

Cece Nunn: I’m not sure which apartments he’s referring to that are all owned by the same company, so it’s a little hard to answer that question, but I do know that rents have been going up, obviously, across the market, but the apartment expert I talk to often, Richard Cotton with Multifamily Realty Advisors, he feels like that growth is a good thing for everybody because if there weren’t more apartment buildings, those rents would be even higher.

Cleve Callison: Supply and demand, we just keep coming back to that.

Cece Nunn: Exactly, and it’s true. And then these older apartment buildings are having to add amenities and update. As far as student housing, I’d have to look into that. That’s a good question.

Cleve Callison: At the corner of Kerr and Randall, is that primarily student housing?

Cece Nunn: That is all student housing.

Cleve Callison: That is all student housing, okay. And is it getting filled up, as far as you know?

Cece Nunn: I couldn’t answer that for sure, how much activity they’ve had.

Larry (caller): I moved from Austin, Texas, where there's large job growth, but also quality of life. I know that jobs help, but it seems to be the quality of life aspect that worked best at attracting young folks to Austin. Are the homebuilders and realtors pushing for quality of life improvements, in addition to economic development?

Don Harris: Quality of life here is everything. That’s why we’re all here. It’s the lifestyle. It’s the quality of life. But you have to have a job, and you have to be able to live. You have to have food, clothing, and housing, and if we don’t have high enough salaries, people are going to be moving out, but we still have an influx of people coming in because they want to live here. But because it’s such a sensitive environmental area, it’s not inexpensive to do things here. It’s just the way it is.

Cleve Callison: To go back to this supply and demand, it’s not just young people that we’re talking about in this area because there’s so many retirees coming here. And often, they have sold their house for a lot of money, in the northeast maybe, if they managed to get through the Great Recession, so they can afford to buy some of these more expensive than, say, students and beginning workers. Doesn’t that exert upward pressure on the whole housing market because you have people coming in who are able to buy more expensive houses?

Cameron Moore: Well, I mean, it does, but I think the other thing we’re starting to see if more branded approaches. We have the midtown, which has become this prominent branding feature, and that goes back to quality of life.

Cleve Callison: What do you mean by midtown? What area are we talking about?

Cameron Moore: It’s right there, pretty much essentially where you’ve got the Forks at Barclay, the new shopping center, Cameron Art Museum—

Cleve Callison: From South 17th toward College.

Cameron Moore: Correct. I think, at the same time, we have other areas of the county that are starting to brand themselves. I saw in the paper recently, they have the soda pop district downtown. That gets back to quality of life. Yes, we do have a huge influx of retirees moving into our market, but that also shows the quality of life that we have. They’re coming here for that quality of life.

Cleve Callison: Again, my question is, doesn’t that push housing prices up if they come here and are able to spend more than the average person starting out in a career?

Cameron Moore: It does have an effect to where, with lot prices and housing prices, you do see an influx there.

Don Harris: We’ve talked about supply and demand all day, and that’s what the market driver is, is supply and demand, but what I really want your audience to know— A lot of your audience remembers the early 80s when we had 14-18% interest rates on homes. Our interest rate today is fluctuating today, it varies between 3.25-3.75%, fixed for 30 years.

Cleve Callison: That’s pretty incredible.

Don Harris: It’s incredible. It’s almost free money when you look at cost of living and inflation. It doesn’t get any better.

Alan (emailer): Please ask your panel to discuss what impact the foreclosure market has on the market in general. I live in Brunswick County, and it appears there are several hundred foreclosed properties available to the consumer.

Don Harris: The foreclosures can have an impact on the market value of a neighborhood based on how many foreclosure sales there have been, but there’s been enough arms-length transactions now that the appraisers typically don’t use the foreclosures, but foreclosures used to be a good deal—

Cleve Callison: What do you mean by an “arms-length transaction”?

Don Harris: Well, an “arms-length” is a willing buyer and a willing seller. Neither one are under duress to sell or to buy.

Cleve Callison: What we used to think of as normal.

Don Harris: Exactly. Several years ago, there were a lot of foreclosures that were being dumped on the market, and you could go get a deal, and then you put money into them and flip them. Unfortunately, that flipping market is over because the banks are putting money into the properties, making them more marketable, and then putting them out there at market value or close to it. There’s still some opportunities, but it’s not like it was. But it doesn’t have the impact on appraisals as we used to see.

Andy (email): I’m looking for condos under $125,000. I cannot find anything other than student housing. Are there any condo developments on the horizon?

Cece Nunn: Not at that price.

Don Harris: No, not going to happen.

Cece Nunn: Not in New Hanover County.

Cleve Callison: Does that mean possibly in Pender or in Brunswick County?

Don Harris: Not yet. The condos have been a challenge. The federal government just relaxed some of the condo lending rules. That’s going to open up a lot of condos to financing. It used to be that you couldn’t get financing on a condo. That’s changing slowly, but we’re making headways with that.

Brian (email): In regards to the new apartments on 17th Street and Kerr Avenue, it seems to me that no care for aesthetics or natural habitat was taken whatsoever. The developers essentially came through and cut down every tree and tore up the soil. There has to be a better way.

Cameron Moore: I think, as far as a better way. Literally, the public would be kind of shocked as far as the regulations that dictate what we have to take out to even start a development process. As far as regulations, one of the biggest challenges we have here are going to be wetlands and storm water. Storm water, to get that to a proper grade, elevation and so forth, to have the proper drainage so we don’t have flooding and so forth, as far as on that piece of property once it’s developed, it provides a unique challenge for us, and sometimes the topography has to change drastically to get that project to where it will drain.

Cleve Callison: I have to say, I live in an area where there is a fair amount of vegetation and trees, but sometimes you’ll see these areas come in where they’ll take wooded areas and instead of cutting down trees selectively so you’ll have shade around houses, it just, everything will be bulldozed down. Is there a way to stop that from happening?

Don Harris: You’re not going to have a whole lot of deciduous trees here in Wilmington, so what they’re removing are typically the pine trees, which can be problematic to a roof or a driveway. So it’s better to go ahead and remove those and then plant some shade trees or fruit trees or something else that gives it a little bit more appeal. But the pine trees, they’re not necessarily our friends.

Cleve Callison: Well, I have several pine trees, and I have to pick up the pine straw a lot, so I kind of know what you’re talking about.

Johanna (email): I’d love to know how the guests today respond to voluntary annexation by developers on North Market Street around Marsh Oaks. There is a lot of new construction of commercial and high density housing, which is directly opposed to the county’s low density land use plans. I’m concerned about lack of infrastructure in these “islands” of city zoning in the county lands.

Cece Nunn: I have been writing about that voluntary annexation for Phase 2 of Amberleigh Shores, but since they changed the annexation laws, I think there’s only been six in the city of, you know, different places that have been voluntarily annexed. I can’t image there’d be a bunch of these coming down the line and to have all of these pockets, but it did seem to jive with the new Comprehensive Plan, the Amberleigh Shores, and the staff recommended it for these 287 new apartments. Again, that goes back to supply and demand. It’s not something that the neighbors were very happy about, but—

Cleve Callison: And remind us again where Amberleigh Shores is located.

Cece Nunn: I think that’s where she’s talking about, near Marsh Oaks on Market Street. There’s already a phase one there, and they had gone to the county, couldn’t work with the county, so they were annexed into the city. It’s been successful, it’s a full apartment community, so they’re going to have a phase two.

Cleve Callison: Some of these questions are not so much to construction or housing development as they are related to infrastructure for the city and the county. When you see new buildings and new units or houses or apartments go up, but with no change to the roads, so roads that were designed to accommodate a certain flow of traffic now are accommodating much larger flows of traffic. Are there provisions that the city or the county or the state works with developers, as far as putting in these kind of infrastructure things? Are there regulations about that?  

Cameron Moore: Developers, first and foremost, have to do a TIA, which is a transportation impact analysis. That analysis is done through the planning department at that local level. They have the Metropolitan Planning Organization that’s housed over in the city, and we go through that process. There are standards that apply to that, thresholds that apply. There’s all sorts of different ratios that we have to abide by, as far as parking and also ingress and egress. Not only that, the DOT gets involved. So there are standards that apply to those projects. Many times what you’ll find on projects is that the turning lanes— In Brunswick County, that Michigan left turn as it is referred to, that superstreet pattern, a lot of the monies that were combined to put that in were developer-based monies, they came from the private side, they were not public monies that were used, and that’s kind of what we’re going to start to see. That’s the new way for NC DOT.

Cleve Callison: You’re going to have to define the Michigan turn for me. Is that where you go past something and then come back in the other direction?

Cameron Moore: So, typically, you’re looking at a four-way stop, has anywhere from 24-32 conflict points. And those conflict points mean, essentially, you could get in an accident if you were in an automobile—or a pedestrian or bike. What the Michigan left turn is, when you get in front of the Wal-Mart, in front of Brunswick Forest and Compass Point, you’re designed to take a right and then yield to the left to come back around. In other words, you can’t take a left-hand turn across oncoming traffic. So they spread the intersection out. When it was first designed, a lot of questions came of this. For the most part, it has worked. The other thing you’re going to see is a lot more roundabouts—

Cleve Callison: I was going to ask you about roundabouts.

Cameron Moore: I go around one every day, on Middle Sound Loop Road. Coming back to the Comprehensive Plan, I can’t stress enough, the zoning ordinances that we have are from the 1960s and 1970s. That’s what we’re designing projects by. I think all your listeners would agree, we are way beyond 1960s and 1970s to be designing projects these days. The comprehensive plan starts to really outline a lot of different strategies, known as complete streets, which means multimodal streets. It also brings in not only the car perspective, but transportation networks, including public transportation and the pedestrian side of that, so I think we’re going to start seeing more and more of that.

Steve (caller): I want to let an earlier caller know that he lives in a condo complex with available condos under $125,000. It’s Covil Gardens Condos.

Don Harris: That’s over there off of Covil, which is soon going to be Independence over to Martin Luther King Parkway, eventually in our lifetime.

Cleve Callison: Good, then you mean we’re all going to live a long time, is what you’re saying.

Don Harris: Let’s hope so!

Lynn (email): It seems to me, we need city, county, and state ordinances that would mandate 5-10% affordable / rental housing in all development. This is would be good for folks who need housing but also would help with diversity that is desperately needed in this area.

Cameron Moore: I mentioned earlier, the Affordable Housing Taskforce that the city and county has jointly put together. What she’s referring to is inclusionary zoning. It’s something that, from the homebuilder’s side, that presents unique challenges for us. Essentially you’re starting to set the rate as far as the housing and the profit level. We have some challenges with that. That discussion will continue a little bit in the city and county joint task force. I do understand what she’s saying, and I do understand where she’s coming from, but It’s not a silver bullet to provide affordable housing.

Don Harris: I will state that the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors, we’ve made a statement where we’re not in favor of inclusionary zoning. We do not think that’s the right way to go in this area.

Bonnie (email): Your panel is talking exclusively about new housing, but Wilmington has many older neighborhoods close to downtown and to UNCW. A focus on rehab would improve living options and could help with crime, quality of life, etc.

Don Harris: If you can find the house at an affordable price to rehab it and sell it, then it works.

Cleve Callison: What if they’re not interested in selling it? What if they just want a place to live and maybe upgrade it?

Don Harris: If they own it and want to upgrade it, if they’ve got cash, great. If not, they’re going to have to get an appraisal, get a refinance loan, take the equity out, and redevelop it. It’s a great idea.

Cece Nunn: The only thing I’d add to that, though, is the shortage of folks that can help you with that on the contractor side. And when I say “shortage,” I mean even just getting someone on the phone to try to make a simple addition or renovation to a house can be difficult right now.

Don Harris: To return a phone call can be difficult.

Cece Nunn: Yeah, it’s interesting.  

Cleve Callison: Not the case in 2007, 2008, but maybe the case now.

Don Harris: We’re going to see a lot of redevelopment in the area. Some of the houses, I know one in particular over in Pine Valley, we were going to sell it, but prior to doing that, it got caught on fire. We literally had a fire sale. We sold it very inexpensively. A developer came in and made a fantastic, gorgeous house and sold it for over $300,000 in Pine Valley.

Cleve Callison: I have some friends who are just obsessed about HGTV, these shows with the Property Brothers, and they watch all the shows about flipping. Have you seen that come about as people are looking at houses? “I saw this on TV, and I really want this on my house.”

Cameron Moore: I watch them too. They’re great shows. But remember, those are shows that are taped over the course of six months, and you see it for thirty minutes. The buyer needs to beware. Be aware of your surroundings and be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. I cannot stress enough to call either myself or look online at our website and try to find a reputable contractor. Make sure you don’t go alone.

Cleve Callison: And probably get multiple bids too. That’s something we learned to our sorrow a few years ago.

Don Harris: What’s critical about those shows, they are typically taped in a large metropolitan area. Again, we’re the second smallest county in North Carolina. We have approximately 210,000 people total. They’re looking at a million people living in that demographic area. There’s a lot of properties that could be rehabbed. We don’t have that potential here.