PLAY SMART: Savvy Tips On Buying A Vacation Home

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Great Reasons To Buy A Vacation Home

Figure Eight Island

Figure Eight Island

They provide another investment that includes a mortgage-interest tax deduction.

We’ve all thought about it while lying on the beach or inhaling the fresh mountain air: “Why don’t we buy a vacation home?” Owning a vacation home can be a good decision if you buy smart.

Whether you rent it out or not, you can deduct the mortgage interest as long as you use the home more than 14 days or more than 10% of the number of days the home is rented annually at a fair rental, whichever is longer.

Qualified second homes include houses, condominiums, cooperatives, mobile homes, house trailers, boats or similar properties that have sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities.

Here’s an interesting twist on the mortgage interest deduction: If you take out a home equity loan on your first home and use the funds to acquire your second home, the interest on the home equity loan is also deductible. That’s three mortgage interest deductions off your tax return!

Consult IRS Publication 936 for a complete discussion of how mortgage interest for a second home is deductible.

You can purchase your future retirement home now, at today’s prices.

Though your second home may be a vacation home now, if you buy right you can convert it into your principal residence later.

They can produce their own income.

Renting out a second home occasionally or often can help you pay for the property with OPM (other people’s money). Check with your tax advisor about how much of the upkeep and management expenses are deductible against your income.

Buying Tips From The Experts

Buy something within a reasonable distance.

Be sure you can get to your vacation home in a short amount of time. Before you make a final decision, travel the distance on a typical Friday afternoon to see whether the drive will be too much to deal with after a long work week.

Rent in the area several times before you buy.

If you really like a particular area, check it out during different seasons. This way you get to know the climate, people, pests, traffic patterns and other regional particulars first-hand.

Consult other owners.

Check with owners of nearby properties about public and private facilities, special maintenance required due to location or weather, the social climate, local development plans and prevalence of crime. Learning about the lifestyle of the area may help you narrow down your choices.

Think home first, investment second.

Although you may be able to generate rental income from your vacation home, it may not cover your ownership costs. (If you want to try real estate investments, give us a call to look at properties in the local area.)

Consider different styles of properties in a vacation area.

To minimize upkeep and have a more secure environment, a condo may be preferable to a single-family home. If you plan on converting it to a retirement home, consider what type of home you’ll want as a full-time residence.

Call us 910.202.3607 or or

Categories: Buying a Vacation Home, Uncategorized, wilmington nc, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington real estate stats, Wrightsville Beach NC

SELLERS MARKET | Why Every Home Doesn’t Sell

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apThis is a healthy housing market—by most indicators a seller’s market—especially for homes that are priced to sell and in great condition.

As we move into the year-end season, there are no signs the market is shifting. Price remains critically important. Today’s sellers must avoid the pitfall of believing “everything sells.” Track market trends with a real estate pro—like us—and make sure your home’s sales price reflects what buyers expect—and will pay. If an offer doesn’t appear quickly, make a noticeable price improvement sooner—not later—if you expect to get your home sold.

Despite a great year so far, many prospective sellers still are not getting their homes sold. Here’s what our experience and local trends tell us:

Overpriced Listings. You can’t sell a home based on last year’s prices or national headlines that conflict with our area’s micro-trends. Don’t set a sales price based on the amount you want to cash out of the home. Pricing right is paramount to get your home noticed, toured and sold fast. The right price is one that buyers are willing to offer compared with other nearby homes currently for sale. Expired listings are often homes that aren’t priced right. You may be amazed at how many homes have lingered on the market longer than average—at all price points.

Condition. Is your home move-in ready? It will sell quickly because choosy buyers want a modern home in great condition. They’ll pay for it, too. If you have a list of fix-ups, needed updates and undone maintenance, buyers will notice and keep looking…right past your home.

Set The Stage. Clean and declutter each room. Make each space inviting and bright. If you’ve already moved out, rent or borrow furniture to give each room a purpose and focal point. Empty homes don’t sell.

Contract Kickouts. Perhaps the biggest reason not every home sells in this market is that some homes go under contract but never reach settlement. Those deals “kick out.” Maybe it’s the home inspection. Sometimes it’s buyer remorse. Often, financing for the buyer doesn’t come through…especially if the buyer isn’t preapproved or paid over market value in a bidding war. Whatever the reason, a significant number of contracts fall through without ever getting to closing—and if your home is priced right and in good condition, it’s got a better chance of not tripping over closing hurdles.

Going It Alone. If you’re trying to sell your home on your own, your property is not getting the marketing and exposure it could when you partner with a real estate professional. Today’s real estate market is healthy, but selling by yourself could mean lost time, lost money and a lost sale.

Bottom line for today’s sellers? Fixing-up matters. Staging matters. Savvy marketing matters. Negotiating experience matters. And—most important—pricing ahead of the market matters to be sure you get your home sold for top dollar in our market today. Contact us to discuss how we can turn your “for sale” quickly into “sold.”

Categories: #Spring Time To Sell, Sellers Market, Uncategorized, Waterfront Wilmington NC, wilmington nc

FUHGEDDABOUTDIT | 3 Ways To Avoid Overpricing Pitfalls

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402187Some sellers think pricing their home above what it is worth is a good idea. What could go wrong?

  • A high listing price doesn’t deter buyers because price is negotiable, right?Fuhgeddaboutdit. Buyers are savvy. They know what comparable homes are worth and what they’re selling for at year-end. They might see your home listing online (if it isn’t priced out of their search-price range), but based on its specs, location and price, might simply skip viewing it. And, if buyers don’t tour your home in person, they’re not going to buy it.
  • If buyers don’t like the price, they’ll simply offer less and we’ll still be successful in selling our home.Fuhgeddaboutdit. Buyers often aren’t comfortable offering significantly less than asking price. They are more likely to move on with their money and find another home that is priced reasonably. After all, why offer to buy a home you can’t afford? Others might think they’re wasting everybody’s time bottom-fishing with a huge price reduction.
  • When setting our listing price, we have to clear a specific amount of cash from our home sale.Fuhgeddaboutdit. Buyers don’t care what you need to clear in your home sale. They are focused entirely on your home and what it is worth today—and only today—in the current real estate market. Setting an asking price based on how much you’ve put into the house, how much you need to buy your new home, or what you feel your home is worth doesn’t work with today’s buyers. After all, buyers and the market set market value, not sellers’ hopes.
Categories: Avoid Overpricing, Overpricing a home, Uncategorized, wilmington, wilmington nc, wilmington nc real estate

Need to Renovate? A Mortgage Loan That Can Help Pay For Your Home’s Renovations

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1Want to renovate your home’s 20th century-era kitchen? Or maybe you’d like to build that master bedroom of your dreams. You can—with the help of two mortgage programs designed to help homeowners pay for renovations designed to improve the value of a residence.

Fannie Mae offers the HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage, while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides the 203(k) Program. Buyers can take out these mortgages when buying a new home. But they can also refinance their existing mortgage loans into a HomeStyle or 203(k) loan if they need to make improvements to their current homes.

These loans allow consumers to borrow more than a home is worth, as long as you use the extra money you are borrowing to pay for home repairs or renovations.

For instance, if borrowers want to buy a $150,000 home, they can take out a HomeStyle or 203(k) loan for $175,000. They can then use that extra $25,000 to fund the renovation of an aging kitchen or add another bathroom.

Borrowers will have to work with consultants who will study borrowers’ renovation plans and make sure that the homeowners are using the money for the repairs they promised to make.

But that extra work is worth it if it allows you to improve the value of your home while making it a better place to live for you and your family.

If you have questions about these loan programs, don’t hesitate to call us. We can help you determine which program is best for you. And we can guide you through the application process for both types of loans.

Don’t Keep It To Yourself!
After you’ve read and reviewed this newsletter, we hope you’ll pass it on to those you know who are thinking about selling or buying a home this year. They’ll appreciate you thinking about them, and we’ll certainly appreciate the referrals. Your positive word-of-mouth is greatly valued. Thank you!


Categories: Get a Mortgage to Renovate, Uncategorized, wilmington beach homes, wilmington nc, wilmington real estate stats

WHY WAIT? Contingencies Designed To Move A Sale Forward

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When you buy or sell a Wilmington NC home, there may be some delays before you can close and load up the moving van to say goodbye to your current neighborhood. These delays happen for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes a buyer is not able to make a decision to purchase. Contingencies are typically used to smooth acceptance of a contract without delaying the buying decision. Most contracts, for example, are contingent upon financing. This is for the protection of the seller as well as the buyer, because a seller doesn’t want to be tied to a buyer who can’t deliver.

Here are some common types of contingencies found in sales contracts:

Home inspection: Placed by the buyer, this type of contingency usually requires that a “satisfactory” home inspection must be conducted, before the buyer will go through with the purchase of a home. Somewhat related is buyer approval of required repairs, such as painting or roofing.

Financing: With today’s pre-approval for mortgages and all-cash buyers, this contingency is not as ubiquitous as it was in the past. However, some buyers will write a contract first, then determine if they can get the loan.

Home of choice: This is a seller’s contingency placed on a buyer’s contract. The seller may want to find another home and write a contract on it before agreeing to sell the home they live in. The buyer who agrees to this contingency will have to delay closing until the seller has purchased a new home.

Home sale: For financial or other reasons, some buyers may have to include this contingency, which gives them the opportunity to sell an existing home first, before completing a sales contract.

Contingencies can raise questions and need to be fulfilled before a contract can be settled. As your local real estate experts, we can give you more information on real estate transactions and what you might encounter in today’s market. Contact us to find out more.

Categories: home contingency, Move Sale of Home Forward, Uncategorized, wilmington nc, wilmington nc foreclosures, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington nc relocation

FAMILY MOVE: Tips For House Hunting With The Kids

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Parents Carrying Child

Child experts agree it’s a good idea to involve the children when a family makes relocation plans. You may have mixed feelings about taking the kids house-hunting, however. (It’s hard enough for just two people to decide on a new home!) Here are a few pointers that may help:

Narrow The Field First

The kids don’t need to visit every potential Wilmington NC house on the list. If possible, wait until you’ve selected two or three serious prospects before bringing the children along. In any case, limit your kid-accompanied tours to three houses or less per day.

Provide Behavioral Guidelines

{short description of image}Remind the kids to treat the owners and their property with respect. Make sure the kids stay in the same room with you at all times and that they “keep their hands to themselves.”If the owners are present, your family members should also keep their thoughts about the house to themselves until after you leave the property. Making positive comments in the presence of the owners could work against you when negotiating the price, while negative comments could spark a hostile reaction, causing the owner to sell to another buyer.

Make The Kids Your Secretaries

If they’re old enough, your children can each keep a log of the homes you look at, including detailed information about the house — location, size, types and numbers of rooms, etc. Have them describe they’re feelings about the house, too, particularly what they think it would be like to live there.

Locate The Nearest Playground

A post-tour trip to the park (or local mall, if you have teenagers) can be a great motivator for good behavior and a nice way to get to know the area. Walking the streets in the neighborhood will also give you and the kids a better feeling for the local lifestyle and whether there are other children the same age as yours in the area.

Offer Entertainment

Bring along books or games to help your kids through the “I’m bored” stage. If you’ll be driving for extended periods, bring some audio books or favorite music.

Time Your Tours For Success

Plan to look at houses early in the day or just after (certainly not during) nap time. Be prepared with snack foods and drinks to keep energy levels up.

Let Them Know Their Input Counts.

Although the final decision is yours, your children will feel better about the move if they know you value what they think about their potential new home and neighborhood.


Categories: Buying House with Kids, wilmington nc, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington nc relocation

25 Reasons to Love Wilmington NC

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1. Beautiful Beaches and Waterways

Wilmington NC is situated on the southeast coast of NC and is bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and the west by the Cape Fear River. The beauty and charm of Wilmington and the surrounding beaches equal or surpass any on the east coast. The many pristine beaches that we have to enjoy such as Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Topsail Beach, Oak Island and Ocean Isle Beach are sure to captivate your heart.


2. Boating

The area’s many miles of coastline, rivers and sounds offer a variety of  watersports, boating activities, and quite a few harbors, marinas, and yacht clubs.

3. Fishing

Being located within minutes of one of the most protected inlets on the east coast, Wilmington offers bountiful fishing opportunities within minutes. Masonboro Inlet is located between the Southern tip of Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro Island. Also, the many creeks and bays located off banks channel and the waterways are a fisherman’s dream. You will see them fishing for drum, trout, and  flounder in the fall of the year.

3. Masonboro Island

Masonboro Island is an 8 mile long uninhabited island on the southern North Carolina coast between Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach and is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve. Masonboro Island, only accessible by boat, is enjoyed by campers, surfers, anglers, and bird-watchers alike. The reserve consists of about 5000 acres, which about 4400 acres are tidal marsh and mud flats. The most northern end at Masonboro Inlet is the most popular area with its sandy beaches and protected waters. Any summer weekend you will see many boaters and campers prepared for a few days on the beach with tents, grills and water toys in tow.

4. Historic Downtown Wilmington NC

Wilmington is blessed with a beautiful and extensive historic district with magnificent and stately oaks, azaleas and oleanders. 230 blocks of downtown are on the The National Register of Historic Districts. The city embraces a lot of history and is fortunate that so much has been preserved.

5. Wilmington NC Real Estate

I cannot speak highly enough about the real estate offered in and around Wilmington NC, from the River to the Sea! Wilmington offers many affordable neighborhoods such as Whitney Pines to move up neighborhoods like Covil Estates with amenities, to luxury gated communities such as Landfall, or golf course neighborhoods like Porters Neck, and waterfront neighborhoods with marinas and boatslips such as Turtle Hall or Shinn Point . The choices are all right here in our great port city of Wilmington NC. Read the rest of this entry

Categories: Figure Eight Island, Uncategorized, wilmington nc, Wilmington nc schools, wilmington nc weekly events

10 Tips Smart Wilmington NC Condominium Shoppers Should Consider

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There may be no such thing as a perfect condominium, but you can probably come close to your ideal. With the help of an experienced real estate agent, you can check out the following criteria to locate the right condo at an affordable price: For Sale Sign

Look at common areas:

  1. A condo situated in a neighborhood on the upswing, not the downslide; convenient to shopping, cultural and recreational facilities and good schools. (Even if you have no children, you may someday have a potential buyer who does.)
  2. Ample parking areas, as invisible as possible – especially from the front entrance.
  3. Whether high-rise or two-story, a structure that is sound and attractive.
  4. All public and private entrances equipped with double-lock systems. Electronic surveillance, where possible.
  5. Convenient and discretely placed laundry facilities, community rooms, saunas, locker rooms, game rooms, individual storage spaces and spots for trash.

Consider the private areas:

  1. Well-placed air-conditioning and heating units.
  2. Soundproofed walls, ceiling and floors.
  3. Well-padded, good-quality carpeting.
  4. First-rate kitchen and bathroom appliances and facilities.
  5. A kitchen equipped with an exhaust fan for cooking fumes.

If you’re thinking of looking at condominiums, e-mail us or give us a call. We’ll be glad to help show you what’s available in our area.

Categories: Buying a Condo, Uncategorized, wilmington nc, Wilmington NC homes

10 Surefire Ways The Right Price Will Sell Your Wilmington Home!

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Today’s spring Wilmington NC real estate market may look a lot like previous home-selling springs to many home sellers and buyers. Except it isn’t.

Yes, there’s a new crop of homebuyers. Yes, some have lists of “must-haves” and timetables to move into their next home. Yes, others are just tire-kicking, curious if they can find a better location, nicer condition, cheaper, smaller or bigger home than they currently have. And, yes, as the weather warms up more homebuyers will come out in numbers, searching for their perfect “dream” home.

Every spring, visions of dollar signs dance in local sellers’ minds. It’s understandable. Sellers are eager to get on with their lives and move to their next home. Many market factors are, unfortunately, beyond sellers’ control. Interest rates. Regional economy. Community amenities. Neighborhood schools. Property location. Home style. Floor plan. Transportation options. Etcetera.

The most powerful factor in your home sale, however, is within your control: Price.

Boil it all away and price is what sells homes today. We help home sellers, like yourself, price their home to sell in any market, in any neighborhood and in any season of the year. The right price—carefully crafted—is what will get your home sold. Let us show you some insider secrets this spring. Keep reading to find out how important the right price is to ensuring your home sells.

Think Price Range: You want your home to stand out, but will pricing it at a round number knock it out of the search results for homebuyers looking under that figure? Craft your listing price to keep your home in front of the widest group of buyers. Priced right, it might even spur a bidding war, resulting in multiple purchase offers.

Forget Your Receipts: Ultimately the marketplace will determine value. That’s why the right price is not the sum of all the investments you’ve put into your home in terms of improvements, upgrades and changes. This tally total should not factor into your home’s final listing price.

Buyers Don’t Care About Your Expenses: A homebuyer doesn’t care about your mortgage balance, second mortgage or what you need to clear monetarily in the home sale. Buyers view your home in today’s market compared to other homes of similar size, style and quality in your neighborhood and choose the best value.

Local Data Is Priceless: We can provide you with up-to-the-minute data to support your home’s listing price. Reviewing recently sold prices for comparable homes, expired listings and listed homes will help you zero in on your home’s right price.

Open Up To Negotiation: If you feel your sales price is set and final, think again. Homebuyers will expect you to negotiate. If you shut down and refuse to entertain any offers except full-price bids, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment—and an unsold home.

Treat Your Home Like A Product: Your home holds many dear memories, but at sale time, you need to separate yourself from sentimental thoughts and approach the home sale strictly as a business transaction. You’re selling a product and the homebuyer is your customer. Emotions are not part of your right price.

Price It Right From The Start: Don’t think testing the waters with a higher price when you first list leaves you room to negotiate. This strategy will cause your listing to languish with few, if any, buyers coming to tour your overpriced home. Serious buyers know they can get more home for their money elsewhere. Rather than offers with room for negotiation, you’ll simply get no offers.

Unwanted Stuff Might Be Treasured: Think about what items you will want to convey, that is, sell with the home upon closing/settlement. Identify these items before listing so homebuyers might appreciate these “extras” and put your home at the top of their serious list. Consider big-ticket or custom items such as playground equipment, large sectionals, wall mirrors, chandeliers, window treatments, firewood, patio furniture or lawn equipment. (Tip: Consider holding out a few desirable items to throw in at negotiation time to make your counteroffer look even more inviting.)

Make Sure Your Home Is Ready: The right price will bring lookers. Turn them into buyers by making your home look its best. This means de-cluttering, deep cleaning, staging, great online photos, being flexible for showings at short notice and keeping up the spotless, ready-to-sell, move-in-ready look until you get that signed purchase offer in-hand.

Give Some Security: Sweeten your right price with a home warranty to cover major systems and major price tag problems if something should fail in the first year with the new owners. Hire a home inspector before you list to check off all the little things that need attention and get a handyman to fix all needed items. If you get an appraisal done before listing, share it with potential homebuyers to show them that your home price is “priced to sell” in line with current appraisals and that getting financing at your listing price shouldn’t be an issue for the buyers.

If you truly want to get your home sold quickly and at the best price, it pays to work with a real estate professional like us. We can give you all the data you need to nail down the right price to get your home sold today!

Categories: Uncategorized, wilmington nc, Wilmington NC Commercial Real estate, Wilmington NC Market Statistics, Wrightsville Beach NC

LOCATION: The Most Important Questions Every Buyer Should Ask

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Buying in Wilmington NC?

It’s a maxim in real estate that the three most crucial factors in selecting a house are “location, location, location.” It’s also true! No matter how wonderful the house is, the location is key to how well you’ll like living in it and how well it sells when you’re ready to move on. Before you buy, carefully check the following factors to be sure the house you like is really the one you want to live in.


Consider destinations
Where will family members go most often from this new location? How easy is it to reach those places from the house? How accessible are schools, churches, grocery stores, medical care, public transportation, shopping malls and emergency services?

Figure Eight Island

Figure Eight Island

Be sure rooms have a view
What is the view from the house and yard? Is the yard right for your anticipated activities? What uses are possible for nearby undeveloped land? Is a new road or commercial development planned?


Check around the clock
Is rush hour traffic a problem? What will be the impact of special events such as local high-school games or church picnics? Crash test the driveway. How easy is it to get into and out of the driveway?

Be service conscious
What utilities serve the property? Are the rates competitive? Do you want an all-electric house, or do you want gas or oil heat? Where will you get your mail? Are there any easements?

Dig below the surface
Is the soil stable? Is part of the property on a flood plain? If so, what is the history of floods on the property and what would flood insurance cost?

Visit the neighbors
How will you fit in with the neighbors? Do people seem to be friendly? Are houses well-maintained?

Read the fine print
If the community has special by-laws or architectural controls over changes to a house, what are the pros and cons?

Make a list of the positive and negative aspects of each property as you tour it. Assign priorities to important elements of the house’s location. If you have questions about a home’s location, we can help. Call or e-mail us now. Here are some affordable home neighborhoods.

Categories: first time home buyers, wilmington nc

Kay Baker Associates | 1001 Military Cutoff | Ste 101 Wilmington, NC 28405 | | 910-202-3607 | Fax 910-338-2428

Copyright © 2016 Wilmington NC Real Estate Guide. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own opinion and should not be treated as fact or relied upon when purchasing or selling real estate.