Invest in the Outer Banks

Why the Outer Banks? As one of the largest and most mature vacation rental markets in the United States, the Outer Banks continues to draw people to its beaches every year.  It’s natural beauty, wide sandy beaches, family attractions and laid back lifestyle makes the area a top hit for vacationers every year.  For all the same reasons, owning a piece of paradise is an attractive idea and as many smart Outer Banks homeowners have found out, it can also be a lucrative one as well.  Prices on the Outer Banks are typically more affordable than other areas along the Mid Atlantic and Northeast Coast.  That coupled with the fact that homes on the Outer Banks typically produce very high rental income, it is easy to see the value in owning Outer Banks property. 

outer-banks-investment-homeShould I time the market? Timing is important.  When you buy and when you sell can impact your bottom line.  Buyers today should be looking at the long term value of real estate.  Look at your real estate investment from a long term perspective realizing that over time, values trend upward.  Everyone knows what happened with real estate across the country over the last 10 years.  The Outer Banks was no exception.  But those days are behind us and the strength of the market has returned.  Should you time the market?  Yes and the time is now! 

Outer Banks information overload?  The right real estate agent can help you! There has never been a time in the history of real estate when buyers had access to so much information.  With the help of the internet, we now all have access to an amazing amount of information.  It really makes things easy….right?  It certainly has its advantages but organizing all of that information so that you can make the right buying decision is complicated.  The Outer Banks real estate market encompasses over 100 miles of coastline, multiple counties, more than 15 towns and hundreds of communities.  All of these areas are different, have different rules and regulations, different building codes, different beaches and water influences.  How your property will perform, in terms of rental and its long term value can be different in all of these areas.  Pick the right real estate agent.  Make sure they are experienced and have a proven track record.  Information is easy to obtain.  Experienced advice and local knowledge is harder to find, but just as important.  The right real estate agent can help you use all of this information to make the decision that is right for you.

corolla-wild-horse-investmentA diverse real estate market. The Outer Banks has what you are looking for.  No matter what your wish list includes, it can be found here.  Looking for the highest ROI?   We have that with properties that produce amazing rental income.  Looking for a 2nd home and a place to get away from it all?  We have that and can even get you a water view to go with it!  Looking to re-locate to the area?  We have wonderful year round communities, great schools, amenities, water activities and so much more!  

–blog by Brad Beacham, Coldwell Banker-Seaside Realty

Invest in the Outer Banks

quality outer banks home builder

Choosing a Quality Outer Banks Builder


Building a home on the Outer Banks can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience. Choosing a quality home builder for your project is paramount to it’s success, so be sure to take time to do your homework. Here are a few things to help find the Outer Banks builder that’s right for you? 

THE RIGHT FIT: Find a quality outer banks home builder that’s right for you and your project. The Outer Banks is home to many residential contractors and home builders. Some contractors specialize in a particular style, size or price range while others build a broad range of homes. Some companies are large and some small. Some have in house design teams and others outsource the design. Start by defining your projects size, style and budget. Decide if you need a professional in-house design team that will follow the project through completion. Then determine if you want to use a large corporate company or a small hands on contractor. Defining your projects needs is key to finding an Outer Banks builder that best suits your project. 

quality outer banks home builderCUSTOMER SATISFACTION: Find out what previous customers have to say. Above all, talking to previous customers is one of the most important steps when choosing your Outer Banks home builder. The information you can obtain from a previous customer is invaluable. A trustworthy builder will proudly, and without hesitation, provide you with testimonials and references. If you didn’t receive a list of  references from your potential builder be sure to ask for them. A satisfied or dissatisfied customer will enjoy sharing their building experience with you so don’t hesitate to contact them. 

EXPERIENCE: Don’t confuse experience for quality and visa versa. You cannot discount experience as it is one of the most important attributes in construction. However, experience does not make a quality Outer Banks builder. Not every experienced architect is a quality architect. Not every experienced doctor is a quality doctor. And not every experienced home builder is a quality home builder. Fact is, every home building company, including the top quality firms, once built their first home. Most new or start-up companies are founded by highly experienced and qualified builders, so don’t be quick to discount them. Instead look for strong overall experience within the company as well of signs of quality construction when evaluating experience. 

TRUST AND COMMITMENT: Building a home is a balancing act between the design, the construction and the budget. It is imperative you partner with a builder who is committed to your project and one that you trust unequivocally. The relationship you form with your Outer Banks builder will be paramount for the projects success. With home construction lasting from 6-18 months, it is crucial to develop not only a professional relationship with your builder but a personal one as well. A great relationship with a builder who is committed to you, the design and the quality of your home will pay dividends in the end. 

quality outer banks home builderQUALITY AND DETAIL: A well built-quality home becomes quite apparent if you know what to look for. Take some time to tour a few homes that the company has built. Be sure to look at both new and older homes. Most new homes look great at first glance but viewing older homes gives an idea of how they hold up to the test of time. Look for quality and detail in every aspect of the home. What products are being used? What brand cabinetry and counters are in the homes? What type of doors are being used and  how do they fit? Look at the miters and joints on the trim? How is the outside detailed and what products are used? Look at the appliances, toilets, tubs, plumbing fixtures and lighting, are they reputable brands? Don’t get caught up by the look of the home, dig into whats underneath the presentation, that’s were you will determine the quality.

LICENSED AND INSURED: Be sure your dealing with a licensed and insured general contractor. North Carolina requires a residential contractors license for home construction and  any construction project over thirty thousand dollars, so be sure to ask your contractor for his/her license number. You can check online with the NC Board of General Contractors at Be sure to check the license type, status and validity. In addition to a valid license, be sure your builder is insured. Workman’s Compensation, General Liability Insurance and Builders Risk are the typical insurances which should be present throughout a typical building project. Discuss this with your potential Outer Banks builder and be sure the insurances are in place during the building process.  

WARRANTY SERVICE: One of the advantages of building a new home on the Outer Banks verses buying one is the warranty. A new home and everything within it, including all fixtures and appliances, should be warrantied for a minimum of one year. Some builders offer extended warranties and others handle extended service plans. Be sure to look for a structural warranty of 10 years or more. A builder who can offer this type of warranty stands behind his/her work and is willing to back it up.  Ask previous clients about prompt warranty service. Was the service handled quickly and professionally or were the warranty items put on the back burner? Issues will arise in home construction, its just a fact, but how the issues are handled by the builder is key. 

Lastly, you are entering into a long term commitment with your  builder. Be sure you take the time to ask the right questions, check references and look for signs of quality and outstanding character. Doing your homework and choosing the right builder for your new home will make the entire process more enjoyable and run smoother for both you and your builder.  

–blog by Michael K. York, The Coastal Cottage Company

 quality outer banks home builder


Finding the Motivation


Finding the sellers motivation is key to making an acceptable offer. Loosely defined, motivation is “a force or influence that causes someone to do something”. Some days I’m highly “motivated” to wake up and get right to the gym for an intense workout comprised of equal parts cardio exercise and strength training. Other days that “force” is missing from my being and I may decide to “phone it in” at the gym with a shorter session (or perhaps not make the trip at all).

Motivation is a critical component of real estate sales affecting both buyers and sellers. A seller who’s accepted a job transfer and needs to be in a distant city by month’s end may be motivated very differently than one who’s decided that they simply wish to downsize now that retirement is close at hand.

The coastal communities of eastern North Carolina have a heavy concentration of homes used by their owners as second or “vacation” properties. Other property owners in the area may have purchased real estate speculatively as an investment, or with a plan to use it in some way that never materialized. When these owners make a decision to bring a property to market their motivation can be extremely different than would be the case if they were selling their primary residence.

Preconceived Buyer Notions; Some buyers with whom I’ve worked have come to the area with preconceived notions of their bargaining power when finding and negotiating to purchase a property. Perhaps they got a great deal on another home in a different market or they’ve heard (sometimes from unrelated sources) that they should expect sellers to accept just about anything thrown their way. The truth of the matter is that each market is different and what may be happening in one market isn’t necessarily what you’ll find in another.

outer-banks-motivation-sellers-real-estateSeller Concessions; While market conditions may still favor buyers in certain segments of real estate sales within Dare and Currituck Counties the scale may not be tipped as far to one side as you think. A review of Outer Banks Association of REALTORS MLS statistics tells an interesting story. For the period between January 1, 2014 and August 31, 2014, sales of single family homes (all dual county areas/all sizes) indicates that the sellers of those properties achieved 93.95% to 95.92% of their asking price on average. Would you have expected larger concessions from sellers? I often refer to this list vs. sale price ratio as Numerical Motivation.

Seller Motivation; These moderate seller concessions of list price (or numerical motivation) figures in Dare and Currituck Counties could be attributed to several things. The first of those may likely be that sellers and their agents are carefully studying the market to determine an initial list price that is based on high quality comparable sales. As a result, buyers are generally agreeing with those values and finding comfort that the price they’ve negotiated is fair. Another reason for the close margins is most surely attributed to the motivation of many sellers in these coastal communities. More often than not, I encounter sellers who want to sell but do not necessarily need to sell. As a result, they enjoy the luxury of time and can scrutinize each offer as it’s presented. These sellers are less likely to jump on the first horse that comes down the trail. Instead they may patiently negotiate with the buyer until both parties achieve a meeting of the minds or step away from the table.

outer-banks-motivation-sellersNumerical Motivation; If you’re a buyer seeking a home in this marketplace ask your real estate professional to provide you with Numerical Motivation figures for both the community in which you’re looking as well as the type/size of home you hope to buy in that same community. Understanding nuances of a marketplace will help you prepare for the day when you say to your agent “I’m ready to make an offer”!

–blog provided by Wm. Allan Rodgers, Jr GRI, SRS – Broker Associate – CENTURY 21 Nachman Realty and Ocean to Sky Realty


choosing interior paint colors

Choosing Paint Colors

A certified interior designer shares her secrets… 

The ever intimidating job of choosing paint colors can be overwhelming.  However, selecting paint for your home can be a stress free experience when you have confidence about your choices. Below are my tips I use when choosing the right paint for your home as well as your personality. 

LIGHTING: It is very important to know the type of lighting in the room you will be painting. Keep this in mind while shopping for colors.  A paint color will look very different in fluorescent lighting vs. natural lighting vs. incandescent lighting.  Make sure you take your paint chip options home with you and look at them in the space you are painting because the lights at the store will not be anything like the lights you have at home.

EMOTION: Color plays a huge part in our psychology and how we feel in a space.  Remember that the color you select will elicit different emotions.  Think about how you want to feel in that space once it is painted.  Want to feel relaxed and peaceful?  You should go with a cooler or a lighter color.  Or, if you want to feel energized and excited, you can go with a brighter color in a warm tone or a darker color.


choosing interior paint colorsCONTINUITY: When selecting paint colors, think of the home as a whole.  If you are painting the dining room that is adjoining the kitchen, the color of the kitchen will affect how the color of the dining room appears.  When colors are placed next to each other, they make each look different than when alone.  In the image at right, the blue box in the center is the same color but it looks much brighter and more crisp when placed inside an orange box (its complimentary color) than inside a blue box.  

TRIM: What color to paint that pesky trim?  Typically, the best choice is white.  I know it sounds boring but it’s true. 

CEILING: So, you have picked your wall color but now what color do you paint the ceiling?  A good rule to follow is to take the wall color and add 50% white.  You will get a color that is much less dark and will compliment the wall color.  Colors on ceilings always appear darker than the walls. 

choosing outer banks paint colorsCOMBINING COLORS: You want to go with more than one color, as many people do, but how do you know what will look good together?  The best thing you can do is consult the color wheel.  Colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel will always complement each other and make the colors appear true to their hue and appear clean and crisp.

SMALL ROOMS: Small spaces can be made to look bigger with the use of light colors.  

PAINT vs. FURNISHINGS: Always pick your paint color LAST!  This may sound crazy if you are moving into a new house, BUT, there are a million and one paint colors out there but you may only find one sofa that you love.  Choose all the furnishings and accessories and then pick your paint color.  It will ensure that everything matches.

QUALIFYING COLORS: When you bring your paint chip home to see how it will look in the space, do not hold it up against the wall you want to paint.  This will only distort the color of the paint chip.  Instead, hold the paint chip against the sofa or cabinetry to get a better feel of how it will look in the space.

OWN IT: The most important tip that I have is to pick the color that you love and then as scary as this sounds, go one shade darker.  The natural tendency is to go lighter but this will look washed out if you go too light.  You are picking out a color and you want it to look like a color on the wall, not just a version of white.  Don’t be afraid!

Oh, and one last tip…Buy the expensive paint and the good paint brush and roller.  Just do it.  You will save yourself time and hassle and a possible trip back to the store.  You will thank me later.  

I’ve spilled all my secrets on selecting paint color.  Follow these guidelines and you will have a space that you love.  Now, go out into the world of home improvement stores with confidence that you will pick the perfect paint!

 –blog provided by Amy Hilliker Klebitz – Certified Interior Designer


Coastal Deck Collapse


The North American Deck and Railing Association or NADRA estimates that there are 40 million decks in the U.S. that are over 20 years old. The concerns with older decks are:

  • Many were built before new codes were established which made decks uniformly safer.
  • Many are weaker after experiencing weather stress for many years.  These weaknesses are more severe in our coastal environment.
  • Some have not been properly maintained.
outer-banks-deck-collapse-investigationDeck Disaster?

The condition shown on the right (COMPLETELY corroded nut and bolt which flakes away when touched) was found under a pedestrian walkway at a local Outer Banks retail establishment and is a typical condition, especially for decks located near the ocean. Heat, ultraviolet light, elevated moisture levels, and salt spray exact a stiff toll on wood decks and their metallic connections in relatively short periods.  A condition like this should raise safety and liability concerns for both the owner and rental agency.

Below are some headlines and links to deck collapses which have occurred just over the past 12 months.  

25 People Try to Take Selfie with Rainbow on Deck; Deck Collapses 

-Myrtle Beach, SC  –  June 7, 2014

18 hurt in deck collapses after group takes photo on Pawleys Island

-Pawleys Island, SC  –  Jun 09, 2014

 Expert: Collapsed NC deck may have been damaged 

-Ocean Isle Beach, NC  –  Jul 13, 2013

coastal-deck-construction-detail-prevent-collapseIs your deck at risk?

Typical coastal areas like the Outer Banks are home to thousands of decks which are constantly being compromised by the harsh salt water environment and violent storms. Often these homes are investment or rental properties which pose a substantial liability if and when the deck structure fails. Decks in the coastal areas should be inspected yearly and after each major storm event. It is advisable to hire a professional contractor or engineer to inspect your deck and its connections but that’s not to say you cannot inspect your deck yourself. Here is what to look for.  

Ledger Bands: The ledger band is typically a 2×10 or 2×12 treated wood member running perpendicular to the deck joists. It should be bolted to the homes structural frame, thereby providing a secure connection on which all other deck framing members are attached. The ledger band and associated ledger are the number one source for all deck collapses. Current building codes require that the ledger band is secured through the house structural framing with 5/8” HDG (hot-dipped galvanized) through bolts every 32” on center. When inspecting your deck, be sure that the galvanized bolts are installed. A ledger band that is secured with nails only will certainly fail sooner than one secured with through bolts. Be sure that the installed bolts are in good condition and not rusted. Corrosion to the surface of the bolt is acceptable but deep penetrating rust is a sure sign of a weak connection and potential hazard.  

Deck joist ledgers: A deck ledger is typically made up of a 2×2 or 2×4 treated wood member attached to the bottom of the ledger band. Its sole purpose is to provide vertical support to the deck joists sitting on top of it. In coastal area construction, a wooden ledger is used in lieu of metal joist hangers for joist support. In a salt water environment, metal joist hangers can corrode and ultimately fail and in our area they have been substituted with wood. Currently, the building code requires a 2×4 ledger with 5-10d HDG nails under each joist. A lot of older homes have 2×2 ledgers with 3 nails under each joist. In any case, the key to a lasting deck ledger is in its fasteners/connections. Check the nails that support the ledger for corrosion and rust. These fasteners should be in good condition. If your deck is supported with metal joist hangers, inspect the hangers as well as the nails used to secure the hangers. Rust and corrosion is the enemy here and the most common reason for deck failures.

Deck girders: Running parallel to and on the opposite side of the joist ledger and ledger band is the deck girder. A deck girder is located away from the house and usually supported on each end by a piling or post. The deck girder should be connected to the piling or post with through bolts at each end. Current code requires (2)-2×10 treated wood members spanning no more than eight feet on center and secured by (2)-5/8” HDG through bolts at each end. This connection is typically not a failure point but some areas to review are the following: the bolts which connect this supporting beam to the pilings should be free of deep rust and corrosion and the beam should be inspected for sagging. Over time many beams and girders can sag and in turn, the deck and decking follow suit.  

Joists: Deck joists are typically as small as 2×6 but on average are made of 2×8 treated wood, depending on their span. For longer spans they can be as large as 2×10’s. Joists run from the ledger band at the house out to the deck girder. At the house the joists butt up against the ledger band and sit atop the joist ledger and at the other end the joists sit atop the girder. During an inspection, be sure the joists are sitting securely on top of the joist ledger and girder at each end. The joists should also be toe nailed into the ledger band and the end band over the girder. Also check the nails for corrosion and rust. In addition to the connections, you should inspect each joist for sagging. If the joists were not properly sized the joists may sag or crack over time. 

Decking: The decking is rarely at fault when a failure occurs. The decking is like the hardwood flooring in your home. Its sole purpose is to provide a surface to walk on and span a very short distance (usually 16″) between joists. The decking tends to take all the wear and tear from the sun, wind and rain. In older decks the decking can look much worse than anything you see in the structural members of the deck. For the decking, simply be sure that the deck ends are nailed down properly to prevent tripping.  Screws are better than nails for this purpose and will last longer. The typical reason for decking remediation is cosmetic, not structural. 

Railings: The railings are the safety net for the deck. In our area decks can be twenty feet off the ground or more which in itself is a safety hazard. The easiest way to check your railing is to simply grab and shake back and forth. They should feel solid, not move and give you a sense of security. It is absolutely crucial to have safe, secure deck railings at all times. The rail post is the most susceptible to failure. If you keep the supporting posts attached to the deck securely, the railing will stay secure. Current codes require a minimum of a 4×4 wood post  secured to the joist band with 2-1/2” HDG through bolts. A typical Outer Banks home might have 4×4’s notched and nailed to the joist band. This is a very weak connection. Notching the post reduces the amount of bolted cross section at the fulcrum of the post. Over time this connection will be subject to great stresses and become loose or split at the notch. And with only nails securing the post, it may fail if someone simply falls into the railing. The best connection is to drop the entire post inside the outboard joist band, block the base of the post and install (2)-5/8″ through bolts at each connection. If your deck has bolted connections and the railing seems firm, simply inspect the connections for rust and corrosion.

Your coastal area decks, like everything else in or on your home, require constant maintenance. A poorly constructed and maintained deck is a hazard in general but a huge liability in a rental-investment home market. The likelihood your deck may collapse increases every year and with every violent coastal storm. Take a minute to inspect your decks and be sure to call a professional engineer or Outer Banks Builder if you find anything concerning.  

-blog by Barrett Crook, Kitty Hawk Engineering and Michael York, The Coastal Cottage Company | Outer Banks Builders 


coastal foundations

Coastal Foundations

Why we use piling foundations along the Outer Banks of NC. 

coastal-piling-builder-steel-foundationIf you have ever visited or lived on the Outer Banks, you may have been wondering why the homes are built on pilings or “stilts”. You’re not alone, you might be surprised how often this question comes up.

Before moving to the Outer Banks, my wife made me promise that we wouldn’t live in a house on “stilts”.  She wanted to live in a “normal” looking house like the one she had grown up in.  Sure, this seems like a reasonable request, but the fact is there are very few homes on the Outer Banks that have traditional masonry foundations. The majority of the homes on the Outer Banks are built on “stilts” or piling foundations.

So why are they built on piling foundation’s you ask? Well most of the reasoning revolves around the Outer Banks topography and flooding. Wood piles are the most economical way to elevate a house above potentially high flood waters.  Living in an area with relatively flat topography surrounded by water the risk of flooding is always high.  Relatively minor sustained winds can push ocean and sound levels onto normally dry areas.  Higher winds can magnify and compound the damage caused by raised water levels.  Elevating homes above these waters can reduce damage and ultimately save homes that would otherwise be destroyed. 

Piling foundations also provide a deeper, more secure foundation than conventional masonry foundations. Typical foundations like masonry and concrete tend to be shallower.  As a result, they are more susceptible to shifting sands, erosion and undermining. Pilings, on the other hand, are driven deep beneath the sub-grade and are not as affected by surface erosion by wind or flood waters.

How do pilings support a house? Foundation piles support homes in two ways.  First, piles support the house load through “skin friction”. Skin friction is the resistance of the soil, typically sand in our area, along the sides of the pile to downward pressure.  And secondly, through the piles “end bearing”. The end bearing is the ability of the pile to resistance downward pressure at the “tip” or bottom of the pile. The combination of skin friction and end bearing provide substantial bearing capacities capable of supporting the unique homes on the Outer Banks.

Do you need to build on a pile foundation? This depends on the property location and flood zone. The minimum elevation for a home may vary based on design flood levels and lot location typically designated by FEMA. A qualified engineer or builder can help you decide what foundation type is best for your lot, home and the flood requirements.

coastal-foundations-outer-banks-pilingsIn conclusion, homes on the Outer Banks vary widely in terms of construction type and appearance.  Many architects and engineers over the years have come up with unique ways to minimize the “stilt look” while maintaining the benefits of pile supported foundation (as my wife required ours to be). Piles also provide a relatively economical way for home owners to achieve extraordinary views including spectacular sunrises and sunsets. So the next time you are visiting the Outer Banks and someone says “I wonder why all the homes are built on those stilts…”, you will have the answer.  

 -blog provided by: Barrett Crook – Kitty Hawk Engineering, PLLC