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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 www.amyklebitz.com


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  www.kittyhawkengineering.com


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