Thursday, July 29, 2010

In January, Realtors in the area said they saw the market growing slightly

They predicted that 2010 would be a year of continued improvement.

So, are the numbers supporting their predictions?

In June 2009, there were 1,520 homes for sale in the Oak Island, Southport, Caswell Beach, Bald Head Island, St. James and Boiling Spring Lakes area, according to information compiled by Mary Ann McCarthy, president of the Brunswick County Association of Realtors. That number was down to 1,346 for June of this year. The same number of properties (52) sold in those areas each June. But in 2009, there were only another 54 pending transactions, whereas in June 2010 there were 73 pending sales.

Unfortunately, area real estate professionals agree, it’s still foreclosures and short sales that are driving the market. Until those properties stop flooding the market, prices will not stabilize, Kim Skipper Anderson with Art Skipper Realty said. Jim Goodman, a broker with Intracoastal Realty, agrees.

“Stabilizing the market means stabilizing the inventory,” he said.

There is about a 14-to-16-month supply of homes on the market, when there really should be a six-to-seven-month supply, he said.

With more foreclosures on the horizon, Goodman said he believes the market will “slide along” like it is for another 18 months or so.

“It’s not that we’re going to go down. We’re just not going to go up. We’ve stopped declining — that makes me happy,” Goodman said.

McCarthy said she heard similarly somber messages at the National Association of Realtors mid-year legislative meeting in Washington, D.C., in May. There were estimates that another million foreclosures would be dumped on markets nationwide, and that it could take the real estate industry as long as four years to bounce back completely.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac properties are a good example. A lot on Brown Street in Southport was recently listed for just $39,000, McCarthy said.

Anderson said what is making properties move is realistic pricing.

“Prices have dropped to where people think they may have dropped to the bottom. It’s good for buyers, not really sellers,” she said. Goodman said Intracoastal had seen increased sales in the last eight months as people continue to modify their prices.

Lots in the wooded section of Oak Island are in the low-$50,000 range, though some are still in the $100,000 range, Anderson said. A typical wooded lot sold for $185,000 or more during the boom years, she said. Prices seem to be about what they were in 2003, before the market skyrocketed, both Goodman and McCarthy said.

According to McCarthy’s figures, the median price for a home sold went from $175,000 in April 2009 to $235,000 in June 2010. During the same time period, the average number of days a house was listed was 239 and 215, respectively.

“The feeding frenzy time is over,” Anderson said. “People were getting in bidding wars over property. A lot of the problem was lenders turning people into investors that really shouldn’t have been.”

Though lenders seem to have done an about-face as far as handing out money so easily, there are investors coming back to the area to buy. McCarthy said the areas doing well in this part of Brunswick County are the Oak Island beaches, St. James and Boiling Spring Lakes. As far as Boiling Spring Lakes is concerned, it’s just more affordable housing, she said.

But the other two areas’ numbers show that Brunswick County is still a retirement and resort destination. Her hunch is that after bad winter weather in feeder markets up north and in western North Carolina, potential buyers are looking at the coast as an affordable second-home option like they did in 2003.

Anderson agreed, saying investors were once again looking long-term instead of trying to flip properties quickly. Buyers can still buy a good-sized typical family home for $200,000, she said.

“All real estate, if purchased well, is always a good investment,” McCarthy said.

The market’s gradual growth has also benefited some area developments. With new developers at Cambridge Crossing, plans to finish and sell those units are moving forward again. The development, seen from Long Beach Road, has access to the amenities in South Harbour Village. Four buildings were torn down last year as Regions Bank looked for a buyer.

And at The Preserve, the condominium complex adjacent to Oak Island Bridge, units are also selling once again. Goodman said there are 11 units under contract. Though legal issues are pending, Goodman said James and Bridget Chirico are still the developers and that future plans include closing in the unfinished building. Amenities, including the pool and clubhouse, have been open, and units are available in three buildings, Goodman said.

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Brunswick Boys and Girls Club may get land to build new facility

The Community Boys and Girls Club of Brunswick County needs more space.

Since the organization had to move from a Brunswick Community College building in Southport, the club has seen a 75 percent decrease in the number of children it serves, said Traci Bullock, the club's unit development manager.

“We're not really equipped to run the program like we would want to,” Bullock said.

In November 2008, the boys and girls club had to relocate because of renovations being done to the BCC building. The group moved to the American Legion on Ninth Street. Space there is tight for the 5- to 18-year-old participants, Bullock said.

Before the move, the boys and girls club served about 130 children from all over the county. Now that number is between 25 and 30, Bullock said. She said the building works for the programs, but they cannot separate the younger children from the teenagers as they would like.

The county commissioners have agreed to consider giving the Community Boys and Girls Club about seven acres across from the Lockwood Folly District Park on Green Swamp Road. But much would have to be done before anything could be built.

County Attorney Huey Marshall said there are questions about wetlands and standing water on the land that will have to be resolved.

And finding the construction money could be a hurdle as well.

Commissioner Charles Warren said he is hoping the county can help the boys and girls club obtain federal grants to build a new facility.

“I feel we can get them enough grants to help get it started,” he said.

Warren said the services are vital to Brunswick County's low-income families.

Membership is $20 a year, and services include after-school programs. The summer program, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and includes meals, field trips and more, costs $250. But with two weeks left in the summer, a $100 discount is being offered, Bullock said.

The commissioners agreed to the concept of giving the land to the boys and girls club at their last meeting but had questions about the logistics. The location would be ideal because of the proximity to the park.

Bullock said the ultimate goal is to establish a number of boys and girls club locations across the county and to provide transportation to the centers so more children can benefit.

Wayne Lofton, president and CEO of the Community Boys and Girls Club of Wilmington, said he planned to meet Friday with county officials to start the process of getting that land.

It is still in the early stages, he said, and a feasibility study as well as a land assessment would need to be done.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

County, volunteers, staff celebrate New Hope Clinic's new facility

The staff, volunteers and supporters of New Hope Clinic celebrated the official opening of its new facility on July 17 with guided tours, refreshments, live music, speeches and three separate ribbon cuttings.

Representatives from each of the three local chambers of commerce – Brunswick County, North Brunswick and Southport-Oak Island – cut their respective ribbons, symbolizing the county’s support for this answer to the need for free medical and dental care.

Gretchen Bodinsky, president and chairman of the board, acknowledged Dr. Ziaollah Hashemi in her opening remarks as “the one who first recognized the need for a free clinic in Brunswick County in 1998,” and the one who started the first clinic. She recalled that when she told Irene Hennessey, one of the major donors for that first clinic, about the event, Hennessey said, “Hallelujah! It’s about time.”

Bodinsky told an audience of more than 200 friends, volunteers and supporters that the clinic is run by only four paid staff members, along with a volunteer staff of 130 doctors, nurses, physician assistants, dentists, pharmacists, and administrative personnel who handled more than 4,000 patient visits last year.

She then put in a brief plug for the clinic’s Building Fund Campaign.

The campaign is now fullyunder way. An elegant Donor Recognition Tree is mounted in the main lobby of the new building.

Supporters may have their name and a message permanently imprinted on a gold, silver, or bronze leaf. There are also some named gift opportunities still available to sponsor, including a medical exam room, a dental operatory or lab, patient eligibility rooms and doctors’ office.

Dr. Karen Wood, New Hope Clinic medical director, paid tribute to former executive director Connie Hendrix, who “made the clinic her life,” and said that “without her we wouldn’t be here today.” She told the crowd that Atlantic Realty real estate broker “David Berne not only donated the land, but he is the one who really spearheaded this project.”

She expressed her gratitude for the great job being done by Bodinsky and Sheila Roberts, executive director of the clinic.

Next she recognized the many hours and dedicated service of longtime volunteers Dave Anderson, Barbara Lidoski, Dr. Sid Fortney, Pam Johnson, Dora Loflin, Lynn Kuhn, Pat Hagerty, and Carmela Groce.

Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics commented on the importance of free clinics nationwide and assured the crowd that, in spite of the newly passed health care legislation, “free clinics will always be needed.”

State Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick, promised to “hook up folks from here to the folks in Raleigh.”

Last on the agenda, Southport-Oak Island Kiwanis Club President Dennis O’Connor presented Roberts with a $1,000 check to fund the children’s play area in the main lobby.

Lynn Kuhn, guiding a tour through the new building, contrasted it with the smaller former facility.

“This is an eligibility room,” she said. “And it’s really great because it’s no longer a bathroom.”

For more information, or to volunteer or make a tax-free donation, please call (910) 845-5333.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mall concert in Wilmington benefits cancer research

Amped 4-A-Cure Inc, a nonprofit that supports cancer research through music, is having an acoustic concert from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at Independence Mall.

The artists are Bibis & Black, featuring Bibis Ellison on vocals and Tim Black on keyboards; Small Doses, offering power vocals and harmonies; and Jackson Avenue, with guitar, banjo, violin and vocals.

There will be a raffle for a Amped 4-A-Cure customized acoustic guitar and other prizes. Portions of all money collected go to local causes including the Zimmer Cancer Center at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and music therapy programs for cancer patients.

For more information or to donate raffle prizes, contact Ashley at 704-793-6467 or

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Local real estate giant partners with insurance agency

The area’s largest residential real estate company, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty, has entered a new partnership with an insurance agency.

“I am very excited about the addition of RealMark Insurance,” said Sea Coast Realty president Tim Milam in a press release. “I have wanted to do this for years.” Last week, RealMark Insurance began to operate out of Sea Coast Realty’s headquarters on Military Cutoff Road.

RealMark LLC is a joint venture between Raleigh-based FinMark Insurance Agency, Coldwell Banker Advantage in Raleigh and Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty. The Wilmington-based company is the first to launch the partnership, which could expand to other real estate companies in Raleigh, said Cathy Bason, RealMark Insurance’s agent at Sea Coast Realty.

RealMark Insurance offers home, auto, life, health, personal, commercial and other insurance policies. “We work with multiple companies, so that we can shop around and get our clients the best deals,” Bason said. In addition to being a licensed insurance agent, Bason said she is also a licensed real estate agent. RealMark Insurance is available to all, not only Sea Coast clients, she said.

Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty continues to offer American Home Shield Warranty (a home warranty program), Beacon Title Insurance and Alpha Mortgage at Sea Coast.


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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beat the Heat campaign to help soldiers

The North Carolina branch of Give2TheTroops Inc., a volunteer nonprofit, non-political organization, is encouraging communities to pitch in and help the men and women fighting overseas through its “Beat The Heat” campaign. Temperatures in Afghanistan and Iraq can reach more than 120 degrees, making work difficult for the more than 130,000 troops serving there.

Items particularly needed include snacks such as beef jerky, tuna in pouches, protein powdered drink mixes, nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, single serving drink mixes to add to bottled water, drirelease T-shirts, white socks, small electric fans, cool wraps, eye drops, chapstick, DVDs, sports equipment and toiletries. Monetary donations for postal costs are also needed.

The goods should be sent to North Carolina Branch, Give2TheTroops Inc., 3109 Landmark St., Greenville, NC 27834. A receipt will be provided for tax purposes.

For a complete list of items needed, go to or for more information call (252) 321-8227.

Ken KeeganReal Estate Broker(910) 523-0903 mobileEmail

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Coldwell Banker Sea Coast YTD Sales Over Last Year

I wanted to update all of you on our sales this year through June vs. last year through June:

All categories are up this year!

Listings- We have taken 272 MORE Listings this year
Contracts- We have placed 582 MORE sides U/C this year
Closings- We have Closed 579 MORE sides this year
Closed Volume- We have Closed $ 85,262,050 MORE in volume this year

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Thursday, July 8, 2010


PARSIPPANY, N.J., (July 7, 2010) – The International Academy of the Visual Arts has named Coldwell Banker On Location, the brand’s YouTube channel, a recipient of this year’s Communicator Awards for Creative Excellence in the real estate website category. The category honors the best site for the sale or rental of residential or commercial property.
“We were the first national real estate brand to add streaming video to our website. Today, our agents across the globe have posted more than 15,000 videos to our On Location channel,” said Mike Fischer, chief marketing officer for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “The most exciting part of On Location is that we have only just begun – there’s a lot more to come.”
On Location has been rated among the top 10 most-viewed brand channels on YouTube. In April, just 11 months after launching On Location, Coldwell Banker announced it had received over 1 million views. The site was launched in May 2009 and was produced in collaboration with FD Kinesis.
“Home buyers would much rather see a home than only read about it,” Fischer said. “Our On Location videos empower them to get a feel for a home, a community or a real estate professional that they could not get from photos or a text description alone. Equally important are the home sellers who are now expecting video to be a part of marketing their property.”
With thousands of entries received from across the United States and around the world, the Communicator Awards is one of the largest and most competitive awards program honoring the creative excellence for communications professionals. The Communicator Awards are judged and overseen by the International Academy of the Visual Arts, an invitation-only body consisting of top-tier professionals from acclaimed media, advertising and marketing firms.
About Coldwell Banker®
Since 1906, the Coldwell Banker® organization has been a premier provider of full-service residential and commercial real estate. Coldwell Banker is the oldest national real estate brand in the United States and today has a network of more than 98,000 agents working in more than 3,600 offices in 50 countries and territories. The Coldwell Banker brand is known for creating innovative consumer services as recently seen by being the first national real estate brand to augment its web site for smart phones, the first to create a iPhone application and the first to fully harness the power of video in real estate listings, news and information through its Coldwell Banker On LocationSM YouTube channel. The Coldwell Banker system is a leader in specialty markets such as resort, new homes and luxury properties through its Coldwell Banker Previews International® marketing program.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Coldwell Banker Buyer Bonus TV Spot

For more information on Wilmington, NC Real Estate and Wilmington, NC Luxury Homes visit my website at!Contact Jessica at 910-352-1043 or email

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pirates to invade Southport

The North Carolina Maritime Museum will present “The Pirates Have Landed!” at Franklin Square Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Activities include:

Pirate portrait painter Nan Snyder

Members of the Lumberton Senior Oil Painting and Pottery Classes

Franklin Square Art Gallery displays

Book-signing and storytelling with author and re-enactor Timothy Dillinger

Brunswick County Master Gardeners native plant clinic

Face-painting and temporary tattoos

Children can take part in games and a pirate parade.

The event is one of a series of special events on second Saturdays on each month this summer. The museum will hold its final second Saturdays event on Aug. 14:“Did you hear about Fort Johnston?”

Free second Saturday programs are offered this summer by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources at all of its 37 historic sites and museums.

Partners include Our State magazine, the N.C. Division of Tourism, N.C. Cooperative Extension, and the Tourism Extension Program in N.C. State University's Parks Recreation and Tourism Management; with grant support from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For information, visit or call 910-457-0003.

Ken KeeganReal Estate Broker(910) 523-0903 mobileEmail

Groups pitch in to aid area parks, make up for dwindling government funds

A group of local mountain bikers wanted to fix up some all-but-abandoned trails on county land, so they did most of the work themselves.

A disc golf club saw there were no courses in the area, and they raised money to build one in a county park.

Then a group of dog lovers who had some cash left over from a fundraising event used it to give their county’s park system its first dog park.

In New Hanover and Brunswick counties, nonprofits and community groups often pick up where local governments leave off.

Their money and free labor are giving government-funded parks amenities that probably would not be available otherwise, especially in hard economic times. In return, these groups get the amenities they want and the bragging rights to help push membership numbers up.

“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” said Dave George, president of the New Hanover Disc Golf Club.

George said he and the 45 or so other club members have no problem trimming bushes, shoveling dirt for drainage and cutting limbs to keep the 6,676-foot, par 64 course up and running. It means they can keep the course just the way they want it, even if it is located within the 50 acres of New Hanover County’s Castle Hayne Park.

New Hanover County Parks director Jim McDaniel said he’s glad the club built the course and uses their expertise to maintain it properly. He’s met people who traveled from Raleigh specifically to play there, which means it’s drawing visitors and giving recognition to the area.

How these organization-motivated and government-approved amenities evolve is a case study in their relationships.

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