Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert

Posted on February 5, 2015

Categories: Real Estate

If you’re considering the purchase of Bald Head Island real estate, or are a current owner contemplating listing your island property for sale, Bald Head Island Limited Real Estate Sales Executive Doug Oakley, the island’s top agent in 2014, has some advice for clients.

  1. When is the best time to buy on Bald Head?
    Seasonally, business tends to pick up during the warmer months, but realistically that is simply because that’s when the most people are visiting the island. The traditional spring “selling season” in general real estate does hold true for properties on Bald Head as well. Visitors often believe waiting until the rental season is over and owners are faced with the prospect of “carrying” a home through the winter with limited rental income will result in a seller being more negotiable; however, the buyer is overlooking the seasonal rental income he could have retained for his own use had he purchased that same home in the spring. Often this income substantially offsets any potential “end of season” price reductions. Ultimately the best time to buy really depends on each buyer’s personal circumstances.
  2. When is the best time to sell on Bald Head?
    The same guidelines for buying also apply to selling. There truly is no seasonal “best time” to put property on the market. There may be a better time based on market conditions and especially competition. For example, if there are already several Villas on the market, it might not be the best time to put your Villa up for sale. By the same token, if the market inventory of homes in your anticipated value range is relatively low, this could be an excellent time to list your property. While it is true that “activity breeds activity,” sellers generally benefit most when the supply is lower than the demand.
  3. Should I buy or build?
    This is a hard question to answer and the answer really depends on the individual buyer. If the idea of picking out plumbing, tile, flooring, appliances, paint colors, furniture, etc. is going to keep you awake at night, perhaps building isn’t for you. If the thought of not being able to occupy your dream island home for 12-24 months is a deal breaker, buy an existing home. Often in our busy lives people can’t imagine where they will find the time to work with an architect and a builder. In fact, I often see that the owners slow down the process significantly simply by not having time to devote to the building project. On the other hand, if you’re excited about the whole design/build process and you just can’t wait to get involved, go for it! The opportunity of building a home on Bald Head with any of the excellent builders on the island today is a wonderful experience and in reality goes much smoother than you think. The builders are experienced with off-island owners’ needs and concerns.One point to consider, which is generally true in most real estate markets, is that buying an existing home is typically more economical than building. Of course there are likely more compromises with an existing home. A middle ground might be purchasing a “spec” home that is already designed, and simply selecting a the final finishes to personalize it. You can enjoy the benefits of a new home, with an energy efficient design and open floor plan, without the time commitment associated with designing and building a new home. Our new Southern Living Inspired Community at Cape Fear Station offers a great opportunity in this regard.
  4. What’s the best “deal” on the island?
    That’s almost impossible to answer because a deal isn’t a “deal” if you don’t like the home or homesite, is it? In the end you are the one living in the property, so what is a deal to one person may not be to another. In addition, a “deal” can still be rather expensive. A deal on a forest lot certainly isn’t the same as a deal on a beach front family home.
  5. Where should I buy on the island?
    Simple, where YOU enjoy most. Some people will only consider beach front while others only want to be in the maritime forest. As the saying goes, “that’s why they make cars in different colors.” From a value perspective, I can say that view and beach access are typically very desirable features that tend to appreciate more steadily.
  6. How much can I / should I finance and are banks lending?
    Let’s answer the last question first. Yes, banks ARE lending and they are competing for your business. OK, you may have to document things a bit more than in the past, but still, we’re not having problems with banks being willing to loan on Bald Head Island. In general they’ll loan you more than you might need; most are in the 80-90 % loan to value range. I have seen cases where lenders were willing to structure a loan package that would cover 100% of the purchase in fact. We have a number of local lenders who know Bald Head properties and are anxious to help you live the dream.
  7. Can I finance land?
    Absolutely! Bald Head Island Limited Real Estate Sales can connect you with a number of reputable lenders in the area who are willing to finance land purchases.
  8. What’s my property worth today?
    Really this can only be answered by a comprehensive market analysis of your property. It is no secret that property values declined during the real estate downturn, including on Bald Head have. However, real estate in virtually all markets, including Bald Head Island, is on the rebound. Call or email and I would be happy to prepare an updated analysis on your individual property.
  9. What should I do to my home to get it ready to sell?
    I’ll group my answer in three sections:

    • First impressions are critical, better known as curb appeal. Take a hard look at your home and see what a bit of landscaping, cleaning and perhaps fresh paint can do to make a potential buyer WANT to come inside. A little known bit is a typical buyer has already made his/her mind up about your home before they open the front door and spend the rest of the time in the home justifying their predetermination.
    • De-clutter the home. Remove anything not included with the sale if possible and clear off all that island memorabilia from the shelves and table tops. De-cluttering includes the closets and storage areas by the way. You want your home to be as spacious looking as possible.
    • Get a home inspection and address all the items reported. You’re going to have to deal with them anyway, so why not use the home inspection and completed repairs to enhance the value of your home?
  10. Should I get a home inspection prior to listing my home?
    Yes, see above!

I enjoy working with both buyers and sellers. If you have any additional questions about real estate on Bald Head Island, feel free to call me at 800-888-3707 or email me at

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