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Ocracoke real estate market shows signs of improving

By BJ Oelschlegel

I have been working on a contract that is taking a little bit longer than expected. Part of the issue has been that the financing went from a conventional bank loan to a government-backed FHA loan, which requires more documentation.

The other half of the issue with the contract had to do with the appraisal. After promising one due date, the vendor emailed that he needed another week, due to a heavy workload. That appraisal is still not in.

The story would have ended there if a comment from an area home inspector hadn’t caught my attention. He was booked three to three and a half weeks out.

The whole industry is heating up.

An OBX mortgage banker stated that his volume is up by 100 percent over last year, and this includes refinances and purchase mortgages.

The banker and I discussed that bank rates are low, stimulating the sale of real estate.  Owner-occupied homes in the larger cities and suburbs are beginning to show appreciating values; this can create confidence in branching out to a second home purchase.

He also noted that the stock market is higher than it has been in these last recession years, indicating a rise in “consumer confidence.”

I have been sensing a general boost in the flow within the Ocracoke economy: it feels like our tourist population is greater this year.

With regards to real estate sales on the island, the number of showings is up and we began taking contracts in February.

That’s not typical as we normally expect to see buyers when the stream of tourists increases in the seasonal months.

So this winter and spring activity was a pleasant surprise.

As an indication, I researched the number of house sales between February last year and February of this year.  There were six.

From Feb. 1 to July 1, three houses sold, three more are under contract preparing to close, and one lot and two businesses are also under contract.

So things are selling but values are not appreciating. It is still a buyer’s market.

The consensus among agents is that most everything in the $300,000 range and below is selling.

There also has been a sprinkling of sales over $400,000. Twenty-five percent of the 12 houses sold or put under contract in the last 18 months have been in that higher range.

While the market is not back to where we were in 2006, and may never be, all of the signals are lit up green for “go.”

BJ Oelschlegel is a Broker with Ocracoke’s Lightship Realty LLC
…..before there was a light­house, we had a lightship to light the way for mariners.

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