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Island economic indicators show good signs

Ocracoke Pizza is one of several buildings undergoing renovation on the island. It will be a full-service Italian restaurant with seating for 20. The new name will be revealed later. Photo by C. Leinbach

Ocracoke Pizza is one of several buildings undergoing renovation on the island. It will be a full-service Italian restaurant with seating for 20. The new name will be revealed later. Photo by C. Leinbach

By BJ Oelschlegel 
Broker w/Ocracoke’s Lightship Realty LLC
Before there was a lighthouse, we had a lightship to light the way for mariners…

There was a buzz around the island this past summer with regards to some businesses having record or good numbers of sales or customers.

So, the question is: is this a sign of an improved economy?

After studying the ferry statistics, I could see that it wasn’t the numbers.

I heard a comment about the increased efforts made by the NC Ferry Division to move as many cars as they could during the peak traveling days of day trippers.

This is always appreciated but the island would love to have had the 2007 to 2008 numbers of more than 950,000 passengers in a year, compared to 668,131 in 2014 to 2015.

Real estate sales are another indicator for our island economy.

 From February 2015 to February 2016, we have seen 17 houses, one condo, one commercial location and eight lots sell.

The last five years were averaging 12 houses per year. Of these, 2015 to 2016 sales, there were four foreclosures: three houses and one lot.

Compare this to 19 bank-owned properties in 2009 to 2010 and eight foreclosures in 2011 to 2012. Our sellers accepted these price ranges for their 2015 sales:

Eleven of the 17 houses sold under $300,000; one house sold between $300,000 and $400,000; three houses sold at/or between $400,000 and $500,000; two houses sold at or over $500,000.

The five houses selling for more than $400,000 were waterfront, canal front, or with an expansive marsh view. Out of the eight lots that sold, five went for under $100,000 and three above.

In addition, there has been a lot of construction on the island, which generate building permits. Records in the Hyde County Building Department are kept according to residential, commercial building and “other” categories.

According to Jane Hodges, assistant to building inspector Jerry Hardison, “other” is anything other than a new structure, such as a renovation, an addition, shed construction or the placement of a camper.

It also includes any mechanical, plumbing, electrical, HVAC and insulation additions, repairs or alterations to existing structures.

A new house being built along Lighthouse Road. Photo by C. Leinbach

A new house being built along Lighthouse Road. Photo by C. Leinbach

Looking at the permit year of 2011, 14 residential, five commercial and 77 “other” building permits were issued. Between 2012 and 2015, only saw five residential permits per year were sought.  Only one or two commercial permits per year were sought in that time frame.

The “other” activity was more brisk, averaging between 71 to 98 permits per year.

This year, there have been two residential permits issued in January.

Might this indicate a trend?

Only the rest of the year will tell.