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Real Estate - Residential

How Hurricane Florence Might Affect Wilmington's Housing Market

By Cece Nunn, posted Sep 14, 2018

As the first of Hurricane Florence’s winds began to bluster through Wilmington on Thursday afternoon, Tim Milam remained in his home in Autumn Hall off Eastwood Road.

The president of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, one of the largest real estate firms in Southeastern North Carolina, Milam said his 19 offices throughout the Cape Fear region and beyond had closed Tuesday to allow employees to prepare for the storm. And while Hurricane Florence’s potential effects have put a halt to business for the time being, Milam said he doesn’t expect the area’s latest hurricane to have a major impact on home sales in the area, as long as there isn’t major damage.

“After alll the storms we’ve had in the past, pretty much sales have picked back up after a week or two and gotten back to normal,” Milam said. “I think it will be back to normal if we don’t have extensive damage.”

Home sale numbers in most cases continued to show a booming industry in the Wilmington area throughout the summer.

“The market is still strong. There’s still a shortage of some inventory, and you know, I think anybody who’s ever thinking about moving here from other areas, they’re already aware that we have storms from time to time,” Milam said.

Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com, said in a release that damage from Hurricane Florence "is likely to disrupt national home sales and construction for months to come."

Milam, who has been through hurricanes before, said he adamantly disagrees with that statement.

"To suggest home sales will be disrupted for 'months to come' seems inappropriate at this time," Milam said in an email Thursday afternoon. "IF there is major damage, then certainly sales will be disrupted. IF not major damage 'months to come sales disruption' is not fair to say at this point. Time will tell and sales will depend on how much damage."

For home sales that have already been underway, Hurricane Florence means extra work no matter what the impact.

Homes involving loans that closed during the past week and loans that were getting ready to close will have to be reappraised and reinspected to make sure there’s been no damage after the hurricane, said Michael Lopez, owner and president of Alpha Mortgage.

“That protects everybody,” said Lopez, who on Thursday was remaining in Wilmington to ride out the storm at his company’s concrete and steel office building at 1320 Airlie Road.

Both Lopez and Milam said they were not aware of any canceled home sale contracts that have resulted from the threat of Hurricane Florence to the region.

“I don’t know that we lose sales,” Milam said. “I think we just simply delay sales.”

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