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Real Estate - Residential

Report: Luxury Home Market Lacked Anticipated Luster In 2018

By Cece Nunn, posted Jan 14, 2019
The home at 7521 Masonboro Sound Road in New Hanover County sold for $4.9 million in February. (File photo)
After one of the best summers ever recorded for the Cape Fear region's luxury home market, Realtors were hoping for a 2018 that might surpass levels not seen since before the Great Recession, according to a recent report.

But it appears Hurricane Florence contributed to dashing those hopes by halting sales and real estate business of any kind for several weeks during the month of September, stated the report, compiled by Wilmington-based Just for Buyers Realty.

"Sales would bounce back in the fall, but much of the earlier momentum was lost. In the end, 2018 fell far short of the marks set a decade ago, and totaled slightly less than the numbers recorded for 2017," according to the report, written by Just For Buyers Broker in Charge Kathleen Baylies.

Numbers pulled from the N.C. Regional Multiple Listing Service showed that 134 luxury homes (those priced at $1 million or more) sold in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties combined last year, compared to 151 in 2017. Last year's sales volume was more than $223 million, the report stated.

New Hanover County sales led the way last year, according to the report, with 90 luxury homes purchased. In Brunswick County, 36 sold and eight sold in Pender County.

"When all was said and done, 2018 went down in the books as the 5th best year in overall number of properties sold," the report stated.

The year ended on a high-note, wrote Baylies, because 12 luxury homes sold during the month of December, compared to 10 last year.

"The most notable activity in the luxury market was found on the very high end. Since 2000, 18 homes have sold with a price tag of $4 million or more. That's an average of one a year," wrote Baylies. "Three such homes sold in 2018."

One was on Masonboro Sound Road, another on Figure Eight Island and the latest, which sold for $5 million in November, at 407 Bradley Creek Point

Landmark Sotheby's International Realty was involved in two of the sales.

Intracoastal Realty represented the buyer and seller in the transaction for the Figure Eight Island home, which sold for $4.45 million in July.

"I think that we saw some fantastic sales across the region take place in 2018," said Nick Phillips, broker and owner of Landmark Sotheby's International Realty. "Luxury buyers were very confident moving on quality assets in the regional market. The quantity may not have been as high [as 2017]; however, we saw several record sales take place last year."

He said the reason for the record sale is likely confidence in the luxury home market on the part of the buyers.

"I think that anytime there's a little bit of uncertainty in the financial market, you'll see movement on high-quality real estate assets," Phillips said. "I also believe that higher property taxes in the Northeast, coupled with the new tax laws that limit their deductions, are driving a new wave of affluent buyers from those areas into Southern coastal markets like North Carolina."

Intracoastal Realty listed the Bradley Creek Point home, which was the highest-price sale in New Hanover County in at least a decade, and Landmark Sotheby's represented the buyer.

"The luxury market – like the rest of the real estate market – was likely on track to outpace past year’s sales.  However, Hurricane Florence put a temporary damper on what would have been a banner year for the luxury market.  Still, Intracoastal Realty listed and sold – post-Hurricane – the highest-priced home in New Hanover County in over 10 years," said Lake Slacum, vice president of marketing for Wilmington-based Intracoastal Realty, in an email Monday.  "The year ended just 6 percent behind the previous year in both units sold and total dollar volume for homes priced [$1 million] or more.  We are already starting to see a rise in activity from both buyers and sellers prior to the peak spring selling season."

 
A look at the top years for luxury home sales in the region, by Just for Buyers Realty
Year Tri-County Sales New Hanover sales Brunswick sales Pender sales
1. 2005 268 159 101 8
2. 2006 203 119 70 14
3. 2007 164 99 58 7
4. 2017 151 109 37 5
5. 2018 134 90 36 8
6. 2004 129 90 38 1

Correction: This version has been changed to fix an incorrect beach town listed in the luxury housing market report for the location of 6 Beach Road South, along with the listing and selling agency for that property.
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