WilmingtonBiz Magazine

C-Suite Convo: Real Estate Outlook With Denise Kinney

By Cece Nunn, posted Apr 10, 2023
Denise Kinney
Denise Kinney became president of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, one of the largest residential real estate firms in the region, in 2021, and the firm has continued to grow under her leadership.
A couple of the firm’s most recent growth announcements have included the opening of an office near Charlotte and a merger with longtime area Realtor Buddy Blake and Waypost Realty. 
The company has 24 offices throughout Southeastern North Carolina and seven offices in the Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand area in South Carolina.
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage also has an ownership interest in Coldwell Banker Advantage, which serves major markets including Raleigh and the Triangle, Fayetteville, Southern Pines, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and the Triad. 
Below is a recent Q&A with Kinney about the company’s growth and the area’s real estate market. 
IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE ONE, WHAT WOULD BE THE NO. 1 CHALLENGE WILMINGTON’S RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE MARKET IS FACING THIS YEAR? “Interest rates are the No. 1 challenge we are facing this year. With predictions of rates continuing to rise before lowering, it will be important to educate buyers and sellers on how this affects them.”
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE SALES IN 2022, AND HOW ARE SALES GOING IN 2023 FOR YOUR COMPANY SO FAR? “2022 was a great sales year for residential real estate in our area but not necessarily what I would characterize as a normal year. In 2023 we are seeing fewer contracts and closings but do feel it will pick back up throughout the year as the market continues to normalize.”
HOW ARE AGENTS IN 2023 COPING WITH THE ONGOING LACK OF INVENTORY? “Agents understand this is a relationship business and are focusing on working closely with their sphere of influence and past clients to generate more leads. Many agents are seeking out advanced training to sharpen their skills to stay competitive in this market so they can offer the very best service to their clients.” 
OTHER THAN HIRING A REALTOR, WHAT CAN BUYERS DO TO NAVIGATE THE MARKET THIS YEAR? “Buyers need to stay focused on their real motivation for moving and not let the interest rate be the deciding factor. We like to say, ‘date the rate’ and ‘marry the home.’ In time, buyers will be able to refinance their purchase and reduce their rate.”
WHAT DO YOU TELL YOUR SELLERS WHO ARE LOOKING TO SELL IN THIS MARKET? “It’s important for sellers to know this is not the same market as we experienced last year. Most homes are not selling as quickly with multiple offers over the asking price. Of course, there are some. Sellers also need to understand that buyers have lost some of their buying power with the increased interest rates.” 
WHAT ARE YOUR PREDICTIONS FOR HOW PRICES WILL RISE OR FALL THIS YEAR AND NEXT? “We are so fortunate to live in an area that is desired by so many. With our area having so much to offer homeowners, I believe our prices will remain relatively stable and still could see some appreciation.”
HOW HAS YOUR COMPANY EMERGED FROM THE WORST PARTS OF THE PANDEMIC? “I believe we all have learned how to work a little differently. The pandemic forced us to think outside the box resulting in more innovative ways to serve our clients.”
WHAT TRENDS DO YOU SEE WHEN IT COMES TO THE POPULARITY OF HOUSING TYPES AND/OR SIZES? “We are seeing many more buyers requesting smaller homes under 3,000 square feet with more outdoor living spaces, higher-end upgrades and smaller lots. As people are aging, they in many cases realize ‘less is more’ with the exception of quality. Energy efficiency is also in more demand, and our local builders are doing a great job in building with this in mind.”
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHERE TO EXPAND AND WHO TO PARTNER WITH?  “CB Sea Coast Advantage are willing to expand when there is a real estate need where the market is in a growth mode or already large. We have expanded over the past 30-plus years in areas where the growth is coming and/or where a well ran company is looking to sell. Most importantly, finding the right partners to do business with is of the utmost importance.”
IN WHICH OF YOUR COVERAGE AREAS DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE THE MOST GROWTH IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS AND WHY? “We expect Brunswick County to be one of the largest growth areas over the next five years here on the coast. Pender County too will experience growth as they bring on the infrastructure.  In addition, we expanded to Charlotte, and that area has exploded over the past few years and we expect that to continue.”
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