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Beach houses can come with bonuses as market bogs down

Posted July 11, 2008
Updated October 17, 2008

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— Existing home sales are holding steady, even increasing a bit in the Triangle, but the beach-home market is taking a beating.

A look at sales since 2000 illustrates the problem.

There was huge uptick in the number homes sold in the Wilmington area. Sales almost tripled from 2000 to 2005, to almost 8,900 sales that year.

Since that peak, however, the market has been falling back – to about 6,200 homes last year. It’s not so much that prices are falling, especially for homes back from the water, but the houses just are not moving as fast, Realtors report.

Many high-end beach homes have been on the market for a long time, and that has some real estate agents looking for an edge to attract buyers.

For example, $2 million can buy you a convertible Mercedes with an ocean view and pier.

Realtor Betsy Leonard is trying to sell her brother and sister-in-law's home at Wrightsville Beach.

“We have ocean views here,” she noted. The house has many perks, including granite counters, an elevator and even a pier and boat slip.

It is, Leonard said, “all you need for a wonderful life at the beach.”

The house has been on the market for about a year, however, so now Leonard’s sister-in-law, Bobbie Edwards, is adding something else.

“This is my 2005 Mercedes convertible,” Edwards said. Buy the $2.35 million home and you get the Mercedes for no extra charge.

“This might give us a little jump start,” she said.

“It’s just an innovative thing that needs to be done in real estate now,” Leonard explained.

Experts say people are less likely to buy that second vacation home in this choppy economy.

“If you don't have to sell right now, hold on to it for a couple of years. But if you have to sell, you have to be competitive, said Eliza Santos, a Remax broker.

Santos said the resale value of waterfront homes dropped by as much $200,000 in the past three years. That is helping drive price cuts and bonuses, she said.

“You have to be the best among the rest. That's what I say to my sellers,” Santos said.

As for Edwards, it’s hard to let go of the Mercedes “because I do love this little car. But, you know, we have to make sacrifices.”

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