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Spotlight

Carteret County housing prices make living at the coast affordable

Posted March 23, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT

From the beach towns of Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores and Indian Beach, to the waterfront towns of Beaufort, Morehead City, Cape Carteret and Cedar Point, home and condominium prices are often lower than similarly or smaller sized homes in North Carolina's major metropolitan areas. (Photo Courtesy of Crystal Coast Economic Development Foundation)

This article was written for our sponsor, Crystal Coast Economic Development Foundation.

Waking up to the sound of waves, gazing out the window at deep blue waters on the horizon and taking in the salty sea air drifting all around you — a scene from a postcard, right outside your front door.

For many people, owning a home on or near the beach is simply a pipe dream, unachievable unless you have a large income or a retirement fund nest egg. While it's true that some oceanfront and soundfront homes boast a high price tag, Carteret County's diverse real estate offerings represent a wide variety of price ranges for people who want to live on or near the water.

In other words, you might be surprised at just how affordable life on the Crystal Coast can be.

From the beach towns of Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores and Indian Beach, to the waterfront towns of Beaufort, Morehead City, Cape Carteret and Cedar Point, home and condominium prices are often lower than similarly or smaller sized homes in North Carolina's major metropolitan areas. Plus, Carteret County consistently has the lowest property tax rate in the state — currently $0.31 per $100 valuation.

Alan Leary, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Ocean Properties, said most of the mid-range homes in the area hover in the $175,000 to $300,000 range. These lower price points make home-buying a very achievable goal, even for first-time home buyers.

"We love our first-time buyers. A lot of times we're dealing with school teachers, first responders and others with moderate incomes. Many retirees who did not win the lottery also come our way," Leary said. "Factors that make living at the beach in Carteret County more affordable include our low tax rate, our cost of living and our utilities — down here they are less than some of the larger cities in the state. In some areas, you can even get into a brand new house for $250,000 to $260,000."

In addition to the diverse range of prices, Leary also emphasized the variety of housing options available to Crystal Coast buyers. Whether you desire a newer neighborhood with modernized homes and HGTV features, completely customizable new construction, an oceanfront condo or an older home with a little bit (or a lot, in the case of Historic Beaufort) of history — Carteret County has it.

Lynne Griffin, a real estate agent with Century 21 Sweyer & Associates and 2020 president of the Carteret County Association of Realtors, echoed sentiments similar to Leary, giving a sample of the variety of home types and locations.

"When people hear about the Crystal Coast, I believe they think of Morehead City, Beaufort and the beaches of Bogue Banks," Griffin opined. "They may not think about Cape Carteret, Cedar Point, Newport, Bogue and Peletier. We are experiencing a surge of growth in western Carteret County."

She added, "Right now, there are three sizeable subdivisions being developed. The White Oak River borders the western end of the county and provides amazing riverside subdivisions and waterfront homes. It is a quick trip down the White Oak to the Intracoastal Waterway. The western end of the county is also home to the Carteret County Speedway. We truly offer something for everyone in Carteret County."

Griffin pointed out that "significant growth is occurring along the N.C. Highway 24 corridor, which links Morehead City to Cape Carteret, Cedar Point, and then to Swansboro and Jacksonville in Onslow County."

"One can find great soundside subdivisions — some having private boat launches and soundside marinas," she said. "Affordable lots are still available for purchase, giving buyers an opportunity to build their dream home. And we have great builders to choose from,".

Heading out from Beaufort on Highway 101, there are beautiful homes located on Adams Creek that have access to the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. If you head east from Beaufort on U.S. 70 to the area known as Down East, you will find many small, unincorporated waterfront communities such as Bettie, Otway, Harkers Island, Marshallberg, Davis, Straits, Sea Level, Atlantic and Cedar Island.

"All offer a tranquil, rural lifestyle and very affordable prices with easy access to the Cape Lookout National Seashore and many sounds and rivers. You will find homes that have passed down through generations, along with new construction and everything in between," Griffin said. "As for what's on the market for sale right now [in January 2020], there are currently listings for 537 single-family homes, 150 condominiums and 39 manufactured homes, plus a variety of apartments and other rental properties. We also have several new luxury apartment communities, including Compass Pointe in Newport and The Preserve in Morehead City."

Looking to the future, some think the Town of Newport may ultimately become Carteret County's largest municipality. New Interstate 42 will terminate on U.S. 70 just west of Newport, and with anticipated growth at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point with the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter deployment there, the area is poised for development.

No matter which location buyers choose, living near the beach is, of course, a major selling point. But there's a lot more to Carteret County than just the surf and sand.

"We've got everything you can do on the water, from deep-sea and surf fishing in the ocean to inshore fishing in the many sounds and rivers. It's a nature lover's paradise," Griffin said. "Then when the seasons start to change, you can watch the great bird migration up and down the waterways. We've got the Croatan National Forest and Fort Macon State Park, which provide wonderful hiking trails, and places to ride horses — including on the beach. The Crystal Coast offers a wide array of year-round outdoor recreational activities."

Leary added, "We have a lot down here. Sometimes people think we're a sleepy coastal county, but if you start scratching around and look at the nonprofits, our education system, our community college and university laboratories, and our high quality health care assets — it's a first-class place. Some people may say, 'Well, you're a little removed.' The reality is that we are fine not being a congested, urban center; and with new Interstate 42, much of Carteret County will be accessible to the Triangle in close to two hours."

"Carteret County is a great place to visit, but it's an even better place to live," he continued. "And once people come down here and give us a test drive, or maybe spend a weekend or a week down here, I think everybody will find something they really like. I've been around 63 years and there's still nowhere I'd rather be. We always have room for one more."

This article was written for our sponsor, Crystal Coast Economic Development Foundation.

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