Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 63

The Real Estate Truth Behind "Funny Farm"

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Chevy Chase Funny FarmHave you ever watched the classic comedy Funny Farm starring Chevy Chase and Madolyn Osborne? The story is centered on The Farmers, a couple who buy a farmhouse in rural Vermont after the husband quits his day job as a sports reporter to write the Great American Novel. Little do they know they are moving to a small town filled with eccentric characters. Quirky situations ensue and their marriage reaches a breaking point. They decide to sell the farmhouse and what arises is a situation that I think some homeowners wish they could pull off – a staged sale, town and all!

The Farmers realize that they won’t be able to sell their home if buyers get to know their neighbors and the townspeople. At the monthly town meeting, they tell the residents that they will donate $15,000 to the town and $50 to each person who acts like the iconic characters portrayed in Norman Rockwell paintings. The town agrees, but little do they know what kind of chaos will be created. Everyone wants their $50, so when the potential buyers arrive to get the grand tour with The Farmers, they’re subjected to a town that has been so transformed a normal person wouldn’t believe it (like the Christmas Carolers who stay outside the farmhouse singing all night). Yet, the buyers are so sold on the home’s perfect features that they are ready to buy the home and everything inside, including the dog!

Of course, as much as a homeowner would love to have that much control over the sale of their home, it’s unrealistic. The movie is based on a book that was popular in 1985. Today, buyers and sellers typically leave the negotiating up to Realtors, and they certainly don’t spend a night in the home. Paying off the town would most certainly break some misrepresentation laws and, in today’s economy, I’m not sure they would work that hard for $50.

Still, in typical Chevy Chase fashion, we get the chance to laugh at the honest truth. No home is perfect. In The Farmers’ case, the neighbors left something to be desired. When you list your home for sale, you can’t help but run every quirk and negative feature through your mind, and wonder, “Is this going to turn-off buyers?” But you need to remember – you bought the home for a reason, right? There was something about it that you loved and, even though you’re ready to move on, that’s still going to leave you a little biased.

One of the benefits of using a Realtor is that they are constantly in and out of houses seeing what buyers like and what’s getting sold. They can pinpoint potential issues and suggest ways to compensate for those negative features when marketing and selling the home. Some sellers can predetermine what might hold the home back from attracting a buyer, but it’s not uncommon for sellers to be surprised when they get negative feedback on their home. Maybe the feedback is for a feature that originally attracted them to the home, like the fancy fixtures that are now outdated, or maybe the neighborhood doesn’t have the amenities people are looking for now, but the market changes and Realtors are the best at staying on top of it.

If you’re thinking of selling your Wilmington area home, we would be happy to take a look and show you our marketing plan. We’ll share the weaknesses and strengths of your home, and suggest some easy changes you may want to make prior to listing it. Just give us a call at 910.202.2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.


Meghan Riley

Are Open Houses a Thing of the Past?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Are Open Houses a Thing of the Past? Fifteen years ago, open houses were a primary method for marketing and selling homes. The listing agent would place an announcement in the local newspaper a week in advance and interested buyers would come out in droves on the Saturday or Sunday the home was open. Not all of the buyers were 100% interested, but it was the best way to see a home besides scheduling a private showing with an agent.

Then, the internet boom happened and computers started appearing in homes at an increasing rate. Real estate websites multiplied, online MLSs became the norm, video usage grew, and virtual tours became standard for many listing agents. Now, buyers don’t need to go into the home to see it. They can view pictures and tours online to determine if it’s a home that fits their needs. That’s why 90% of home searches begin online now.

But are open houses a thing of the past? Both sides of this argument provide valid points:


  • They just don’t attract the traffic that they used. It’s common for no one to show up.
  • Nowadays, it’s more a way for an agent to pick up new clients than to sell your home.
  • The people showing up are often just nosey neighbors.


  • Agents are still picking up buyers from open houses.
  • It depends on where the home is located.
  • The right incentive can get buyers to the home for an open house.

Just a few months ago, we had one of our listings go under contract (and sell) as a result of an open house. As a team, we have found from experience that homes that are located 2-3 turns from a primary road, like Greenville Loop or Market Street, are likely to get the most visitors. That’s why we don’t push to do open houses at every listing. Open houses can be an inconvenience to owners and tenants, so if we know an open house may not get any visitors, we try to focus on other methods of attracting buyers.

We also encourage open houses on “Coast In & Win” weekends. Once a month, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage holds a drawing for $500 for anyone who visits a Coldwell Banker agent hosted open house on a specific weekend. This has proved to be a good incentive for buyers to get out and look at homes.

While open houses don’t produce the results they did ten years ago, we’re not ready to remove them from our selling toolbox. They might not be the best choice for every home’s marketing plan, but they have their place.

Have questions about selling your Wilmington area home? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

How Do Wilmington Realtors Get Paid?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

How Do Realtors Get Paid?There is a lot of confusion about how Wilmington Realtors get paid, because it’s not a traditional compensation structure. The details are all outlined in the Working with Real Estate Agents document, which most agents require clients to sign, but when the client receives this varies from agent to agent and even after reading the document, there still seems to be some misconceptions that follow. So, here’s a quick and simple explanation:

The seller pays the commission for both the listing agent and selling (buyer’s) agent.

If you’re a buyer, you may be thinking, “But I hired you, so I should be paying you, right?” When working with professionals, that’s usually the case, but the seller is essentially paying for an agent to bring a buyer for their home. So, it costs you nothing to hire a buyer's agent.

Are there exceptions? Yes. If you want to place an offer on a For Sale By Owner and the owner doesn’t want to pay a buyer's agent’s commission, you will be responsible for it. Very rarely, a traditional seller will agree to only pay the listing agent's commission also making you responsible, but the commission is listed on every property in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so you can choose not to make an offer on a home that isn't offering compensation to the buyer's agent.

It's important to know that an agent cannot legally pressure you into putting an offer on any property, because it has a higher commission than another. If you EVER feel pressured, speak to their Broker-in-Charge (BIC). The BIC will help remedy the situation based on any paperwork you've signed.

Have a question about commission? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

My Home Didn't Appraise. What Can I Do?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

My Home Didn't AppraiseYour Wilmington area home is under contract, but you’ve just learned that the appraisal came back lower than the contract price. Now what do you do? Well, there are a few options depending on your motivation and the appraisal price.

  1. Challenge the Appraisal. There’s a chance that there’s either an error in the listed features of your home or the appraiser overlooked a comparable. The latter is especially possible if the appraiser is from out of town. So, you’ll need to provide the lender with a list of comparables. However, you should be warned that you need good proof to win an appraisal challenge and the buyers may not want to wait for you get it sorted out. If the difference in price isn’t that large, it may be more worthwhile to choose another option.
  2. Request a Second Appraisal. Depending on the loan and lender, you may be able to request a second appraisal, but be forewarned – someone needs to pay for it. It will likely be you. This can also take additional time, which may need to be negotiated into the contract.
  3. Accept the Appraised Value. If you’re ready to sell, you may want to just accept the results of the appraisal and agree to lower the purchase price. This way, you’ll be free to move on after the closing and the buyers will get the home they want.
  4. Terminate the Contract. If you don’t need to sell and the appraised value is going to leave you with too high of a loss, you may decide to terminate the contract and stay in the home. Most areas of Wilmington will see a 3-5% property value increase in the next few years, but you need to decide if that’s going to be enough to make up for your losses down the road. You also need to realize there is the risk that your property won’t have a value increase and you may not be any better off in a few years.
  5. Ask the Sellers to Pay or Agree to Split the Difference. You can always ask the buyers to split the difference or pay a minimum percentage (whatever you can afford). If they really want the home, they may be willing to bring this money to the table. Just keep in mind that no buyer really wants to pay more than a home is worth. If the difference is more than they can justify by desire and recoup in rising property values, it may not make any financial sense for them. After all, this money will come out of pocket, because the lender isn’t going to want to pay for more than the home is worth.

Remember, every case is different, so speak with your Wilmington Realtor about your best options.

Haven’t listed your Wilmington area home yet? Have questions about putting your home on the market? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Another Reminder That Curb Appeal Matters

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Home with Bad Curb AppealAfter visiting with friends last night, I’m reminded of how much curb appeal matters. At the beginning of 2014, they purchased their home. It was a resale built in the early 90’s, and this was my first time seeing it. Their directions for finding the home were, and I quote, “First ugly house on the left.” Now, this wasn’t the first time they had told me the home was ugly, so I can openly admit – the home is ugly! But that’s one reason why they were able to get it close to $40,000 below the original listing price.

It’s not uncommon for buyers to see the front of a home and refuse to go in for a showing. It’s frustrating at times, but with buyers who have that strong of an initial reaction, it’s probably best to not waste any time looking at the home. I imagine this house was one that brought out that type of reaction in buyers, because the front has one of the most flat, boring exteriors I’ve ever seen on a home. There aren’t any shutters, the paint colors are drab, and the landscaping needs some work. It doesn’t reflect the interior at all.

As soon as you enter the home, the whole design does a 180°. There’s a giant great room with floor to ceiling windows and a second floor walkway, a big gourmet kitchen with a center island, a breakfast room and dining room, four bedrooms (including one with a loft), an oversized master suite, office, and bonus room. Plus, there’s a private balcony, screened porch, and in-ground swimming pool. This home is over 3,800 square-feet, but you wouldn’t know it looking at the front.

This home sat on the market for 7 months. Looking at it, I can only imagine how many times it was overlooked online due to the front picture. By our local Realtor association rules, we must make the front picture the first picture for all listings, so that’s usually the thumbnail that home buyers see in search results. Luckily, my friends’ tween daughter decided to look at it or they would have missed a great home with lots of character.

As soon as they looked at the interior pictures, they said, "We've got to see this house!" They did and quickly saw the potential. In case you’re wondering, they do plan on updating the front with new paint colors and architectural details.

This is just another reminder that, if you’re selling your home, curb appeal does matter and, if you’re searching for a home, digging a little deeper may bring you a good deal.

If you have any questions about buying a Wilmington area home, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Who Pays for the Oil in the Fuel Tank?

by Melanie Cameron, The Cameron Team

Who Pays for the Oil in the Fuel Tank at Closing?A Wilmington area home goes under contract. The fuel tank attached to the home still has oil in it. Come the day of closing, who pays for that oil?

According to section 2 (“FIXTURES”) of the North Carolina Offer to Purchase, there are a number of items “included in the Purchase Price free of liens”. These include “fuel tank(s) whether attached or buried and including contents, if any, as of Settlement”. If the fuel tank is leased, it should be written into the contract as an exception, because it’s not technically owned by the home owner and cannot be sold.

Owned or leased, the home owner has the right to exclude the contents and ask for the buyer to pay for them, but that doesn’t guarantee they will agree to such terms. Resolving an issue of “floating oil”, so to speak, can be tricky and it may put a kink in negotiations, so it’s imperative for the home owner to determine how important it is to them to recoup that fuel. Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Have more questions about this? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Should I Have My Home Inspected Before I List It?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Should I Have My Home Inspected Before I ListIf you’re getting ready to sell your Wilmington area home, you may be wondering if you should have a home inspection done before you list. In Wilmington, many home sellers choose not to, but the choice should really be made on a case-by-case basis. While it may not be needed for some homes, it could be beneficial for others. Here are some points to consider:

Why You Would Want to Get a Pre-Inspection

  1. A pre-inspection gives you a good dose of reality. It will give you a clearer understanding of the condition of a home, which can affect the list price and how you market the home. This is especially important if you never lived in the home, because other family members lived there or it was used as a rental. If your main goal is to get the home sold, an inspection can help you get it prepared to compete against other homes on the market. If you don’t need to sell right now, this may be the information you need to decide if you want to wait or go ahead and list.
  2. A pre-inspection can reduce your time on the market. If a buyer feels that a home has more repairs than they are comfortable with handling, they will terminate the contract, which means you’ve wasted days or months on the market. It also creates a stigma with the home. Future buyers will want to know why the contract was terminated and will be hesitant to put in an offer. A pre-inspection allows you to make repairs before you list the home reducing the amount of work that may turn buyers away.
  3. A pre-inspection creates peace of mind in buyers. If you’ve already taken the time to get an inspection and address repairs, it shows buyers that you are serious about selling and respect the risks they’re taking buying a new home. It’s bound to grab the attention of buyers as an additional marketing tool (and you can further that affect by including a home warranty).
  4. A pre-inspection can create a smoother transaction. By eliminating repairs prior to a purchase contract, you get rid of potential big surprises that often lead to additional negotiating, unexpected costs, and a postponed closing.

Why You May Want to Skip a Pre-Inspection

  1. A pre-inspection is an additional cost. If your home isn’t very old or hasn’t had many issues, the possibility of facing surprises when the buyers do their own inspection may be low. So, the additional cost may not be warranted. This is probably the most popular reason for not getting a pre-inspection.
  2. If an issue is revealed, you need to disclose it. Of course, if you’re getting a pre-inspection, you’re probably already planning on making repairs. But, if you find you can’t make all of the repairs, you need to disclose any that you weren’t able to complete. This may hurt your ability to sell, because buyers will be hesitant to take that first step of making an offer. It may also drastically lower their offer price.
  3. A pre-inspection doesn’t eliminate the buyer’s home inspection. If your intention is to speed up the sale, the pre-inspection won’t shorten the buyer’s Due Diligence Period. The buyer can choose to trust your home inspection and not get one of their own, but the Due Diligence Period also includes all efforts by the lender to finalize funding, as well as any additional inspections (pest, sewer, septic, chimney, etc.), land surveys, and research into anything that will affect the intended use of the property (HOA restrictions, improvement projects, zoning, etc.). At the most, it will eliminate the chance of surprise repairs that may lengthen the closing timetable.
  4. Not everything wrong with a home may be caught with a home inspection. Home inspectors aren’t perfect, nobody is, so there’s always the chance that something will be overlooked. They’re also limited on how thoroughly they can inspect a home. For example, inspectors will not make holes in walls to inspect pipes or wiring, and are not required to climb on top of roofs to inspect. So, if an interior pipe has degraded so much that it starts to leak while the home is listed, that’s not something that could have been prevented with a home inspection.

As you can see, a pre-inspection isn’t for everyone and can actually be more detrimental for a sale. However, if your home has been rife with issues or time is nearing the end of the predicted lifespan for the original building materials, it may be a good idea to consider a pre-inspection. It could save you time and money, which are often the same thing when your home is on the market.

Have questions about pre-inspections or listing your Wilmington area home? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Should I Offer an Agent Bonus to Increase Home Showings?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Should I Offer a Buyer's Agent Bonus on My Home Listing? You’re selling your Wilmington area home. It’s been on the market for a few months, but you aren’t getting the amount of showings that you want. You’ve heard about buyer’s agent bonuses, where you offer some kind of gift (a specific dollar amount, an extra percentage of commission, a gift card, etc.) to an agent that brings you a buyer, and you’re wondering if that’s something you should try.

It’s important for sellers to know that it is against the Realtor® Code of Ethics and Fair Housing laws to steer a buyer to or away from a specific listing. Realtors® are here to provide facts and experience so that their clients can make the best decisions for them. However, this hasn’t made the buyer’s agent bonus illegal, because choosing to show a property that fits a client’s search criteria doesn’t necessarily constitute steering, even if it has a bonus. The agent just can’t make any extra effort to convince the client to choose that property over others. If there is a buyer’s agent bonus, according to the Code of Ethics, the agent must reveal it to their client.

As a Realtor®, it is the buyer’s agent’s responsibility to find a home that best suits the needs of their clients. With that said, a buyer’s agent will show a listing if there is a bonus or not, as long as it suits the needed criteria, because they’re in the market to sell a home. Attaching an agent bonus to the listing won’t necessarily provide any additional showings.

Instead of offering an incentive to the buyer’s agent, it would probably better suit you to use that money to make needed repairs on the listing or provide an incentive for the buyers, like paid closing costs, a carpet allowance, painting allowance, home warranty, etc. After all, those sort of perks can be advertised online and in the MLS, and the buyers are the ones who have the final say on which properties they see.

If your Wilmington area home is not yet listed and you're interested in putting it on the market, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page. We’d be happy to share our marketing plan and provide you insight into the fair market value of your home.  

Meghan Riley

Will My Neighbor’s Poorly Maintained Home Affect My Sale?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Will my neighbor’s poorly maintained home affect my sale?Q. “Will my neighbor’s poorly maintained home affect my sale?”

A. Unfortunately, yes. Neighbors can provide a whole slew of unsightly property issues – peeling paint, trashed yards, broken windows, unmowed lawns, overgrown bushes, and excess vehicles (often parked where they shouldn’t be), to name a few. If the home is out-of-sight, perhaps a few roads over, it might not be as big of an issues, but the closer the home is to yours, the larger the affect it will have on the sale of your Wilmington area home.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Unmaintained yards attract snakes, rats, and other pests that can eventually invade neighboring properties. No one wants to deal with an infestation.
  2. Peeling paint, broken windows, boarded windows, missing wood, etc. are attributed to neglect and buyers don’t usually want to be surrounded by the issues that accompany that.
  3. Excess vehicles give the impression that a lot of people will be going in and out of the house, and most buyers are looking for a quiet area.
  4. Metal cans, old vehicles, broken hardware, old furniture…if this type of stuff is piled up in the yard, buyers will start to question what they’ll be smelling (or tasting!) on a day-to-day basis.

One situation in particular comes to mind. A buyer had fallen in love with a historic home in Downtown Wilmington, but the home next-door was vacant with boarded windows. The owner had moved to a retirement community and claimed the home was in fine condition, but the buyer was afraid that the boarded windows would attract trespassers. She went back and forth on making an offer for weeks, and she eventually decided not to purchase the home due to safety issues. Buyers take into consideration the neighborhood when choosing a property, especially if a particular troublesome looking home is nearby. If your home looks out over a property in question, it will especially make your home harder to sell.

So, what can you do?

If the issue is a poorly maintained yard, it may be that they can’t afford to have it maintained or physically do it themselves. You may offer to cut it for them while your home is on the market. If that’s not the case and the grass has been allowed to grow high, it may be a violation of county code and an issue to be addressed by the local health department.

Other issues may be resolved with a polite conversation with the neighbor. You may want to point out that your home’s sale will directly affect the value of their own home. In most cases, you’ll have to do whatever you can to highlight your own property’s best features and that may involve making some changes, like adding a privacy fence.  

If you have concerns about your Wilmington area home not selling due to a neighboring property, feel free to give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page. We’d be happy to take a look and provide some insight from our 18+ years of experience selling homes.

Meghan Riley

Infographic: Horror Stories from Beyond the Move

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Always do your due diligence before hiring a mover. Read reviews, ask for referrals, or, as Allied says in their latest infographic, you'll be facing...

Hire the Right Movers

Hire the Right Movers or Else...- An infographic by the team at Allied Van Lines

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 63




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Contact Information

The Cameron Team
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage
1001 Military Cutoff Suite 101
Wilmington NC 28405
Office: 910.202.2546
Toll Free: 800.522.9624
Fax: 910.795.4723

The Cameron Team - Wilmington North Carolina Real Estate

The Cameron Team
Coldwell Banker
Sea Coast Advantage
1001 Military Cutoff, Suite 101
Wilmington, NC  28405
Office: 910.202.2546

Toll Free: 800.522.9624
Fax: 910.795.4723

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