July 31, 2012

Ocracoke Real Estate:
Two important tips on buying a home on the island


We’re now in the peak tourist season when we can anticipate an increase in the interest levels in real estate sales on the island. At least, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

For those of you who are curious about gathering information, getting a feel for the market, or actually viewing a number of properties, I have two suggestions. These ideas have come from witnessing the perplexity of an activity that many of us only get to do maybe once or twice in our lifetimes.

There seems to be some confusion on the part of many buyers when it comes to knowing who to go to for the information or the opportunity to go inside a property.

Do you have to speak to the agent listed on the “for sale” sign? The answer is “No,”

The listing agreement, signed by each seller, allows for a multiple listing or co-brokerage of a property. It benefits the seller to have many agents working on the sale of the property and not just those in the agency that has taken the listing.

As a buyer, you are in the driver’s seat. You can work with the agent of your choosing. That agent can sell any piece of property listed for sale and even the “For Sale By Owner,” with the owner’s permission.

The agent is your tour guide and your employee, in this process of buying property. Just as you would choose an employee for your business based on his or her skills, intelligence and ethics, so do you choose an agent. This person will be leading you through a process in which you will be spending lots of money, energy and emotion. Interview several agents and choose wisely.

Our market is fueled primarily by discretionary income used to purchase second homes. The majority of these second homes are put in a weekly rental program in an effort to offset the expense. The rest of the world is owner occupied.

Our market has its own set of idiosyncrasies. In the owner occupied world, the occupant is the seller who is eager for the interruption of a real estate showing. On Ocracoke, the occupant may be a renter eager for peace and relaxation who doesn’t want to give a hoot about the clothes on the floor of the bedroom. The two rental agencies on the island also allow the vacationer to opt out of granting access to their rental home, which happens to be offered for sale.

I know that my next suggestion might be difficult to consider, seeing how we all wait for 50 weeks out of the year to finally get our two weeks of bliss.

If buying your own piece of Ocracoke has been an ongoing dream and this is the year that you have decided to jump, plan early in your vacation week. The more lead time you provide the agent to get you into a property, the greater your chance of being able to schedule it. If the weekly tenant is holding tight to their privacy, the agent may be able to get you in on the changeover day.

If the property appears to be an exact match for your dream home on Ocracoke, agents have been known to purchase gift certificates for a lovely dinner as an enticement to gain access to a home. We are a service industry and we would love to be able to give our customers what they want, but a last minute request by buyers as they race to the departing ferry is hard to arrange.

These are two important upfront considerations as you ponder the dream of home ownership on Ocracoke -- choosing a guide who works for you and a little bit of planning ahead of your trip can bring success.

(B.J. Oelschlegel has lived on Ocracoke Island for more than 30 years and has worked in the real estate business for almost as long.  She is a broker with Ocracoke’s Lightship Realty and a real estate columnist for The Ocracoke Observer. You can reach her by e-mail at [email protected])

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