October 15, 2012

Ocracoke Realty: What’s your ‘buying’ style?


I’ve been scrolling through the Rolodex in my brain of all of the buyers with whom I have worked. With real estate being in a category that I would label as “a major expense,” there are very few impulsive buyers.

How exciting it is for an agent to luck into someone who had enough ready cash to just say, “Let’s go!” The chances of that might be a hair better than winning the lottery.

Most often, we experience folks who have been bitten by the Ocracoke bug after an initial visit and stop in our office to pick up information. The first line we hear is, “I never knew this village was down here. This is so much more of what I could enjoy.”

So, it starts with a day trip, followed by a week’s vacation. When it becomes a three-week tradition each year, these same folks start dreaming about what it would be like to own property on the island.

The dreaming is driven by a passion, Ocracoke’s number one commodity. 

Initially, real estate advertisements are collected, and there is a lot of independent driving around and looking. Stage two is a sit-down conversation in a real estate office. Local agents are a great source of general information with regards to taxes, fire/liability and wind insurance, rental income, going bank rates, and what happens in the event of a hurricane.

Stage three includes the actual viewing of chosen properties.

At this point, I see buyers falling into differing styles with regards to how they proceed in the process. One group of shoppers makes up their mind to buy, does their bank qualifying homework, and gets to the island ready “to go.” One group comes to the island, knows they want “to go” and ultimately makes an offer, subject to financing. Another group is ready to go and is lucky enough to have a pool of cash.

These people from all three styles will often make an offer after one to three buying visits to the island. These “working vacations” can span a couple of years.

We have recently been having many inquiries from folks who are just preparing to make the jump. These are folks who know that they will be retiring in so many years or will soon have the last child graduating from college or will have the down payment saved in so many years. They are starting what I quite lovingly call “the research project.”

One couple did not want to be tempted by visiting the interior of a property -- a drive-by was all they were interested in. I was impressed with a buyer that came to the island in each of the four seasons and stayed in a different area of the island each time, just to get a feel for each.

I am aware of buyers who escape to the Internet and log into the Ocracoke real estate market, keeping listing trivia in their heads for years. My favorite is the two gentleman members of two couples who were planning on purchasing together. These guys quizzed me on rental trends every year for five years and put the answers on a spread sheet before they decided on what vacant lot to buy and what house to build.

No matter which is your style, once you know the end point, the path rises to meet your feet. It is just a matter of seeing the right property and feeling it click.

Purchasing a house is always a combined decision of both the heart and the brain. The brain needs the facts to give the heart what it wants. The passion drives it all.

(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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