May 10, 2017

Hatteras Island Real Estate:
  Change On Hatteras Island


While change is always with us, it usually happens in such gradual increments that we don’t often recognize it until after it occurs. I thought it might be interesting to take a brief look at some of the changes that have taken place in the past on the island, and some that are going on right now.

Real Estate Market – The Hatteras Island real estate market appears to be in the early stages of recovery from a prolonged buyer’s market. Over the past three years, home sales have increased, housing sales prices have risen, and there has been growth in the total dollar value of sales.

The residential real estate market on Hatteras Island is off to a strong start in 2017. Sales, prices, and the total dollar value of sales are all showing increases, and the inventory of properties for sale is down. These statistics represent a continuation of the recent trends that we have been seeing. Buyers are continuing to show a preference for properties priced below $300,000, although we have seen a surge in the sales of high-end ($1 million +) homes this year.

Unfortunately, the market for undeveloped lots on Hatteras Island is not encouraging. During the 1st Quarter only six undeveloped lots were sold on the entire island. All major market indicators, except properties under contract to be sold, declined by double-digit figures.

Financing – Funding for loans is plentiful and available for qualified buyers. After an extended period of very low rates, interest rates have started to rise. Currently, for 30-year fixed-rate loans, interest rates are in the 4.25 percent range - still near historically low levels.

Distressed Properties – Several years ago, foreclosures and short sales represented a significant segment of the real estate market on the island. This temporary phenomenon appears to have run its course. Today, there is one bank-owned residential property for sale and four undeveloped lots. In addition, there are just four residential short sales in the inventory of properties available for purchase, and no lots.

Construction – The number of new residential single family building permits have shown a meaningful increase over the past two years. Renovations and repairs continue to be the mainstays of the construction business on the island.

Commercial Development – The biggest change in commercial development that we have seen over the past few years has been the appearance of chain retail variety stores in over half of the villages. In some cases, the new stores have been rather large in size while others have been somewhat smaller. A new adventure themed facility in Rodanthe appears to be nearing completion.

Island Access – Perhaps the changes that are most noticeable - and the ones that may have the greatest long-term impact - are the efforts to stabilize access to the island via Highway 12. New bridges are under construction to replace the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet and the interim metal bridge over the Pea Island Inlet. Plans are also moving forward to construct a bridge in the Pamlico Sound that will circumvent the S-Curves ocean overwash “hot spot” north of Rodanthe. The Pea Island Bridge is scheduled to open to traffic this summer. The new bridge over Oregon Inlet has a target opening date of 2018, and the Rodanthe Bridge construction is estimated to be completed in 2020.

Natural Forces – By definition, barrier islands are characterized by a constantly changing landscapes. Beach erosion and inlet shoaling are two of the most common examples of this type of change. A beach nourishment project was completed in Rodanthe several years ago. Another nourishment project is scheduled for the Buxton beach this summer, and very preliminary discussions are taking place to address more recent concerns south of the Avon Pier. Shoaling around Hatteras Inlet has had a very serious impact on the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry channel as well as charter fishing boat access to the ocean from Hatteras Village. Some dredging in the area of Hatteras Inlet has already taken place and additional clearing efforts are planned for the near future.

Off Road Beach Access – Off road vehicle beach access and beach driving restrictions have been a contentious issue for the past few years. Under the refreshing leadership of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent David Hallac, an easing of restrictions on many aspects of vehicular beach access are taking place and an open dialogue on other Park Service issues is ongoing.

Despite all of the changes that we have seen, one thing remains the same – there is no place like Hatteras Island where we can all find peace and quiet, the time to enjoy the wind and the waves and the sea, and a very simple lifestyle uncomplicated by the stresses and strains of the world that exists outside this wonderful piece of paradise.

(Tom Hranicka is a broker with Outer Beaches Realty. Questions, comments, or suggestions for future articles may be sent to Hranicka at P.O. Box 280, Avon, NC  27915 or emailed to [email protected]. Copyright 2017 Tom & Louise Hranicka.  All rights reserved.
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