year, I like to publish an updated version of an article that addresses some of
the most frequently asked questions that I hear from prospective buyers and
sellers. Many of the issues remain unchanged, but occasionally a new question
will make its way into the list. As an example, prospective buyers have been
inquiring more frequently about the new bridges at the northern end of the
According to National Park Service reports, a little more
than two million people visit the Cape Hatteras National Seashore each year.
Quite a few choose to spend some of their well-deserved vacation time talking
with our local Realtors about property in Hatteras Island’s seven villages.
While each person’s specific needs and interests are different, a number of
surprisingly similar questions arise during these conversations. Some of the
most commonly asked questions and their answers are presented below.
Q. We are just starting to consider buying property.
Do you have any recommendations for a game plan?
A. Hatteras Island is a very special place, and each
of its villages has its own unique charm. My advice is to visit each of the
villages, drive around, and let your feelings be your guide. Usually, one or
two areas will appeal to you more than the others. Once you find the location
that feels right for you, then start to clarify price ranges that meet your
criteria and zero-in on the “perfect” property.
Q. What does real estate cost on Hatteras Island?
are properties to meet just about every need and every budget. Be aware that
prices may vary slightly among the villages.
homes are priced from $379,000 to $1.9 million.
asking prices for oceanfront lots which are very scarce (only three are
currently for sale) begin around $420,000 and peak at $825,000.
and soundside lots start around $45,000, and cottages range from $90,000 to $1.2
homes cost $360,000 to $1.9 million. – currently about the same as oceanfront
lots are available for $69,000 to $659,000.
homes reflect asking prices from $175,000 to $790,000.
upon location, size, and age, condominiums range in price from $99,500 to
annual rental income is taken into account, the cost of owning a cottage on
Hatteras Island can be surprisingly affordable.
How has the Hatteras Island real estate market performed in the past?
Like other places around the country, the residential real estate market on
Hatteras Island participated in the boom years between 2001 and 2004 recording
double digit price increases. Then, in mid-2005, a prolonged buyer’s market took
hold. The selling prices of homes are now in the fourth year of a recovery
presenting attractive buying opportunities. The market for undeveloped lots on
the island peaked a year after home prices. This market segment is showing
signs of improvement as evidenced by the number of lots under contract to be
sold. Buyers are recognizing the values that exist in today’s market and are
starting to purchase before prices once again move substantially upward.
Is it better to buy an existing cottage or to purchase a lot and build?
There is no one answer to this question that is right for everyone. Some feel
more comfortable with the construction process than others. My general advice
is that if you find an existing home that you really like, go ahead and
purchase it. If none of the homes you see is truly what you want, then buy a
lot and build a home that reflects your personal tastes.
If I should decide to build a new home, what can I expect it to cost?
Construction prices for new homes are currently about $150/sq. ft. A complex
design and upgraded features can raise the cost of construction even higher.
The cost of the lot, furniture, and any amenities would be added to reach the
total price. We have well-qualified builders, and the North Carolina building
code for coastal properties is considered to be quite strict.
How difficult is it to obtain financing for real estate purchases on Hatteras
For qualified buyers, financing is available through a variety of lenders. In late
August, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages carried interest rates a little less than
4.75% with the payment of one point or less. Interest rates have been trending
upward over the past year.
What role are foreclosures and short sales playing in the Hatteras Island real
It appears that the distressed property trend has run its course. During the
past year, foreclosures represented less than 5 percent of all sales, and short
sales (situations where the mortgage balance is more than the value of the
property) accounted for less than 1 percent of sales. In total, a little over 5
percent of all sales were distressed properties.
foreclosed properties and short sales can be more challenging that a
traditional purchase, so be sure to seek the assistance of a real estate agent
who is familiar with these types of transactions to guide you through the
How does it work if we want to rent our cottage when we are not using it
There are professional real estate firms on Hatteras Island which for a fee will
provide a comprehensive property management program. Services include
advertising your cottage, scheduling rentals, cleaning, maintenance, and all
necessary accounting. Once you make the decision to rent, they will take care
of just about everything else.
houses generally rent for 25 to 28 weeks per year with some select homes
exceeding the 28 week performance. Soundfront properties will rent a few weeks
less. Oceanside and soundside cottages usually experience somewhat fewer rental
weeks depending on their distance from the water and the amenities that are
offered. Prime waterfront properties have the highest occupancy rates and
generate the greatest rental incomes.
What happens to the furnishings when a home is sold?
In the majority of sales, the buyer and seller negotiate a price for the
furnishings, and the furnishings stay with the property. Lenders can only lend
on the land and the structure. The furnishings are considered to be personal
property and are sold by a separate Bill of Sale in conjunction with the
transaction. The seller may choose to identify certain items that are excluded
from the Bill of Sale such as the contents of owner storage closets and items
of personal or sentimental significance.
How difficult is it to get flood insurance on Hatteras Island?
There should be little, if any, problem getting flood insurance coverage for
most properties on Hatteras Island. In fact, there are some locations in which
flood insurance may not be required. Flood insurance is available through both
the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and private insurance companies.
should also be aware that there are some areas on the island where flood
insurance offered through the National Flood Insurance Program is not available.
This is an important fact to know when purchasing a home since the cost of
private flood insurance can be substantially higher than the cost of an NFIP
changes are taking place in the National Flood Insurance Program as well as in
local flood zone maps. Buyers and sellers are advised to consult with a
professional insurance agent to understand the impact of these changes on a
What is the current situation concerning the availability of water and sewage
services on Hatteras Island?
The Dare County Water System provides central water service to all villages on
the island, although private wells are still in use in some locations.
septic systems are the standard method for waste disposal on Hatteras Island,
although at least one community has a central waste water treatment facility.
What are the current plans for stabilizing Highway 12 access to the island?
There are three main projects to improve Highway 12 between Oregon Inlet and
the northernmost village of Rodanthe.
new bridge over Oregon Inlet parallel to the existing Bonner Bridge is nearing
completion. This bridge is expected to be open to traffic in late 2018, and the
project finalized in 2019.
new concrete bridge to replace the metal bridge over the Pea Island Inlet has
been completed, and the metal bridge has been removed.
third effort consists of a road that will extend from an area north of the
S-Curves from Highway 12 to the Pamlico Sound connecting to a bridge over the
Sound that would by-pass the S-Curves and re-enter highway 12 in north Rodanthe.
If all goes according to plan, the “jug handle” bridge will be started in the
fall of 2018 and completed in late 2020.
Many believe that visible progress on these projects will serve as a stimulus
for the next cycle of growth in the Hatteras Island real estate market.
How many year round residents are there on Hatteras Island?
The 2010 census results indicated that the population of Hatteras Island is
4,322 compared to 4,001 in 2000. In 1990 the census reported 3,814 island
residents. The populations by village were reported as: Rodanthe, Waves, and
Salvo 624; Avon 777; Buxton 1,526; Frisco 891; Hatteras 504.
It is my impression that Hatteras Island experiences severe weather. What can
you tell me about weather conditions?
While it is true that Hatteras Island from time to time does experience severe
weather, if you think about it, so does just about every place else in the
country! The perception that we get more than our fair share may, in part, be
the result of the prominence of Cape Hatteras as a geographic landmark and the
fact that it is frequently used as a reference point by weather forecasters.
Statistically, the experts say that on average the Outer Banks will experience
weather that has the potential to cause damage about three times a year. A
study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that,
based on historical records, a major storm strikes the island about every eleven
weather on the island is normally quite pleasant. We get generous amounts of
rainfall. The wind averages about 11 mph, and the average temperature is a
comfortable 69°. Believe it or not, according to National Weather Service
records, the official temperature on Hatteras Island has never reached 100°!
The highest temperature ever recorded was 97°. Constantly changing weather
patterns are a part of life on Hatteras Island.
my perspective, the number of warm, sunny days and star-filled nights far
outweigh the concerns created by the strong storms that have been a fascinating
part of the island’s history.
Is now a good time to buy?
This is an excellent time to be a buyer on Hatteras Island. Both interest rates
and prices are still low by historical standards – a combination that does not
often exist. With almost 300 homes for sale, a good selection of properties is
available for buyers’ consideration.
in the market for unimproved lots are even more compelling. Since peaking in
2006, the average selling price of lots has declined over 75 percent.
are encouraging signs that our local real estate market is in the early
stages of recovery after a prolonged buyer’s market, and new construction is
visible across the island.
that you have the answers to the most frequently asked questions about island
real estate, take the next step and start investigating how current
opportunities may fit into your personal plans to purchase a home or
undeveloped lot. When all is said and done, there is no place like Hatteras
and comments may be sent to Tom Hranicka at P.O. Box 280, Avon, NC 27915 or by
e-mail to [email protected].
© 2018 Tom & Louise Hranicka. All rights reserved.