Network Wilmington Real Estate News

April 27, 2020

How to Be a Good Tenant

There are certain things owners must do in order to keep their rental properties safe and liveable. Likewise, there are certain rules tenants must adhere to when renting, some of which are required by law and some are enforced by individual owners in leases.


So you see, whether you’re renting a beachside vacation property in Carolina Beach or are a tenant in a long-term rental in Wilmington, you have a responsibility to take care of the home you’re renting. If you don’t, you could be subject to fines and/or lawsuits by the owner of the property.



Signs of a Bad Tenant

If you’re renting a vacation property or signing a long-term lease soon, make sure you avoid the things renters should never do, like:


Changing the Locks

Long-term tenants may have concerns about who has access to the property. While these concerns are valid, you need to get consent from your landlord before changing the locks, as doing so could violate their rights as an owner. The best course of action is to ask for permission before proceeding with a lock change and to provide your landlord with a new key ASAP.


Bringing Pets without Permission

Owners have a right to restrict what size and kind of animals are allowed in their homes. This is true for both long-term and short-term vacation rentals. Instead of sneaking your pet into your rental home, just be upfront with potential landlords regarding whether you have an animal you’d like to bring.


Making Landscaping Decisions

Many leases will stipulate whether the tenant or landlord is responsible for doing things like mowing the grass, picking up leaves, watering existing plants, etc. Additionally, most owners don’t mind if you want to plant a few of your own flowers or grow a garden (though you should always ask first). However, tenants should steer clear of doing things like planting or removing trees since these are major changes that could have an effect on the home or property and violate your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance.


Inviting Long-Term Guests

For long-term summer and winter rentals, putting your family or friend up for a few days isn’t a concern. The issue comes when you have someone living with you who is not on your lease. Likewise, those renting vacation properties need to be honest about how many people are staying in the home. Lying about these things can result in insurance problems, fire code violations, and, ultimately, fines.


Ignoring Maintenance Issues

As a renter, it’s your responsibility to report any issue with the home to the landlord or property manager. Failure to report things like water stains, broken appliances, or faulty wiring is dangerous. Even if it seems like a small problem, it’s best to report it to the owner before it becomes a big disaster.


Leaving Early or Subletting Without Permission

While they may require you to pay a fee, many owners will be understanding of a situation where you need to leave your lease early. Issues arise here when you leave without telling your landlord or, worse, find someone to rent your place for you. Subletting or listing your home on Air B & B without permission robs the owner of their right to select and screen their own tenants, and will leave you liable in the event the new tenant damages anything.


Having Parties

This goes hand in hand with having long-term guests without permission. Most owners aren’t fans of having a bunch of people they don’t know in their home at once. It’s a good way to end up paying for costly damages, plus it won’t help your relationship with your neighbors or the police.


Leaving the Place a Mess

Most short-term vacation contracts spell out who is responsible for cleaning the home and what steps renters must take regarding cleaning prior to check out. Long-term tenants, however, are always responsible for keeping their homes in good condition. Failing to clean up over a long period of time can easily result in pest infestations like mice, rats, roaches, bed bugs, and other insects.


Painting, Changing Appliances or Making Repairs

These things apply more to long-term tenants than short-term renters, but should still never be done without permission. If something breaks in your home, ask your landlord if you can repair it. If you want to paint, ask your landlord first. If you think you need a new appliance, check with your landlord. Bottom line, the golden rule for rentals is to always get consent from your landlord before changing anything.


Paying Late

When you sign a lease or rental agreement you are legally obligated to pay the landlord the amount you agreed to by the date you agreed to pay. Long-term renters who make excuses or fail to pay their rent risk being evicted. Vacation renters who don’t make payments according to the specified schedule risk losing their previous payments or deposits.


As long as you follow the law, obey the terms of your lease, and ask for permission before making any changes to the home you’re renting, being a good renter should be easy. If you’re thinking of leasing a short-term or long-term rental in Wilmington, Network Real Estate has you covered. From condos in Wrightsville Beach to homes in Pine Valley, we have plenty of options for all kinds of renters. Find out more by giving our rental agents a call at 910-395-4100.

Posted in Vacation Rentals
April 13, 2020

How to Find the Perfect Vacation Home

Regardless of what time of year it is, vacations are a much-needed chance for you and your family to relax, unwind, and have some fun while escaping from the stresses of daily life. A vacation is an investment, and it’s one that takes a lot of time and effort to plan, so it’s important to make sure that you’re not only finding the perfect destination, you’re finding the perfect home to rent as well.


Wilmington, NC isn’t just the perfect destination for spring breakers, it’s ideal for vacationers of all ages! After all, with all of the beautiful beaches, incredible restaurants, abundance of history, and temperate weather, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to travel during any season. The trick isn’t figuring out where to go, it’s where to stay.



Fortunately, the following steps make it easy for you to figure out which of our rental homes or condos is the perfect fit for your Wilmington vacation:


1. Figure out what you want/need.

What are your goals for this vacation? Do you want to relax by the pool? Are you looking to do some fun activities or take some day trips? Maybe you’d like to get some shopping done? Asking yourself questions like these will give you some insight as to where you’ll want your vacation home to be located and what kind of home will fit in your budget.


2. Determine how much space you need.

The people traveling with you will have a big impact on the kind of home you rent and how many rooms you’ll need. A smaller home with two to three bedrooms and one to two bathrooms will probably suit a family of four on a week-long vacation just fine. However, if you’re traveling with multiple families in a large group, you’ll need to put some more thought and planning into not only how many bedrooms and bathrooms you may need, but how they are configured within the home.


3. Start looking early.

Better safe than sorry! Be prepared and start your search for the best vacation rental in Wilmington early to give yourself the most options and guarantee you get what you need. This is especially important if you’re planning on traveling around a holiday. A good rule of thumb is to start planning your vacation for six months in advance.


4. Try to stay flexible.

For example, let’s say you plan on visiting Wilmington for the 4th of July. You do your research months in advance and find the perfect home, but when you go to check availability, you find out that you won’t be able to rent it until the second week of July. If you go into the vacation rental process willing to compromise, things won’t be so stressful if you do need to change your plans a little.


5. Check more than one source.

There are lots of ways to find vacation rentals. Shopping around will help you gain information from past renters and learn more about the area you’re staying in. Starting your search online is a good place to start, but by working with a local company, like Network Real Estate, you might find some listings that won’t be available on any of the mainstream vacation rental websites.


6. Read reviews.

The internet is nothing if not an excellent resource for getting other people’s opinions. While all reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, they can give you some much-needed insight regarding whether a vacation rental looks like it does in pictures, is located in a good area, is clean and well-kept, etc.


7. Consider developing a meal plan.

If you’re planning on eating out for almost every meal, you’ll want to make sure your rental is conveniently located near plenty of restaurants. However, if you want to save a little money by cooking at home during your vacation, you should consider a rental that’s close to a grocery store and has a nice kitchen with plenty of utensils and cookware.


8. Read the contract carefully.

Once you’ve selected the perfect home, make sure you go over your rental contract before you sign it. Most elements of a rental contract are fairly standard and designed to protect both the owner, renter, and the rental company. But, since every home is different, your rental contract is where any additional expenses or requirements will be outlined. Reading the contract in full will help you understand things like how housekeeping works, additional costs for utilities, whether pets are allowed, how much the deposit is, and so on.


9. Buy trip insurance.

Trip insurance is just another way to protect yourself from losing money on your vacation in the event that something prevents you from going, like an illness in the family or flooding from bad weather.


10. Take a walkthrough.

If you live nearby (or know someone who does), taking a walk through before you sign your rental contract is never a bad idea. If not, you should absolutely ask for a walkthrough of the property when you first arrive for check-in. Not only does this give you a chance to learn how all the appliances, lights, electronics, etc. work, but it’s also a good time to check for any pre-existing damages and take pictures of them to prevent potential issues later.


11. Stay in touch with your rental agent.

It’s good to keep your agent’s phone number in case you have any questions or concerns during your vacation. Plus, if you keep in touch with them, they might be able to help you find a Wilmington beach rental for years to come!


Planning your next vacation doesn’t have to be hard. All it takes is a little preparation and the help of the Wilmington rental agents at Network Real Estate, and you’ll be sunning yourself on the beach or enjoying a cocktail by the pool in no time. Call us for help with booking your next vacation rental at 910-395-4100.

Posted in Vacation Rentals
April 6, 2020

Home Buying Mistakes to Avoid

There’s a lot to consider when buying a home. You have to think about how much you can spend, where you want your house to be located, and what features you need it to have. It’s a complicated process, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. It can also be an emotional process. After all, it’s hard not to be emotionally invested when you’re spending a large amount of money on a big, time-consuming purchase.


As real estate agents, we’ve seen and heard it all, which is how we know exactly what you should and shouldn’t do on your way to the closing table. While some issues can be easily resolved, there are a few home-buying mistakes that you really want to make sure you avoid.



1. Buying a house while you’re in debt.

Having a mortgage payment can be stressful enough on its own, so it’s a bad idea to add a mortgage to your debt if you already have car loans, student loans, medical bills, back taxes, etc. You must also consider that getting a home loan while you have other types of debt might be more difficult because you will have a higher debt to income ratio. While you may get a home loan under these conditions, the interest will be steeper and it will take longer for you to pay the loan back. Likewise, if you’re applying for a home loan, don’t take on any additional debt (credit cards, car loans, etc.) until after the loan is approved and the sale is closed.


2. Shopping for a home before you’ve been approved for a loan.

There are a couple of problems with shopping before you’re pre-approved. The first is that you don’t truly know what you’ll be able to afford. This can lead to you looking at homes outside of your price range, falling in love with one, and then ultimately being disappointed when you find out your loan won’t cover the cost of the home. Another reason to get pre-approved before you shop is that a seller is much more likely to accept an offer if there’s a preapproval letter with it.


3. Having a down payment that’s too small.

The smaller your down payment, the higher your monthly interest and mortgage payments will be. Plus, if your down payment is less than 20% of the value of the home you’re buying, the bank will also require you to pay PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance), a type of insurance that protects them in the event you can’t afford your mortgage.


4. Focusing only on price.

Obviously you have a budget to stay in, but that’s not the only thing that’s important when buying a house. You also have to consider things like resale value, school districts, and upcoming construction projects nearby, and how much the neighborhood has changed and will change in the coming years.


5. Making emotional decisions.

It’s tough to find a balance between logic and emotions during the home-buying process, but it must be done in order to make sure you’re purchasing the right home. For example, try not to let current market conditions affect your decision to buy if you’re truly ready. Also, don’t let how much you love a house make you quick to overlook concerns you may have. Finally, don’t buy a house just because you’ve been looking for a long time, had bad luck with past offers, or are just ready for the process to be over, as this is a good way to end up with something you don’t want.


6. Not getting a home inspection.

As a buyer, the home inspection is your chance to make sure everything is as it should be. Find your own home inspector (i.e. don’t take a recommendation from the seller’s agent) and have them do a full inspection on the house. This will tell you everything you need to know about the foundation, roof, plumbing, writing, etc., and whether there are problems with any of these things. If you don’t schedule a home inspection, you could end up buying a house with serious issues without even knowing it. Having the home inspection before closing, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to negotiate to have any issues fixed before the sale closes.


7. Neglecting to explore first-time homebuyer programs.

If you don’t have a lot of money to put down, there are options for you. Many lenders and credit unions will offer incentives for first-time homebuyers, as will some government agencies. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Housing Administration all offer special loans to help individuals buy their first home. Just remember to do your research and gain a full understanding of what these loans entail and what your interest rates will be before you move forward.


8. Forgetting all those extra little costs.

You don’t just have to factor in the cost of the home when determining your house budget, you also have to add up all those extra expenses that are part of the home-buying process. You have to think about application fees, closing costs, HOA fees, repairs, renovations, appliances… the list goes on and on. Even after you’re financially prepared for the sale itself, you should always have at least three months’ worth of mortgage payments sitting in a savings account to use in case of emergencies.


9. Not using a real estate agent.

When it comes down to it, the only way to make sure you’re 100% protected is to have the help of a real estate agent. The Wilmington realtors at Network Real Estate have been through the home-buying process countless times before. We’ll use our expert experience to help you find a home that ticks all of your boxes. Give us a call at 910-395-4100 to schedule your first showing today!

Posted in Buying a Home
March 31, 2020

Seller’s Markets vs. Buyer’s Markets

Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, your #1 goal is always to get the most bang for your buck. If you’ve been a homeowner, you’ve probably heard a real estate agent use the terms “seller’s market” and “buyer’s market” once or twice. Understanding what these terms mean is critical to a successful real estate transaction, whether you’re selling your home or buying a new one.


We believe that educating our clients is a big part of making sure they have a good experience with us. So in this article, we’ll discuss exactly what buyer’s and seller’s markets are, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to determine what kind of market you’re dealing with at any given time.



What is a Buyer’s Market?

A buyer’s market occurs where there is more supply than there is demand. In other words, there are more people trying to sell houses than there are people trying to buy houses. This typically results in buyers having a rather large selection of homes to choose from, which gives them the upper hand when it comes to negotiating price. Sellers who are listing their home in a buyer’s market may have to lower their home’s price in order to compete in the market.


What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market occurs when there is more demand than supply. So if there are more people trying to buy houses than there are actual houses available, you’re dealing with a seller’s market. This is the scenario where bidding wars are very common, and buyers should be prepared to offer more money or bring cash to the table, in order to get what they want. For sellers, this makes things easy, as they just have to sit back and wait for the best offer to come in.


Determining Current Market Conditions in Wilmington, NC

A lot of times, the real estate market in a given area will fluctuate seasonally. Wilmington and the surrounding areas depend heavily on tourism, so where, in other areas, you might see more homes listed during the summer, you’re not as likely to see that here. Summer is the prime rental season in Wilmington, so we tend to see more listings go on the market in the “off-season” than any other time. Likewise, the tourists, traffic, and high temperatures don’t make summers in Wilmington the most desirable time for buyers to look for a home.


That’s not to say you can’t buy or sell in Wilmington during the summer, it’s just not as common as it might be in someplace like New England, where home shopping during the summer is much more preferable to home shopping in five feet of snow. Apart from the weather, there are several other indicators one can look at to determine the current real estate conditions in Wilmington:


  • Consider the local job market. Lots of jobs and new business opportunities may indicate a seller’s market whereas fewer jobs can often put cities in a buyer’s market.
  • Check how quickly the “inventory” of homes changes. If there are plenty of homes available but they stay on the market for a long time, that’s a sure sign of a buyer’s market. However, a limited inventory of homes that are listed one day and sold the next is a clear indication that you’re in the middle of a seller’s market.
  • Observe price fluctuations. If over a period of a few weeks or months, you notice that the same homes are available and their prices have been slashed, you’re dealing with a buyer’s market. However, if prices keep trending up and up, the sellers have the advantage.
  • Determine the ratio of regular listings compared to foreclosures/short sales. A seller who is listing their mint-condition home for its maximum value may have a hard time competing with the foreclosures and short sales that can be awfully tempting to a buyer on a budget.
  • Check interest rates. If you’re taking out a loan to buy a home (and most people are) you’ll obviously want to obtain the lowest interest rate possible. If rates in Wilmington are low, it’s a good time to buy.


Pros and Cons of a Seller’s Market


As a seller in a seller’s market, you’re probably going to get the price you want for your home, if not more. The downside of this is that even though it’s unlikely buyers will be too picky or ask for many contingencies, your home needs to be able to attract the interest of buyers right away or it will get lost in the shuffle.


As a buyer in a seller’s market, finding the right home could be pretty tough. You may have to go through dozens of listings before you find one that you like and have your offer accepted on. You may find yourself in bidding wars or having to settle in order to purchase a home during this time, and the whole process may take a lot longer than you’d like.


Pros and Cons of a Seller’s Market

As a seller in a buyer’s market, your home may sell very quickly or it may not. A lot of this depends on how many foreclosures and short sales there are in your area, as well as direct competition from homes similar to yours. Be ready to price your home competitively and be willing to negotiate if you want a quick sale.


As a buyer in a seller’s market, you’re going to have plenty of options to choose from and it’s unlikely you’ll get into a bidding war. In fact, you’ll probably be able to talk a seller down on price, especially if their home has been on the market for a while, and maybe even get your closing date moved up.


Buying and Selling Homes in Wilmington

Real estate isn’t always a one-sided thing, and it’s important to note that optimal conditions can exist for both sellers and buyers at the same time. The best way to make sure you’re benefiting from your real estate transaction is to work with one of the experienced Wilmington realtors agents at Network Real Estate. Give us a call at 800-747-1968 to set up an appointment with one of our agents today!

March 10, 2020

How to Determine Your House Budget

It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying a house to live in or buying one with the intent of turning it into a rental property - purchasing a home is a big deal. The process takes a lot of forethought and planning, both on the part of the buyer and other entities like banks, realtors, and lawyers. It’s not something to take lightly, and it’s certainly not something you should just jump into without making some careful considerations.


While there are many details to be aware of throughout the home-buying process, the most important by far is your budget. No good can come from going over budget. In fact, overspending is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make. So instead of jeopardizing your emotional and financial happiness by guessing how much you should spend on a house, it’s best to develop a real estate budget before you even start looking.


Budgeting for Homeownership


Now that you’ve considered some of the random expenses associated with homeownership, you can really start taking steps toward developing your final home-buying budget:


1. Calculate your monthly income

This should include the total monthly earnings for each working/contributing household member, as well as any other additional sources of income you may have, like part-time jobs, social security, retirement income, etc.


2. Do the mortgage math

A good rule of them is to make sure that your mortgage payments do not exceed 25% percent of your income. So, once you have your total income, multiply it by .25 and you’ll have a good idea of what your monthly mortgage payment should be after your down payment is put down.


3. See how your mortgage fits with your monthly expenses

Make a list of your current expenses, including utilities, groceries, childcare, transportation, etc. Then combine your monthly expenses with your estimated maximum mortgage payment and subtract that number from your total monthly income.


4. Make adjustments as necessary

If the calculation above left you with room to spare, then you’re in good shape. However, if this number was bigger than your monthly income and left you in the red, you’ll need to trim the fat, either by reducing your monthly expenses or by decreasing the amount you’d be willing to spend on monthly mortgage payments.


5. Factor in your down payment.

Now that you’ve got a handle on your projected monthly expenses, we can discover exactly how much home you can afford. Thankfully, there are plenty of mortgage calculators to help you out. All you have to do is plug in how much money you’ve saved for your down payment along with the maximum value of the homes you might be interested in until the number under “total monthly payment” matches your target monthly mortgage cost.


If you’re having trouble getting the numbers to match, you’ll either need to increase your down payment or look at homes that are a little less expensive.



Things to Consider When Buying a House

Monthly income and expenses are certainly the largest components of developing a budget, but they aren’t the only ones. As you are working on budgeting, don’t forget to think about the following:


Job stability. Have you been at your job for a while? Is there any chance you could lose your job or switch jobs anytime soon? These are all things you should mull over before making any major purchase.


Your future. Are you planning on having kids soon? If so, are you going to want to save for their college? Or maybe you’re planning a wedding in addition to buying real estate. It’s important when house shopping to remember to look at the big picture, and how your life/finances may change down the road.


Utility costs. Your utility bills are bound to change when moving into a new home. You might use more/less water and electricity, or you might have to pay for waste or pest control services that you didn’t before.


Appliances. Not all new homes come with all the appliances you want. Others may come with appliances that are old or broken and need replacing. Regardless, you should make sure you have enough money to cover the cost of major appliance replacements.


Home repairs. Finding the perfect turn-key home in your budget may be ideal, but it’s not always realistic. Chances are, the home that you settle on will need a repair here or there, or maybe a new coat of paint or new carpet.


Closing costs. The money-spending portion of home-buying isn’t over until you’re sitting at the closing table. And, unfortunately, there are a lot of bills that have to be paid to get you there, like appraisal fees, home inspections, credit report fees, and so on. Closing costs can equal up to 5% of the cost of the home, so don’t forget to work them into your plan.


HOA fees. Communities with lots of amenities tend to foot the cost by instating homeowner’s association fees. While these usually aren’t a huge concern, it’s definitely something to ask about before you settle on a home.


Credit score(s). This is absolutely something that will factor into your ability to get a loan and/or buy a loan, so if your credit score isn’t in good shape, you might want to spend some time working on it before you start house shopping.


Furniture needs. A new house doesn’t do you much good without furniture to enjoy. Chances are that, when you move, you’ll need to replace at least a few pieces to fit the new space, so budget accordingly.


The best plan for handling the last-minute expenses of home-buying is to multiply your monthly expenses times three and make sure you keep at least this much money in your savings account at all times.


The Importance of a Real Estate Agent

The internet is a good place to start looking at homes, but ultimately you’ll want to go visit some in person. For that, you’ll need the help of a realtor. The Wilmington realtors at Network Real Estate can also help you during the budgeting phase of your search to make sure you find a property that meets your needs and your budget.


Remember, as a buyer, there’s no risk associated with working with a realtor since the seller is traditionally the one responsible for paying all real estate agent fees. So what are you waiting for? Check out the houses we have for sale in Wilmington and the surrounding areas, or give us a call to speak to one of our realtors at 800-747-1968.

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 27, 2020

Best Activities for Renters in Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach is a place where the classic beach town vibe of the past still lives on. It’s a place where southern hospitality is abundant. But most importantly, it’s a place where you can truly kick back and relax while you soak up the sun.


If you’re planning on renting a vacation house in Carolina Beach, NC this summer, you’re probably looking for some ideas for what to do while you’re here. The truth is that it’s hard to choose because there are just that many fun things to do! That’s why we’ve created a list designed to help make sure our renters see the best attractions and activities in Carolina Beach.



Visit The Carolina Beach Boardwalk

There aren’t many boardwalks left on United States beaches, but ours sure is one of the best. The boardwalk at Carolina Beach is packed full of fun, from rides and games to shopping, bars, restaurants, and more. You can even rent a bike or surrey and enjoy people watching as you ride up and down the boardwalk.


Take Surfing Lessons

Tony Silvagni Surf School is run by pro surfer and gold medalist Tony Silvagni, and offers surfing lessons for adults and kids. If you’re looking for an activity that’s a little slower-paced, they also offer paddleboard lessons and kayak tours. Plus, if you’re just looking for a boogie board to enjoy at the beach, or need to borrow an umbrella and some chairs for a few hours, Tony Silvagni Surf School has those, too!


Head Down to Fort Fisher

The Fort Fisher Historic Site is a great place to stroll around with the whole family. You’ll learn so much about Wilmington’s history, as well as the First and Second Battles of Fort Fisher. Or, if it’s too hot or rainy to be outside, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher offers a ton of great exhibits and daily events like animal encounters and feedings.


Do Some Fishing

With miles of sand, there are plenty of shore fishing opportunities up and down our coast. The Carolina Beach Fishing Pier also offers the perfect stop to cast your line, plus a bait shop if you need any supplies. Or, you could book a fishing charter with Carolina Explorer and head offshore to see what you can find.


Grab Some Donuts

You probably don’t know this, but Carolina Beach is actually sort of famous for its great donuts! Wake N Bake Donuts' specialty is donut flavors and combinations that most people have never even dreamed of and it’s won them the title of Best Donuts in North Carolina. They also have a variety of fritters, croissants, and cinnamon rolls! Carolina Beach is also home to Britt’s Donut Shop. Since 1939, Britt’s has been serving up their classic glazed donuts alongside cold glasses of milk. Their offering is simple, but it’s so delicious that you might just be able to eat a dozen all by yourself.


Take a Hike at One of Our Parks

You may not think that our humble little beach town would be home to so much green space, but you’d be wrong! We have several beautiful parks to choose from. Carolina Beach State Park has several hiking trails and gives visitors the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of the rare Venus flytrap in its natural environment. Freeman Park allows visitors to drive right onto the beach and enjoy some seaside camping. And don’t forget Carolina Beach Lake Park offers trails, kayaking, and a ton of cool events and festivals!


Treat Yourself to Fudge

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can certainly satisfy it at Carolina Beach. Not only does The Fudgeboat make homemade fudge in a wide variety of flavors, but they also sell handmade chocolates, popcorn, nuts, and more. It’s the perfect place to grab some gifts to give your friends, family, and coworkers!


Stop by the Tiki Bar

Just a short drive from the boardwalk, is the Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar. This long-standing Carolina Beach tradition features a full-service indoor/outdoor restaurant along with a charming tiki-hut-style bar at the end of the short pier. It’s a great place for families to grab a bite during the day or for the adults to enjoy a cocktail during happy hour.


Check Out One of the Nearby Islands

If you’re feeling like an adventure, you can always rent or charter a boat to one of our local islands. Masonboro Island offers over 5,600 acres of beaches and forests to enjoy and explore. Additionally, Zeke’s Island Reserve is another gorgeous island near Carolina Beach, complete with beautiful flora and fauna and plenty of opportunities for swimming and boating.


So you see, there are plenty of reasons to visit Carolina Beach, NC, and even more fun things to do when you get here. Or you could always just grab a chair and a good book and simply enjoy a relaxing day laying on the beach. Of course, your beach vacation will be that much more enjoyable if you’re just a few steps off the sand. Check out our Carolina Beach vacation rentals to find the perfect place to stay for your next vacation, or call us at 800-830-2118 to speak to a vacation rental agent.

Posted in Vacation Rentals
Feb. 24, 2020

Why Wilmington, NC is the Perfect Spring Break Location

It’s nearly here… the time of year that students from all over the country long for - spring break! Providing a much-needed pause from the monotony of lectures, labs, and homework, spring break is the perfect time to get away and have a little fun with friends and classmates.


Students search high and low for the best spring break destinations in the United States. The goal is to find someplace with good weather that’s not too hot, but not too cold. It also has to be somewhere with plenty of things to see and do without being too crowded. And finally, it has to be a place that promises a memorable experience that will never be forgotten.



Reasons to Visit Wilmington, NC for Spring Break

If you’re looking for the best east coast spring break destination, you’re in luck. There’s no doubt about it, spring break in Wilmington, NC has everything you could ever want and more, since:


It’s centrally located on the East Coast.

Wilmington is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the eastern seaboard, which means it’s just about as easy for someone in Maine to get here as it is for someone in Florida. And that’s a good thing, especially if you’re trying to plan a spring break trip with friends who go to schools up and down the coast.


It’s affordable.

Wilmington’s location also makes getting here pretty cost-efficient. Students in North Carolina and the surrounding states can drive to Wilmington in no time, and students further away always have the option of booking a flight directly into Wilmington International Airport (ILM). Plus, renting a vacation property in Wilmington, NC is also affordable, as are nearly all of the things to see and do in the “Port City.”


The weather is perfect.

By the time spring break rolls around, Wilmington is normally experiencing balmy temperatures in the high 60’s. That said, it’s been known to get up to the high 80’s during springtime! Regardless, Wilmington is sure to give vacationers from warmer, southern climates a break from the heat, while offering a sunny paradise for students who live in the colder, northern states.


Wilmington, NC beaches are gorgeous.

That’s right; we have multiple beaches in the Wilmington area. On the north end of town, Wrightsville Beach offers shops and restaurants for everyone to enjoy. Further south, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach feature tons of activities, a boardwalk, and miles of pristine, white sand. If you can’t make up your mind about where to go, just visit them all!


Indoor and outdoor activities.

Even if the weather is on the cooler side, there are still plenty of things to do in Wilmington besides going to the beach. Wilmington boasts lots of outdoor activities, like swimming, surfing, and hiking, but we have plenty of indoor attractions as well. For example, you could take a riverboat tour on the Cape Fear River or head to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. If that doesn’t strike your fancy, we have several museums to visit, like the Cape Fear Museum or the Museum of the Bizarre.


Nothing in Wilmington is too far away.

Regardless of what you decide to do, no two activities in Wilmington are very far apart from each other. Pretty much everything is within a 20-mile radius and just a short drive from the next cool thing to do. Even if you want to go a little further down the coast, all you have to do is drive down to Fort Fisher and catch the ferry to Southport for a fun day trip.


It has tons of history.

Wilmington has been around since the early 1700s, so naturally, there are a lot of wonderful historical sites to visit here. You stay in town to check out the Bellamy Mansion and the Burgwin-Wright House & Gardens. Heading across the river allows you to tour the massive Battleship North Carolina. You can even drive down to the historic sites at Brunswick Town and Fort Anderson if you’re looking for a real peek into Wilmington’s history.


Downtown Wilmington has everything you could ever want.

The downtown area is soaked in southern charm and packed with things to do and see. There are countless restaurants, clubs, and bars in downtown Wilmington, NC. Plus, during the daytime, you can visit some of the best in local businesses or just stroll around and enjoy the architecture and atmosphere.


There’s shopping galore.

Wilmington has an abundance of places to shop, whether you’re looking to visit smaller, mom-and-pop shops or want to hit the mall. Mayfaire and the Independence Mall offer plenty of stores to choose from, and The Cotton Exchange is home to some of the coolest little shops you’ll ever find.


We have a deep love of food.

In other words, there are plenty of really amazing restaurants in Wilmington, NC to fit nearly any budget. Whether you want sushi, Thai, Indian, Italian, Mexican, or are just in the mood for a juicy burger or some fresh local seafood, you can find it in Wilmington.


It’s a theater/music lover’s dream.

Nicknamed “Hollywood East,” countless shows and movies have been filmed right here on the streets of Wilmington, NC. We also boast several concert venues and theaters where you can catch the latest shows, like Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, Thalian Hall, and the Wilson Center.


So there you have it! It’s clear that Wilmington is not only the perfect place for spring breakers, but for anyone looking for a relaxing, fun-filled vacation. Why not check out the Wilmington, NC vacation rentals available at Network Real Estate and come visit us? For information about rentals in Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, and more, give us a call at 910-395-4100.

Posted in Vacation Rentals
Jan. 31, 2019

What Is Real Estate Tax Deduction?

The year after buying your first house is full of surprises. That’s something I’ve learned for myself this past year. There was a ton physical work that I had to do - from moving all my furniture to getting it all set up perfectly in the house.

But none of that physical labor brought anywhere near the level of stress that the “paperwork” that comes with buying a house did. So you can understand why my ears perked up when I heard a friend talking about their deduction. “You mean, I might actually benefit from this sea of papers I’ve been swimming in?

“Tell me more. What is Real Estate Tax Deduction?” I asked.

Put simply, here’s what my friend told me:

  • If you pay taxes on property, you can claim specific deductions on them for things like repairs and homeowners association fees.
  • As of 2018, there’s a $10,000 limit on the amount you can claim.
  • Landlords get the most benefit from these deductions since they’re eligible for more items.
  • Renters cannot claim property tax deductions.
  • “Property” can also include land, vehicles, boats, and vacation homes.

But as you may have expected, there’s a lot more nuance to Real Estate Tax Deduction than that, so let's explore it in greater detail below:



What is Property Tax Deduction?

To get started, let's get clear on just what exactly Property Tax Deduction actually is. Other than the awesome feeling of having something that's truly yours, it's one of the main benefits of owning a home instead of renting.

Basically, when you own a home, you pay taxes for it every year. These taxes are based on the value of your property, including the land and all the buildings on it. A tax assessor will visit you every 5 years to reevaluate the value of your property.

After you've paid these yearly taxes, you'll actually be able to get some of your money back by "deducting" the cost of eligible items you paid for during that year. I'll go into more detail below about what these deductible items actually are.


What is the current Property Tax Deduction limit?

If you're like me, at this point you're probably thinking, "Oh yeah! Property Tax Deductions are awesome - bring on the savings baby!" But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

While we're lucky the ability to deduct taxes even exists in the first place (more on this shortly), like all good things they come with a limit. As of 2018, you can only deduct up to $10k from the combined property, state/local, and sales taxes that you paid during that year.

I say that we should feel lucky for this because there's an ever-growing discussion going on currently about getting rid of Property Tax Deduction. The main reasons people in favor of eliminating it give is that the deductions discriminate against renters, and also encourage people to take on more debt. To be honest, I'm not versed enough in this area to judge those arguments fairly.


How do you calculate for your Property Tax Deduction?

As mentioned above, the Property Tax is calculated by using the value of your property. Under the umbrella of "property", they'll include the value of your land and all the buildings you own on it.

Then every 5 years a tax assessor will come to your home and reevaluate your property. I'll go into further detail on this below, but personal property is not just limited to land and your main home.

It can also include things such as your vacation home, vehicles, and boats. The value of all these items will be added up to come up with your final property tax calculation.



How does Property Tax Deduction work for a Rental property?

Unfortunately, as the actual person renting a property, you won't be eligible for Property Tax Deductions. If you're a landlord though, it's a whole different story.

You'll be able to get deductions every year you pay for expenses including advertising, cleaning & maintenance, commissions to rental agents, homeowner association fees, utilities, travel expenses, and repairs.

So, you can see that landlords actually receive the biggest benefits from Property Tax Deductions of anyone. Having said that, they also have to deal with depreciation.

That's' the decrease in value that happens to your property over time because of the wear and tear that comes from tenants. But what if you only rent the property out some of the time & the rest of the time is for your personal use?

Well, if you only rent it out for 14 days or less, you won't have to pay any taxes on the rental income. This doesn't necessarily mean that you don't get any tax exemptions overall, just that you won't have the plethora of deductible items available to true landlords.


Can you pay Property Taxes for multiple years at once?

We've already talked about how you can only claim deductions on taxes you've already paid. But, what if you could pay more taxes in advance in order to claim more deductions this year?

Well, put simply - you can! As long as you have already received your official bill for next year, you can go ahead and pay it. A common reason people do this is that they're preparing for their income going down the next year, often due to retirement.

People also do it if it looks like tax laws are going to change for the worst in the following year. Just keep in mind that you'll want to make sure you're actually eligible for the deduction before you pay in advance.

Another way to get bigger deductions is by checking all your yearly registration paperwork for your vehicles for the term "property tax". If you see it, the registration fee is likely deductible.

Also, if you bought a house during that year, check your closing paperwork to see how much you paid for property taxes. This adds to your deductible amount.


What are some tax deductible items that people might not know about?

We've touched on many of these things already, but I was surprised to find how many things you can actually deduct from your property taxes. Landlords have the real advantage here since they can claim deductions for advertising, cleaning & maintenance, commissions to rental agents, homeowner association fees, utilities, travel expenses, and repairs.

But even standard property owners can claim things like land, vehicles, boats, and vacation homes. Some items that aren't deductible include assessments for the building of new streets, sidewalks, and rain gutters around your home; services like water and trash; homeowners association assessments; and taxes paid on rented or commercial property.

If you happened to buy or sell a house this year, you'll only pay taxes (and therefore be able to claim deductions) for the amount of time you owned the home. So, if you sold your house in July, you'd only pay taxes on the house up until that month.


I’ve tried my best to explain everything I know about Real Estate Tax Deduction here for you, but I’m still learning. Fortunately, I know some really great realtors who are experts in this kind of thing.

They’re always happy to answer my questions about real estate in great detail, and I know they’d be thrilled to answer any lingering questions you may have as well, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them here!

Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 23, 2019

How To Rent A House For A Weekend

Every couple of months, I like to shake things up by taking a little weekend trip somewhere within a day's driving distance (last time was to Pigeon Forge, TN). Of course, that means I have to find somewhere to stay while I’m there.

In the past, that’s meant booking a hotel for two nights. But for my next trip, since I’ll be going with a few friends, I decided to go all out and rent a house.

That got me thinking - do I even know how to rent a house for a weekend?

So I did some research, and in a nutshell, here’s what I found:

  • Decide if you want to use a local realty company or a general rental website.
  • Check out the location to make sure it's safe and offers plenty of things to do.
  • Read reviews of the property.
  • See what appliances, towels, and sheets the renter provides, so you know what to bring.

But there's a lot more to learn, so let's dig into the details below.


What is a Vacation/Short-Term Rental?

Renting a house for a weekend puts it firmly in the category of a "Short-Term" Rental. Alternate names I found for this category were Vacation, Transient, and Resort Dwelling Rental. So what constitutes a short term stay?

Based on my research, it looks like the consensus is that any rental period of less than 31 consecutive days would qualify as short term. There's also something called the 14 Day Rule, which says that the property owners cannot file for rental property tax reductions if they spend 14 or more "personal" days there.

In that case, it would qualify as a personal residence. Because of the rise in popularity of Airbnb and similar sites, vacation rentals are popping up all across the US. This is different than in the past when this type of offering was centered more around vacation towns and big cities.

When it comes to the specific type of lodging you can expect with this kind of rental, there are three main offerings. The first, Entire Home, is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll be renting the full house, and shouldn’t expect the owner to be living there at the time. The next option is called the Accessory Dwelling.

In this case, you’ll be renting a guest house, apartment, garage, or separate cottage. It's possible that the owner will be living in the main house during your stay. The last option is the one Airbnb has made its fortune on - the Single Room.

As you probably expect, this is a situation where you’re renting one room of a home, again with the possibility of the owner residing there during your stay.

Who are the top Vacation/Short-Term Rental players?

As of 2017, there were 125 short term rental websites operating in the US alone. Needless to say, it wouldn’t help you for me to list them all here. So I’ll just talk about the biggest players in the game, and what makes each of them unique.

First is the site most readers are likely to recognize - Airbnb. Like I mentioned above, they differentiated themselves early on by focusing specifically on single-room rentals. Having said that, you can find just about any type of rental on their platform. Because of how easy it is for a property owner to set up a listing here, it's currently the fastest-growing company in the industry.

Next up is a more traditional, though hugely successful company many will recognize - VRBO. Their focus is more commonly on Entire House rentals, which are listed by the property owners or managers directly.

If you can imagine the review-oriented power of TripAdvisor blended with a vacation rental company, then you’ve successfully imagined my final pick - FlipKey. In fact, the company is actually owned by TripAdvisor and it's those user reviews that set it apart.

Like its parent company, renters are allowed to submit their own pictures with their reviews, which can be supremely helpful for potential renters trying to decide between options.

What're the advantages of renting a house from a local realty company?

Having now described all the "big boys" in the rental industry, there's one very important option for renting a house short term that we haven't mentioned - going local.

I'll admit I'm a bit biased, but after looking into it I truly believe renting from a local realty company is the best choice you can make when it's an available option. Hear me out and I hope to make it clear why. First and foremost, the locals know how to treat you right.

Sure, you might get lucky to find a property owner on one of the bigger sites who's willing to go out of his way to make sure you're highly satisfied. But most local realty companies will pair you up with a realtor when you rent from them.

In other words, you're in the hands of an expert, rather than those of an amateur. This means that you’re not just renting the house, you’re also renting the years of experience this person has had living and working in that specific location.

Think about it, who could possibly know more about what a particular city offers vacationers than a seasoned realtor? That’s why I’ll be booking all my weekend rentals with local realty companies in the future.


What should you check for before renting the house for the weekend?

I can't imagine a worse scenario when renting a house for the weekend than getting there and finding that it's a disaster zone. So, I dug around and found some great things for you to check for before you make the decision to book a specific rental.

First, as they say, location is everything. In this case, that refers to two separate concerns - safety and things to do. You'll want to check out the area your rental is located in and make sure that it's not notorious for crimes.

You should also check to make sure there are things to do in the area, though I'm sure that'd be your reason for going in the first place. If the location checks out, you'll then want to check for reviews of the rental house.

It's not necessarily a bad sign if the place has no reviews since it could be a new listing. But you definitely want to look out for bad reviews, especially if there are multiple pointing out similar issues.

The next thing to check is whether or not the place pet-friendly. This is for two reasons. The first is of course so you know whether you can bring your pet if you were planning on doing so.

The second reason is that if you're someone who's allergic to animals, you may not want to stay in a pet-friendly rental. The last thing to check for, which I hadn't thought much about until looking into it, is what you'll need to bring from home.

By this I mean, what appliances does the rental not have that you may need during your stay? Also, will you need to bring towels or sheets for the bed? The person you're renting from should be able to answer all these questions for you.

How do you list your own house for rent this weekend?

Now that we're both a lot clearer on how to rent a house for a weekend, I've been wondering what I would do if the situation was reversed. What do I need to do in order to list my own house for short term rental?

Well, it turns out that it's a lot easier than I had expected. In fact, there's not much for me to really explain to you, because it's such a simple process. All you have to do is decide which site you want to list your property on, contact one of their realtors, and they'll guide you through what looks to be a pretty easy setup.

Again, I'll recommend going with a local realty company here. That's for the reasons listed above, plus the very important fact that a local company will be able to market your listing in their area unlike a country-wide player would.

What do you need to do to prepare your house for the renters?

But once you've gone through the paperwork to get your rental up and running, how can you make sure you're giving your guests all they need? Well, the first step is to put yourself in their shoes.

If you haven't already, go back and read the section of this article telling potential renters what to check for before renting. Then make sure your house is meeting, if not exceeding, all those checkpoints.

Next, be sure to clean up the house extremely well, along with fixing anything that's broken. You want to go above and beyond in preparing your house because that's the way you'll get positive reviews.

When you've got the reviews, the house practically rents itself. If this is something you're going to do long term, you'll also want to consider using a property management company.

That's because they'll do nearly all the work for you - including the cleaning between renters!


I’ve done my best to teach you what I’ve learned so far about renting a house for a weekend here, but I’m still learning. Thankfully, I’m close with a few great realtors that I trust.

They’re always happy to answer my questions in great detail, and I know they’d feel the same about helping you out. So, if you still have any lingering questions, or you’re interested in renting a house this weekend, reach out to them here!

Posted in Vacation Rentals
Dec. 11, 2018

What To Do On Christmas Day At Home

I’m sitting here with a huge smile on my face, as I just sent out the very last of this years’ Christmas cards...finally. But now that the cards are out and I’ve done all my shopping, I still have one more thing to worry about - what to do on Christmas Day at home?

I’m inviting the whole family over to my house for the first time in my adult life, so I did some research to make sure I get everything perfect. Here are the main points I’ll cover in this post:

  • Traditional Christmas Day Activities & Games
  • Out-Of-The-Box Activities & Games
  • Activities & Games specifically for kids, teens, adults, and the whole family.

Okay, so I know you’re excited to get down to business, so let’s dive in!



What are some Traditional Christmas Day Activities & Games?


When it comes to the holidays, I’ve always been more of a traditionalist. Of course, it’s always fun to color outside the lines. But there’s nothing better in my opinion than the nostalgia that floods me every Christmas when I’m with my family and we’re doing all the same activities we’ve done since before I was born.

The following list includes all the things my family and I do every year, along with other traditional activities & games I found around the web that sounded really fun.


1 - Traditional fun for Young Kids and The Whole Family.


Sing along with “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”. As a complete introvert, I’ve always had a strong love/hate relationship with this game. If you’ve never played, all you do is sing through the verses of the song, and have a different member of the family sing each day’s gift.

There are sure to be a ton of laughs with this one when Grandpa forgets his line, or Uncle Bill sings hilariously off key.

Decorate gingerbread houses. Even as an adult, this is one of my favorite Christmas activities. I think it’s because I’ve always had an artistic personality, and I love how each house comes out truly unique, based on its maker.

Not to mention, the houses are a blast to destroy and eat after Christmas.

Make a garland out of popcorn. Here’s a fun one to do with the kids, especially if you have any leftover popcorn from any of your Christmas parties. It’s really easy too, just take a thread and use a dull crochet needle (or even a toothpick) to thread it through the popcorn.

Then you and the kids can snack on the garland for the next couple of days.

Paint Christmas ornaments. Here’s another fun one for the creative types out there. You can get as intricate as you want here, but some ideas for things to paint to get you started would be things like snowflakes, Santa, elves, reindeer, presents, and Christmas trees.

You can also just fill clear ornaments with snow-like glitter if you don’t want to deal with the paint.


2 - Traditional fun for Teens and Adults.


Watch a classic Christmas movie. This is definitely one of my favorite ways to get fully into the holiday spirit on Christmas morning. Every family will have their own go-to movies, but some that I’ve grown up on include:

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Christmas Story, The Year Without A Santa Claus, Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer, and Miracle On 34th Street.

Exchange cookies. Everyone wins with this activity. Just have everyone bake their favorite cookies and place them in a non-see-through container. Then you can use tape to assign a number to each container and let people draw numbers out of a Santa hat to get their cookies.

Of course, most people will be willing to share anyway, so you really can’t lose.

Play trivia. I play trivia down at a local restaurant every Wednesday, so this is right down my alley. This one can be completely free too since you can look up the Christmas related trivia questions online & then just print them out.

I found some good questions for you here.

Play Christmas bingo. Like the last activity, this one is nearly free, since you can print out all the materials online. It’s just like normal bingo, except you’ll get a Christmas related clue instead of someone calling out a number.

If you have a square on your board that matches the clue, you can cross it out, and the rest is just like normal bingo. I found some resources for you here.


What about some Out-Of-The-Box Activities & Games for Christmas Day?


Now that you’ve seen a bunch of options for the more traditional activities and games you and your family can play this Christmas, it’s time to check out some unique ideas that I found.

Some of these look really fun, and I’m definitely testing them out with my family this year.


1 - Out-Of-The-Box fun for Young Kids and The Whole Family.


Hunt for Candy Canes. If your kids love hunting for Easter Eggs, they’re going to love hunting for Candy Canes just as much. It’s a simple idea, but I’m extremely surprised to say I’ve never heard of it before.

Needless to say, we’re going hunting this Christmas!

Play Reindeer Toss. This one looks really fun if you’ve ever enjoyed ring toss type games. Just take a cardboard box, flip it over bottom-side up, stick two antler-like sticks into the top of the box, then form rings out of pipe cleaners and see who can get the most of them around the “antlers”.

You can also draw a face on the box so it looks more like a reindeer.

Play "What's In The Stocking". This is like the Christmas version of a game I used to play as a kid on Halloween, where we’d put weird-feeling items like peeled grapes into a box and have people reach in and guess what they were touching.

This time you’ll put the items into a stocking, and you’ll confuse them by using things shaped like common Christmas items. For instance, use an onion to make them think of an ornament, or a carrot to make them think of a candy cane.


2 - Out-Of-The-Box fun for Teens and Up.


Do a Dirty Santa (White Elephant) gift exchange. This modern-day Christmas tradition is a favorite for many - myself included. Everyone participating will bring a gift (usually below 20$), which will then be numbered and placed into a pile.

Then people will take turns drawing numbers from a hat and opening the corresponding gift. When you draw, unless you’re the very first person, you get a choice of opening the corresponding gift OR stealing a gift from someone that has already been opened (without getting to open the gift with the same number you drew).

Usually, the same gift can only be stolen up to two times.

Play "Name That Christmas Song". Being a lifelong musician, this is one I’m definitely checking out this year. Someone will act as the DJ and will play short (5 second) clips from classic Christmas songs.

Then the person who guesses the correct song the quickest wins that round. A good number of songs to use for per game is 20.

Play Christmas Carol Pictionary. If you’ve played Pictionary, this is a cool little Christmas twist. Each person will draw the name of a Christmas song out of a hat, which they’ll keep secret.

Then they’ll do their best to get their partner (2 per team is best) to guess the song title through drawing alone. They have 30 seconds to get the other person to guess, or they don’t get any points for the round.


3 - Out-Of-The-Box fun for Adults.


Scratch off lottery tickets. I know this is weird, but it’s actually a tradition my family and I have been participating in for a couple years now. I mean, who doesn’t like the chance to make some money?

Just buy everyone a lottery ticket as a stocking stuffer, and then you can scratch them off together. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun than it may sound.

Play the "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" Drinking Game. This one might just put you out of commission, and should only be attempted by brave adults 21 and up. The rules are simple - you must take a drink every time you hear something in the movie that rhymes with the word “who”.

Here are some more drinking games related to Christmas movies.

Play "Two Truths And A Lie" Christmas Edition. This doesn’t have to be as scandalous as the typical version, but you can certainly make it that way if you want. For this version, you will tell people 3 gifts that you’ve received in the past.

Of course, only two of these will be true, so one will be false. It will be their job to find the lie.


And that’s all I’ve got for you, friends.


I hope that the wheels in your head are spinning with all these ideas about what to do on Christmas Day at home - I know mine sure are! I was delightfully surprised by how many options there are for Christmas games & activities, many that I’ve never heard of before.

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, and if you’re in the Wilmington, NC area and need somewhere for your out-of-town visitors to stay - I highly recommend the friendly team of agents we have here at Network Realty.

Posted in Local Events