Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How do we value a home?

I took this picture on a March 2007 weekend near "The Point" on Emerald Isle, NC. It has to be one of my favorite spots . The mix of sand, waves, and wind makes this a special spot. Still in the grand scale of things, the housing the area if not this particular spot is pretty affordable for many people today.

It was fun snapping this photo from the widow's walk of a really nice home just across the street from the water. It's listed for $1,099,000. There are lots of homes in the area for list, but this is definitely a special one partially due to the location.

The whole area is spectacular with great views of the sun setting over the sound and the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. If you walk down the street by a few houses, you come to the access to "The Point."

There you will see a wide strand of sand and one of the most spectacular vistas on the coast. It is a great place to gather at sunset. You do not have to preview many homes along the coast to learn that the proximity to water has a lot to do with the price. This really nice beach cottage lists for $549,000. It is a great location, but perhaps with not as spectacular views as the other spot. It's also a smaller place.

Still on the beach much of your money goes for location and not house. Over on the mainland just a few miles from the beach you can find a place like this one for $339,900. On the mainland while still near the water you can end up with a lot of house just a few miles from the beach. This listing of ours at 126 White Heron Lane is a good example.

Of course if you want it all there are places that meet that criteria also. Bahama Breeze which is right on the beach with fantastic view, beach access, and its own home theater is a great example.

All of this proves that when buying houses, the equation to happiness and finding a place that meets your specific needs can be a little complicated. It pays to take the time to have someone helping you find that spot of personal paradise.

Of course if you never try to find that perfect place, you never will. There are lots of homes on the market right now. If you want a great choice, now is the time to start looking.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Emerald Isle, NC Saint Patrick's Day Festival

The Emerald Isle Saint Patrick's Day Festival promised to be my first taste of a local festival. With the water warming, temperatures showing some promise and even some Bradford Pears starting to bloom, I was a little worried when the Saturday of the event turned out to coincide with the arrival of yet another taste of cooler Canadian air. Fortunately the cooler temperatures did little to cool the enthusiasm of the crowds. As I swung onto Emerald Drive from the bridge, it was not long before I saw cars parked everywhere along Emerald Isle's main drag.

The main event was hosted in the parking lot of Emerald Plantation Shopping Center by Food Lion. I was impressed by how many vendors could be placed in and around the shopping center. There were a number of craft booths, displaying several types of artwork including herons, fish, both painted wooden. Then there were booths with handicrafts such as hand bags, book marks, candles and clothing. There was even a table of homemade preserves. The Emerald Isle Fire and EMS Departments were there along with groups as varied as Angels for Animals and the Emerald Isle Parrot Head Club.

The kids had plenty there to entertain them, including rides and face painting. I saw a few folks with green hair and even one person who appeared to have painted all his exposed skin green. I did not see any blue skin from the somewhat chilly temperatures or people on the climbing wall. I did see a few folks warming their hands around some portable outdoor heaters, but most people seemed to ignore the weather and were having a great time.

The Budwiser Beer Tent appeared to be packed. There was live music and music from one of the radio stations. The music certainly added a festive air to the event.

Then there were the food tents and carts which had offerings ranging from Collard Sandwiches to almost every type of festival food that there is, including ribbon fries and funnel cakes. I was trying to stay away from the food so I could be prepared for the later in the day Oyster Roast in Swansboro so I ended up just taking home a pound of barbecue. It turned out to particularly delicious barbecue which I had watched them hand chop and season at the booth. Unfortunately the wind was blowing when I snapped a picture of the booth. It folded the sign so I will have to go another year guessing who made the barbecue which turned out to some of the best that I have had since my youth.

It brought back memories of containers of barbecue that a friend, who was farmer in Kernersville, NC, used to bring us as samples from their yearly cook off during their spring horse show. The Emerald Isle Festival barbecue was nearly perfect with just the right mixture of crispy outer crust and lean meat mixed with a spicy vinegar based sauce. My congratulations to the anonymous King of the Barbecue.

My only regret is that I missed the Port City Pipes & Drums. I assume they must have played earlier and left or perhaps were taking a well deserved break in the beer tent when I visited.

I have posted pictures at

I know one thing, I have to find the maker of that barbecue before next year.

Friday, March 09, 2007

What is a view worth?

The simple answer is that it depends. This picture was taken from in front of an Oasis beach condo/town home in Atlantic Beach, NC. If you want to walk out the door of your own home and see this particular view, then it will cost around $750K to make ones of these homes yours.

Actually when it comes to being on the beach these days, that price is a bargain. Get in touch with me if you want to explore that thought a little more. Still if you just want to visit and rent a piece of paradise, the prices are much lower. Of course none of us really own a view.

A view is more than just the land. It is the light, the sky, the water, and the interaction between all of the elements. There's actually a public access parking area just behind the spot where I took this picture so timing is also important. You likely wouldn't find this same view during the fourth of July week. This picture was taken on a cool March 8, 2007. Actually it might be a long time before you could get this exact view again.

Still this was a particularly nice view with a 4WD truck headed down a mostly deserted beach with very nice light. I especially like the softness of the sand, shadows, sky, and water. It makes for a calming view or actually a very inexpensive digital image that I can enjoy for a long time.

I took the picture with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 camera. It does a really nice job taking pictures with a true 16:9 aspect ratio. A good example is this sunrise over the White Oak River.

Getting that view required rolling out of bed very early and standing, almost shivering, in the early morning air at the Centennial Park in Swansboro, NC. In my old neighborhood in Roanoke, Virginia, most of my neighbors know that they might catch me out on the deck early in the morning snapping pictures of the sun rising over the Blue Ridge Mountains. I have taken thousands of pictures of the sun bathing downtown Roanoke in early morning light.

It takes some dedication to take pictures of sunrises. Anyone can take pictures of sunsets.

Of course anyone who gets up early and has a digital camera can take pictures of sunrises. They might not have as a good a location as we do in Roanoke, VA, but in theory they could find a spot. Still snapping pictures with a digital camera is not like the work of an artist who might paint something that they see only in their mind's eye.

I recently got the chance to meet Mary Warshaw, an artist living in Beaufort, NC. Mary also does a blog on Beaufort. As an artist she can do much more to create an image than I can even with all the tools in a fancy digital camera.

Having taken several rides on the Mystery tour boat which cruises Beaufort inlet and Taylor's Creek, I can almost imagine Mary's beautiful print, "I’m Home—Beaufort Waterfront and the Meka II."

The Beaufort waterfront, fortunately for those of us who missed the days of sailing ships hasn't really changed a lot. Through Mary's imagination and skill, we can see what Beaufort looked like long ago as the ships came home from the sea.

While the home with the view of the beach goes for only $750K and is a deal when compared to other homes with a similar beach view, Mary's prints are even more reasonable with prices as low as $45.

You can even enjoy them far away from the coast. I have one being framed now to hang on the wall in our mountain home in Roanoke.