Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Trend shows growth of high-end home market in Pender County’s coastal corridor

Homes on the north-end of Surf City, where 27 percent of the county's homes valued above $500,000 have sold. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Homes on the north end of Surf City, a town where 34 percent of the county’s homes valued above $500,000 have sold since June 2009, according to data from the North Carolina Regional MLS. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

PENDER COUNTY — Over the past decade, Pender County has seen a steady rise in the annual number of homes sold above $500,000. 

All but six were located along the county’s fast-growing coastal corridor, according to listing data compiled by North Carolina Regional MLS. More than 95 percent of those homes were found in Hampstead, Surf City, and Topsail Beach.

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The data also shows a jump in $750,000-plus homes sold over the past four years — 72 since June 2015, compared to 35 in the 6 years prior.

Increasing demand

Mike Pollak, one of the developers looking to expand Hampstead’s Pecan Grove and Wyndwater developments, said both projects will look to target high-end homebuyers in an undersupplied market.

“For us to have the opportunity to develop these additional lots in Pecan Grove, we think the market for an upper-end home in Hampstead is very good,” Pollak said. “There are a number of realtors in the marketplace, some who have been selling homes in Pecan Grove for years, telling us there is a tremendous demand for this product.” 

He estimated home values in the future Pecan Grove development to sell within the range of $500,000 to $1 million.

“The market will determine what somebody will build,” Pollak said.

Chart A. The number of homes valued above $500,000 that have sold in Pender County since June 2009. (Chart compiled by Port City Daily using data from North Carolina Regional Multiple Listing Services).

Local realtor Kathleen Baylies agreed that demand for higher-value homes was increasing in Pender County. She said in May alone, eight new homes listed over $1 million — a surprise in a market where she typically sees zero to two homes in that price range per month.

“For us to have a month where eight new ones came on the market, and then to have three closings, it really caught our attention,” Baylies said. “I think we’re going to see more of this — more homes in the higher price ranges being built in Pender, and that’s going to be driven by demand.”

The data also shows a steep rise in the number of recently built high-end homes selling on the market since the 2014-2015 year. In the five years beginning June 2009, the number of $500,000-plus homes built since 2010 averaged at 2.6 homes sold per year. Since 2014-2015, that average has gone up to 18.8.

Growth stemming outward from New Hanover County

Baylies said demand is being driven by the availability of land compared to New Hanover County — where buildable land is becoming increasingly scarce, driving up home prices — and increasing amenities like offices, restaurants, and grocery stores along the coast. This is particularly evident in Hampstead, she said.

“The things that would make it less inconvenient to live there five or ten years ago is transforming and creating those neighborhoods,” Baylies said. “It used to be that the large part of people there were commuting to get somewhere else. And now there’s a growing number of people who work and live there.”

Because of this, she believes Hampstead is shifting from its identity as a bedroom community for nearby Wilmington and Jacksonville to a true lifestyle community — one that is more enticing to luxury homebuyers.

Chart B. Towns and areas of Pender County where homes valued over $500,000 have sold since June 2009. All but six are located on the county's fast growing coastal corridor. (Port City Daily photo/Chart created using data from North Carolina Regional MLS)
Chart B. Towns and areas of Pender County where homes valued over $500,000 have sold since June 2009. (Chart compiled by Port City Daily using data from North Carolina Regional Multiple Listing Services).

Pender County Tax Assessor Justian Pound refrained from any market speculation, citing his office’s role in valuing the county’s properties, but he pointed to development growth patterns in New Hanover County.

“If you think about it in on a super-macro level, New Hanover is limited in space,” Pound said. “The money for development in New Hanover is producing more homes on a smaller square foot.”

He said New Hanover’s scarcity of buildable land has caused developers to opt for more profitable multi-family units — more townhomes than subdivisions. This reflects typical growth of major American cities, he said, where downtown condominiums and high-rises give way to bigger houses in the suburbs.

“And that trends out as the city grows out,” Pound said.

Baylies also believes there is a psychological aspect that helps drive the growing trend toward larger, higher-value homes.

I think there are a certain number of buyers, particularly in the high-end market, who really aren’t looking to be a part of the scene, so to speak,” Baylies said. “They want a place where it really is a slower pace, a bit more laid back. And Pender still offers that, which is a lot harder to find now in New Hanover or even in a lot of parts of Brunswick County.”

Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com

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