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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Picking Your Spot on the Crystal Coast

Once our beaches have captured your imagination, it is easy let your thoughts jump to a second home on the coast or perhaps retirement. Deciding whether Carteret County is the right spot or not takes a little different perspective than vacationing here. If you are really serious about making our piece of paradise your home or second home, you need to imagine yourself living here. Think about shopping, going to the post office, and visiting the grocery store when it isn't packed with other rental people.

One of the best ways to figure out if you really like our area is to come visit during the off season when the water is too cold to enjoy. When we were looking to move, we did that in March of 2005. We stayed at the Beaufort Inn and enjoyed their fireplace and hospitality, but we also managed to visit the nearly empty beaches.

It turned out that those beaches were fine for walking. Since then we have figured out that you can walk the beaches any month of the year as long as the wind isn't blowing.

Another good way to check out the area is to join us for some of our fall and spring festivals. Usually festivals during that time of the year are filled mostly with residents or people who have been residents.

This year's Swansboro Mullet Festival is October 11 and 12. In the spring we have the Swansboro Oyster Roast and the Emerald Saint Patrick's Day Festival. Beaufort even has a Community Thanksgiving feast scheduled this year on November 23.

Morehead City has the North Carolina Seafood Festival on October 3-5. It is one of the larger festivals that draws a lot of people from out of the area, but it is still a good way to get a feel for the Crystal Coast.

These are great opportunities to meet people and learn about the communities.

There are smaller more intimate events. The Episcopal Churches in Swansboro and Salter Path have lobster festivals in the fall. While they are focused on eating those lobsters, we had fun meeting people at the family style tables at both events. I'll post more information on the lobsters as soon as I track down the dates. They are usually two different Saturdays, one in September and the other in October. The lobsters are driven overnight from Maine.

When we were looking for local information, we often would strike up conversations with the shop keepers. Usually during off season they aren't as busy so they have time to talk. It is a good way to get local information such as which are the favorite dining spots of the locals.

Almost all of our restaurants are locally run. It you show up more than a couple times during a week, someone is likely to ask if you are a local or considering becoming one. Don't be shy, start asking questions. You'll often find the person only moved here a few years ago.

Once you have wandered the streets, found the local services, made sure the beaches are still accessible in off season, and figured out that all the restaurants are still open, what's the next best step?

If you have gotten this far and still like the area, you should approach one of Bluewater's Real Estate offices. While we agents tend to focus more on people who are buying in the short term, many work with clients over several months to find that right spot.

Most agents, myself included, will spend some time trying to understand your needs and answering your questions even if you aren't planning to buy in the next year or two. There are times when it makes sense to drive you around and show you some of our neighborhoods even if you aren't in the buying mode.

Those purely informational trips can really make a difference in how you understand the area. It is often very hard to find the desirable neighborhoods since the area's main roads usually have little to do with how to get there.

Recently I took a couple for a trip around the Cape Carteret-Swansboro area. I knew they were not going to buy for over a year, but I felt like they were serious about moving to our area. They were so pleased with the information that they got and the time my trip saved them that they bought me lunch. Of course they used lunch to get more information out of me, and I took them to one of the spots that is a favorite with locals. They even got introduced to the owner. It ended up being a fair trade.

Just be upfront with the real estate agent on your buying intentions, and you should have no problem finding someone to answer your questions. After all real estate agents are the experts on their areas. If you need a little guidance as to who might best be able to help, don't hesitate to ask for the Broker in Charge at the office. They can steer you in the right direction.

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