Pandemic got you down? Now is a great time to buy a beach home

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Pandemic got you down? Now is a great time to buy a beach home

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With COVID-19 continuing to affect communities across the nation, many people are spending more time inside their houses than ever before. From remote workplaces, to online schooling, to limited social gatherings, homes have been forced to double as offices, classrooms, movie theaters, restaurants, and everything in between.

For many people, the stir-craziness of being cooped up inside can start to take a toll on mental health and productivity. For those working remotely, what better way to relieve some stress than with a trip to the beach — or maybe even a permanent move?

“You can live wherever you want. You can live where you vacation. This may not be an opportunity that’s available later, and there are houses and properties that are available now they may not be available later, or the prices may go up,” said Kelinda Rike, a real estate professional at Carteret County-based Linda Rike Real Estate. “What you are able to afford now may not be what you can afford later, especially because interest rates are some of the lowest they’ve been in a long time. At this interest rate, if you can afford a $300,000 house then the interest rate increases to four or five percent before you buy, you’ll only be able to afford a $200,000 house.”

Now is a prime time to buy, but no one was sure how the pandemic would affect the housing market, so many potential buyers were hesitant to test the waters. In fact, even the Rikes were surprised to see interest rates as low and the market as hot as it is now. For them, that just means buyers who are able should strike while the iron is hot.

After all, when so many people have to be spending time inside or socially distanced from others, there are few better places to do it than at the beach.

“This county is about 60 miles long, and from one end to the other, you’ve got a big, wide expanse of open space, waters, and beaches. The year-round population is only around 60,000 people, and although it swells up in the summer, you’ll pretty much always be able to find a spot to yourself,” said Linda Rike, owner of Linda Rike Real Estate. “For the people that can work from home, many of them came here right away and haven’t left. We’ve seen a lot of people coming down to their vacation houses and fixing them up or finally taking the plunge and making their dream come true of being able to live at the beach.

“What we’ve been trying to tell people is you don’t have to wait for retirement age, especially if you’re working remotely — you can live on the beach now.”

While the Rikes have seen an uptick in real estate interest, there are still plenty of options that hit the market every day, whether it’s fixer-uppers in the low 200 thousand range or sprawling sea-side estates worth well-over 2 million.

Inventory may still be diverse, but homes are being bought up more quickly than usual — which means interested buyers have to be prepared to make an offer.

“Sometimes in the past, you could have said, ‘Oh, well, this house has been on the market for 90 days. We can just sleep on it, right?'” said Linda. “No, no, that’s not true today. If you see a new listing pop up, you make an offer right away. I like to say: if you sleep on it, you might not be sleeping in it.”

Since many buyers are cautious about exposing themselves to potential risks during showings, the Rike team has taken precautions to ensure their staff and clients are always practicing social distancing and proper safety measures. The team wears masks to showings and meetings and also has a few on hand for anyone who might need one, and they make sure to always travel with hand sanitizer.

For those who want to see the home alone, an agent can come and open the door and wait outside. If buyers want to avoid leaving their homes, Kelinda and Linda have also been offering guided virtual tours on their phones, leading buyers through the home on a video call to help them get an up-close view without even leaving the couch.

Even if buyers are understandably hesitant, if their finances are in order, they’ve been pre-approved, and they’ve consulted with real estate professionals like the Rike team, there are few better times than now to take the plunge into beach-front living.

“One of my favorite things about helping people buy a home here is the fact that when they finally do get here, they realize that this was home all along and they’re so happy to be here,” said Linda. “It’s unlike any lifestyle anywhere else, and if you’re able to work wherever, why not work where you can live the dream?”

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