Market Report - New Bern and the Pamlico Sound
Named a ‘national model for Main Street revitalization’, New Bern has proven a 300 year old city can transform itself into a cultural mecca and a place where people want to spend time. It’s a quaint waterfront city on the Trent River and Neuse River about an hour inland from the Outer Banks. It’s a walking city with art museums, historical sites, old fashioned five and dime stores and delicious restaurants.
Since 1981, the city has created 500+ jobs, attracted 138 new businesses and obtained $97 million in private investments. It’s Swiss Bear art initiative (50 life size painted bears) has contributed $204 million in investments. That’s $320 million in total in the city, the most of any Main Street City in America. New Bern is one of nine cities across the country who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money from the HUD Choice Neighborhoods Grants Program.
As Baby Boomers continue to trek south in search of a warmer climate and lower cost of living, worn and torn cities would be wise to notice how important a downtown is to the city’s long term success. We see New Bern as a trend setter. There are dozens of small intimate neighborhoods and larger master-planned communities in the area.
If you’re considering relocating to the coast of North Carolina, be sure to ask us for free New Bern relocation information.
We visited New Bern during the 2014 Spring Parade of Homes hosted by the local homebuilders association. There were 22 homes on the Parade representing 12 area builders in 18 different sub-divisions and areas. Jason Arthur Construction took home Best in Show and one of the First Place awards for new home construction. New Bern’s Parade featured 4 remodel projects. Coastal Craftsman LLC won 4 of the 8 First Place awards for remodeling. Here’s the communities we visited in the area during our research trip:
RIVER DUNES - 2014 Bliss Award™ Winner for Best Boating Community of the Year
Located in the ‘Sailing Capital of North America’, River Dunes is 1,345 acre master-planned community centered around boating. The community’s private Grace Harbor Marina has 124 deepwater boat slips with another 276 planned. Amenities around the marina include a stunning 11,500 square foot clubhouse, resort-style swimming pool with hot tubs, cabanas and fireplace, a fitness center and two new tennis courts.
We joke with the staff at River Dunes about the fact that we haven't found a better boating community in North Carolina but it’s true! The more we visit the neighborhood, the more we appreciate how special this boating community is. Initially, we thought folks might feel it’s off the beaten path during their first visit. After a few drives through the pastoral country side, we find we look forward to the relaxing drive and know River Dunes property owners feel the same way. Situated just five miles from downtown, Oriental is a sweet fishing village with waterfront restaurants and shrimp boats lining the harbor. Buyers considering the area will thoroughly enjoy the experience of staying at River Dunes in their guest cottages overlooking the Grace Harbor Marina.
Check on availability by calling River Dunes directly at 800.975.9565 or email.
During our drive to River Dunes, we noticed new billboards lining the road for Dawson Creek. The gated community is located on the north side of Oriental. Amenities are minimal. We observed the community’s clubhouse and swimming pool under construction near the waterfront and construction storage facility.
We counted six homes completed and two homes under construction of the 300 planned. Lots are advertised from $10,500 to $87,000 for large interior and waterfront lots. What’s interesting to us is how the newspaper ad on May 1-7, 2014 showed how much the lot prices have tanked since 2008. For example, lot #228 sold in January 2008 for $133,000 and is now $34,000. Is now the time to buy or is there no interest?
We’ve had our eye on Arlington Place for a couple years now. Planned as a boating community in North Carolina, the Arapahoe neighborhood spreads across 928 acres. The Castaway Cottage was featured in the Parade of Homes. Built by Shearwater Development Group, the 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 1,757 square foot cottage is under construction and is priced at $299k. We found the small footprint Outfitters Cottages interesting. Built by Coastal Heritage Construction, the 2 bedrooms, 1 bath cottages are built as ‘full scale retreats with a small scale price’. The cottages are furnished and priced from $133k and are located across the street from the Outfitters Canoe & Kayak Center. A smart idea providing accommodations to prospective buyers and new property owners in the process of building a home at Arlington Place.
We looked for progress on the community’s proposed marina and saw nothing but signage. It’s hard to argue what a beautiful land parcel Arlington Place is on the Neuse River and the community’s vision. Of the 800 homes planned, we counted 11 homes built to date including the 3 Outfitters Cottages. Amenities in place include a community clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts, children’s playground, canoe and kayak center with fishing pier and community day docks.
Property owner reviews for Fairfield Harbour raised our eye brows. The Board of Directors has a group of unhappy campers in the community weighted down by litigation. After touring Fairfield Harbour again, we saw parts of the community as worn and neglected, especially at the 300 boat slip marina. Fairfield Harbour is a gated golf and boating community in North Carolina built back in the 1970’s. Some of the homes are on deepwater canals. Others are on the golf course. Fairfield Harbour is not one of the shiny and new neighborhoods but its proximity to downtown New Bern is appealing. Amenities include two swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness center, and a golf course. Average home prices in Fairfield Harbour are in the mid $100k’s, of course not on a deepwater canal.
TABERNA COUNTRY CLUB
Taberna Country Club was busy with activity on the day of our visit. The neighborhood had one home on the Parade of Homes tour. Pope Custom Homes took the First Place award for Best Outdoor Living for the remodel at the Taberna home. Property owners at Taberna are not required to join the golf club however the golf club is clearly the centerpiece of the New Bern golf community. The golf course looked fantastic despite the harsh winter.
In our opinion, the castle-style clubhouse needs an exterior paint job and the entrance steps desperately need to be repaired. Amenities include a swimming pool and hot tub (which was not open for the season yet) and four tennis courts. Membership at Taberna Country Club includes reciprocal privileges at 12 local golf clubs. The club is actively seeking long term members under 40 years of age offering reduced monthly fees at half the price of a 40+ year old member. For example, younger members under age 40 pay monthly dues in the $150 range verses over members over age 40 paying $295 a month for full golf privileges. At this time, Taberna Country Club requires no initiation fee or equity deposit. We believe this is a smart move to attract new members to the club. More members could mean less monthly dues for all down the road.
Average homes prices in Taberna are just under $300k. Folks are drawn to Taberna Country Club because of its proximity to downtown New Bern and attractive homes on the golf course. Commenced in 1997, the community is virtually built out.
This was our 6th year visiting Carolina Colours. We were excited to see the signage for the Harris Teeter grocery store ‘coming soon’ at Carolina Colours. We observed 9 homes under construction and approximately 155 homes built of the 750 homes planned. The new swimming pool is now complete and the tennis courts were under construction. The 17,000 square foot golf clubhouse looked great and golfers were busy enjoying the course on a cloudless sunny day. Property owners are not required to join the golf club. Fees run about $140 a month with an $8,000 partially refundable equity deposit. The average selling price in Carolina Colours is in the low $400k’s. The New Bern golf community launched in 2005 and is adjacent to Taberna.
Greenbrier’s slogan is ‘southern living at its finest!’ After reading 27 property owner reviews from the community, we can see folks are happy in the New Bern golf community. We were surprised we didn’t hear the golf clubhouse needs an extreme makeover. It does. It just goes to show you the friendliness of a neighborhood can trump built amenities. We believe people choose Greenbrier because of its close proximity to downtown New Bern. One property owner called the community an ‘enchanted forest’. We can see why because of the mature trees and lush landscaping. Built in the late 1980’s, approximately 600 homes make up the New Bern golf community. Golf club membership is optional. Additional amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, four lighted tennis courts and the golf course. The course looked well maintained. Monthly dues with full privileges are $196 with no initiation fee. The average home price in Greenbrier is in the mid $200k’s.
We’ve come to the conclusion that most of the coastal communities in North Carolina are not gated and the dominate architectural theme is traditional brick. New Bern is no exception other than niche communities like River Dunes.
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