Ocean Front Wash-Ins

What you are about to read only applies to certain areas. Most of the ocean front property along the Outer Banks is fairly stable. But, not all ocean front properties are equal. Some ocean front properties are sitting in areas where the erosion rate is extremely high, i.e., the erosion rates for some of these areas is 14 feet per year. The predominate areas with a high rate of erosion are primarily kitty Hawk, South Nags Head, and the north end of Rodanthe on Hatteras Island.

A good rule of thumb is when you see low prices you can expect the area to have a high erosion rate. Areas with low erosion rate typically have much higher prices..

Whenever we explain this to a potential buyer they always respond with their ideas of how to fix the erosion problem. So in an effort to make this more understandable for everyone here are our responses;

If the house washes away you will not be able to rebuild. This only applies to the areas listed above where the lot has become too small to hold a house. In most of the areas on the Outer Banks you can rebuild on an oceanfront lot because the lot is big enough. whether the lot is big enough to rebuil can almost always be determined by the price. A high priced ocean front house should have a lot big enough to rebuild on. A cheap ocean front house will not have a lot big enough to rebuild on.

Bulkheads of any kind are illegal, so you can not build a wall in front of the house. Like wise you can not pile rocks, build a jetty or make any kind of hardened structure on the beach in North Carolina.

Sand bags are temporary. If you can get a permit to install them it will only be a temporary permit.

You can extend the pilings so the ocean just washes under the house but then the ocean washes away the septic system.

If the septic tank washes away and there is not enough land left to replace it then the house is condemned. Once the house is condemned it is only a matter of time before the insurance company cancels the insurance policy.

Insurance only pays if the house is washed away. The typical scenario is the first storm washes away the stairs, decks, heat pump and septic system leaving the house condemned. Some houses have been in this condemned sate for years while the owners are still committed to paying the mortgage while they wait for a storm to come and wash the house away. All the while hoping that when the house does wash away their insurance policy is still active.

Below is a copy of the email we send out to anyone who inquires about one of these ocean front wash ins. We have sent out this email to hundreds of people and non of them have ever gone though with the purchase. Most of them write back thanking us for being so honest.

Dear ,

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the reason this house is priced so low is because it is on the verge of falling into the ocean. It might happen next week or it might not happen for another 10 years.

The insurance available will only cover the structure so there is not nearly enough to cover the mortgage.

The lot is too small to be able to build another house on it.

If you decide to purchase this property I will have you sign a document stating that I warned you not to buy it.

Are you still interested?

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