Considering a Vacation Rental in the Outer Banks, NC

10 Replies

I am new to Bigger Pockets and real estate investing.  

Considering a vacation rental purchase in the Outer Banks, NC and have lots of questions.

Any thoughts on the area and if it is worth while to consider it for a vacation rental?  

What are the downsides to the location if any?  Upsides? 

Any recommendations on a good agent to work with in the area that understands the market and specializes in vacation rentals?  

Just trying to figure this all out.  


@Avery Carl   is the cabin queen on the Tennessee side of the mountains I'm sure she can refer you to an agent that can help you out. 

@Chris HartNova As far as your specific questions... you're hoping that someone on here is in your market and doing what you're doing and that is not likely. There are very few of us that frequent this forum and as far as I know none of them are in NC. Even if someone is close by and replies it's not likely that they own and operate a VR. 

I should mention the unspoken disclaimer of this forum which is something like this.... Contact the local government and find out the rules and regulations for short term/ vacation rentals. If they have permits or you can find info about the topic on google news..... beware. Stay away. If there are thousands of houses on the beach on airbnb... You'll be fine. 

After that, your best bet is to study airbnb and vrbo. Find folks that have listings similar to what you're looking to get in to and send them all the same message. 

"Hello! I'm in love with this area and I'm looking to purchase my first property I'm wondering if you could give me some advice as far as what to expect and any suggestions you may have before I get started as I'm a bit scared but eager. Any reply would be much appreciated!"  Your homework for today is to send that message or something similar to 50 hosts.

If you happen to run across a host such as myself, I would reply back instantly with my phone number and have you call me and talk your ear off for 2 hours about exactly how it works and what to do to get started and what towels to buy and how to hire your cleaning crew. Why do I do this? Because I will learn something from you by letting me tell my story.  Unfortunately, the reality is you'll be very lucky if anyone writes you back. But this is the best place to start! It's no different than anything in life. Find people that are doing what you want to do and ask questions. I'm a runner, training for my 21st full marathon. I'm constantly seeking out other runners and running with big groups to learn more and get faster. 

If you want to fly with the eagles don't swim with the ducks!!! 

And as always you're welcome to PM me I'll give you my phone number and teach you everything I know in a one hour conversation. Half of the info will translate the other half will be market specific. I currently own and manage 5 vacation rentals in Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg remotely from Nashville with a day job. Under contract on a 6th. 

Keep us posted! Good luck! 

Hey man. I live in the Outer Banks and own both year round rentals and seasonal rental properties. The numbers are really tough down here as housing prices are so high that buying an investment home that cashflows is not likely to happen with the market as it is currently. In 2012-2015 it was possible; now not so much. However, I know lots of people don't care if they loose money on the property as they plan on moving into the property as a retirement home. That scenario can make sense.  

There are a select number of homes in the 2 million dollar range and up that do produce positive cash flow, but those are newer oceanfront  homes with tons of amenities and upgrades and the maintenance and upkeep is brutal to keep up with the demands of that higher end rental customer. 

I would be very careful with your numbers, shop around the property management, and really know your long term goals for the property. If you have any other questions let me know as I can provide some insight into the market down here. 

@Lucas Carl - Thanks for all the info and details.  Let me give some additional thought to your comments and put a little more of a plan together.  

I really appreciate your offer to spend some time and have a conversation with me.  I will PM you and maybe we can set up a time to talk.

There is a lot of information out there and it is hard to determine what is worthwhile and what you should stay away from.  Especially since I am new to this all.  My goal is to have something purchased in the next 3 - 6 months.

Best - Chris 

@Herman Hall - Thanks for sharing.  The $2m range is a little out of my budget for getting started.  

Trying to put my plan together now and have been looking at properties in the $250 - 500 range.  What areas are the best to consider?  Hatteras, Rodanthe, Waves ,Salvo? 

Can I PM you sometime in the near future?

Best - Chris 

Additionally I'll add as a negative that your flood insurance is going to pretty expensive and there is a good chance a lender will require wind and hail as well. However, there are still plenty of places along the coast to look. Wilmington is always a happening place to be and you have the added benefit of having UNC Wilmington close by so you might even find a college rental if vacation doesn't work out. The North Carolina beaches (such as holden beach) are more family friendly. They aren't as developed either though, so the off seasons are sleepier than somewhere like a Myrtle Beach or a Wilimington.

If the economy goes bad, people will bail from their second homes much sooner than their first.  So, what will happen to your purchase's value when the economy goes south?  There are plenty of places that do cash flow.  However, if you must have a house in the Outer Banks, know it is for reasons other than cash flow.

There are some deals down in Hatteras, Rodanthe, Waves, & Salvo. Just make sure you do your homework on the numbers. Those areas are more prone to flooding and road damage from storms and hurricanes. This can be problematic for the seasonal rental business model. 

PM me whenever. 

I own a vacation rental home in Kitty Hawk, we purpose built it last year, the market here is a different one but the numbers can make sense.

Message me if you have any questions.


@Lucas Carl if he sends that message out to 50 people on VRBO he’ll get more responses since VRBO penalizes you for not responding quickly. I frequently respond to spam with a simple ... to keep my stats up! 💪👍 lol

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