Oceanfront Land Disappearing - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Oceanfront Land Disappearing

It's a dream many who move here share. Building a house overlooking the ocean. Better hurry. Oceanfront land is disappearing fast, and skyrocketing in price.

Workers are busy finishing a two million dollar home--one of the last new houses on undeveloped ocean-front land that will ever be built at Wrightsville Beach.

Builder Jim Busby says that's because available ocean-front property from South Carolina to Camp LeJeune is dwindling and demand is growing.

"Over the past 18 months, it's bordering on being a land-rush," Busby said. "People really seem to be coming down here obsessed with the idea of buying property at the beach."

"I have a waiting list of buyers who want property down here, and I can't find it anywhere," said Sarah Burris, a real estate agent with Bryant Realty.

Some environmentalists say it's natural that people want to live close to the beach. But, they say it's unfortunate so many want to build right at the ocean's edge, leaving little natural uninhabited land.

"There's limited capacity that can hold people here at the seashore," said Michael Pope, a member of the Cape Fear Chapter of the Sierra Club."It's not really a natural human environment."

The disappearing open coastline impacts not only the environment and potential homebuyers, but the towns as well.

"We're more focused on redevelopment because we know people are coming in and buying older cottages and homes and tearing them down," said Tracie Davis, Wrightsville Beach's director of Planning and Parks.

Not only is Wrightsville Beach almost completely built up; land in Pender and Brunswick counties is going fast.

"Same thing is happening down there," Burris said. "There's a bidding war going on. Property comes on the market and it's immediately under contract."

Environmentalist Pope cautions -- houses that do go up may eventually go away, swept out to sea.

"I think there is a false sense of security when people buy property right on top of the ocean," Pope said. "It's to the advantage of the real estate people to tell them the land is going to be safe when sometimes it's actually not safe."

But there is no sign demand for this land will ease any time soon. And builder Jim Busby predicts the lack of land won't turn people away.

We'll just see more recycling; tearing down the old and building anew, only bigger.

Reported by Sara Straeten sstraeten@yahoo.com

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