Property Tax Jump Forces Topsail Homeowners to Sell

TOPSAIL BEACH -- Driving into North Topsail Beach, it is hard not to notice "For Sale" signs sprinkled through front yards.

The red hot real estate market in the area had driven up property values in Onslow County dramatically, which drove property taxes up as well.

In the past year, property taxes had increased by 400 percent.

The jump in taxes has made it difficult for longtime residents to afford their homes. Many residents, especially elderly on fixed incomes, are trying to sell their houses.

"It's a big increase and so sudden that they cannoy afford their taxes," said Dutch Bageant of Beach Place Realty," so they decide to sell and it's tough for them."

Even tougher is that the house prices are beginning to fall, as the housing market seems to be cooling off.

Bageant said there are enough houses for sale in the Topsail Beach area to sustain buyers for the next five years. Some realtors said that it was a clear indication that the houses were overpriced.

The Topsail Island Association of Realtors had asked the Onslow County commissioners to reappraise the houses, they they said they were not getting much of a response.

"From what I am being told, it's falling on deaf ears," said Bageant.

The Onslow County Manager said it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to reappraise the houses. However, the county commission is dealing with the issue on a case-by-case basis.

Chris Rackley, head of the Topsail Island Realtors Association said that only twelve houses were sold in North Topsail Beach last month.

For now, realtors say that sellers will have to wait, but they are confident that houses will sell.

Reported by Sarah Warlick