At Home With Topsail-Real Estate Blog

Welcome to our blog, At Home With Topsail! Here we will discuss the history of Topsail Island, the real estate market and area happenings around Topsail Island. Please feel free to comment, we'd love to discuss Topsail with you!

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Feb. 11, 2015

Buying Topsail Island Waterfront Property


Things to Consider When Buying Waterfront Property on Topsail Island, NC


Waterfront property is the most sought after location, location, location of real estate especially in our market here at Topsail Island, NC.


But with any new endeavor there are things to consider and not to surprise you, buying coastal property comes with its own implications and processes to help ensure a wise investment.


  1. Can you build?? You or your agent needs to verify that all setbacks, restrictions and flood zoning will indeed allow you to build the home of your dreams. Much of the regulations in North Carolina come from CAMA, a state agency, that rules on how or what we can build on Topsail. For example, oceanfront property must be built beyond the Cama buffer or 60' from the stable line of vegetation. A surveyor and the Cama officer will be able to help determined if there is enough land beyond the buffer to build.
  2. The Structure Itself? Being in a salt environment and on the coast, homes at Topsail Oceanfront at North Topsail Beach NCIsland are subjected to abnormal conditions. Be sure to inspect the home for all flood requirements, HVAC systems, siding or window issues to name just a few.
  3. Insurance? If the home is located in a flood zone and you are getting a loan you will be required to purchase flood insurance. Rates are dramatically different sometimes from house to house depending on zoning, elevation, house height and construction. Confirm the flood zone, gain an elevation certificate and get quotes from insurance company to help make sure there are no surprises.
  4. Maintenance Costs? The salt air and wind are tough on homes. Have a home inspector or contractor inspect the property for maintenance that may be needed. Also if the home is on a rental program you can request copies of the work orders to get an idea of what has been performed. Typically oceanfront homes require more maintenance than any other on Topsail Island.
  5. What precautions should be taken? Do you have children or pets? If so, you may want to think of a way to make sure they cannot make it to the water unattended. How about the boat house area? Are objects stored high so that if there are flood waters they will not float away?


Waterfront property on Topsail Island is great and sure to be a sound investment with lasting memories if you are prepared and knowledgeable in the purchase process. 

Our agents have sold many waterfront properties and strive to stay on top of all the implications, contact one today if you think local knowledge is beneficial to you!

Jan. 26, 2015

Asking FAA for Drone Exemption for Topsail Island - Lewis Realty Associates, Inc

Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. Files a Petition for Exemption to FAA for Use of "Drone" in Real Estate


Over the past three years, Chris Rackley, President of Lewis Realty Associates, Inc, has been searching for a viable platform for aerial photography that did not involve a traditional aircraft. His hope was to one day use it in the real estate business at Topsail Island, NC. In the beginning, the technology was barely there.  It took several attempts of different UAVs and setups to find a solution that was safe, viable and produced consistent results. Chris stated, "We I begun flying around the island as a hobby I was the only person with this type of aircraft. It as changed dramatically over the last three years or so with several people in the area flying."

"Drones" are the haphazard name the public recognizes for odd looking quadcopters (4 Hexacopter - Topsail Island NCblades), hexacopters (6 blades - see photo of Chris' "drone") and octocopters(8 blades) along with other UAS type machines. The word "drone" creates an image of a menancing missle laden machines set on destruction mode although that really is not the case. "Drones" could be used for search and rescue, real estate marketing, surveying, research, etc. They really are the wave of the future.

The "drone" in the photo is Chris'. It is a custom hexacopter with 6 12" props, gps flight controller (flight is aided by GPS), 3 axis camera gimbal (keeps camera level and allows control of camera from the ground while in flight), video transmitter (so the pilot can see what the drone sees on a screen), retractable landing gear to give the camera a 360 degree view with no obstructions. The hexacopter also has many safety features with a return to home autonomously in the event of low battery or emergency, hover mode (requires no pilot input to hover in place), several LED beacon lights for visibility and even a gps enabled flight restriction (prevents flying too close to an airport).

Chris further added, "I was held back from actually using the technology in our business by a FAA policy that prohibited commercial use of RC aircraft. Although some people were able to fly below the radar of the FAA it just never seemed to be a risk I was interested in taking."

The use of "drones" or UAVs for any commercial use is not permitted by the FAA of the United States since the technology trend has surpassed the current regulations. However, the FAA has begun moving forward with petition's for exemption under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization & Reform Act of 2012. Companies like Amazon, Google and others have already file for exemptions.

Early in January 2015 a Realtor in Arizona, Doug Trudeau, was granted an exemption to fly his small drone to use in promoting the community and real estate listings. This was huge news because he was a small business!

Chris through his company Lewis Realty Associates, Inc began investigating the petition process and what rules he would need to be exempt from. On January 26, 2015, we successfully submitted a petition to the FAA for permission to fly our 3.3 pound hexacopter in connection with the real estate business.

The FAA website advises that it could take up to six months to have a decision. It appears most likely Rackley will have to obtain a pilot's license to meet the regulations if the petition is approved. Meanwhile Rackley can only fly for fun which is not a bad thing at all!

Lewis Realty has always strived to stay on top of technology with internet marketing, advanced office systems and hopefully in a few months will be taking to the air in Topsail Island!!

Posted in Company News
Jan. 19, 2015

Linda Manning Welcomed to Lewis Realty Topsail Team

Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. is pleased to announced that they have added Linda Manning to the sales team serving the Topsail Island area.

Linda brings vast sales and negotiating  experience ranging from representing farmers in the tobacco industry, office equipment sales, real estate land sales and marketing to most recently the former Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. property manager.Linda Manning - Broker with Lewis Realty in Topsail Island NC

Chris Rackley, President of Lewis Realty said, "We recruit Linda originally as the property manager but knew with her vast sales experience that she would fit into our sales team somewhere in the future. I am very excited that she was interested in moving to the real estate sales team for 2015."

Linda has a drive to succeed like no other and makes your goals her goals. A very recent past client of Linda's stated "She wanted everything done to perfection".

Contact Linda if you are looking for someone who listens to understand your goals and then goes to work for you with success in mind as the end result.

Read More About Linda Here.


Posted in Company News
Jan. 15, 2015

Town of Topsail Beach Considers Paid Parking


In a recent Star News Article, I learned that once again the Town of Topsail Beach, NC is considering paid parking to raise revenues.

This was also considered back in 2013 but thankfully did not come to pass.

Don't get me wrong, paid parking is not evil. It is needed in some areas, New York City, LA, and yes probably even Wrightsville Beach, NC among any other area where visitors exceed parking spaces but still continue to come.  But not in Topsail Beach, NC!!

Let's take Wrightsville Beach for example - they have had paid parking for years. Has it been a bad thing? No. Why not? Because Wrightsville Beach is the ONLY choice for beach go'ers in that area of Wilmington, NC.

Topsail Beach is a long ride to the south end of Topsail Island. It is not easily accessible, it Satire of Topsail Beach, NC Considering Paid Parkingis not a "pass through" area. It is a destination that offers the beach and the ocean, same as the two other towns on the island (not to say Topsail Beach does not have a great personality, I love it!). But are "day trippers" or "beach go'ers" going to continue to travel to the south end, passing the beach and free parking in Surf City and North Topsail Beach to go to Topsail Beach and pay to park? No.

The already very low traffic flow will disappear very fast and the local businesses in the town will be affected from the lack of traffic. There goes people's hard work in their businesses and the town's revenue from the local businesses. 

So without becoming an economist, it's easy to theorize that what revenue will be raised from the paid parking will be offset with the revenue lost from local businesses. 

Topsail Beach has done some great things in recent years with a new town marina, parking area at the south tip, beach restoration and expanded water capabilities to just name a few off the top of my head. I understand they must need some additional revenue. There has to be other ways without decreasing the town's one industry . .Tourism.

I will say it again . . .I love Topsail Beach, I really do, but I must disagree with this idea and say emphatically DO NOT DO IT!! 

I encourage everyone to voice your opinion on the matter whether in agreement or disagreement.


Chris Rackley 910.328.5211- Lewis Realty Associates, Inc.- President/Broker in Charge





Jan. 13, 2015

Topsail Island Memes - Topsail Island NC


Just a collection of Topsail Island Memes for nothing more than fun! Please feel free to share with your friends through social media, email or how ever ya like to share!!

Check Back Often, We are adding this all the time!!


Capt. Picard - Topsail Island NC


Most Interesting Man in the World - Topsail Island

Posted in Fun Topsail Stuff
Jan. 12, 2015

Topsail Island Area to Host Fireball Run


Topsail Island has exciting news coming from the Topsail Island Chamber of Commerce! The Topsail Island area will host the "Fireball Run - Space Race" in September 2015. The Fireball run is describe as an action packed trivia based car rally with the teammates as the pawns and America has the game board.

The Fireball Run - Space Race starts in Hartford, CT and ends in the Florida Space Coast Fireball Run Space Race Topsail Island NC(Cape Caniveral/Cocoa Beach). There is no other perfect Fireball Run for Topsail Island since the rocket technology of today owes some credit to Topsail Island and Operation Bumblebee in the 1950s testing rockets on our beaches. Here is a promotional video about the Fireball Run - Space Race.

Contestants and guests of the Fireball Run will include but not be limited to Astronauts from the United States, Brazil and India along with several large corporation owners, politicians and some celebrities.

We are currently awaiting the actual schedule of local events which will include a reception among other things.

Proceeds raised for the non profit event will go to Child Resue Network for missing children.

We will post more information as soon as its available but go ahead and count Topsail Island in for the Space Race!!

Jan. 9, 2015

Vacation Rental Topsail Island Case Study #1

Topsail Island Vacation Rental Property Management Case Study


All of our case studies are from actual homes or properties we have managed to show our track record.




Owners of a tidal creek lot on N. New River Drive in Surf City decided to build a vacation rental property.




  1. The home was located on the waterway side of N. New River Drive. This meant it was less desirable for families since they had to cross the main road and several secondary roads to get to the beach access.

  2. The home was completely unfurnished since it was new construction.

  3. The home had no notoriety in the vacation rental market.

  4. The home must produce income for it’s expenses and turn a profit afterwards.



Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. was contacted by the owners a few weeks before the home’s Certificate of Occupancy was issued to project pricing, offer furnishing recommendations and begin crafting a marketing plan.


Several months later the home was furnished. Lewis Realty Associates, Inc photographer shot the home using exposure fusion techniques, crafted a 360 x 360 degree virtual tour and produced a video of the home complete with aerial videography. Aerial shots showed home in connection with short walk to beach access as well.  Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. then added the property into it’s vacation rental marketing program which included over 16 vacation rental websites at no extra charge to the owners.


Being in the winter time or off season, Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. secured a seasonal tenant that earned extra revenue for the home instead of allowing it to sit empty during the off season.


The seasonal tenant left in the second week of June and the vacation rental bookings began two days after the latter tenant’s departure. The home was continually booked throughout the season back to back, week after week. Much of the fall season the home had tenants as well.


Techniques Used:

  1. Broad Internet Advertising To Reach Potential Tenants.

  2. Professional Photography To Highlight the Home.

  3. Professional Videography To Provide Potential Tenants a Virtual Experience Before Booking.

  4. Calculated Rates To Out Book Competition.

  5. Leveraging the Established Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. Brand

  6. Leveraging two different type of rental setups (vacation and seasonal rental).


The first season results were:


Nights Available To Rent: 320 Nights.

Nights Booked: 265

Occupancy Rate: 83% for the year.

Jan. 8, 2015

Beth Dudley, Waterfront Realtor Joins Lewis Realty Team


Lewis Realty Associates, Inc is pleased to announce that Beth Dudley has joined the Lewis Realty Sales Team currently located at 809 Roland Avenue in Surf City, NC.


Beth Dudley has well over a decade of real estate sales experience in the Topsail Island market and has called Topsail Island her second home since birth.Beth Dudley, Broker with Lewis Realty Associates, Inc.

Beth, a graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, began her real estate career soon after. Beth brings vast experience in the local market having served as a Broker in Charge for a franchise company formerly located in Topsail Island not to mention the multitude of buyers and sellers she has represented. 

Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. President, Chris Rackley stated, "I had always been interested in having Beth join our team. Late this fall the opportunity finally presented itself! Beth brings vast local and coastal knowledge, the drive to succeed and a loyal following of clients. Our team gladly welcomed Beth with open arms."

If you are looking for a waterfront specialist with knowledge of island real estate, Beth deserves a call from you.

Beth can be reached at 910.470.5481 . 

Posted in Company News
Dec. 30, 2014

NC State Insurance Caps Topsail Island Rates for 2015

NC State Insurance Commission Caps Topsail Island Rates for 2015



This is not insurance advice. Lewis Realty Associates, Inc are not licensed for insurance brokerage or advice. This is only our interpretation of a press release. Contact your insurance provider for more information.


Earlier in 2014, home owner insurance companies submitted a request to raise home owner insurance in North Carolina (including Topsail Island) as much as 25.6% on average North Carolina Map(coastal properties were as much as 35%). This would no doubt have been a determent to the real estate and rental market in all of North Carolina. In Topsail Island, it would have resulted in slower sales and higher rents; not a good thing for the state economy or the general public.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance headed by Wayne Goodwin must approve rate changes to better serve the public interest by providing a check and balance on rates.

On December 19, 2014, the commission denied the rate increase request by the insurance companies and instead mandated a 0% overall statewide rate change. This is slightly misleading because it appears to be figured on the state's average. Topsail Island would have seen as much as a 35% increase but rather will see approx 5.6% reduction. 

Topsail Island has always been one of the more affordable beaches for both sales and rentals. This change in insurance rates should help keep that trend going.


Sources -



Chris Rackley 910.328.5211- Lewis Realty Associates, Inc.- President/Broker in Charge

Dec. 18, 2014

December Holiday Events Remaining Topsail Island, NC


Here is a list of the remaining holiday events as of 12/18/2014 in the Topsail Island, NC area. Topsail is always a special place but especially sure during the Christmas season!


  • Soundside Park - Every evening, Soundside Park in Surf City is all lite up for the seasonSoundside Park At Christmas with a large 2 story Christmas Tree! Bring the kids out for a stroll down the boardwalk and look at all the pretty lights!
  • Holly Ridge Children's Christmas Party - December 20th at 11am, Every child gets a gift, Santa will be there in all his holiday glamour, cupcakes and pizza served.  At Holly Ridge Park, All Completely Free!!
  • Dolphin Dip - Surf City, NC - Jan 1, 2015, Charity Swim Event Fundraiser with all proceeds going to Ocean Cure. Annual Event and this year may be a record breaker nationally!


Chris Rackley 910.328.5211- Lewis Realty Associates, Inc.- President/Broker in Charge