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Personnel File - May 2008: Real Estate

Ken Kirkman, General Manager
Landfall Realty LLC, Wilmington

When it comes to coastal development, Kenneth Kirkman, 58, has seen it all. After getting his law degree from UNC Chapel Hill, the High Point native opened a practice in Morehead City specializing in land use. In the 1980s, he helped the Roosevelt family develop Pine Knoll Shores. He has been CEO of Bald Head Island Limited and legal counsel for the North Carolina Coastal Alliance, a group of developers, bankers and property owners, and is a principal in Carolina Colours, a 2,000-acre community in New Bern. Here’s his take on current conditions:

“You don’t start hearing in the press that things are really good until about six months after you can tell they are getting good, and you don’t start reading that they’re bad until six months after they start getting bad.”

“One of the unique factors in the current situation is the price of gas. The price of producing a house is going up even though demand is way down, because so much of what’s involved in producing housing involves fuel. If fuel costs should continue to increase, I think it’s going to take much longer to recover, because the producers of housing cannot react quickly enough to the relationship between prices and costs of production.”

“The market has changed a lot primarily because of the baby-boomer demographic. There are some 4 million baby boomers coming into the [retirement-living] market every year, and about half of them indicate a likelihood that they’ll relocate more than three hours from home, and about half of those indicate they’ll consider the Southeast. And of those, a great preponderance want to be near the coast, so there has been more and more interest in coming into Eastern North Carolina. That’s created a whole lot of opportunities and a whole lot of challenges.”