Wrightsville Beach, N.C.-Whether on the east or west coast, America has a handful of beach towns that really stand out from the others. They’re known not just because of their proximity to the ocean, but also because their very names invoke the image of luxury living; the Hamptons, the Cape, Malibu – to name a few.
Outside of North Carolina, Wrightsville Beach is not nearly as well-known as those other places, but make no mistake, this is a place for high end buyers who like the good life.
The town is located just east of Wilmington in New Hanover County. It sits on a narrow, four mile stretch of land with the Atlantic on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other.
Whether on the ocean or the ICW, single family homes on Wrightsville Beach have an average price in seven figures. For those looking for something a little less expensive, the town has a number of high-rise condominiums which can range in size from one to three bedrooms. In the last year the average price for one of these properties was $717,000.
One of the main attractions for visitors is the Wrightsville Beach loop, a two and-a-half mile path that winds through the heart of town. Regardless of when you visit Wrightsville Beach, including time of the year or time of the day, you will always find folks circling the loop. It’s popular with runners, walkers, bicyclists and pet lovers.
Another landmark in Wrightsville Beach is Johnny Mercer Pier- which was used in several episodes of Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. Originally built as a wooden structure in the 1930’s, the privately owned pier was destroyed by two hurricanes in the late 1990’s. The owners rebuilt the pier as a concrete structure, the first in North Carolina, and reopened in 1999. The new design extends more than 1,200 feet into the Atlantic.
JUST THE FACTS
*Wrightsville Beach is the home of the prestigious Carolina Yacht Club, which was founded in 1883. It is officially the seventh oldest yacht club in the United States.
*According to the 2020 census the town’s population sits at 2,541.
*Median annual household income is $109,013
*Average price of a single family home in the first half of 2022 was $2.7 million.
*If you see a child on Wrightsville Beach, chances are they don’t live there. Only 8% of all the homes on the island have residents under the age of 18. That is the lowest percentage of children for any incorporated town in North Caroina.
* Contrary to popular belief the town is not named after the Wright Brothers who flew their first flight just up the coast in the Outer Banks. Instead it gets its name from real estate agent Joshua Wright, who helped to develop the town in the 1880’s.
*Typically the Friday after Thanksgiving, the town hosts its annual Flotilla, where a fleet of ships decorated with holiday lights perform a parade on the Intracoastal Waterway.
* Distance from Wrightsville Beach to Downtown Wilmington is 6 miles
*Distance from Wrightsville Beach to Raleigh is 131 miles
*Distance from Wrightsvlle Beach to Myrtle Beach 85.2 miles
One of Scott’s Favorite Places
“Wrightsville Beach has its own feel, its own identity,” said JFB Agent Scott Saxton. “You notice it the moment you go over the first bridge. It’s clear you arrived somewhere. You see these large boats, you see these amazing homes on the Intracoastal, and they’re all in different bright beach colors, so they really pop, and you think to yourself this is where I want to be.”
Saxton, like all residents of the Cape Fear Region, has his pick of beach towns. He has four to five options all within a 20 to 30 minute drive from his home. Wrightsville Beach is one of his favorites.
“People think if you’ve seen one beach town you’ve seen them all. That’s not true. They’re all different. Some are largely populated by snowbirds or tourists; others are packed in the summer but ghost towns in the winter. Bald Head Island is beautiful, but it’s remote and can be hard to get to. And you’re not getting on Figure Eight Island unless you live there. And then there is Wrightsville Beach which doesn’t seem like a beach town… it’s more like a beach city.”
Honestly, when Scott goes to Wrightsville, or any of the other communities, it’s seldom to spend a day on the beach. He’s not one to relax. He is always on the go- and that’s one of the reasons he connects with Wrightsville Beach. It’s a town for active people; the joggers, the bikers, the boaters… people are in motion here.
“And then you have all these great restaurants and pubs, many of them overlooking one of the bodies of water. I may only be on the island for a few hours, but in that time, even if your feet never touch sand, it replenishes you.”
He warns of course that the summers are crowded, and some of the holidays can be downright insane. Finding a parking space anywhere near the beach can be a challenge and it is not fun to get stuck when the bridge opens.
“That’s the thing. Since I don’t live on the island, I can avoid it during the peak season. There are certain weekends that you mentally block off. You tell yourself I am going to leave those for the tourists. By the way, that’s not just Wrightsville, that’s true of most of these beach communities. But if you live on the Island, running routine errands on a Saturday, with all that traffic, it is a challenge. And that is something buyers need to know. It’s an exclusive place to buy, but its accessible for anyone who wants to spend the day.”
Where to live
Oceanfront Single Family Homes: The dream for most people who want to live in a beach town is to purchase an oceanfront property. They fantasize about drinking their morning coffee from their balcony and watching the waves roll in on the Atlantic. When it comes to single family homes in Wrightsville Beach that sit directly on the beach, there are roughly only 80 such properties. These are independently, custom built homes with a wide range of styles and size. In the last year the average price of these homes was more than $5 million.
Intracoastal Single Family Homes: Those who dream of living on the Intracoastal Waterway don’t want to just look at the water, they want to be on the water! They dream of waking up and hopping in their boat. Most of the homes in Wrightsville Beach that overlook the ICW come with private docks and boat lifts. In the last year, 26 homes on the ICW sold for an average price of $2.8 million.
Seapath Towers: This is a high-rise beach condominium community located just across the bridge on Wrightsville Beach, NC. The condos offer an amazing view of the waterway, along with tennis courts, a swimming pool, lounge with wet bar, picnic area with grills, and a clubhouse with activity room. So far in 2022 a total of 18 homes have sold for an average price of $421,000.
Shell Island Resort: This is an oceanfront condominium community located on the north end of Wrightsville Beach. Most of the owners use these condos as short-term investment properties. Built in 1986, the resort is equipped with a fitness center, a gift-shop, and a top rated full service restaurant with bar.
Channel Walk: This is one of the few residential townhome communities on Wrightsville Beach. The community is directly across the bridge to Wrightsville Beach. The neighborhood consists of 107 units adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway and includes amenities such as a pool and boat slips. So far in 2022 a total of three homes have sold for an average price of $750,000.
Wrightsville Dunes: This is a community of beachfront condominiums located near the northern end of Wrightsville Beach. The condos are divided between eight buildings, equipped with two pools, a lighted tennis court, beach access with a long stretch of sand, and of course beautiful views of the ocean. Residents can enjoy the quiet of being away from the middle of the island, but still only a short drive from the restaurants and entertainment Wrightsville Beach offers. So far in 2022 three units have sold for an average price of $1,433,333.
Wrightsville Beach is a community for high end luxury buyers who want to be in close proximity to Wilmington. It is not a place for folks who are trying to escape the hustle and bustle. If you are looking for something more remote and exclusive Figure Eight Island or Bald Head Island may be more you style.
Buyers also need to take into account the very real threat of hurricanes. While this is true of any coastal town, recent history has been particularly cruel to Wrightsville Beach. In 2018 Hurricane Florence made landfall here and over the years other storms with names like Hazel, Connie, Bertha, Fran, Dennis and Floyd have all caused significant damage to the island. While there is no way to predict the future, buyers are advised to focus on properties that offer some level of protection like storm shelters and hurricane proof windows.
Having said that: if your dream is to live by the ocean; if you want to be close to a city, have quick access to an international airport: if you are a person on the go, who likes boating, or running and an active nightlife, then Wrightsville Beach needs to be on your list.
For the latest on available homes give our office a call at 910 202-4813.