Making Your Home Shine!

Happy Summer!  It’s certainly been a very busy “off-season” (not sure that term applies anymore) this year at Topsail Realty! Our focus from last year moving into this season has been laser-focused on improving our overall procedures and communication when it comes to the care and cleanliness of your home.

Over in the Property Services department, we are excited to announce a lot of changes and new tools that we are implementing to help with our in the field of communication and processes.  There’s nothing more important to us than making sure our guests walk into a clean and inviting home upon check-in. To help give us real-time oversight and the ability to instantly verify quality we have started using a new mobile app called Breezeway. Every cleaner installs the Breezeway app onto their phone and it shows them all information needed on the house they are cleaning. Breezeway has a custom checklist feature so each home can have a custom tailored inspection and cleaning process list that must be followed and checked off on before a cleaner can complete the job.

Another very handy feature is the ability for our cleaners and inspection Team Leaders to report any damages, with pictures, in the home and have it sent over to the maintenance team to be addressed. This means better documentation following guests stay and our goal of quicker response times to issues.

Additionally, to help keep all rolling we have Tia Feller who is our Field Operations Team Leader who works directly at our warehouse and with the cleaners. Rest assured, we are working daily to continue to make sure your home has that WOW factor it deserves each and every time!  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me anytime!

 

Kristen McCoy, Property Services Manager

Owner Statement Tips & Tricks

Hello Home Owners, and welcome to summer!

We have a lot of new owners that came aboard this year, so I wanted to take the opportunity to give a brief tutorial on how to decipher the owner statements, and give a few pointers on where you can look on the Owner Portal for additional clarification.

Each month, I will upload both a monthly statement and year-to-date statement for your property. When a reservation is booked, the guest is required to pay half of the rent up front, along with Travel Insurance if purchased. Our software posts transactions in real time, so when the reservation is confirmed, the first half of the rent will be posted to your owner statement. The second half of the rent and any pet fees are posted after the guest departs, and the full balance less commission as well as any expenses incurred, is paid on the last day of the month of departure.

Due to the first half of the rent posting when the reservation is confirmed, the monthly statement may only reflect half of the rent for each guest stay as the deposit will be on the statement for the month in which the reservation was booked. This is where both the year-to-date statement and owner portal can be helpful! 

The year to date statement will group all transactions for each stay together, showing all of the rent and commissions for each stay as well as pet fees. Another spot to easily find the gross rent and commission for each stay can be found on the booking summary on the owner portal. When that link is clicked, you can filter the results to be grouped by month. This will show both the gross rent for each stay, as well as the net rent. Pet fees and expenses can be found on the monthly- and year-to-date statements. With all transactions posting in real time, the first payment of the season may include expenses for work orders that were closed in a previous month.

We apologize that we have not yet been able to upload both of these statements to the owner portal. I spoke with support on Monday and there is a ticket into development to fix the issue. If you would like a copy of the year-to-date statement or did not receive the monthly statement when they were sent via email, please let me know and I will manually send one to you. I know that the statements generated by our software can be a little confusing at first, so if any additional clarification is needed, please don’t hesitate to call or email me and I am more than happy to assist!

We’re looking forward to a great season, and thank you for choosing Topsail Realty to manage your property!

Jessica Scarborough

 

Jessica Scarborough, Accounting Administrator

 

An Effortless Vacation “Experience”

I guess Bob Dylan was right, “The Times They Are A Changin”. Topsail Island is certainly seeing rapid change! The rapid growth in real estate both residential and retail is astounding. Just a few years ago we thought that Harris Teeter was a big deal. Now we have a Walmart and a new Publix. The boom in new construction on the island is certainly creating more competition in the vacation rental business.

To be successful we have to embrace change and try to stay ahead of the trends in the vacation rental market. At Topsail Realty we pride ourselves on doing one thing well. We only do vacation rentals.

People these days want instant gratification. It starts with a state of the art website for ease of online booking, and a secure Guest Payment Portal for electronic payments and e-signatures. Guests love the convenience of keyless entry. They appreciate checking into a property with a complimentary linen package with beds made prior to arrival. This year Topsail Realty has invested in our own commercial laundry facility. We now provide our own sheets and towels.

What we are trying to do is create a “Turn-Key” vacation experience. Life can be stressful. We all could use a vacation from time to time. Topsail Realty wants to make it easy, for both your guests and you!

Please do not hesitate to email or call me if I can help you with anything. Have a great Summer!

Danny Williams

 

Danny Williams, General Manager

 

Operations Corner – What’s New!

I would like to personally thank you for giving Topsail Realty the opportunity to manage your vacation rental home!

As always, we continue to invest time, energy, and funds in ways to ensure that our website and other chosen advertising venues present your homes in an engaging way while providing premier exposure of your homes and the amenities offered for vacation goers hoping for a holiday in an idyllic beach setting!

A great deal of thought and effort went into the development of our recently launched website’s newly designed search with filters and methods to streamline and simplify the search process. It allows those looking for potential vacation homes to more quickly locate choices with availability to suit their needs both when planning in advance as well as when making last-minute getaway plans!

Additionally, we are partnered with Homeaway.com and their related sites so our properties are also advertised on those outlets including HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, VacationRentals.com, as well as international vacation rental sites that are part of the HomeAway family to provide even more exposure and advertising outlets. For those owners that do not want to have their homes advertised on the Homeaway.com family of sites, we have the option to not include specific properties at an owner’s request, though I would like to reiterate that our advertising on those outlets are at no additional cost to our owners!

The yearly owner renewal process will be upon us again before we know it!  While historically this process has been done during the Fall and owner agreements do automatically renew each year on October 1st, we would like to ascertain general availability for 2019. If you know of any dates in 2019 that your home would not be available for rental that you would like to owner block, please use your Owner’s Area to create those blocks or send us an email at Info@TopsailRealty.com to take make us aware of those dates so that we block them in advance.

We do currently offer guests the opportunity to make advance plans for 2019 by making Advance Reservation Requests for past weeks in 2018 for comparable dates in 2019.  As always, these are subject to the owner making the home available for rental and we generally would not confirm these with agreements or request for the first payment until January 2019.

Additionally, as part of the renewal process regarding owner rental rates particularly, we hope to introduce new concepts applied to the vacation rental marketplace that would allow for us to optimize your homes’ rates at all times, centered around local market trends, local availability, and local demand – all specific effects that impact vacation rentals in our area directly. More details will be forthcoming in the next few months on the renewal process as we explore those possibilities!

Jennifer Lewis with Topsail Realty

Jennifer Lewis, Rental Operations Manager

Topsail Realty Vacations to Take Over Operations of the Historic Loggerhead Inn in Surf City, NC

 

Surf City, North Carolina – Carolina Retreats, a specialty lodging and vacation rental management company, has taken over management and operations of the historic Loggerhead Inn, a boutique 36-room ocean view motel, located in downtown Surf City on Topsail Island, North Carolina, from Loggerhead Holdings LLC. The inn will be managed through Carolina Retreat’s affiliate, Topsail Realty Vacations. Mike Harrington, Carolina Retreats CEO, made the announcement.

Built in 1960 and originally called “The Silver Sands Motel”, the Loggerhead Inn is a classic family-friendly “motor inn” of yesterday. With a prime central island location on the edge of Topsail Island’s restaurant and entertainment district and directly across from a dedicated beach access, the Loggerhead Inn offers multiple room types from king and double queen suites, to economy vacation rooms for those looking for an affordable weekend escape. The inn will receive multiple room and grounds upgrades over the coming months, including additions to their popular swimming pool area.

According to Harrington, “Topsail Island has been experiencing a surge in visitors over the past few years. While our traditional vacation rental homes under management have seen record occupancy, we still have to turn visitors away that are only looking for shorter 2 or 3 night stays. With the Loggerhead Inn, we will now have multiple lodging offerings under our umbrella in order to fill that gap. Our entire team is looking forward to revitalizing and bringing this historic Topsail Island landmark to our guests”.

Overseeing the day to day operations at the Loggerhead Inn will be Lori Shoemaker, Topsail Realty Vacations newly appointed Hotel Operations Manager, and Property Caretaker Tony O’Conner.

 

About the Loggerhead Inn

The Loggerhead Inn has been a Topsail Island vacation landmark for almost 60 years. Originally built in 1960 under the name “The Silver Sand’s” motel and added on to over the years, the Loggerhead Inn now offers 36 rooms of various sizes and price ranges, a swimming pool, and a central Topsail Island location.

The inn maintains a family-friendly environment that is both affordable and comfortable. Offering shorter stays and clean, well-maintained rooms, the Loggerhead Inn represents a classic family vacation era for those seeking to experience Topsail Island throughout the year.  For more information, please visit www.Loggerheadinn.com, or call Topsail Realty Vacations at 800-526-6432.

About Topsail Realty Vacations by Carolina Retreats

Founded in 1974, Topsail Realty Vacations is a leading vacation rental management firm operating on Topsail Island, North Carolina. Part of the Carolina Retreats family, they currently manage approximately 200 vacation homes on Topsail Island and surrounding areas. For more info on their vacation rental services, or to book your next vacation, visit www.TopsailRealty.com or call 800-526-6432.

 

Contact

Mike Harrington

(910) 328-5241

info@topsailrealty.com

Swing Bridge Foundation Submits Alternative Plan for Surf City Bridge

April 1, 2017: Surf City, NC:  In an earlier surprise announcement today, local Real Estate company Lewis Realty announced they were planning to buy the Surf City Swing Bridge, effective 2018. In response to this announcement, that has been on the table since beginning of 2015, Topsail Realty Vacations President and Owner, Mike Harrington, said “We are excited that the Swing Bridge will be protected moving forward. It’s an iconic piece of Topsail Island history and we feel it would be a shame for it to completely go away”.

Surf City Swing Bridge

However, as of 1:00 pm, Harrington and his private foundation focused on historic preservation submitted an upset bid to NCDOT and Surf City arguing a bridge of such historic significance should not be sold to private individuals and is the property of all who have visited and live on Topsail Island. Harrington added, “Unfortunately preserving such an old bridge is going to require many millions of dollars moving forward. Our foundation can work with Chris on this project together, and provide funds moving forward, but only if the original character of the bridge is maintained.”

“The Swing Bridge Foundation”, a 501(c)(3) headquarter in Surf City, proposes to provide multi-year grants in order to maintain the character and operation of the original Swing Bridge, provide access to ALL who wish to use it instead of the new high rise bridge, and hire a full time bridge tender at 1.5 times the salary that NCDOT was paying.  “We respect Chris and Lewis for this endeavor, and we feel “The Swing Bridge Foundation” is the best alternative. We even have a seat on the Foundation’s board for Chris is he desires”, added Harrington.

About “The Swing Bridge Foundation”: A registered 501(c)(3) located in Surf City, North Carolina, The Swing Bridge Foundation sole purpose is to preserve the original character and operation of the iconic Swing Bridge that connects Topsail Island to the mainland of Surf City.  Founded by Mike Harrington, President and Owner of Topsail Realty Vacations, as well as other preservation minded philanthropists, The Swing Bridge Foundation aims to protect public access rights to a historical treasure for Topsail Island.  To learn more, visit:  www.SwingBridgeFoundation.org

Learn more about Topsail Realty Vacations.

FYI:  We’d love for this to be true, but, April Fools!

 

4 Ways To Maximize your Beach Time on Topsail Island

Topsail Island Vacation PlanningYou’ve booked that perfect Topsail Island Vacation Rental with Topsail Realty after weeks of planning.  Now what?

For first time and even returning guests, we get questions all the time about things to do, where to get groceries, and which are the best restaurants on Topsail Island.  While our local team is very knowledgeable about all things Topsail, we felt there was a need to have a more hands-on approach to a more holistic vacation planning experience.

For this reason, for 2017 we have partnered with Metros Other Women, a great local concierge and event planning company.  Topsail Realty Vacations provides all of our guests with direct access to Metros’s concierge team at no additional cost.  If you can dream it, they can find a solution.  The most common services provided for our vacation rental guests are:

  1. GROCERY ORDERING & DELIVERY – Who loves going to the grocery store and stocking up for the entire week on your first day of vacation?  That’s right, no one!  That’s where we come in- Metro’s Other Women will go to the store for you and fill the pantry while you enjoy the view. How’s that for kickstarting your vacation?
  2. EQUIPMENT & BEACH RENTALS – Part of a good vacation is trying new things and there is nothing better while on Topsail Island than learning how to stand-up paddle board or surf! Or maybe your idea is beach chairs and a tent for the week, and as little activity as possible. Nor problem, we got you covered! We know all the local suppliers and can find exactly what you are looking for. Leave it to us!
  3. AREA RECOMMENDATIONS & RESERVATIONS – From a nice dinner out, to golf tee-times, to boat rental and fishing excursions, we are your one-stop shop for it all. Think of us as your personal assistant while on vacation. We might even recommend a local secret spot or two!
  4. DAY TRIP EXCURSIONS AND PLANNING – While Topsail Island is a perfect destination by itself, there still is plenty to do within a very short drive in Southeastern North Carolina. Would you like private transportation for a shopping trip to Wilmington? Or tickets to go see the Battleship downtown? Contact us and we’ll help!

We know how precious your vacation time is.  Most of us only get 1 cherished week a year to spend with our family and unwind.  Let Topsail Realty and Metro’s Other Women plan your entire trip experience and maximize those seconds on the beach and with family!

The Ultimate Guide to Finding Shells, Sharks Teeth, and Sea Glass on Topsail Island

If you’ve ever gone hunting for Shells, Shark’s Teeth, or Sea Glass on Topsail Island, you know how overwhelming it can seem at first glance. Looking down the island’s long expanse of shoreline that’s covered with sea-life, you absolutely must know what you’re looking for to be successful.

Lucky for you, I spent every summer of my childhood on Topsail Island with my Grandmother – a full-fledged shell/shark’s tooth/sea glass collecting addict.

Every morning, we would take a walk down to the shore, where we would hunt for these items until we found something she could add to her incredible collection.

On every shelf and every table in her beach house, there sat a glass jar filled to the brim with treasures. Of course, I have some fond memories of this time in my life, but I also learned a lot about collecting – which I can’t wait to share with you.

finding shells sharks teeth sea glass on topsail island

Time & Place

The number one thing to consider when combing the beach for treasures is the time of day. More specifically, it’s the level of the tide. Without question, the best time for beach combing is low tide.

That’s because the low tide is when you’ll have a much greater chance of discovering something good since the actual surface area of the shore is larger. Also, if you are searching over the course of a few days, low tide is when the beach will have “refreshed” itself with a new set of shells to comb through.

Because the cycle of the moon influences the tides, low tide happens at a different time every day. Don’t worry though, here’s a link to the Topsail Island Tide Chart.

Finding Shells

Topsail Island is well-known for its beach, specifically the fact that it is unusually shell-covered. But of course, we all know that more doesn’t necessarily mean better.

The shells that finally made it to the shore for you to collect have been through quite a journey, and it’s no surprise that the trip broke the huge majority of them – it’s just how the ocean works. But without these shells, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty of unbroken shells, which are more of a rarity.

Going back to the opening of this piece it’s all about knowing what you’re looking for.

That’s why I decided to think back to my childhood and figure out the top 5 shells I remember finding on Topsail Island. These were Scotch Bonnets, Conchs, Sand Dollars, Scallops, and Slipper Shells (or “Lady Slippers” as my Grandma used to call them).

Scotch Bonnet

Topsail-Island-Scotch-Bonnet-Shell

Conch

Topsail-Island-Conch-Shell

Sand Dollar

Topsail-Island-Sand-Dollar-Shell

Scallop

Topsail-Island-Scallop-Shell

Slipper Shell (Lady Slipper)

Topsail-Island-Slipper-Shell

I’ve been finding these particular shells my whole life, and my Grandma filled her jars with them. That’s how I know they’re out there, primed and ready for you to discover.

Finding Shark’s Teeth

Shark’s teeth are notoriously hard to find. Going back to the fact that the ocean breaks most shells before they reach the shore, it’s easy to see why.

Think about it for a moment. Broken shells are often small and sharp, exactly like shark’s teeth. So it makes sense that the teeth would blend in with everything else, making them difficult to find.

That’s why you should know the most common sharks in the Topsail Island area, and specifically how their teeth are shaped. They’re actually pretty easy to remember, and just think how impressed your friends will be when you can say, “That tooth came from a Bull Shark,” with absolute certainty!

So, the most common sharks that can be found near Topsail Island are the Bull Shark, Tiger Shark, and Sand Shark.

Bull Shark Tooth

Topsail-Island-Bull-Shark-Tooth

Tiger Shark Tooth

Topsail-Island-Tiger-Shark-Tooth

Sand Shark Tooth

Topsail-Island-Sand-Shark-Tooth

Growing up, my uncle (an old sailor) used to take the shark’s teeth I’d find and fashion them with a piece of wire for me to wear as a necklace.

I ended up having so many of these necklaces that I started giving them to friends, so I know that the shark’s teeth are there for those who know what to look for.

Finding Sea Glass

When many of us think of Sea Glass, we imagine it exactly like normal glass – shiny and sharp. In reality, the sea glass has been through the same difficult journey to the shore as the shells and shark’s teeth went through.

This process transformed the once “normal” glass into “sea” glass, which is smooth and opaque. Knowing this fact is the first step towards a successful sea glass hunt.

But you’ve got to know more than the shape and feel of the sea glass to become a beach combing master – you’ve got to know the colors to look for.

Theoretically, sea glass can come in any color imaginable, but three colors stand far above the rest in their popularity. These are white (which is just clear glass that has been “opaqued”), green, and brown.

White Sea Glass

Topsail-Island-White-Sea-Glass

Green Sea Glass

Topsail-Island-Green-Sea-Glass

Brown Sea Glass

Topsail-Island-Brown-Sea-Glass

Sea glass was always my Grandma’s favorite thing to collect, and she even had a table top made entirely from the glass she had collected over the years. That’s how I know it’s out there waiting for you to bring home the next time you’re on Topsail Island.


After everything I’ve described in this article, it’s possible that you’re even more overwhelmed than before. But if there’s one aspect of “beach combing” that I want to leave you with above all others, it’s this: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

This is a cliche’ phrase for a good reason – it’s absolutely true.

Do you think I knew the difference between a Bull Shark tooth and a Tiger Shark tooth all those years ago when I was walking the beach with my grandmother? Not in the least, and yet those are some of the happiest memories of my life.

My point here, to bring it all home, is that every human being is unique, exactly like every shell, shark’s tooth, or piece of sea glass. That’s why, when all else fails, don’t get overwhelmed – just search for the things that make you happy.