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A look at Brunswick County

A pent-up desire among Northeasterners for new homes along the Southeast coast and a federal tax credit for some home buyers may be the reasons Brunswick County's real estate business is expecting a boost in 2010, according to business leaders.

"I think the trend [in the Northeast] now is 'Let's sell it for what we can get out of it and move,'" said Cathy Altman, president and chief executive of the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce.

Mary Ann McCarthy, president of the Brunswick County Association of Realtors, is seeing the trend too, through conversations with other Brunswick County Realtors and through her own business.

"I know personally I've had a lot more showings on my listings" since the first of the year, she said.

McCarthy said a federal tax credit of up to $6,500 for some homeowners who will buy a new home and switch their primary residence to it is at least part of the impetus behind the surge in interest. Brunswick County's primary market has been for second homes, but the tax credit may have prompted some buyers who have thought about moving to decide that now is the time, she said.

There were 213 homes in the county put under contract to buy between Jan. 1 and Feb. 9 as opposed to 135 in the same time last year, McCarthy said.

Altman noted there is at least one other positive sign that the economy may be moving in the right direction: About 15 industries are looking at Brunswick County for relocations or startups. Altman also said Brunswick County retailers are surviving the recession so far because they've built up a strong local clientele.

- Steve Jones