4/15/20: UPDATE FROM MIKE STONE, OWNER OF SOUTHERN SHORES REALTY, ABOUT LIFTING ACCESS RESTRICTIONS, REOPENING FOR BUSINESS.

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(Dear Readers: I should have made it clear in my earlier post today that I am a client of Southern Shores Realty. My family has used the company as our rental agent since 1971. This afternoon, I received an email from Mike Stone, the owner of SSR, that I would like to share with you. Any words you see in brackets are mine. –Ann)

Dear Southern Shores Realty Homeowners –

4 weeks ago the local county leaders made the decision to restrict access to the Outer Banks. The restrictions were placed in an effort to not overwhelm our limited health care services with impacts from the coronavirus. We are reaching out to you today regarding the impacts to our marketplace.

For Southern Shores Realty, this impact is profound. Our business is based on welcoming visitors to your homes, and our tourism industry is based on customer service. Many of us have chosen to work in this industry based on the experiences we had coming here to enjoy vacation rentals in this idyllic location.

We are here to [look out] for you and to look after your homes while helping guests achieve their vacation dreams. We look forward to your return to your homes and beach. Restricted access and unavailability of homes is counter to our way of life. We want you to be here, joining with us in preparing your homes for the strong rental season that we planned.

Southern Shores Realty has stood strong through many storms, and we are doing our best in navigating this one. We ask you to join us in reaching out to county leaders to be sure they lift the access restrictions, in a manner that allows you to access your homes, and guests can arrive once properties are ready for occupancy. We are prepared to get your house ready for the season if you would prefer to have us take care of it.

Members of our management team have been in contact regularly with the other property management companies on this beach, and attending meetings for local businesses regarding this pandemic. Earlier today a few members of our management team attended a meeting with the Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard. Here are some takeaways from today’s meeting:

-The County Commissioners are trying to get us back to normal as soon as possible.

-There is a control group working on a plan for re-opening. A major question is will we have the supplies to do so (restaurants will need 2 weeks to build up food inventory, etc.). They are meeting with suppliers to make sure.

-They are awaiting the Governor’s plan to allow businesses, etc. to re-open. That is out of their control.

-They are looking at a slow entry once the restrictions are lifted.

-The [Dare County] Control Group is open to any suggestions and welcomes our input. An advisory committee of local businesses has formed to represent different needs to be addressed in the plan to re-open this area.

We have loved receiving the outpouring of support from owners who know the struggles we are facing and see that we are all in this together as none of us [is] untouched by the impacts. Your patience and understanding strengthen us.

At the same time, we understand the frustration we are hearing from others, who want the access restrictions currently in place from Dare and Currituck County lifted. We hear your concerns and understand fully the economic impacts and hardships, as well as the loss of good will from some locals on social media. To be clear, Southern Shores Realty supports you. We see the difficulties you are experiencing, and we are following the local and NCREC [N.C. Real Estate Comm.] guidelines in doing all we can, within the law, to best serve you.

For every week that has gone by where guests were unable to access their vacation rentals due to Dare County and Currituck County current access restrictions, Southern Shores Realty is joining you in fully refunding the guests. We are continuing to do so each week that goes by in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the NC Real Estate Commission and other state authorities.

Our reservationists are continuing to take both the kind and the angry phone calls from guests. It is not easy to be on the receiving end of the angry, scared and frightened phone calls. Our reservationists are truly exemplary, as they listen to the concerns of the guests and work toward solutions. They explain that we cannot refund July reservations today because we do not know if access restrictions will be lifted then. The reservationists are working with the callers individually offering options that are in line with our cancellation policies. The reservationists are reminding guests that you, the property owners, have had to return funds to visitors, funds that you use to pay the mortgages, the high cost of insurance, the maintenance costs, etc. on your beach homes. Our reservationists focus first on moving guests to later dates, to minimize the financial losses we are both taking in this crisis.

The reservationists are also encouraging guests who have experienced job loss, pay cuts, illness in the family, etc. to reach out to their travel insurance provider. The insurance providers are adjusting their statements as the impacts change.

Please know that we are here, working hard for you. To stay in line with social distancing guidelines, some of us have changed our hours, others are working from home. While some of us are working from the offices, our offices are locked and visitors can call us should they need access to the building or staff members. We welcome your input, feel free to call with questions or concerns.

We are your partner, and we thank you for your continued patience and understanding. We look forward to seeing you here at the beach!

Sincerely,

Mike Stone and
The Staff of Southern Shores Realty

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