Home shortage skyrockets Asheville, Buncombe prices

With no new supply in sight, persistent low inventory means buying a house will become only more expensive.

Here are a few of the realities confronting homebuyers in Asheville and Buncombe County:

About the only housing-market category record that won’t be set this year is the lowest-ever inventory for houses priced at $1 million or higher.

Local homeowners looking to stay in the area and purchase a bigger place are better off building additions or renovating the houses where they live now – or move to a neighboring county.

Even if they sell their current residences at a profit, that money likely won’t be enough to find nearby homes with more space in their price ranges.

To put it simply, the number of houses available to buy continues to drop and “that’s driving prices up,” said Neal Hanks, president and principal owner at Beverly-Hanks & Associates Realtors in Asheville.

“That’s the big story,” Hanks said.

Despite mammoth demand that for months has spurred bidding wars for houses with asking prices up to $800,000, builders have not responded with large-scale new-home construction.

When housing inventory exceeds six months, home prices generally drop, said Mike Figura, owner and broker of Community Lifestyle Mosaic Realty in Asheville. When inventory tumbles below six months, prices generally rise.

Asheville inventory levels stood under six months at all price ranges below $700,000 as of the beginning of this month, according to Figura’s data. The figures ranged ranged from 0.46 months for homes that cost $100,000 or less and 5.39 months for homes that cost between $600,001 and $700,000.

All homes in Buncombe County, excluding Asheville, priced up to $400,000 as of Oct. 1, showed inventory levels below six months. Totals ranged from 1.84 months for those between $150,001 and $200,000 to 5.38 months for those between $300,001 and $350,000, Figura’s data showed.

“(Builders) aren’t willing to take on speculative construction because it’s a risk,” Hanks said.

Many spec builders went out of business, or watched colleagues go out of business, because of the Great Recession.

“That still stings,” Hanks said.

But Don Davies said spec construction might be the only way to avoid high home prices persisting into 2017.

The founder of Realsearch, an Asheville company that analyzes real estate trends, said ongoing low inventory could stall the local real estate market.

“We’ll be floating around those prices next year,” Davies said.

Land sales of 2- and 3-acre lots that have been on the rise could be an indication that people are looking at spec building, he said.

But if that doesn’t manifest, Hanks said it could be a result of builders knowing that the real estate market is cyclical.

The industry has been healthy for about four years now, he said.

“It can take four to seven months to build a house,” Hanks said. “A lot can change in the economy during that time. People are wondering whether we’re at the end of this cycle.”

That being the case, median days on the market for available houses have plummeted by 60 percent in Asheville and Buncombe County, said Steve Heiselman, a broker for Town and Mountain Realty in Asheville.

Median days on the market in Asheville dropped to 21 during this year’s third quarter from 53 during the third quarter of last year, Heiselman said.

For the same year-over-year comparison in Buncombe County, median days on the market plunged to 25 from 61, Heiselman said.

Davies said home-buying in Buncombe has become “like a frenzy.”

To those looking for their first house with a $200,000 budget, he said, “If you find one at that price in decent shape, you have to buy it that day, literally. You don’t have time to sit around and think about it or you’ll lose it.”

Asheville and Buncombe County’s steady march into an ever stronger sellers’ market is not new.

But some statistics within that phenomenon still may surprise local real estate professionals.

For example, Asheville’s median home sale price of $284,700 during the third quarter leapt 5.2 percent higher than the second quarter median price of 269,900.

“That’s a significant jump over three months,” Figura said.

Figura and Hanks offered different strategies for local homeowners who want more space.

Putting an addition onto an owner’s current house is a way to stay in Asheville and Buncombe County, Figura said.

Hanks, however, pointed out that the median selling price during the third quarter for a house in Haywood County was about $70,000 lower than one in Buncombe County.

“It’s not that far away and the quality of life is similar,” Hanks said. “People have shown all around the country that they’re willing to drive 25 to 30 minutes to get where they want to go.”


Some records set in the Asheville and Buncombe County housing markets during the third quarter of

  • Highest home sale median price in Asheville: $284,700.
  • Highest home sale median price in Buncombe County, excluding Asheville: $252,000.
  • Lowest average days on the market for homes in Asheville: 55 days.
  • Highest average asking price of all 1,413 homes in Buncombe County, including Asheville, as of Oct. 6: $600,889.
  • Highest average selling price of all homes in Buncombe County, including Asheville, during the first three quarters of this year: $309,497.
  • Highest average selling price of all homes in Buncombe County, including Asheville, sold during the last 12 months: $306,167
  • Highest median selling price of all homes in Buncombe County, including Asheville, during the first three quarters of this year: $252,250

Sources: Don Davies, founder of Asheville-based Realsearch; Mike Figura, owner and broker of Community Lifestyle Mosaic Realty in Asheville

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/10/14/not-enough-houses-equals-skyrocketing-asheville-and-buncombe-county-home-prices/92045348/

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Buncombe, Asheville property transfers for Sept. 26-30

Ibuyhomeslogo square v2The following transfers were filed in the Register of Deeds office Sept. 26-30.


Lot 16 Pinecrest, $252,000, Michael Shawn Skulley to Randall Worthington Bullerdick


16-B Joshua Ridge, $20,000, Steven A. Butler to Ginger Lynn Cunningham

149 Clayton Road, $250,000, JD Rentals Inc. to East Coast Leasing Services LLC

111 Mulberry Court Extension (0.55 acre), $40,000, Robert Thomas and Patricia P. Gasperson to Myrtle Lee Ammons

35 Blake Drive (Lots 18-19 section 3 block 37 Royal Pines), $137,500, Stephanie G. (f. k. a. Stephanie N. Gaetano) and Christopher R. White to Charles and Sarah Davis

Lot 47 Mallard Run phase 2A, $253,000,Windsor Built Homes Inc. to Diego Augusto Schemel


Lot 8 Eastmoor phase 1, $265,000, The Herbert K. Holtzworth Jr. Residuary Trust to Wayne M. and Rhonda Christle Rautio

12 Starmount Drive (Lot 9 section 1 of Knollwood Subdivision), $197,000, Jeremy Scott and Amber Hamlin to Keli Bryan

22 Sayles Road (Lot 11, block D), $165,000, Diana M. Butler to Mary Kathryn Moore

68 Brookwood Road (Lot 19 block F-2 Sherwood Heights Subdivision), $580,000, Steve I. and Patricia B. Kutay to Rise Terry Hershoran, William E. Thompson

4 Wild Orchid Lane (Lot 6), $25,000, Robert M. and Billie M. Jones to James D. and Jennifer J. Redmon

1061 Sweeten Creek Road, $975,000, Sweeten Creek Realty LLC to JTP Holdings LLC

21 Oakhaven Terrace (Lot 37 of the Homes at Eastwood Village phase III), $340,000, Yavuz and Nevriye Koruk to Harry Steven and Victoria Robb Creech

25 Ora St., $90,000, Duroff McDonald and Louise Glover Manning, Tyrone and Tonya Jones Manning to Shaun McCullom

Lot 8 Eastmoor phase 1, $265,000, The Herbert K. Holzworth Jr. Residuary Trust to Wayne M. and Rhonda Christle Rautio

8 Ravencroft Lane (Unit 8 building A Ravencroft Condominiums phase II, $125,000, Craig E. and Kristin A. Garrett to Douglas P. and Evelyn J. Smith, Connor J. Smith

849 West Pointe Drive (Lot 38 Crowell Farms), $256,000, Loyd King, Sally Iannazzone-King to Pamela C. and Rudolph N. Rose Jr.

Lot 83 Botany Woods Subdivision, $285,000, Richard Lewis and Tammy Reynolds to Scott M. Fahy


10 Houser Road, $365,000, Charles R. Houser to Ahava H. Brooke, Thomas M. Bier

Biltmore Lake

Lot 122 Biltmore Lake phase 1, $895,000, Leslie Ted Prosser to John Aloysius and Maribeth Austing Rider

Black Mountain

Lot 7 Allen Mountain Ridge phase II, $55,000, Frohm B. and Judith Lutvack to Kimberly Anne Weeks, Tammy Lyshelle Kerlee

Buncombe County

300 Gap Creek Road (0.70 acre, portion of lot 1), $169,000, Kristi E. (f. k. a. Branham) and Cody M. Derrick to Nathan M. Cobb

193 S. Grove St. (0.1 acre), $155,000, Asheville Land Company LLC to William Richard Culbreath, Alicia Dawn Nichols

14 Harkins Lane (Lot 5 Pineywood Estates, .80 acre), $28,000, CitiFinancial Servicing to Joyce Diane Davis

Unit 30 block A2 of Biltmore Lake phase 1, $562,500, Mark T. and Erin M. Wells to Steven K. and Cynthia Salter

Unit 102 Forest Center Condominiums phase 1, $135,000, William H. and Carol I. Matthews, Family Life & Learning Center Real Estate LLC (one half undivided interest each) to Leonidas Holdings LLC

31 H G Buckner Meadows Road (Tract 1-A, 0.55 acre), $202,000, Chad and Leah B. (f. k. a. Solesbee) Carter to Sunny W. and Gary Brandon Ducker

11 Dixon Road, $155,000, Farmbound Holdings LLC to Shona Guevara

40 Sand Hill Lane, $35,000, Brandon and Brandy Allen to Maria Julia Ayala Guevara, Jorge Luis Hernandez Ayala

145 Clayton Road, $25,000, Johnny Edward Chapman, Revonda Lee Kelly, Katherine Margaret Ryder to Artex Carolina Inc.

39 Pacifico Drive (Lot 15), $363,000, Joseph C. and Sueako Difeo to Jeremy and Amber Hamlin

Lot 7 Mountain View Estates (Tipton Hill Road), $26,000, The Daisy Sophia Shumaker Living Trust to Bruce A. Crossman

25 Glen Crest Drive (Lot 10 Glen Crest Subdivision), $359,500, Christopher and Rebecca Y. Ewing to Derek and Jennifer T. M. Bouchard

Lot 22 Southcliff (Still Creek Loop), $72,500, MRECV Southcliff LM LLC to AMARX Construction LLC

Lot 3 Bear Creek Hills (0.729 acre), $344,500, Daniel Lee and Brandy Rogers Jenkins, Joshua Clay and Amanda Phillips Jenkins to Gregory Treaster

127 Shadowlawn Drive (Lots 512-513 block D), $57,000, Marie Ball Gibson to Asheville Land Company LLC

48 Rotunda Circle (Lot 407 Mount Caramel Village phase 1), $165,000, Belinda T. Wells to Carey Canipe and Linda Charlene Phillips

69 Smith Road (5.5 acres), $95,000, Theodore Michael Rogers to Gwendolyn Abeln Casebeer

Lot 70B Fitzgerald Townhomes, $385,000, Johanna M. Cressy to Lori A. and Robert J. Cottone Jr.

56 Ridge Creek Drive, $167,500, Robert C. and Joan K. Powers to Travis Lee Ferren, Delaney Jordan Harrigan

Lot H-1 The Vistas of Westfield phase 1, $343,000, The Vistas of Westfield LLC to Patricia Moore Smith

23 Huffman Road, $170,000, Michael A. Hancock to Maple Ridge Investments LLC

104 Summerglen Drive (Lot 191 section 4 Bent Creek subdivision), $200,000, Hinnenkamp Revocable Living Trust, Klaus R. Hinnenkamp and Peggy P. Hinnenkamp Revocable Living Trust to Benjamin Avivi

327 Old Haw Creek Road, $50,000, Equity Trust Co. Custodian FBO Colin Roberson IRA to Robert B. and Sudan H. Michael

Lot 5 Cherry Blossom Cove phase 1, $206,000, Jock A. and Whitney H. Brough to Julie A. and John K. Larsh II

Unit M-4 the Cloisters Condominiums phase 6, $131,00, Estate of Peter Micheale Hamm, Chris and Michelle Tydus, Anna M. Hamm, Alison M. and Steve Poteracki to Susan Clayton and David Beltz (Ninety-Nine percent interest), Lauren Elizabeth Beltz and Zane Bitter (One percent interest)

373 Merrills Cove Road (3.21 acres), $645,000, Christine D. Cook to Patrick Joseph and Elizabeth Paige Gerbic

Lot 24 Woodcrest At Biltmore Terrace, $235,000, Highland Property Group LLC to the Cheryl Wolfarth Revocable Trust

814 N Oconeechee Ave. (Lot 27 block 49), $240,000, NCI Properties LLC to Tracy A. Mousseau

8 Short St., $129,000, Scott Marshall Investments LCL to David Norman and Mary Lyons Stanley

Lot 3-B Myra Village phase 2, $280,000, Myra Properties LLC to Robert A. and Laura L. Kelso

39 Walnut Springs Drive (Building 7B Waterstone Place), $212,000, REO Properties Two LP to Katheryne E. Wright

238 Tipton Hill Road (0.66 acre), $235,000, William G. and L. Karon King to Anthony L. Gentry, Charity Norton

Lot 1 North Buncombe School Road (4686 acres), $235,000, Estate of Adelaide Daniels Key, Robert J. and Winnie Ziegler, David Daniels and Kathy Key, Jonathan Worth and Barbara Key, Gilbert Russell Key II, Emily Jones and Corey D. Smith, Adelaide Key Green to True Vista LLC

Lot 8 Sugar Hill Estates, $204,000, William Bradley and Ashley C. Martin to Anita B. Heinrich

Lot 40A of the Hills of French Broad Subdivision, $42,000, R & S Investments of WNC LLC to CMH Homes Inc.


86 Davis Chapel Road, $181,000, Amanda L. Hester to Katie M. Farrar, Gary L. Sizer II

Lot 23 A MC Acres section 3, $93,500, Nancy E. Fox to Sharon C. Bates


Lots 1-2 Joe Jenkins Road, $403,000, The Chapel Door to Mountain Shadow Properties LLC

Lot 21 Cane Creek Cove, $46,000, Christopher Mark Race to Patricia Amick and Jimmy Bascombe Guthrie Jr.


25 Enchanted Lane (Lot 9 Forest of the Unicorn), $316,500, David A. Maida, Laura Elizabeth Palermo to Walton James Holcombe, Laura Ann Goodman


8 Owens Cove Road, $24,000, Robert Jason and Samantha Owens to Oscar Ventura

70 Juno Drive (Lot 18), $264,000, Richard M. and Ronda Nallenweg to Shannon Michalka

96 Misty Ridge Lane (Lot 42 Country Place phase 5), $102,000, Clifford Boone to Edith Nayeli Zacarias Flores (a. k. a. Zacarias-Flores), Charles B. Ray

Lot 9 Sunset Heights section I, $277,000, Jerry R. King to Arthur Hart Dahlhauser, Hillary R. Holmes


40 Hallet Court (Unit 209 block E Ramble Biltmore Forest), $175,000, Ramble Biltmore Forest LLC to Robert M. and Sandra K. McKown

Lot 212 Ramble Biltmore Forest block E, $165,000, Ramble Biltmore Forest LLC to Matthews Custom Built Homes Inc.

Unit 46 building C-J of the Village At Bradley Branch phase I, $187,500, Harold E. and Helga U. Zeltner to Lisa E. Kay


Lot 86 Weaverville Village Walk, $280,000, Frank Michael and Jessica S. Boing to Bryson S. and Erica M. Young


Parcel 6A of Reynolds Mountain (8.84 acres), $840,000, REDUS One LLC to Skyfin Developers LLC

Compiled by Citizen-Times News Correspondent Bonnie Black

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Foreclosure Listings: Current Tax Foreclosure Sales!

Foreclosure Listings: Current Tax Foreclosure Sales!

Tax Foreclosure Sales

shutterstock_97306490The Foreclosure Listings are in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). If you are unable to view the file, you can download Adobe Acrobat Reader from the Utilities Download page.

Information regarding Buncombe County Tax Records is published to the web. Parcel information regarding foreclosures can also be found using thetax information system.

General Information about the Tax Collection Foreclosure Process

The Tax Department takes tax foreclosures very seriously. Before proceeding with any legal action, notice is given to the taxpayer by phone, letters, notices, etc. The Tax Department only forecloses if there is no response from the taxpayer after action is taken or if the taxpayer does not follow through with an agreed upon payment arrangement made with the Tax Department. A tax foreclosure can begin at any date after January 5th of the current year that is being collected.

Tax foreclosure sales may be processed by one of two procedures:

  1. In-Rem Foreclosures: The Tax Department and the County Attorney’s office will handle all aspects of the foreclosure proceedings. More defined information on this style of foreclosure can be found by reviewing the general statue (G.S.§ 105-375)
  2. Mortgage Style: The County will refer the account to an outside attorney who will handle all aspects of the foreclosure proceeds. The tax liens on real property in North Carolina are subject to foreclosure in a manner similar to . More defined information on this style of foreclosure can be found by reviewing the general statue (G.S.§ 105-374).

Other helpful information regarding Tax Foreclosures

  • Notice of Sale: All sales will be advertised in a news paper that meets the requirements of general circulation as required, prior to the sale date. Additional information may be posted to the County’s website to assist with advertising the sale and opening bid.
  • Location on Sale: Foreclosure sales will be handled by a public auction on the front steps of the county courthouse scheduled at the discretion of the assigned commissioner conducting the sale. Sales will be made to the last and highest bidder and each property will be sold “as is” and without warranty. Each sale may be subject to further outstanding taxes and any local improvement assessments against the property not included in the judgment.
  • Bidding on an auctioned property: You can bid on any property by attending the sale on the courthouse steps the day the sale is to take place. The price for each property has an Estimated Opening Bid set prior to the date of the sale. This is the approximate amount required for the opening bid. The person conducting the sale will announce the actual opening bid for each property at the time of sale. A deposit of up to twenty percent (20%) of the bid will be required following the sale, and the balance of the price bid must be paid at the end of the ten day period and confirmation of the sale.
  • Upset Bid process: A person interested in making an increased bid should go to the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court on the first floor of the Buncombe County Courthouse. The increased bid must exceed the current bid by five percent (5%) or $750.00 whichever is greater. To make an increased bid a deposit of five percent (5%) of the amount of the new high bid, or a minimum of $750.00, must be delivered to the Clerk of Superior Court by cash or certified check or cashier’s check satisfactory to the Clerk.

**North Carolina does not sell Tax Liens or Tax Certificates over the counter.

via https://www.buncombecounty.org/Governing/Depts/Tax/LegalDivision_Tax.aspx

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Apartment occupancy dropping, but rents not budging yet

ASHEVILLE – Tell Marie Kerwin the city’s apartment occupancy rate has dropped a few notches – meaning a lot more units should be available – and she may beg to differ.

“There’s not a lot of options,” said Kerwin. “It took me months to find an apartment. I actually was calling every complex, every day.”

Kerwin and her husband, Christian, relocated to Asheville a year ago from Jacksonville, Florida, both taking jobs with the Earth Fare supermarket. Kerwin said they “got lucky” in finding a place at The Palisades, a 224-unit complex off Mills Gap Road in Arden that opened last summer.

For renters like the Kerwins, it might not seem like it, but the city’s apartment vacancy rate — famously pegged at 1 percent in a consultant’s report published a year-and-a-half ago that looked at Buncombe and three other counties — is easing, meaning more units are available. That also should mean, theoretically, rents will decline, but that hasn’t happened.

A tight apartment market has dominated local discussions about affordable housing and livability in the Asheville area for nearly two years. But while that vacancy rate is moving to a more livable range of around 6 percent, rents likely won’t fall over the next couple of years, experts say.

‘A very tight market’

“Typically, Asheville is a very tight market,” said Marc Robinson, vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, a global company that tracks apartment trends, including occupancy and rents.

Whether rents will drop with new apartments being built is “a hard call,” he added, “because on the one hand there is a supply entering the system, and that market has really seen lot of supply at one time — more supply than it would have historically seen. But in many markets, including Raleigh, Charlotte and Atlanta, absorption (of new units) has been better than expected.”

Robinson’s company, Multi Housing Advisors, now part of Cushman & Wakefield, issues quarterly reports on the apartment market. Its “MHA Market Insight” first quarter report for Asheville noted:

• “Properties built from the 1980s to the 2000s are maintaining an average vacancy rate in the 6 percent range, compared to 3 percent for properties built in 1970s or earlier.”

• “The average vacancy for properties built after 2009 is approximately 19 percent, which is skewing the vacancy rate upward,” in part because in a smaller market “additions to supply have an amplified effect.”

Robinson said his company’s figures from about two months ago show the Asheville area has “about a 3 percent vacancy, and in real time it may be a little higher.” In North Carolina, the rental vacancy in the first quarter stood at 8.2 percent, according to U.S. Census data.

By some estimates, the Asheville area, including surrounding Buncombe County and Fletcher, has had or will have in coming months about 2,200 new units coming online, well short of the 5,600 units the consultant recommended be built to meet demand.

“The pipeline of new construction (of rental properties) over the next three to five years will still not meet the forecasted demand so for the short-term we can expect to see the rental rates remain high, vacancy rates to remain at record lows,” said Greg Stephens, chief appraiser and senior vice president of compliance for Detroit-based Metro-West Appraisal Company.

Several firms track such information, including Real Data, a Charlotte-based real estate research firm. Using market surveys rather than sample data to compile its statistics, Real Data found the vacancy rate among apartment complexes with at least 30 units in Asheville, Buncombe County and Hendersonville was 6.9 percent in December.

Theoretically, all this should mean rents will come down, as people move from older apartments to newer ones, and apartment companies have to make concessions, such as lowering rents.


But this is Asheville, where millennials keep moving in and retirees are drawn to great weather, arts and restaurants. From March 2015 to March 2016, Asheville saw the highest spike statewide in the average cost of renting an apartment, a 7.6 percent jump.

For the first quarter of 2016, MHA Market Insight found the average rent for one-bedroom apartments in Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood and Madison counties was $821, representing a 6.2 percent one-year growth in rent. A two-bedroom went for $964, 4.3 percent growth.

Kerwin said she and her husband are paying $1,095 a month for their two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,125-square-foot apartment. In Florida they paid $1,100 a month for an 1,800-square-foot three-bedroom.

“It’s definitely more expensive to live here,” she said.

Rising vacancy rates combined with rising rents is a national phenomenon, said Jonathan Miller, the New York-based co-founder of Miller Samuel, a residential real estate appraisal company, and the commercial valuation firm Miller Cicero.

“New development that skews to high-end rentals has been overplayed,” Miller said. But moderate rental development stock “has remained largely static.”

A lot of building

That 1 percent vacancy rate was made famous by the report from Bowen National Research, an Ohio-based real estate market consulting firm that researched rental apartment vacancy rates in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties during fall 2014.

Its release in January 2015 helped push a spike in building, making apartment construction a common sight in and around Asheville.

No one company has put more units on the Asheville market than Will Ratchford’s Triangle Real Estate of Gastonia, which since 2011 has added or will soon add 1,136 units in Asheville, Buncombe and Fletcher. Most of their units carry rents ranging from $900 to 1,350 a month.

While Ratchford has seen one report suggesting the area will have 10 percent vacancy rate by 2020, he’s skeptical it will get that high.

Blake Breimann, a vice president at Georgia-based Fluornoy Development, is in charge of the Carolinas for his company, which has two apartment complexes in the Asheville area: The Aventine, just off Long Shoals Road in Arden, and The District, still under construction, in Biltmore Village.

The Aventine contains 312 units and The District will offer 309 units. Rent at The Aventine ranges from $990-$1,640 a month.

Rental rates have stayed steady since the Bowen Report’s release, Breimann said.

The Aventine, which opened in 2015, continues to accept applicants and is about 86 percent occupied. Within 30 days, Breimann projects that figure will hit 93 percent.

Breimann also closely tracks the competition, and he says the occupancy rate for some competitors in south Buncombe has dropped to about 94-95 percent, down from 99 or 100 percent in December.

“This is most likely due to the newer properties that have come on line in the last couple years,” he said.

Those include Palisades Apartment Homes and Ansley at Roberts Lake south of downtown Asheville and The Retreat at Hunt Hill by McCormick Field near downtown.

The equation for lower rents is not complicated, Ratchford said, as “it depends on how many people move in and how much supply gets built.”

While the Bowen report estimated 5,600 apartment units were needed to meet demand, Ratchford says that number depends on a continued growing economy and a steady influx of new renters.

Rents stubbornly high

So, the crisis is easing, and rents should come down, right? Nope.

“My personal gut feeling is the year-over-year rent growth (rate) will slow but not stop growing,” Robinson said. “I think it’s going to remain positive at between 3 and 5 percent.”

Rents haven’t dropped yet, but Ratchford said some cracks are beginning to show in the rental increase wall, mainly because of all the competition.

“You’re starting to see some concessions in the market,” Ratchford said, referring to rent deals. “At Seasons at Cane Creek, we’re doing an up-front special — $500 off the first four months rent. Everybody is trying to fill up at the same time, and when you input more supply in the market it’s taking awhile to fill up.”

Even though he makes his living in the apartment world, Ratchford thinks it might be nearing the end of a mini-boom cycle.

Rent increases may have plateaued in the luxury-apartment market. Rent ranges from $1,350 to $1,800 a month at the apartments at Biltmore Park Town Square, a complex owned by Biltmore Farms LLC, said Biltmore Farms Chief Financial Officer Paul Szurek.

The occupancy rate for those 120 units is about 99 percent, Szurek said.

Proprietary market analyses prepared for Biltmore Farms show Asheville’s citywide vacancy rates to be between 5 percent and 6 percent with flattening rents, Szurek said.

While the vacancy rates in those reports are consistent with other recent data, the leveling of rents is an observation that does not track the trend of other analysts.

Solutions far off

That is not what some members of Asheville City Council want to hear right now. Councilman Gordon Smith, who’s on the city’s Housing and Community Development Committee, said the city has formulated a comprehensive affordable housing strategy and has talked about an “all of the above approach.”

That includes increasing zoning density to allow more units per acre and encouraging developers to use city-backed incentives to build apartments.

The city is also in the midst of calling for a voter referendum on a $74 million bond issue, with $25 million of that potentially earmarked for affordable housing. If passed, it could include a $5 million addition to the existing revolving loan fund for private developers to build affordable rental housing, and $10 million for land banking or repurposing city-owned land, which would involve offering that land to developers for construction of affordable housing.

Rusty Pulliam heads Pulliam Properties, a commercial real estate firm that has become active in the apartment industry in recent years, building the 280-unit Weirbridge Village in Skyland and the 180-unit Retreat at Hunt Hill. This year the company also received approval to build a 272-unit complex on Mills Gap Road in Arden, which will include 41 units designated as “affordable,” a number Pulliam agreed to bump up at council’s urging.

Pulliam said he can still make money at the Mills Gap site because demand is so high that he can build a “premium complex” and charge high enough rents to make it work. But in the long run, he said, solving the apartment crunch does not require a Ph.D.

“If we were building middle-of-the-road apartments, we couldn’t do it. But until we put out there, as the Bowen report stated, 5,600 units in the marketplace, I don’t see that rents are going to come down, especially when see we’ve got a (3.5) percent unemployment rate and rents went up 7.6 percent, even when a lot of units did come on line.”

Unemployment in Buncombe County dropped to 3.5 percent in May, the lowest in the state.

People have always loved moving to Asheville, a trend that essentially never abates. Our region continues to grow not because of the birth rate but because of in-migration.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects Buncombe County’s population to grow to 300,000 by 2030, up from 253,178 in 2015. While the mountains are known as a retirement haven, millennials are coming here, too, with growth in that segment over the past five years outpacing that of baby boomers, people of ages 50 to 69, and Generation X, which includes ages 35 to 49.

In short, that’s a lot of apartment demand.

Other cities the challenge facing Asheville, said David Reiss, a professor of law and the research director at the Center for Urban Business  Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School in New York.

“During the Great Recession nothing got built,” Reiss said. “The same thing happened in New York.”

Some economists believe that “when vacancy rates are below 5 percent, you have the ability to raise rents significantly,” he said.

The MHA Market Insight first quarter report noted that “fewer than 700 units are currently under construction at five properties” in Asheville, so we’re still a long way from that 5,600 units figure.

Reiss said a full-court approach such as the one Asheville is taking can be useful, but he also urged caution.

“Whatever they decide the solution is, it takes years to implement those ideas,” Reiss said. “Whether it’s a developer or the city government, it takes a long time to get a solution in place.”

Kerwin, who now works in management at a home improvement store, said she and her husband gauged rents at a few other places after moving into the Palisades, but everything they eyeballed was in the $1,300 to $1,400 range. She’s not expecting rents to drop anytime soon.

“Why would they?” she said. “As long as you have houses or apartments in such demand, it’s not going to come down.”

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/07/16/apartment-occupancy-dropping-but-rents-not-budging-yet/86986876/

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Home of Heidelberg Project’s nonprofit office in Brush Park for sale

The listing price is TBD, but could be around $1.2 million.

Photo by CoStar Group Inc.The 10,000-square-foot building occupied by The Heidelberg Project nonprofit was built in 1923.

The Brush Park building where the Heidelberg Project nonprofit leases office space is for sale.

Located at 42 Watson St. between Woodward Avenue and John R Street, the building is about 10,000 square feet and was built in 1923.

Gordon Hawkins, broker/owner of Detroit-based Hawkins Realty Group, which is marketing the building for sale and specializes in Indian Village real estate, said Thursday afternoon that an official asking price has not yet been set but he is expecting it to be around $1.2 million.

“The Heidelberg Project building is an important part of the Midtown neighborhood fabric and has no plan to move in the immediate future,” Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield said in a statement.

The two-story building is owned by Warren Smith of Asheville, N.C., according to CoStar Group Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based real estate information service.

In the building, the Heidelberg Project has its administrative, meeting, gallery and studio space on the first floor; the second floor is residential with cork kitchen floors, cherry wood kitchen cabinets and granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances, according to the Hawkins Realty Group listing brochure.

The building sits just a few blocks north of the $627.5 million under-construction Little Caesars Arena for the Detroit Red Wings, a location which will likely generate substantial interest in the 42 Watson building from investors.

It is also on the same block as the $65 million The Scott at Brush Park apartment development by Birmingham-based Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services Inc. and Southfield-based Woodborn Partners LLC with 199 units and about 15,000 square feet of retail space expected to be complete this year.

The Heidelberg Project, which had its 30th anniversary in April, covers a pair of sparsely populated Heidelberg Street blocks in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood.

Started by artist Tyree Guyton, it transformed the rundown area into an art installation with found objects and paintings.

The nonprofit offers free art programs to thousands of children in the neighborhood and at Detroit and suburban schools.

A 2011 study found that the project’s annual economic impact on Wayne County is about $3.4 million based on an annual budget of $400,000 and average of 50,000 visitors per year.


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5 things to know if you’re moving a family to Asheville

Asheville makes a new top 10 list nearly every week for one of the best places to live in the country. With a massive natural playground, vibrant downtown, thriving music scene and much more, it’s no surprise that there’s a constant influx of families moving to the area. However, moving anywhere and adjusting to a new setting and feeling can take some time. Here are 5 tips for families relocating to the Asheville Area to ease their transition, settle in and become a part of the Asheville Community:

Finding your home and ’hood

Buying and even renting homes in Asheville is no easy task. With some of the highest rental and real estate prices in the state, it can be challenging to find a home.

“With housing, every part of Asheville has something for everyone, but it just depends on what you and your family are looking for,” says Charlie Anne Reed, information specialist for Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. “I recommend doing short term rentals to see what you like and what each neighborhood has to offer.”

Asheville has some incredible neighborhoods, each with their own charm and character. Even for families that move to Asheville with their housing secured, Asheville’s neighborhoods are definitely worth exploring with great restaurants, shops, parks and more.

•To read more about Asheville’s variety of neighborhoods visit: www.romanticasheville.com/relocate.htm or www.exploreasheville.com/see-do/nearby-towns-neighborhoods

For Asheville rental and real estate information, try these resources:

•Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, www.ashevillechamber.org. Here you’ll find links to residential property managers, real estate agents and a relocation guide.

•Asheville Citizen-Times, www.citizen-times.com. The local newspaper (and publisher of WNC Parent). Rental information is best on Sundays.

•IWANNA, www.iwanna.com. This publication is online as well as in print and it comes out on Tuesdays. They moved quickly too.

•www.tonsofrentals.com. Choose by city and state, ZIP code, price range, number of bedrooms, type of property (house/condo)

•www.ashevillerent.com. Choose by price range, number of bedrooms, type of property (house/condo/apartment).

Finding medical professionals

When moving to any new town searching for health care professionals always seems a daunting task. Fortunately, Asheville has a wealth of hospitals, urgent care centers, physicians, specialists and a wide variety of integrative care options.

“We really have a fabulous health care system here in Asheville,” Reed says. “In fact Mission Health Care System has been ranked one of the top in the nation. People have access to some of the best health care in our country when they choose to make their home in Asheville. ”

Area health systems and hospitals include Mission Health, Park Ridge Health, Pardee Hospital and Haywood Regional Medical Center.

Local health care resources and directories:



Plugging into community

There is something about the open and fun loving nature of Asheville and the people that live here that lends itself to strong communities. For this reason once here, many people never leave. However, for newcomers finding the right community events, classes and groups to plug into can be difficult.

“Asheville has numerous events and activities going on all the time. There is always something to do or see, and Asheville offers many family friendly and kid-focused events,” Reed says. “For people looking specifically for kid-centered events I recommend asheville.macaronikid.com. … I also urge people new to Asheville to check out www.exploreasheville.com. This is a great website that features a great master calendar of events, day trip options, local restaurant guide and much more.”

Other good websites to find community events:

•WNC Parent, www.wncparent.com

•Mountain Xpress, www.mountainx.com


•Asheville Scene, www.ashevillescene.com

Lend a hand

A great way to get involved in any community and meet like-minded and dedicated folk is to volunteer. Asheville has a large body of committed and caring citizens that strongly believe in giving back. As Reed advises, “When people tell me they are interested in volunteering I direct them to three places:

•Land of Sky Regional Council, www.landofsky.org

•United Way Asheville Buncombe, www.unitedwayabc.org/volunteer

•Hands on Asheville, www.handsonasheville.org/

“All of these websites have great databases for showing the many volunteering opportunities our area has to offer.”

Get outside

Many people moving to Asheville come to experience and play in the immense outdoor playground surrounding it. For many families the outside options are endless. It’s hard to know where to begin.

“I always send people to the Explore Asheville site. I especially like the page that offers local day trips for family fun,” Reed says. Find it at www.exploreasheville.com/trip-ideas/family-fun/

She also suggests people visit local tailgate markets. “This is a great way to get outside and keep things local, and the ASAP website has a great directory of all of our local markets,” she says. Find it at http://asapconnections.org/find-local-food/farmers-markets/

Other good websites to find outdoor adventures:



via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/life/family/2016/06/23/5-things-know-if-youre-moving-family-asheville/85893896/

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NC fund helps prevent foreclosure

Divorce, a medical emergency or a job loss could turn your finances upside down and send you into foreclosure.

A North Carolina program, though, has helped thousands of financially strapped people keep their home. Since 2010, the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention fund has kept almost 22,000 North Carolinians in their homes, and the fund just got another grant to help thousands more facing financial struggles.

Dion Boone puts her spacious Raleigh kitchen to work by creating a line of hair products.

“I’ve kind of reinvented myself a little bit to be able to get myself set in a place where I know I’m going to be able to walk right back into taking care of (my mortgage),” Boone said.

She bought the home in 2001 before a divorce left her struggling with the payments and medical problems made her situation worse. She tried to refinance and even tried a loan modification, but neither worked.

“But then of course, my credit score was different,” Boone said. “You know what I mean. My finances were different, so I didn’t have that kind of option that I had before.”

She found help through the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund. The fund was set up in 2010 at the height of the housing crisis. It’s funded by the U.S. Treasury Department and provides interest-free, forgivable loans of up to $36,000 for as many as three years.

To qualify, you must:

» be in a temporary financial hardship

» have a good payment history

» be able to resume payments on your own..

The fund also helps veterans transitioning to civilian life.

“I was so elated, so relieved … so grateful, and I just couldn’t believe it,” Boone said.

With some of the stress gone, Boone is getting back on her feet and working in her kitchen to secure her future.

“There was actually this program that was set in place to help people so they wouldn’t lose their homes,” Boone said. “And they actually are helping people not to lose their homes.”

With the new grant, the fund can help another 6,000 people.
Read more at http://www.wral.com/nc-fund-helps-prevent-foreclosure/15780716/.99

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Cash for House 290 new apartments, 29 houses planned in South Asheville

Program – IbuyHomesLLC.com

Developer says first resident could move in as early as Halloween 2017.
ASHEVILLE – An Atlanta-based developer proposing to build 290 apartments in South Asheville expects the City Council to vote on the plan in July.

“If all goes well, the first resident will move in by Halloween (2017),” said Nick Hathaway, partner and director of development at Hathaway Development in Atlanta.

The four-building complex, called Skyland Exchange, would be located at 55 Miami Circle and 70 Allen Ave., according to documents from the Asheville Planning and Urban Design Department.

It already has received approval from Asheville’s Technical Review Committee and Planning and Zoning Commission.

Hathaway said he and his colleagues adjusted project plans after Buncombe County Schools officials raised some concerns.

Those included worries traffic congestion would increase at nearby Roberson High with an apartment complex vehicle entrance and exit at Miami Circle — particularly during peak morning hours, Hathaway said. Miami Circle is used as the main entrance road to the high school for drop-offs.

To remedy that potential problem, Hathaway executives eliminated the Miami Circle entrance and exit.

School district officials also recommended moving amenities, such as an outdoor pool, away from the parking lot of Roberson High, which would be next to part of the complex, Hathaway said.

Doing so would make it more difficult for students to jump in the pool, Hathaway said district officials told him.

School officials also suggested connecting the apartments with only one sidewalk, rather than multiple, to reduce the likelihood of students going to the complex, he said.

Tim Fierle, Buncombe County Schools assistant director of facilities and planning, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Skyland Exchange would include 29 apartments, or 10 percent, designated as “affordable housing,” Hathaway said. City officials made that request, he said.

The complex would include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, Hathaway said. Some also would have a room envisioned as a home office, he said.

Projected rents would range from $850 to $1,350, Hathaway said, but could be adjusted depending on the market when the apartments are ready for move-in.

Miami Made LLC, an Asheville company, owns the 11.39 acres on which the project will be developed. Eddie Dewey, the registered agent for Miami Made and founder of Dewey Property Advisors, an Asheville commercial real estate company, could not be reached for comment.

Wes Reinhart, president and co-founder of Altamus LLC, a property management firm that is Dewey Property Advisors “sister company,” according to the Altamus website, also could not be reached.

City officials also are reviewing a separate project that would build 29 single-family homes in a subdivision at 70 Allen Ave.

Farmbound Holdings LLC, an Asheville property development company, owns the 3.73 acres where those homes would be built, according to Asheville Planning documents. A phone call to Farmbound seeking comment was not immediately returned.

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/06/01/290-apartments-and-29-houses-planned-construction-south-asheville/85235786/

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Haywood County’s real estate market gets back in the game

After years of a sluggish real estate recovery, the home market in Haywood County is on a noticeable upward swing. Houses are selling quicker, the inventory glut is finally shrinking and home prices are inching upward again. Second-home buyers and retirees are returning, and overflow from the red-hot Asheville real estate market is leading younger buyers to Haywood’s doorstep to boot.

Is real estate back? The Smoky Mountain News checked in with a panel of real estate experts this week to reflect on where the real estate market has been and where it’s heading.

Data contained in this article is derived from North Carolina Mountains Multiple Service.

Meet the pundits

“I don’t think we ever lost appeal. People just had to put their dreams on hold for a little while. They had to buckle down like all of us did for a few years and are now trying to revive that dream.”

— Amy Spivey, ERA Sunburst Realty

“There is no question the market has changed. If you need to sell your house, you can probably sell your house now. Whereas in the past you just didn’t know if you could.”

— Brian Cagle, Beverly-Hanks & Associates, president of N.C. Mountains Multiple Service

“It is not that everybody is yee-hawing around and waving flags. But everybody is finally able to catch their breath and see a way forward.”

— Lisa Brown, association executive for the Haywood County Board of Realtors

“I always tell my clients I hope you find the home of your dreams. Once you do, stop looking.”

— Patrick McDowell, Keller Williams, president of the Haywood County Board of Realtors

“I remember having conversations with other Realtors at open houses before the crash saying, ‘We can’t sustain this. We can’t sustain these price increases. Something is going to have to give.’”

— Tom Mallette, Realty World-Heritage Realty, president of Haywood County Multiple Listing Service

“The real estate market has certainly improved. We are seeing that domino effect.”

— Catherin Proben, RE/MAX Mountain Realty

“Everybody starts comparing everything to the boom and someone comes up to them and asks ‘How’s business?’ and they say ‘Well, it isn’t as good as it was.’ But I think it is a very positive market.”

— Bruce McGovern, McGovern Property Management

Realtors in the ranks

Everyone wanted to be a Realtor in the mid-2000s.

“The market was crazy you just showed up and you got business,” Mallette said.

The number of Realtors operating in Haywood County rose exponentially through the mid-2000s.

“I couldn’t process them fast enough, they were joining so fast,” said Brown with the Haywood Board of Realtors.

But when the bust hit and sales dried up, scores of Realtors were forced to exit the industry.

“You can follow the boom and bust of the real estate market just by looking at the number of Realtors in the industry,” Brown said. “If you didn’t know we had a recession and just looked at those numbers it would tell you ‘Wow, something good was happening in 2006 and something bad happened after that.’”

Many who got out were Johnny-come-latelys to the party anyway, those who were moonlighting or dappling in real estate for the easy pickings.

“The long-time Realtors were glad those were gone because they were just nibbling at the edges and reducing the size of the pie,” Brown said.

But for other Realtors, the recession posed a heart-wrenching crossroads in their chosen career.

“It was like a psychiatrist office in here,” Brown said. “They were having conversations about ‘Do I stay in this business?’” Brown said. “It was a long slog for those who survived and are still making a living at what they are doing.”

For those who stuck it out during the downturn, it took grit.

“When you aren’t working you go out and work harder to find more business, not sit back and cry the blues,” McGovern said.

Number of Realtors belonging to the Haywood County Board of Realtors

  • 2006: 460
  • 2013: 227
  • 2016: 275

Driving demand

Realtors don’t keep demographic data on their buyers and sellers, so it’s impossible to say for sure what sector is fueling the real estate comeback.

“There is no way to statistically capture that,” McDowell said.

But based on anecdotal evidence, the market is seeing an uptick across the whole gamut — first-time buyers, families moving up to a larger house, retirees from out-of-state, and second-home buyers.

“I personally have a lot of clients buying their first home or moving up. I can list any number of clients under 30 who are getting married, buying a house and starting families here,” McDowell said.

Many are seeing a return of second-home buyers.

“We’ve had a lot of retirees,” Mallette said. “We are seeing folks who are have always had a dream of living in the mountains and are moving here.”

“We are seeing people looking for that magical mountain retirement home again,” Cagle agreed.

Another factor driving demand is the dearth of affordable rental homes.

“We have buyers who are paying $800 to $900 a month for rent who realize they can buy something and pay less in mortgage payments,” Mallette said.

McDowell citied the “unreal” low mortgage rates as another factor spurring first-time buyers.

“You think about how many millennials are living in their parents’ basement still waiting tables somewhere because they couldn’t get a job,” Mallette said.

As the job outlook improves, “The millennial population is our next segment to buy homes,” he said.

Price point

The go-to saying in real estate has been turned on its head in Haywood County over the past year.

It’s no longer “all about location.” Instead, it’s all about price.

Homes priced under $200,000 are going like hotcakes and Realtors can’t get enough of them to meet the demand.

Over the past six months, 64 homes in the $125,000 to $150,000 range have sold — compare to only four homes over $750,000 in the same period.

“Anything before $250,000 is pretty much gone if it is decent as soon as it goes out there because that’s the price point,” Proben said. “If you look at the average wages of two common jobs in this county, a mill worker and a school teacher, that’s all they can afford.”

Proben said there is getting to be a serious shortage of homes in that range.

“The demand in those lower price ranges is so high we are selling stuff above asking,” Cagle said.

The median selling price of a home in 2015 was $191,000, compared to a high of $209,000 in 2007 — back when there were more high-end home sales in the mix. But as demand for homes has increased, the median sale price has crept up as a result. Median sale price bottomed out at $151,000 in 2012-2013 and has been climbing ever since.

Percentage of home sales by price range, 2015

  • under $150,000 41%
  • $150,000-$250,000 37%
  • $250,000-$350,000 15%
  • $350,000-$450,000 3%
  • over $450,000 4%

Spring cleaning

In•ven•to•ry: in real estate terminology, how long it would take to sell every home on the market at the current sales pace, if no more homes were listed.

The number Realtors watch more than any other is known as inventory: how many homes are on the market and how quickly are they selling?

Inventory is a critical indicator of supply-and-demand, which in turn is a harbinger of how the market will do over the coming year. It essentially means how quickly you would run out of homes, based on the current pace of sales, if no more were put on the market.

Inventory is one number Realtors actually like to see go down — and indeed inventory has been steadily falling, meaning houses aren’t sitting on the market as long and demand is increasing.

“Homes that are prepared for the market properly and are priced for the market will sell very rapidly,” said Cagle.

The average length a home sat on the market has dropped from 207 days in 2014 to 189 days in 2015 — an 8 percent improvement in one year.

During the downturn, a glut of inventory kept home prices depressed. Buyers had so many options and so little competition, they had their pick of the litter and could name their price.

“I was showing buyers 15 to 20 homes that all met their requirements because the inventory was so high,” said Proben. “Now you are probably showing them anywhere from six to eight.”

As inventory is cleared out, supply declines, and home values start to inch back up.

“If there’s not as much out there, it is telling me that home prices might be going up,” said Brown.

With eight months of inventory, the real estate market is still slightly in buyers’ favor, but is more balanced than it’s been in years, with six months’ inventory being considered a “balanced market” between buyers and sellers according to the National Association of Realtors.

Inventory of homes on the market:

  • April 2015: 15-month inventory
  • April 2016: 8-month inventory

Slow and steady wins the race

Volume isn’t the only thing going up. Values are going up, too. The definition of “up” is markedly different from what it once was, however.

“Granted the real estate market is never going to return to 2006 levels. We hope not. It didn’t need to be that high,” Brown said.

Values aren’t doubling and tripling overnight like they seemed to in the mid-2000s — but Realtors say that’s a good thing.

“We are growing at a steady pace, instead of a rapid run up, which gives me comfort that this is something that can continue for a while,” McDowell said. “The average price is not spiking like it was previously. It got out of whack and we were appreciating very high. We had a reset because of this bubble — and now homes are appreciating again.”

The wild appreciation of home and land values a decade ago were largely driven by the out-of-state second home market, particularly from Florida, where real estate had gone through the roof, giving them plenty of dough to plow into that mountain house they always wanted.

“There was a euphoria in the early 2000s from people in other parts of the country making so much from the sale of their homes there, they drove the prices up rapidly,” McDowell said.

One thing keeping the breaks on home values is lenders insisting on solid appraisals. Appraisers base values on historical sale prices over the past year, and banks in turn lend only the amount an appraiser says it’s worth — at least now that everyone’s playing by the rules.

“It takes a while for the values to push up, because they are held captive to the past 12 months of comparable sales,” Proben said.

On Haywood’s doorstep, Asheville is defying this trend with run-away prices and unprecedented demand from people wanting to move to Asheville.

“We aren’t seeing the huge price increases that Buncombe County is seeing which is fine with me because I think that is unsustainable,” said Spivey, who admits she still lives in fear of the last recession.

Total dollar value of homes sold in Haywood by year, in millions

  • 2004: $166.1
  • 2005: $237
  • 2006: $254
  • 2011: $92.93
  • 2012: $124.9
  • 2013: $134.8
  • 2014: $139.2
  • 2015: $171

The Asheville factor

Perhaps the biggest story playing out in the Haywood real estate market today is the Asheville factor. The real estate market is so red-hot in Asheville, homes are selling above asking price the day they hit the market.

Due to steep inflation in home prices, Asheville was recently ranked the sixth most unhealthy real estate market in the country.

That’s good news for Haywood, however.

“The people who are getting out-priced to live in Asheville are going to come here,” Proben said. “Asheville is getting a lot of exposure, and it has started moving this way.”

Indeed, Asheville’s status as the new Austin is attracting people in droves.

“Every time you look, Asheville’s won some kind of award. Eventually some of that will bleed over to Haywood County. It is impossible that it would not,” Brown said. “The law of averages says we are going to pick up some of it.”

Mallette said the majority of showings for his listings are coming from Asheville real estate agents.

“They can’t find their buyers what they are looking for in Asheville,” Mallette said. “All the accolades that Asheville has gotten are a great draw for the region, but you can buy in the outlying counties and it is much cheaper and much prettier.”

Canton’s proximity to Asheville has made it ground zero for spillover.

“In Canton you can sell a house just like that right now,” Cagle said. So much so, inventory of moderately prices homes in Canton has begun to dry up, Cagle said.

“We have been saying for years that one day Canton will be discovered and it seems to be happening,” Spivey said.

McDowell said Haywood County isn’t necessarily picking up Asheville’s scraps, but is being discovered as a desirable alternative.

“People who thought they wanted to live in Asheville realize they like the lifestyle in Haywood County. It is not a compromise to chose Haywood County but they decide Haywood County better suits their lifestyle and demands,” McDowell said. “I don’t see people settling. I have never had a client say ‘I want to be in Asheville, but because I can’t I am coming to talk to you about Waynesville.’”

Closing the sale

The number of homes sold in Haywood County has increased steadily after hitting bottom in 2010, and as sales increase, a self-fulfilling prophecy plays out. When someone is able to sell their home — whether they want a larger house, better view, closer to town, bigger yard — that seller becomes a buyer themselves. Whoever they buy from goes from a seller to a buyer, and it creates a chain reaction — the very essence of why it’s called a market.

Stagnating home prices have hampered that movement over the past few years, however. Homeowners could once count on their home appreciating, and periodically plowed the equity they’d built up in their existing home to purchase something better.

That wasn’t happening during the downturn. Home values were flat, so even if someone could sell their home, they had no equity in it. Rather than rebuy something else in the same price range they already had, they stayed put, Cagle explained.

“What we are seeing now is that people once again have equity in their house, and it has dawned on them they can do something different,” Cagle said. “That is a big deal. That starts to create mobility in the market where there wasn’t any.”

Cagle said Beverly-Hanks has seen a 40 percent increase in their sales volume this year — the firm has closed 134 deals in Haywood so far this year compared to 95 during the same period last year. A similar 40 percent increase in volume was witnessed between 2014 and 2015.

Number of homes sold by year

  • 2004: 905
  • 2005: 1,133
  • 2006: 1,089
  • 2007: 814
  • 2008: 544
  • 2009: 510
  • 2010: 496
  • 2011: 531
  • 2012: 722
  • 2013: 779
  • 2014: 781
  • 2015: 892

The second-homers and high rollers

Another positive trend in the real estate market is the slow return of second-home buyers.

“Before the downturn, probably 95 percent of the buyers we had at our firm were from Florida and were buying a second home,” said Tom Mallette with Realty World-Heritage Realty. “That’s probably 20 percent now.”

It’s lower than what it was during the boom, but better than it was during the bust, when second-home buyers seemed to evaporate.

“As Florida has recovered, they are buying again, so we are seeing that domino effect,” Proben said.

Realtors report a lot of activity coming from Texas. Realtor Bruce McGovern just sold a mountaintop home to couple from Texas.

“They just absolutely love the area. They fell in love with it,” McGovern said.

While the second-home market was on hold for a while, Haywood County’s appeal is timeless.

“We live in such a wonderful, beautiful place,” said ERA Sunburst Realtor Amy Spivey.

Those second-home buyers aren’t making major forays into the high-end, luxury home market, however.

“The luxury market was hard hit,” Proben said. “Those homes have been harder to move, because there isn’t enough demand for houses over $400,000.”

One problem is buyers in that price point can afford to be particular.

“They have cash and they are very picky and they look at a house and say ‘Hmm that’s not really what I want. I’ll just build me a house,’” Cagle said.

There are some signs of movement, however.

“We went a couple years without a sale over a million dollars,” Mallette said.

But last year, four homes in the million-dollar range sold.

Sales of million dollar homes by year

  • 2004: 4
  • 20055
  • 200610
  • 20077
  • 20084
  • 20093
  • 20102
  • 20111
  • 20120
  • 20130
  • 20142
  • 20154

Lessons learned

The real estate frenzy that captivated the mountains during the mid-2000s was driven in part by speculators trying to get rich on the wildly inflating home and land prices.

“People were treating the housing market like day trading,” McDowell said.

When the new normal hit, Realtors had to rethink their business model. Mallette reflects on the rise and fall every time he looks at the row of plaques hanging on his wall, chronicling his total sales by year since 2004.

“I still look at that number and say, ‘How the heck did we survive?’” Mallette said, pointing to 2009.

Mallette, who runs his real estate firm with his wife, Christine, spent hours agonizing over how to trim overhead. They started cleaning the office themselves instead of paying someone to do it, and canceled their water cooler service.

“I thought ‘Why am I paying $40 a month for water when I have great artesian spring water at my house?’” Mallette recalled.

He also spent a lot of time praying.

“After work, we would take the family and go to church and ask God for guidance,” Mallette said.

Realtors weren’t the only ones who struggled. Attorneys and appraisers had to readjust as well.

“In 2006, you could tell the market was hot because you would call to get an appraiser and it was 3 to 4 weeks down the road before you could get one. Home inspectors were the same way. You would call and ask for a home inspection and they would be two weeks out,” McGovern said. During the downturn, home inspectors were waiting around for calls and attorneys’ calendars were wide open. Now, as testiment to the turning real estate tide, they are getting harder to schedule.

via http://www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/17731-the-phoenix-rises-haywood-county-s-real-estate-market-gets-back-in-the-game


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SECU continues its efforts for struggling homeowners with expanded NCHFA programs

RALEIGH, NC (May 27, 2016) — For six years, State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) has helped the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) spread the word about their mortgage assistance programs offered through the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund™.  The recent award of an additional $224 million to NCHFA from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund® to expand Fund programs is even greater news to North Carolina homeowners, including Credit Union members who may be on the brink of losing their homes.  SECU is proud to work in partnership with NCHFA to help promote the Agency’s Principal Reduction Recast/Lien Extinguishment (PRRLE) program.

The goal of the Principal Reduction Recast/Lien Extinguishment program is to assist homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payment and are either on a fixed income or underemployed and seeking new employment.  The Credit Union served as a resource partner in the PRRLE pilot program because of its positive results in helping promote the Fund’s Mortgage Payment Program (MPP) administered by NCHFA.  While the MPP focuses primarily on providing mortgage payment assistance to homeowners having difficulty making their mortgage payments due to job loss through no fault of their own or other temporary hardships, PRRLE attempts to provide long-term assistance in the form of a reduced or eliminated mortgage payment.  To date, nearly 1,600 SECU members have received financial assistance through the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund’s MPP and PRRLE programs, with each MPP loan averaging $20,000 and PRRLE funding reaching $1.7 million thus far.

“State Employees’ Credit Union has been a key contributor in saving homeowners from foreclosure through the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund, which has now benefited over 22,000 families,” said A. Robert Kucab, NCHFA Executive Director.  “The Credit Union has been a partner from the beginning, providing their experience and guidance on the needs of North Carolina homeowners and developing guidelines for the program that position it for success.  As a result of SECU’s participation in our Principal Reduction pilot program, we’ve been able to expand the Fund to help underemployed homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages across the state.”

SECU has responded to member needs over the years with a variety of programs for those struggling to stay in their homes.  The Credit Union’s in-house Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) has now assisted over 11,000 SECU members through MAP options such as mortgage extensions, refinances and partial payment alternatives.  With the additional funding from the U.S. Treasury to expand the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund, even more homeowners will have the opportunity to receive significant financial assistance.

“SECU is committed to looking at every possible option to help keep members in their homes and ,” said Alan Salzano, SECU Senior Vice President of Loss Mitigation.  “The success and financial well-being of our members is first and foremost.  By collaborating with the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, we can leverage our partnership to benefit SECU members and fellow citizens, positively impacting the future of our communities and state.”

via https://www.cuinsight.com/press-release/secu-continues-efforts-struggling-homeowners-expanded-nchfa-programs

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