As housing inventory gets even tighter, prices spike

In the red hot local real estate business, it’s a little taboo to use “the B-word.”

That’s mainly because everyone has painfully fresh memories of the last housing bubble, which burst with a near-nuclear detonation in 2008, leading to a worldwide recession with impacts that lingered for years.

So pardon professionals like Mike Figura, founder of Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty and a local market analyst, who is dancing around the B-word in light of the first quarter real estate report. It shows record sales in the city of Asheville and housing inventory levels that are so tight that everything priced under $1 million fits in the “less than six months”

The real estate market remains super hot in the Asheville area, according to two reports out that track real estate sales.The Citizen-Times

Inventory refers to the number of months it would take for all homes currently for sale to sell, based on monthly sales volume. When inventory is tight, prices just keep climbing, and that can lead to, well, let’s not say the word out loud.

“It’s getting a little frothy out there,” Figura said, noting that he opened his company in 2005. “When I started, it did feel similar to what’s going on now, in terms of bidding wars and setting new records each quarter.”

In short, the first quarter of 2017 indicates a fantastic seller’s market, with 327 homes sold in Asheville and 510 in Buncombe County. In Asheville, the median home sales price also set a record, at $275,000, and the county was close to one set last year, at $243,450.

Getting outbid is common

Asheville native Janis Turner, 40, knows exactly what that hot market means for buyers. A mental health clinician, Turner sold her West Asheville home three years ago and moved away, but she recently returned.

After living in an apartment “for the first time in forever,” she started looking for a house about a month ago.

“In that month, I put in three offers on three different homes,” Turner said. “Within 24 hours of my offer, I would get a call from my real estate agent saying they had numerous offers and they were calling for ‘first and best.’ Two times I got outbid, in less than a month.”

The third time was the charm, and Turner is closing on a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home in Candler. She’ll pay about $200,000 for the 1,800-square-foot home, which dates to 1920 but has been completely renovated, and she feels like she’s getting a good deal.

“The housing prices are significantly higher than when I moved from the area three years ago,” Turner said. “I sold my home in West Asheville right off Haywood Road three years ago for $155,000. It was a two-bedroom, two bath. I kick myself.”

Kent Wolff, senior loan officer at Mountain Lifestyles Mortgage, is handling the mortgage for Turner. Her story has become commonplace.

“We consistently have clients who make full-price or over full-price offers on one, two or in some examples, even a third home, only to lose to people bidding even higher,” Wolff said. “Many home buyers are understandably becoming more frustrated or increasingly discouraged with the limited level of inventory available in the Asheville. It’s really a challenge for everyone, minus the sellers.”

Don Davies, whose firm RealSearch conducts market studies, traced several records in the first quarter for Buncombe County, all related to that seller’s market:

  • Median asking price of all homes for sale, at $399,995.
  • Average selling price of all homes (including single-family, condos, town homes and mobile homes), at $314,172.
  • Average selling price of all homes in the last 12 months, at $315,163.

“The inventory is low, and that drives prices up, and the number of sales is very strong,” Davies said. “They have not slowed — they’re actually about 1 percent higher for this time of year, and last year was a record-setting year.”

So, dare he utter the B-word?

“I don’t know if we’re in a situation where we’re creating bubbles, but we are seeing appreciation in selling prices of about 10-12 percent (a year), and I’m not sure if that’s sustainable,” Davies said.

Lack of speculation

He and Figura temper their comments by noting that one key element of the previous bubble is absent today: speculative buying, in which investors were snapping up properties strictly to flip them for a profit.

“What’s different in this case is there is real demand,” Figura said. “People are actually buying homes for themselves.”

For homebuilders, times are good, but they too are treading lightly, the specter of 2008 always hovering over the job site.

“Growth wise, our business has just exploded since the downturn,” said Jody Guokos, founder and president of JAG Construction, a green home building company. “Last year, we grew more than we had grown in any of our previous years. We’re seeing year over year growth that continues to beat the previous year — 40 percent in the case of last year.”

So, he should be happy, right? The B-word should not be a factor in his life.

And yet, he thinks about the painful image of a market bubble bursting “every day of my life.”

“When every story you see is about the inventory is even lower and the median home price is up, you just start to get nervous,” Guokos said. “Just when you think things can’t get worse again, they can. I’m starting to feel like we’re at the point. The bottom is going to drop one of these days.”

He quickly walks that back a bit, though, noting that if a correction comes, he suspects it will be nothing like the last one, mainly because the speculation element is missing. For the most part, he’s building homes in the $400,000-$500,000 range, whereas three or four years ago that figure was about $100,000 lower.

“It’s not so much people building bigger homes, it’s that they want more bells and whistles,” Guokos said. “What we’re seeing is people are feeling the last eight years they had decent income, and they’ve started to look at their mortgage payments, saying, ‘I can afford a little more, I can afford an extra $600 a month to add that $80,000 to the value.'”

Another issue driving the tightness of the market inventory and ensuing rising prices is the lack of spec homes on the market. During the previous boom, builders and investors would build subdivisions or homes before they had a seller locked in, or on speculation.

And they were selling the homes pretty quickly. But after the bust, banks tightened lending on such projects, and wary home builders stopped building unless they had a buyer locked in.

Davies said one developer he knows who’s building a small subdivision told him point blank, “I’m going to build one at a time, instead of 10 at a time, so I can make sure it sells.”

Figura and his business partners are building a 45-home development in West Asheville called Craggy Park, and they are building all spec homes, in part because of the high demand for homes in that area and the shortage of buildable land. The homes will range from 1,600-2,400-square feet and likely sell in the mid-$300,000 range to the high $400,000’s, Figura said.

He’s seen personally how tight the market is for buyers.

“It takes a lot of planning and patience, depending on the price range your’e in, especially homes in the lower price ranges and on up to $600,000,” Figura said. “You’ve got inventory of less than three months in some of those case, so you’re competing with a lot of other buyers.”

A little relief may be coming, as Figura points out in his report that the average “days on market” for homes in Asheville increased from 55 days in 2016 to 68 in the first quarter. In Buncombe it rose from 77 to 82 days.

That, Figura says in his report, “is likely due to more sellers pricing their homes higher than market value, causing the homes to take longer to sell.”

In-migration a driver

But, the buyers keep coming, drawn by what has brought them here for decades — beautiful scenery, a vibrant city and prices that may seem high to locals but are way cheaper than northern states, Florida, Texas or California.

Tom Tveidt, founder of Syneva Economics in Asheville, looked at Census data covering 2010-2016, and it shows that for the four metro counties — Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood and Madison — “essentially all of the net population change is due to new people moving in.” Of that influx, 95 percent of the newcomers are from the U.S., the rest international.

Buncombe did have a gain of 884 people from births outpacing deaths, but the other three counties had negative numbers in the “natural gain” department.

“So only about 3 percent of the net population growth in the metro was due to the local population increasing; the remaining 97 percent are newcomers,” Tveidt said. “This has been the case for at least the last decade.”

That comes as no surprise to Turner.

“I think my fear is that people with money are moving in and pushing out local people who may not have the money,” Turner said. “I feel like it’s definitely going to change the culture in the area.”

By the numbers:

Total number of residential homes, condos, townhouses, mobile homes available as of April 5: 1,134.

Number of homes put on the market since Jan. 1: 1,260.

Median asking price: $399,995 (new record high).

Number of homes sold Jan. 1-March 31, 2017: 837.

Median selling price: $255,000 (new record).

Average selling price of all homes sold in the last 12 months: $315,163 (new record).

Source: RealSearch, Don Davies. Number derived from MLS data and may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2017/04/16/housing-inventory-gets-even-tighter-prices-spike/100391466/

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Asheville, Buncombe property transfers for Feb. 20-24

The following transfers were filed in the Register of Deeds office Feb. 20-24:

Arden

•    3 Glenview Road (Lot 1), $135,500, James D. and Bobbie Lynn Wooten to Eugene L. Phillips

Asheville

•    20 Plemmons St. (Lot 52), $32,500, Real Trust IRA Alternatives LLC FBO James Bash IRA #20711-TR07 & FBO Kathryn Bash IRA #20709-TR07 to Blue Horizon Inc.
•    Lot 1 West Chapel Road (0.499), $48,000, Bruce B. and Laynene T. Gaskins to JCS III LLC
•    Lot 28 Thoms Estate, $305,000, Gated Communities of Asheville LLC to Bruce A. and Marjorie A. Newman
•    Lot 13 section 5 Woodland Hills, $275,000, The Michael J. and Martin and Marcelle L. Martin Living Trust to Robert A. Pligge, Sarah Heiden
•    7 Alta Ave., $169,000, The Smith Family Trust to Tyra L. Goodman, Robert M. Jackson
•    26 N. Liberty St., $530,000, Blossman Real Estate Holdings LLC to 26 Liberty LLC
•    Lot 26B of the Wildes At Chunns Cove, $385,000, Robert and Rosina Bremner (Trading as 2 Farley 2 Partners) to Ion and Olesea Ermurache

Biltmore Lake

•    Unit E-6 Woodfield Condominiums section 3, $178,000, Theresa N. Wilmerding to Kitty Marston Hoover

Black Mountain

•    Lot 3 Morgan Hill Road, $110,000, Linda and Ernest Russell to Michael A. and Regina Gilliam Knipp
•    22 Moore Circle (Lot 22 Buckners Knob), $65,000, Water’s Edge Properties LLC to Hultman Properties LLC
•    128 Broadway St., $483,000, Ice House Creations LLC to Joseph E. Cordell

Broad River

•    Lot 21 Living Waters, $350,000, John V. and Linda D. Burris to Rebecca Meredith, Janet L. Conrad

Buncombe County

•    1502 Hyde Park Drive (Biltmore Commons phase V) $145,000, the Jan Walter Bordewick Revocable Trust (a. k. a. Polynesia Island Resorts Trust) to Marsha M. Henson
•    Lot 56 section 1-A of High Meadows, $225,000, Ann G. Touzinsky to Mark and Betty-Sue Crossley
•    41 Hamilton St. (Lot 19), $70,000, Julia G. Ray Revocable Living Trust to Palas/Paly LLC
•    26 Canterbury Road (Lot D block F Beverly Hills), $300,000, PGD Real Estate LLC to Jason and Laura Gulley
•    LUnit BBB-2 Beaverdam Run Condominiums, $538,000, John William and Valerie L. Thomas to The Sarah Reaney Bevington Revocable Living Trust
•    Lot 8 High Valley Forest section 1, $264,000, McMaster Real Estate Group LLC to David Eshan
•    Lot 12 and a portion of lot 13 at Beaver Point Park, $502,500, John C. and Terri C. Frue to Gretchen Ian and Matthew Thomas Charles Brown
•    Lot 6 Anna Glenn, $125,000, Gregory Lawrence and Angela Anders Mace to Russell G. and Meghan L. Cooper
•    Lot 4 Woodridge Place, $52,000, Susan C. and Gorden F. Duckett Jr., Pamela D. and Spergion Lee Henry to James Michael and Holly Ann Jordan
•    98 Stewart St. (0.16 acre), $225,000, Joseph Chennault to Ella Pavlyuk
•    Lot 27 Reynolds Mountain phase 1, $850,000, Kevin and Nancy Leaderer to Bradley W. and Laurie K. O’Halla
•    Lot 12 Clovernook, $185,000, Lynda G. Carroll to Anita Beth Westmoreland, Mary Elizabeth Hickling-Suggs (a. k. a. Hickling Suggs)
•    Lot 4 Serenity phase 1A, $158,000, Michael Lloyd Parrish (a. k. a. Parish) to Melissa Leigh and Frithjof Hoegener

Candler

•    672 Monta Vista Road, $94,000, New Residential Mortgage Loan Trust to KT Enterprises Inc.

Fairview

•    Lot 8 Ledgstone (Lot 8), $25,000, WETA LLC to Anne Marie and Gregory R. Costanzo Sr.

Leicester

•    Lot 24 Moores Valley phase II, $6,000, Bayview Loan Servicing LLC to Vladimir Grebenyuk
•    Lot 20 Farmstead Subdivision, $97,000, Paul Thomas Salos to James J. and Mary Craig Goure
•    Lot 22 Meadow View Estates, $6,000, Rodney M. and Betty H. Sparkman to Judith M. Baker, Anne Dumont Cooke

Limestone

•    Lot 40 section I St. Andrews Brookwood Community, $221,000, Jennifer Brooks and Thomas Dalton to Alison Ann and John Brennan Norvell II

Swannanoa

•    Lots 184 & 184 A of Beacon Manufacturing, $80,000, Michael D. and Melissa K. Harrin to Henry C. McGuire

Upper Hominy

•    6 Wise Road, $26,000, Kevin Brooks to Joffrey W. and Della J. Brooks

Weaverville

•    Lot 13 Reems Creek Town Homes phase 2A, $210,000, Erin M. and Paul J. Lusignan to Frederick M. and Elizabeth H. Bracklein

Compiled by Citizen-Times News Correspondent Bonnie Black

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Asheville realtor seeks franchisees for second-home property management company

Press release from media representative on behalf of Eye On Your Home:

ASHEVILLE, NC, FEBRUARY 2017 – A chance to turn adversity into opportunity inspired realtor Melissa Rulli to create the innovative franchise opportunity, Eye On Your Home.

Eye On Your Home is a leader in the second home property management business, specializing in watching over and caring for second homes for absentee owners. With thousands of second homes across the nation, Eye On Your Home offers a unique opportunity to tap into and profit from this huge industry.

Melissa Rulli, founder and owner, has more than seven years experience in this niche business, operating Eye On Your Home since 2010. Prior to starting the business, she worked as a North Carolina real estate broker. When the real estate market took a tumble during the later years of the last decade, Melissa created this opportunity for success, first for herself, and now for others with the Eye On Your Home franchise opportunity.

“This is a Blue Ocean opportunity not filled,” Melissa said. “There are thousands of second homes across the nation that do not have any support when their owners are not present. Owners are looking for a company with consistent service, systems, and core values that support their valuable investment. Now with Eye On Your Home territories available nationally, absentee owners can have that kind of support.”

Eye On Your Home is the FIRST second home property management company that is a trademarked brand for the industry. Western North Carolina, where Eye On Your Home was born and currently operates in Fletcher, has at least 15 territories available in the mountains alone. These include Boone, Banner Elk, Linville, Wolf Laurel, Weaverville, Black Mountain, Asheville, Arden/Fletcher, Highlands, Cashiers, Hendersonville, Flat Rock, Brevard, Lake Lure, Saluda, and Waynesville/Sylva. Other territories will be opening soon.

Eye On Your Home franchises are sold by territory, based on miles or demographics, which are evaluated and determined.

“This niche market has very little support,” Melissa said. “The few mom and pop operations that try to serve the market do not have the same broad support for emergencies, maintenance, concierge and even remodels. There is nothing that Eye On Your Home cannot facilitate for a client. Our Motto is ‘What can we do to make your life easier?’ We take the stress and burden of owning a second home off the owners’ shoulders, so they can show up, turn the key, and enjoy.”

Eye On Your Home has expanded operations to support all home ownership, from vacant for sale, homes in trust, local owners, builders and VRBOs. For franchisees, Eye On Your Home is a proven, successful company that will train, mentor, and support a franchisee with knowledge, systems, training and experience.

“A mentor/protégé relationship is what buying an Eye On Your Home franchise all is about.” Melissa said. “We’ll get your business up and running faster, smoother and more efficiently than starting from scratch. You will always have a mentor who cares and is invested in your success.”

Melissa’s goal is for each and every franchisee to feel like family and for them to know she is 100% invested in her vision to provide a consistent, trained and supported model to the clients out there that need an “Eye.”

“An Eye On Your Home franchise is a modest investment, home based, flexible, community integrated business that has grateful clients, untapped income potential, and little or no overhead,” Melissa said.

A great fit for an Eye On Your Home franchisee is someone who has the following skillsets: task management abilities, macro vision, networking strengths, business know-how, strong communication skills, creativity, tenacity, innovation and a can-do mentality. You do not need a real estate license to do this work, since it does not handle sales or tenancy.

To learn more about this exciting opportunity to be a part of the FIRST Second home property management company available, getting in on the ground floor please contact Melissa Rulli at MR@EyeOnYourHome.net or visit the website at EyeOnYourHome.net.

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Feb 2017: Buncombe County breaking homes sales, price records

The real estate market in Asheville and Buncombe County is setting records with home prices and sales.

RealSearch, a market analysis firm run by Don Davies, closely tracks area real estate. Data shows 2016 was a record-breaking year for real estate in Asheville. The average asking price for a home was $591,207. The old record high was in 2015 with $524,015. And 2016 also saw a record high for the number of homes sold with 4,234. The previous record was set was in 2006 with 4,120 homes sold.

Davies also reports 2016 saw a record for average home sale price at $309,443. The old record, set in 2007, was $293,508.

Beverly Hanks agent Tara Irby sold a Haw Creek home in two days after listing it for $299,000. The price for the four-bed three-bath home resonated with a market that has a tight inventory for homes that size and in that price range. Last Thursday, calls immediately came in to see the home.

“Between 4 and 5 p.m., the house hit the Multiple Listing Service. And immediately I started receiving calls to show it the next day,” Irby said. “On Friday, this house showed six times, and out of those six showings we received two offers.”

“The market’s incredibly hot,” Laura Dyer, with Dwell Realty/Keller Williams, said.

Dyer said she has been extremely busy for months, and showings did not slow down during the holidays.

“We’re thrilled in the real estate market to see prices rise. People are having to compromise where they’re looking just to get into the area because they know they want to be here.”

via http://wlos.com/news/local/buncombe-county-breaking-homes-sales-price-records by Kimberly King

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Home values up 35% from 2013 (AVL); taxes could increase

The last countywide appraisal was done in 2013, when the market had bottomed out but stabilized, according to Keith Miller, real estate manager at the Buncombe County Real Estate Assessment Office. Miller said actual property taxes and the bills don’t go out until June and are not calculated yet. But he said Asheville homeowners will likely see their property taxes go up, although it’s not clear by how much.

Miller said the county tax rate is being adjusted, which will prevent drastic increases.

“I think some will have sticker shock,” Miller said. “I think many of our citizens don’t keep up with the real estate market.”

The office has released maps that indicate specific neighborhoods have seen significant increases in home values from 2013. Montford home values on average have risen 38 percent, while home values in North and West Asheville have had an average increase of 40 percent.

Oakley has posted increases of 31 percent. And a pocket of downtown Asheville has seen condo sale prices rise by 40 percent.

Alternatively, some areas in the county could see property taxes go down because the overall tax rate will be adjusted countywide for property owners. Fairview homeowners have seen home prices rise by 15 percent, but Sandy Mush homes have increased overall by 3 percent.

Jeff Greiner has owned a home in South Asheville for more than 15 years. He’s using equity in his home for his business.

“I certainly have seen our property value go up in a recent appraisal that we had on our property,” Greiner said.

“It’s inevitable that our taxes our going to go up,” said Terry Tincher, real estate manager at Sotheby’s in Biltmore Village. But Tincher hopes property taxes won’t increase so much that it discourages buyers.

“A lot of people coming into this area, say ‘I’m coming from New Jersey and I want to come into the Asheville market because I don’t want to pay those rates,’” Tincher said.

Miller said the new interactive map goes live online on Thursday. The site will show parcels and recent sales of homes and lots and commercial properties. Home appraisals will go out next week in the mail. Tax bills will go out this June. Homeowners are welcome to appeal tax bills but must present convincing evidence to show the value is incorrect. The website will also have information on the appraisal process.

Property Appraisal Information:

  • Home Appraisal website (goes live Thursday 1/26/17)
  • Buncombe County Real Estate Office: 828-250-4940
  • Address: 94 Cox Avenue Downtown walk-in customers welcome (park in lot across the street)

via http://wlos.com/news/local/asheville-home-values-up-35-from-2013-taxes-could-increase by Kimberly King Wednesday, January 25th 2017

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Rental unit supply increases, easing Asheville-area housing crisis

Finding a place to live in Buncombe County has gotten slightly easier in the past two years as a result of some 1,500 new rental units coming available. But monthly rents continue to rise, despite these new residences and the promise of thousands more currently under construction.

A growing vacancy rate highlights, one expert notes, the possibility of the Asheville housing market becoming saturated with available units.

Those are some of the findings of a report conducted by Bowen National Research, released by Asheville city officials at the end of December.

The report “makes clear that new affordable housing remains a dire need in Asheville and Buncombe County,” said Jeff Staudinger, Asheville assistant director of community and economic development. “It also provides evidence that, despite a small increase in the availability of market-rate apartments, the strong demand continues to push rents higher,” Staudinger said in an email.

The report’s conclusions roughly tracked third-quarter Asheville metro area data released earlier by two other real estate research firms.

Two years ago, Bowen, an Ohio-based real estate market consulting firm, pegged the rental vacancy rates for Asheville and Buncombe County, respectively, at less than 1 percent.

The new Bowen assessment found the county rental vacancy rate had risen to 2.7 percent, or 337 units in October and November of this year, from 99 during the same period in 2014.

Those figures include market-rate housing and “affordable rentals” such as tax-credit and government-subsidized housing.

The occupancy rate in the latter category remained about 100 percent, Bowen researchers concluded. But the market-rate component eased a bit to 96.4 percent this year, down from from 98.8 percent in 2014.

Both figures are above the national average of 95.1 percent, wrote Patrick Bowen, the firm’s president and report’s chief author in a Dec. 20 letter to Staudinger.

Apples to apples?

“Healthy and well-balanced rental housing markets have overall occupancy levels of around 95 percent,” Bowen wrote.

Rental-unit data from Reis, a New York-based company, paint a rosier picture for the Asheville metro area. The federally designated metro area, which comprises Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, shows a 6.8 percent vacancy rate during this year’s second and third quarters and 7 percent for 2016’s first three quarters combined.

However, Axiometrics of Dallas reports lower metro vacancy rates during this year’s first three quarters. According to Axiometrics, the rate dropped to 4.1 percent in the third quarter from 4.5 percent in the second. It stood at 4.8 percent during the first. The company’s report did not provide a percentage for 2016’s first three quarters combined.

Bowen researchers surveyed 105 multifamily rental properties to produce its report.

City officials paid Bowen $4,500 for the new report and $29,750 for the 2014 assessment, which examined Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties.

No date had been set, as of Dec. 28, for Asheville City Council to discuss the findings of the new Bowen report, Staudinger said. Although the city’s Housing and Community Development committee is scheduled to review the updated data on Jan. 17. Asheville city staff will prepare a report for that review, he said.

An influx of new rental-units did not prevent rents from increasing, the Bowen survey found. But Bowen emphasized in a phone interview last week that this year’s large increase in median asking-rents in some categories occurred due to new upscale rental units that did not exist in 2014.

“So it is not an apples-to-apples comparison,” Bowen said.

Effective rental rates include any discounts or concessions landlords provide tenants. Asking-rental rates do not.

Median asking-rents in market-rate units, regardless of total number of bathrooms were, according to the Bowen report were:

Studios

  • 2016: $875
  • 2014: $667

One bedroom

  • 2016: $930
  • 2014: $830

Two bedrooms

  • 2016: $1,061
  • 2014: $916

Three bedrooms

  • 2016: $1,127
  • 2014: $1,021

Slowing the climb

“Market-rate rents have increased at an annual rate of 4.4 percent over the past year, while tax-credit rents have increased at 0.9 percent during this time,” Bowen wrote.

The national rate of increase during that period was 3 percent, he wrote.

Asheville’s higher rate of increase indicates that “demand for market-rate rental housing remains strong despite the large amount of new inventory added to the market during the past two years,” Bowen wrote.

The report also found that county renters “will likely live in lower quality product as long as rents are affordable.” Higher-quality units had higher vacancy rates than lower-quality units, according to Bowen.

Metro asking monthly rental-rate increases dipped to 0.5 percent during this year’s third quarter, from 2 percent during the second quarter, Reis reported.

The median asking-rent in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties rose to $1,044 in the third quarter, from $1,016 in the previous quarter, Reis researchers found.

Reis surveyed the units — from studio to multi-bedroom apartments — in 58 multifamily developments to determine its figures.

Using a different methodology, Axiometrics researchers also found rent inflation dropped in this year’s third quarter from the previous quarter.

The effective monthly rent increase fell slightly to 3 percent, from 3.1 percent between the two quarters, Axiometrics found. The metro’s average effective monthly rent climbed to $1,097 during the third quarter, from $1,080 in the second quarter.

Axiometrics did not provide a median figure. Its conclusions are based on a survey of 26 multifamily developments in the metro area.

The Bowen report concludes that 1,563 new rental units were built between January 2015 and October 2016, Bowen said.

Multifamily rental units currently under construction total 2,265, according to the report. Another 2,507 are “planned or proposed.”

The large majority of those units – 3,924, or 82.2 percent – will be market-rate rentals.

Though community leaders have described the lack of affordable housing in the Asheville area as a “crisis” for more than two years, Bowen cautioned that could change, with the Buncombe market becoming “saturated” due to new rental units coming available.

“Such indicators of a saturated market would be an increase in vacancies, with the market occupancy rate dropping below 95 percent,” Bowen wrote in his concluding remarks.

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Asheville gentrification: When Pearson’s Store was lost

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She came home for work one day and it was gone. Everything, even the foundation. As if it had never been.

This is how we were told about the destruction of Pearson’s Store, of how the city came that day without warning and demolished the small grocery store that E.W. Pearson had opened in the Burton Street neighborhood in the early 20th century.

While telling us the story, Vivian Conley’s demeanor remained calm and endearing, but she warned us that she couldn’t speak too much about the community’s experiences without the pain and sadness rising.

I am with eight other people on a tour of the Burton Street neighborhood in West Asheville. The tour began at the Burton Street Community Center — once the segregated Burton Street School — made a stop at the site where the store once stood and concluded in the Peace Garden behind the school.

To place the loss of the store into some sort of perspective, we might consider the importance of Pearson to the history of Burton Street, to the history of Asheville as a whole and, in fact, to the history of the nation.

As a young man, E.W. Pearson was a member of the Buffalo Soldiers, the segregated 9th Cavalry unit of the U.S. Army that fought alongside Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War. When he moved to Asheville in 1906, he used his real estate training from his studies in Chicago to create subdivisions for African-Americans in West Asheville, including in 1912 the Burton Street neighborhood.

In 1914, he organized the Buncombe County and District Agricultural Fair, which ran for 33 years, coming to an end the year after his death in 1946. Thousands of people attended this fair, Ms. Conley told us on the tour. Blacks and whites together, she said.

Two years after establishing the fair, he organized the first African-American semi-professional baseball team in Asheville, the Royal Giants. He had loved to watch baseball but wasn’t allowed into whites-only games in the city. In 1921, he helped to found the Blue Ridge Colored Baseball League and became its first president. The league brought together teams from North and South Carolina: Charlotte, Asheville, Spartanburg, Greenville, Gastonia, Concord, Winston-Salem, Rock Hill and Anderson.

Then, in 1933, he established the Asheville branch of the NAACP and became its first president as well. E.W. Pearson, in other words, was a leading force in the community, along with his wife Annis Bradshaw Pearson, who often joined in his efforts and was herself involved in various community and civic organizations.

I think about the store, about this man who ran it, photographed again and again in his three-piece suits and fedoras, the man who was known for the catchy phrases he created for the fair. I think of the store that sat across the street from the Burton Street School and a stone’s throw from the 1890 Wilson Chapel A.M.E. Church, two other monuments to African-American leadership and community.

I imagine the people who entered the store on a daily basis, maybe to buy a cool drink, maybe just to say hello to neighbors, maybe to see what Pearson was up to that morning, this man was who had done so much to create community in his world, the sort of man who had brought fair rides and baseball and penny candy into the neighborhood, even as he addressed the pressing social justice issues of his day.

I think of Pearson’s son, the man known as Professor Bop, who in the early 1950s became the first African-American disc jockey at WLOS Radio and who later turned the store into the Blue Note Casino, a music hall established in that historical moment when rock ‘n’ roll, with its deep and rich African-American roots, was about to explode on the national scene.

And I think of Vivian Conley, an activist who has worked diligently to hold together her neighborhood. I think of the shock she must have felt on that day she returned home from work to find the store not only demolished but missing, carried away by some rapid and unfeeling, if not hostile, force.

The day after our tour, I returned to the vacant lot. I walked up the remnants of a driveway, now broken asphalt that turns to cracked red dirt. Black walnuts litter the dry grass. A hemlock tree covered in vines attempts to survive at the edge of the lot. Off to the left, someone has nailed a sign to an old telephone pole. The sign is faded, horribly weather beaten, but you can still make out the name Jesus.

The calls of the tree frogs compete with traffic noise from the increasingly encroaching highway. The city has chosen an aggressive plan for widening Interstate 26, a plan that will roll over the old Wilson AME church, now known as Community Baptist. It will also take out Ms. Conley’s home. When this plan is implemented, it will be the third time the neighborhood has been devastated by highway construction.

I walked to the back of the lot, where someone had dumped a truckload of trash, including a broken white-picket fence. The day before, when our second tour guide — artist and poet DeWayne Barton — saw the trash, he broke into sad and solemn song. As the rest of us listened and watched, he raised his closed eyes to the heavens and voiced both lament and hope.

As it turned out, that lament represented one of the ways that community lives on in Burton Street. And I don’t mean that the community survives only in the vibration of song and broken dreams. I mean that DeWayne and his wife Safi Mahaba have created a peace garden behind the school, one they made from trash left at the site.

When our group visited, we were viewing the garden in the cool shadows of evening, and some of what makes the garden remarkable was lost on me. I laughed at the paintings of Fat Albert and Fred Sanford. I felt awed by the paintings of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X and other leaders in the civil rights movement.

Still, it wasn’t until I returned the next day, in the harsh afternoon light, that I looked closely at the images, at the meaning being conveyed by this garden. It overwhelms the senses — and the imagination — and the mythological stories wrapped into the history of the United States. It is sophisticated art in the genre of junkyard.

Though the artists’ final message is one of hope, peace and love, not for one moment do they shy away from presenting truths about racism, environmental degradation, the despair of war or the inequities of capitalism. Plastic Santa Clauses are mixed with skulls and gas masks, with crosses and tattered currency.

One particular scene in the garden took my breath away. At the base of a tree, you see a bomb half-buried in the dirt. Leaning dead against the tree is the bloodied representation of the body of an African-American woman dressed in white. Long strands of pearls hang around her neck. An Army helmet lies crooked on her bent head. An African-African child lies under her.

Yet overseeing these scenes are the icons of African-American leadership, those portraits of Tubman and King and Parks that give order to the chaos and violence. They stand in peaceful contrast to the images of Reagan and Nixon scattered among those places of the garden where wasteland is paramount.

As I was leaving, I passed a smaller exhibit. This one warned of the impact of drugs, but it also connected the loss of black life to the process of gentrification. And it’s here that I find myself at a loss, knowing that I am a part of the gentrification process of Asheville — in my case, of the African-American community of Shiloh in South Asheville, a community originally displaced by George Vanderbilt when he built Biltmore Estate.

I don’t yet know how to react to my role in gentrification, but I’m glad I took the Hood Huggers Tour of Burton Street. I hope it will make me a better neighbor.

Dr. Darlene O’Dell has published three books, including the most recent “The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven” (Seabury Books, 2014). She has appeared on NPR and has taught at Clemson University and the College of William and Mary. Contact her at darleneodell@live.com or visit darleneodell.com.

ABOUT HOOD TOURS

Hood Tours offers driving and walking tours of 90 minutes to 2 hours. Learn more at hoodhuggers.com or call 828-275-5305. 

Driving tours run at 1 p.m. most Thursdays and at noon or 3 p.m. Saturdays, or by appointment for groups of 5-9 people. Driving tours typically begin at the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, 30 George Washington Carver Ave., Asheville. The cost is $25/person.

Walking tours of  the Burton Street Community (West Asheville), East End Valley Street (downtown) and Shiloh (South Asheville) are available for groups of 5-25 people. The cost for a walking tour is $20/person.

Tours incorporate history, art, poetry, music, community green spaces, local voices and more to relate the past, present and future of African-Americans in Asheville. Tours are led by artist, poet and community activist DeWayne Barton.

According to its website, “Hood Tours is a social enterprise that provides opportunities for young people while helping to spark more grassroots economic development in these resilient communities.”

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/life/2016/11/04/asheville-gentrification-when-pearsons-store-lost/91277946/

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