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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: or

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

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

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

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

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

• 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 … I also urge people new to Asheville to check out 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,

•Mountain Xpress,


•Asheville Scene,

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,

•United Way Asheville Buncombe,

•Hands on Asheville,

“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

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

Other good websites to find outdoor adventures:




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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.

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

Program –

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.


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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.



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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.”


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Winston-Salem Ranked Highest in NC for ‘Zombie’ Foreclosures


 WINSTON-SALEM—Winston-Salem has the highest number of so-called “zombie” foreclosures in the state.

A new report says about 8.5 percent of all foreclosures in the city are considered as such. But longtime realtors in the area paint a much different picture of the area market.

RealtyTrac, a national real estate research firm, defines zombie foreclosures as those where the house is already under foreclosure and owners pack up and leave it vacant.

“I think one of the reasons that people have anxiety around foreclosures is that they want to know, ‘Is this going to affect the value of my property?’” said Winston-Salem city council member Jeff MacIntosh, who is also a realtor.

MacIntosh says he’s just not seeing many of them in his business.

“In the market right now, we’re not seeing a negative impact from foreclosures,” MacIntosh said. “We are seeing probably the healthiest, strongest market for single family residential as we’ve seen in the last seven or eight years.”

“I’m not seeing that at all,” said Fannie Fleming, a realtor with Coldwell Banker. “In fact, I thought foreclosures were going down. I have been able to sell homes at great prices in a very timely fashion this year, so I don’t understand those statistics at all.”

Area realtors also point out that RealtyTrac’s definition of a zombie house is one where the U.S. Postal Service is not longer delivering mail; so oftentimes, a house will remain vacant, but it’s not necessarily in foreclosure. Realtors say they have several just like that.

“I have someone coming in that’s selling their mom’s house who has passed away,” said John McPherson with Coldwell Banker. “That would probably be a zombie thing there, and it’s just vacant because someone has passed.”

McPherson adds that he’s on track for his best year ever.

“I am within striking distance to sell the same number of homes as I did last year, in the month of June,” he said.

RealtyTrac says states with the most vacant “zombie” foreclosures are New Jersey, New York, Florida and Illinois.


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Spec homes return to WNC’s landscape

But Asheville builders and bankers say increased activity spans the spectrum, from “affordable” to high-end homes.

For the first time since the Great Recession, spec-home construction and lending is up in the Asheville area, some builders and bankers say.

Sparse inventory, combined with high demand for houses, caused some financial institutions about nine months ago to free up funding for spec homes.

“It’s important that the building community is able to offer new homes for people who need a move-in-ready home now,” said Brandon Bryant, president and owner of Red Tree Builders in Asheville.

A spec home is one contractors build on speculation, without a confirmed buyer. Developers typically build those types of homes only in areas where they believe a profit will occur.

“Having a healthily balance of new homes and resales balances the market for buyers,” said Bryant, the Asheville Home Builders Association first vice president and a national director for the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C.

“Currently, home buyers have to grapple with the lack of inventory,” Bryant said. “Banks allowing spec loans does allow builders and developers to respond to the demand out there.”

The number of houses in Buncombe County for less than $300,000 is the lowest in roughly a decade, said Don Davies, founder of Asheville-based Realsearch, a company that analyzes real estate trends. Just 441 with an average asking price of $213,106 existed at the beginning of the month, he said.

“We opened up a little bit in the more affordable range at $350,000 and lower about six to nine months ago,” said David Kozak, Asheville Savings Bank executive vice president and chief credit officer.

“That’s what we, as a community, need for working people,” said Kozak, who added that industry analyses and market-share studies showed consumers couldn’t find homes in that price range.

He cautioned, however, that the bank green-lights loans for up to 10 spec homes at any one time.

“We’re not going hog wild on this,” Kozak said.

In other words, a few dozen spec homes coming on the region’s market is not going to solve Asheville’s ongoing affordable housing crisis.

A Nationwide report published last month concluded the Asheville metro area’s housing market has reached unsustainable levels.

The study’s authors ranked the metro area market as the nation’s sixth unhealthiest because of the widening gap between the region’s housing prices and wage levels, said David Berson, Nationwide senior vice president and chief economist.

Finite buildable land is another reason housing costs continue to climb, said Jamie Dose, president of Old Northstate Building Co. in Swannanoa. Because what land is available exists in a mountainous region with rivers, contractors must grapple with complex situations like steep slopes and flood plains, Dose said.

“The dynamics of the (Appalachian) mountains make it a very complex situation,” he said. “People can get more for land because there’s not much of it.”

Dose and his company work with Asheville Savings Bank exclusively, he said.

Old Northstate was the first builder the bank restarted spec-home lending with, Dose said Asheville Savings officials told him. Other companies now are obtaining such loans from the bank.

Dose predicted spec-home lending practices would “continue to expand” across the community because “we’re going to have to have the release of capital to meet the demand.”

The higher-end market for spec-home construction lending freed up even earlier, said Robert Sulaski, a principal and cofounder of Sulaski & Tinsley Homes.

That Asheville-based design-and-build company constructs homes ranging from roughly $475,000 to $1.8 million, said Sulaski, whose company helped develop Biltmore Park.

“Within the last eight to 12 months — the bulk of which are between $650,000 and $900,000,” Sulaski said, describing when the spec-home loan environment shifted.

“We’re consistently building 12 to 14 spec homes,” he said. The buyers “come from other cities.”

Sulaski acknowledged those residences don’t fit into the affordable category, but he said the people who purchase them are a boon to the local economy nonetheless.

They often are small-business owners who “instantly reinvest” in the community, he said.

They bring parts of their businesses to town, buy cars and other products from Asheville-area companies, and bring in revenue by attracting friends who spend money on expensive hotel rooms and restaurants, Sulaski said.

Richard Whitney, president of Whitney Commercial Real Estate in Asheville, concurred.

“That’s exactly my position,” Whitney said. “The money’s coming in.”

Consumer confidence continues to rise, he said. “I don’t suspect problems for years.”

Plus, more people are buying houses, said Peter Best, senior vice president and head of Capital Bank’s Asheville commercial team.

“We’re doing more lending in the speculative market because we’re really centered on the rebound in the housing market,” Best said. “But we’re looking for partners, not whales. We’re not going for home runs. We’re looking for builders with whom we can build relationships.”


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Buncombe, Asheville property transfers for May 2-6

The following transfers were filed in the Register of Deeds office May -6.


Lot 25 Spring Cove Court, $365,000, William B. and Ava Coo Holler to David Angelo Maida, Laura Elizabeth Palermo


184 New Haw Creek Road, $450,000, Fellowship Freewill Baptist Church Inc. to John Christoph LLC

486 Kimberly Ave., $520,000, Elizabeth Stoneberg to Larry Christ

Unit 4506 Phase V Biltmore Commons, $118,000, Laurie B. Calvert to Gary Rogers and Ellen Erwin Rickman

17 King St. (Lot 5 and a portion of lot 4), $180,000, Mary-Anne and Joseph G. Young to Caitlin P. Schell, Michael D. Mattil

Lot 16 block J Beverly Hills, $232,500, RHW Investments LLC to John and Yolanda A. Jopling

Lot 3 Forest Lake Park 2 subdivision, $318,000, Jon S. and Kelly J. Pettit to Marianna Daly

332 Montford Ave., $461,000, Estate of Dorothy Davis Black to the Linda Voorhees Revocable Trust Agreement

225 School Road E., $240,000, Margaret F. Coates to Donald and Terri Kennedy

Lot 37 Baker Heights, $206,500, Thomas M and Sharon C. Clayton to Zachary A. Kilberg, Elizabeth Clayton

Unit 1302 Biltmore Commons phase 4, $2,000, Ruth Jackson Brooks to Ruth Jackson (Ninety-Nine percent interest) and Timothy R. Brooks (One percent interest)

Unit 415 Beaucatcher House Condominiums, $110,000, Whitney Trace Development LLC to Tarek Joran Inkidar

Lot 11 Brown View Park, $200,000, Daniel Francis and Paige Parker Scully, Breah Livols Parker to Julyan H. Davis

Black Mountain

Lot 33 and a portion of lot 32 at the Southeastern Christian Assembly (0.385 acre), $260,000, Kurt Randall and Sandy J. Shaffer to Candace Rae Freeland

Broad River

Tract 8 Timberline subdivision (.39 acres), $165,00, Bambi P. and W. Lee Smith III to Danielle L. Davison

Buncombe County

Lot 63 Mallard Run subdivision phase 1, $210,000, Windsor Built Homes Inc. to Kristi L. and Angela D. McClung

144 Ballard Cove Road, $560,000, Deborah Tatko to Northern Black Tortoise LLC

50 Trinity Chapel Road (Lots 22 & 24), $250,000, Laura Elizabeth Palermo, Laura P. Sadler to Benjamin Reeves, Emily Sheffield

Lot 70 Pinebrook Farms phase 1, $358,000, Pinebrook Farms LLC to Edward J. and Vickie L. Hauser

Lots 4-5 block O Blue Ridge Forest, $221,500, Lance M. Fitzpatrick to Jennifer McGee

123 Hemphill Road (0.123 acre), $163,500, GMC Investments Properties LLC to Alicia Lynden Stewart

48 Maude Ave. (0.47 acre), $182,000, JG Marcus Homes Inc. to Alice Dunlap

34 Gray St. (Lot 22), $385,000, The Freddie Lytle Memorial Trust to Gary M. Bunch

Lot 4 Malvern Hills block F, $100,000, Gregory F. and Kathleen D. Lewis to April Long and Taylor Jones Fisher

312 Dix Creek Road 1 (Lot 1, 0.774 acre), $250,000, George R. and Dorothy D. Lane to Joan Lacy Chancey

67 Cub Road (0.25 acre), $220,000, Maria Gwen Durham to Peter Adams, Melanie London

22 Tiverton Lane (Lot 24 Devonshire subdivision phase 1), $527,500, Kostas N. and Emily A. Rantzos to Kevin and Carolyn Katechis

63 Westwood Place, $225,000, Asheville & Associates Real Estate LLC to PB&J Capital LLC

Lot 31 section IV Camelot Subdivision, $170,000, Megan N. Sutton, Andrew R. Tait to Kyle N. Watkins, Loretta A. and Kerry (Watkins-Wiesner) Wiesner

22 Teaberry Lane (3.22 acres), $4,000, John C. Dillingham to John Payne

26 Penny Lane (Lo 13 Monticello Estates), $305,000, Michael L. Booker Arnold (Booker-Arnold) and Terry V. Stalcup to Robin Sue and Jerald E. Summers Jr.

Unit 644 High Vistas Road (Lot 90 High Vista Falls phase 3), $480,000, Christopher Steven and Angela Harmon Crawford to Jason Allen Boyer, Sandra Marie Garcia

Lot 60 Hyde Park phase 1, $50,000, King Land Development LLC to Sheila Rhew Sullivan

Lots 2-3 & 3-A Stradley Farms, $735,000, Stradley Farms LLC to Erin Margaret and Dale Howard Freudenberger

Lots 226-227 Horney Heights and Lots 9-12 of Laurel Terrace, $18,000, Dennis and Janet W. Taylor to Daygreen LLC

Unit 1 Cluster R of the Crowfields Condominiums, $240,000, Estate of Richard Gallagher, Richard V. Gallagher II, Kevin J. Gallagher and Robert Long, Patrick J. and Karen Gallagher to Connie W. and George H. Watson III

73 Mountain St., $33,000, McArthur to Pamela A. and Harry T. Coleman Jr.

Unit 59 block A2 of Biltmore Lake phase 1, $390,000, Jeffrey and Margaret Tew to William Scott and Crystal Marie Wilkie

Lot 14 Woodland Estates, $359,500, Trust Agreements of James P. and Janice K. Brandt to Sean and Lindsey McCann


Lot 41 Bridgewater (2.63 acres), $113,000, Taylor Ranch Inc. to James and Anne Baumstark

Lot 23 Bridgewater (1.51 acres), $120,000, Taylor Ranch Inc. to Billy Eugene and Phyllis Ann Buck


Lots 2-3 Dix Creek 1 Estates, $75,000, George R. and Dorothy D. Lane to Dix Creek 1 Estates LLC

Lower Hominy

Lot 2 Summer Hill Place phase 1, $258,000, Michael Eugene and Janet Elaine Buckner to Casey Scott and Lindsey H. Mills


Lots 47-49-51 summer Haven section D, $355,000, Ronald and Shirley Halliburton to Marjorie Ellen Smith, Todd William Wall

28 Lots Mountain Lane (1.5 acres), $10,000, C. Jerry and Felicia Williams to Jerry Chandler


Lot 43 Garrison Hills, $115,000, 4710 Holdings LLC to Dennis J. Eflein and Dawn R. and Dennis J. and Dawn Eflein Joint Community Property Trust

Lot 41 Garrison Hills, $89,000, 4710 Holdings LLC to Kristofer Michael and Tammy L. Allison

Compiled by Citizen-Times News Correspondent Bonnie Black via

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Self-Directed IRA Investors Take Note – 70 Percent of Investors Lost Money in 2015 through Stocks – Jim Hitt Responds to This News

Self-Directed IRA Investors Take Note – 70 Percent of Investors Lost Money in 2015 through Stocks – Jim Hitt Responds to This News

On paper, 2015 shouldn’t have been a terrible year for stock investors; the S&P 500 ended the year just 1.75 percent above where it began. Jim Hitt says, “Self-Directed IRA investors who diversified their portfolios realized a much better outcome.”

Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) May 10, 2016

The value of a Self-Directed IRA is the ability to diversify assets beyond stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. According to data from Openfolio, an app that lets users compare how their actually investments are faring against others who are using the app, taking cash flows into account, the vast majority of stock investors actually lost money – 3.09 percent, on average. In other words, the average investor lagged an un-managed index by as much as 4.84 percentage points, once you take actual cash-flow adjusted returns into account.

“Stocks are a tough asset class to get market beating results in,” says Jim Hitt, president and CEO of American IRA, an Asheville, North Carolina-based firm that supports investors who prefer to use Self-Directed IRA accounts to invest retirement money in alternative or unusual asset classes not often found in IRA and 401(k) accounts. “Even the best, most experienced fund managers have trouble. The average investor playing the stock market is at a huge disadvantage. A lot of our clients prefer to sidestep the S&P issue and invest directly in gold, real estate, private equity, private placements, and other areas where they aren’t competing directly against institutional investors,” Jim Hitt continues.

Younger investors fared worse. The burden of lackluster return fell primarily on younger investors last year: Investors age 25 and under lost an average if 3.8 percent last year, while 50-64 year-olds lost an average of 2.2 percent.

Even normally risk-averse senior citizens managed to convert an up year for the S&P into actual account losses – losing 1.7 percent, on average, over the year.

Women, as it happened, outperformed men, by a healthy margin: Men lost 3.78 percent over the course of the year, on average. Women only lost 2.54 percent.

And how did financial professionals fare? Dismally, say Openfolio’s data. Financiers lost more than 4 percent – far worse than techies (-2.12 percent), engineers (-2.04 percent) and the top-performing profession on the job: teachers, who lost a modest 1.5 percent, on average.

Jim Hitt says, “It really goes back to the tried and true method…diversification. Investors need to broaden the asset areas they invest in so that their overall portfolio remains intact even when one asset fails to perform.”

About American IRA, LLC:

American IRA is committed to providing every client with gold-level service, regardless of account size. Experience their expertise through their certified IRA services professionals. Enjoy the value with one low annual fee of $285 with unlimited assets and unlimited account values. American IRA clients love the benefit of no charge for “All Cash” accounts. The performance of the American IRA staff is unmatched, with quick and efficient processing within 48 hours.

American IRA services thousands of clients and has over $300 million in assets under administration.

American IRA was built by investors for investors, and brings their successful investment experience to the table, providing excellent educational material showing the public that their self-directed IRA account can invest in a variety of assets such as real estate, private lending, limited liability companies, precious metals and much more.

American IRA is conveniently located in Asheville, NC and Charlotte, NC, and serves clients nationwide.

American IRA is the sponsor of American Wealth Radio. Click here for more information.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

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