Asheville Mountain Real Estate Blog

Asheville, NC real estate for sale. Information for buyers, sellers and mountain homeowners, without pressure. Rich content for those who are far away about what it is like to live here through the generous use of media. And some nostalgia with our, "Baby Boomers' Fun Stuff", Thanks for stopping by.

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A small, highly personalized real estate firm specializing in mountain homes and land in greater Asheville.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baby Boomer Fun: The 1958 Edsel

Thursday is baby boomer fun day here, no real estate so here goes...

1958, yep fifty years ago, was the first full model year for the infamous Edsel automobile by Ford. Ford introduced the car on September 4, 1957 with great fanfare, including an hour long TV special, The Edsel Show.

The car was of course, a famous failure and the end of the Edsel was announced on November 13, 1959. Interestingly, 1960 Edsel models were merged into the Mercury division giving us what ultimately became, the Mercury Comet.

Essential Edsel Links
Hub Cap Cafe: Photos not only of vintage Edsels, but a car buff's wonderland.

Edsel.net: Has a fun dealer locator, sometimes with period photos of the Edsel dealership that was in your hometown. Amusing aside, their home page says "last updated April 13, 1958".

Let's end this week's installment with a 1 minute commercial for the 1958 Edsel. Personally, not a bad looking car despite history's judgment.

ENJOY; 1 minute length

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Living Around Asheville: "Orographic Lift"

Part 2 of a Series on Mountain Weather


A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how one's elevation in the mountains can impact temperature and local weather. This is called the lapse rate. It simply states that temperatures will decline by 3.56 degrees F for every 1,000 feet gain in elevation.

Today we turn our attention to a related factor, known technically as "orographic lift". Wikipedia offers this explanation:
Orographic lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude it expands and cools adiabatically. This cooler air cannot hold the moisture as well as warm air can, which effectively raises the relative humidity to 100%, creating clouds and frequent precipitation.
So, when air masses are swept into the mountains here, they can easily rise from a little more than 1,000 feet above sea level to 5,000 or 6,000 feet in a matter of mere miles. This is a significant lowering of temperature, by as much as much as 14.2 degrees F, for those who live at 5,000 feet.

It seems to us that orographic effects around Asheville are highly localized. They are mostly seen in terms of afternoon summer showers, and at times, winter snows. Certain regions however can see as much as 80 inches of rain/year, and qualify as temperate rain forest. The payback is in places like Gorges State Park, with its tumbling waterfalls, and lush vegetation.

More mountain weather phenomenon to follow, stay tuned.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Baby Boomer Fun: The Buckinghams 1967

Thursday is baby boomer fun day here, no real estate, so here goes...

'Twas 40 years ago this month that a new group and a new sound began to storm the charts with a song called Kind of a Drag. The group of course was The Buckinghams.

At that link, readers who spent their youth reading liner notes on albums, will notice the connection with James William Guercio. Guercio was the man loved horns, and was behind the sound of super groups Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and Chicago. One can certainly hear the similarity with The Buckinghams.

About Guercio and The Buckinghams, Wikipedia says:
Guercio's brass-rock studio work helped to shape the group's signature sound, and the partnership produced four more Top 10 hits in 1967: "Don't You Care" (#6), "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" (#5), "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)" (#10) and "Susan" (#8).
The Buckinghams are still around today, and even played one of the inaugural balls in 2005. One might assume that the Bushes liked them as well, when they were in their late teens.

The video clip is from 1967. It is the song Don't You Care.

ENJOY !
2 mins 43 secs


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Asheville Makes More "Best Of Lists"

A few days back, Ashevagas informed us of another "best of" designation for our fair city. This time it comes from Market Watch, in a column entitled "The 10 Best Personal Finance Stories of 2007".

The Market Watch piece actually refers back to something we reported in August, where Asheville was named the top city in the US to live by Relocate America. View the entire list here.

City of Bliss
The Citizen Times reported on the release of a new book, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, and Asheville is the top pick. The story has generated more than 170 comments at this point, some informed, some not, but entertaining.

Ashevegas has more on the subject, including links to Boston.com on happy places, including Asheville.

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November Pending Home Sales Index

Yesterday, marked the release of the November 2007 Pending Home Sales Index, (PHSI). As its name implies, it is one of the most cited forward looking indexes in housing.

The news was not good. There is no evidence that demand alone will bring the market back to equilibrium. Nationally the index was down 19.2% from last year. In the South, the figure was 19.8% less. Today, we will simply offer a few reviews from around the web, and refrain from making merely duplicative comments.

A number of headlines noted that the index rose slightly from October 2007. Our own point of view is more in line with The Big Picture, who wrote the following:
...the year-over-year data is what matters, not the monthly changes. This release revealed a 19.2% drop in the index from last year, forecasting not stabilization, but even greater slippage.
Why greater slippage? The answer comes from Paper Economy, doing its usual great job, complete with charts.
Keep in mind the current pending sales decline comes ON TOP of last years historic fall-off so the continued weakness is a sure sign that the decline is not ephemeral.

And later in the article, that no region of the US was spared:

* Nationally the index was down 19.2% as compared to November 2006.
* The Northeast region was down 19.1% as compared to November 2006.
* The West region was down 18.5% as compared to November 2006.
* The Midwest region was down 18.6% as compared to November 2006.
* The South region was down 19.8% as compared to November 2006.

Yes, though few observers have mentioned it, 2006 came in less than 2005, which represented the most current peak in housing. Comparisons with one year ago are now to the point where that must be remembered.

When Will It All End?
With inventories more than 40% above last year, and sales down more than 40%, markets remain in serious imbalance. We have written repeatedly, credit crisis aside, that the path to stability can only come by reducing production and lowering prices to entice buyers.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Living Around Asheville: "The Lapse Rate"

Part 1 of a Series on Mountain Weather

Living and driving in the mountains means that one will encounter dramatic changes in elevation above sea level, and with it, comes notable differences in local weather.

Asheville itself sits at 2,288 feet above sea level. However, in the space of 20 miles or less, one can climb to more than twice that elevation. So, in 20 miles or less, the local weather can be remarkably different, but why? There are a number of different factors that answer that question. Today, we deal with one of those.

Let's go back to grammar school geography, and recall what exactly is the lapse rate. An official definition reads as follows:
The decrease of an atmospheric variable with height, the variable being temperature, unless otherwise specified.
Stated an easier way, as one travels to higher elevations, the temperature will drop. But does it drop fast enough to matter?

All things being equal, the average rate of change will be 3.56 degrees F per 1,000 feet change in elevation. Perhaps the impact on residents is beginning to reveal itself with some simple arithmetic?

Therefore, to change one's elevation by 2,000 feet, something that thousands of people do here every day, accounts for a difference in the local temperature of 7.12 degrees F, (2 X 3.56 degrees F).

Obviously, in the winter, when the Asheville TV station forecasts 36 degrees F, this will mean something in the area of 28.9 degrees F at 4,200, or more dramatically, 25.4 degrees F at 5,200 feet. In the summer, the effect is dreamily, the same.

In winter, the lapse rate can represent the difference between rain and snow. As we will examine in future parts of this series, when combined with other mountain phenomenon, it can sometimes mean the difference between sunshine and lots of white stuff, just part of the adventure that is mountain life, in any season. Stay tuned.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Baby Boomer Fun: Milton Bradley's "Mystery Date"

Thursdays are baby boomer fun days, no real estate, so here goes...

With the holidays just past us, let's take a last look at 1960's toys. While boys got a veritable deluge of action toys, ranging from GI Joe to AC Gilbert Chemistry Sets, what options were presented to women besides Barbie and all the similar clones?

The Milton Bradley "Mystery Date" Game is a great look at gender roles in those times. The song was actually kind of cool:
1 minute
ENJOY !

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

November 2007 Housing Statistics

So many numbers related to supply and demand, reported in so many different ways, and to complicate things, released at different times each month. We gather them up here each month, so here's the look at November, 2007, as released this past December.

The Quick Summary

A story too familiar and monotonous at this point. Inventories 40% or more above last year, sales 30% to 40% less than last year. No region of the country has been able to escape these trends.

Supply Factors: Falling Production + Too Much Inventory = A Long Road Yet
New Residential Inventories, (PDF), : November posted a 9.3 months' supply of new homes for sale. This is the second highest measure for the last 12 months. The index represents a 43% rise in supply from November, 2006.

Permits, Starts and Completions, (PDF), : Compared with November, 2006, permits are 24% less, starts 24% less, and completions 28% less. The numbers speak for themselves.

For new homes, The Wall Street Journal noted that this was the lowest level for permits since mid-1992, while Calculated Risk informs us that starts are at their lowest level since April, 1991. Paper Economy, (with a number of great charts), informs us that:
Moreover, every region showed significant double digit declines to permits...
We would put two ideas forward now about new homes. 1- the numbers represent what a long road it will be back to equilibrium, and 2- as Chief Economist David Seirs of The National Association of Home Builders noted:
...he's somewhat pleased because builders cannot reduce their inventories of unsold homes unless they cut production, particularly in light of weak demand and rising competition from existing home sellers.
We will leave the debate about what all this means to employment and the wider economy to others.

What About Individual Homeowners?

Existing Home Inventories, (PDF), : Inventories actually declined slightly from October to a 10.3 months' supply, which still measures up as 41% higher than last year, and 71.7% above the so called equilibrium point of 6.0 months' supply.

Who would buy in such a situation? Let's take a look at sales.

Demand Factors: Sales Down 34% to 41%
New Residential Sales, (PDF), : Interest Rate Roundup sums these numbers up as succinctly as any observer:
Sales plunged 9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 647,000 from a revised 711,000 SAAR in October (previously reported as 728,000). On a year-over-year basis, sales were down 34.4% from 987,000 in November 2006. Sales haven't been this weak since April 1995...(Emphasis Added).

and later in the article...
Prices were largely stable. But the collapse in the sales rate suggests that won't last.
Paper Economy points out that no areas of the country were spared. New home sales were down from 28% to 38.7% in every region.

Existing Home Sales, (PDF): Existing home sales were 41% less than last year at this time, and Paper Economy wraps it up in this manner:
* Sales are down significantly in EVERY region and for BOTH single family and condo.
* Prices for single family homes declined for EVERY region.
* Prices for condos declined in every region but a, (sic), anemic gain in the South.
* ALL Inventory and Months Supply show significant increases on a year-over-year basis.
The Future By Way of the Past?
In the past we have gathered links to well known analysts in this section of our monthly roundup. Instead, of looking forward, let us look back. An article posted this morning at InterestRate Roundup looks at data back to the early 1960's. How does the current housing market stack up?
...worse than the '94-'95 drop (about 31%) and the '89-'91 downturn (-45%). It also tops the 42% decline we saw in '65-'66 and the 51% fall we experienced in '72-'74.
The only downturn we've experienced in modern history that was worse than this one was the '78-'81 collapse.
Google Trends tells the story graphically in one link.

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