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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Location: Mars Hill, NC, United States

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Real Estate Statistics: August, 2008

Every month we gather the major numbers here.

The Quick Summary
At the risk of engaging in understatement, the large overhang for inventories remains. When this is coupled with turmoil in financial markets, there is no reason to think this will change anytime soon.

Supply: The Monotony of High Inventories
Permits, Starts, and Completions, (PDF): In a trend that is approaching 36 months, these indexes were down 36.4%, 33.1%, and 35.8% respectively.

Single family permits, the indicator of primary concern, were down 40.3% from a year ago, and 65.57% from the peak in January, 2005. The South fared worse than the rest of the nation in all three categories. (Source). Seeking Alpha has more.

New Home Inventories, (PDF): With such drastic cutbacks in production, it is no surprise that the raw number of new homes for sale keeps dropping. There are 23% less new homes for sale now than one year ago.

However, demand persistently drops by even larger amounts, so that the "months' supply" of new homes, a more meaningful measure, stubbornly remains at 10.9.

Existing Home Inventories, (PDF): Representing more than 85% of the national market. existing home inventories stand at a 10.4 months' supply. For equilibrium, it is often suggested that new and existing inventories need to be at a 6 months' level. Long ways to go yet.

Demand Indexes
New Home Sales, (PDF): 35% less than one year ago, and 65 % less than the peak. (Source). The lowest August since 1982.

Existing Home Sales, (PDF): This segment represents 85% of the market and checked in at 10.7% less than one year ago, 24% less than 2006, and 31% less than 2005. In greater Asheville, existing home sales fell by 35% from August of 2007.

Looking Ahead
Bailouts and stock market crashes aside, inventories will have to approach a six months' supply before we can call this remotely normal. The path to that has yet to reveal itself, suggesting that buyers and sellers who have latitude in their positions can continue to sit on the sidelines.

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Filed Under: National Items

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Perspectives and News Roundup

The Bailout(s)
Sometimes a picture is worth much more than a thousand words. Bill Marsh at The NY Times has a short article, and a tremendous graphic on how the bailouts stack up with other areas of the federal budget. So why do we get all worked up about those earmarks?

On Mortgages
Sign of the times? Link was found here.

On Gasoline Shortages
Things are better in Asheville proper. In our own town of Mars Hill this morning there was one location open with one grade of gasoline. The remaining facilities were empty. Money CNN offers added details, and a larger point of view.

Filed Under: National Items

Friday, September 26, 2008

Something Lighthearted Anyone?

The recent news is negative and uncertain, not to mention highly fluid from minute to minute.

So, let's overlook the implosion of the bailout talks, the largest bank failure in US History, or that 38% of the US population now qualify as financially burdened, and look at an ingenious and amusing selling idea for this Friday.

The New York Times calls it Real Estate's Latest Game of Chance. The idea is to sell one's home by way of a raffle, and the thought, is gaining traction in the blogosphere of late. Here is a story of a Michigan woman planning to raffle off her condo by way of 2,500 raffle tickets at $100.00 each.

This tactic, while creative, is obviously fraught with a whole bunch of legalities, surely to the point that legal counsel would need to be involved. Depending on the state laws, a raffle involving private citizens might be defined as a game of chance, (illegal), or, require that profits be donated to a charity.

True Gotham, NYC based, has several other thoughts and suggestions, as does a Q and A at bankrate.com. There are even a number of web services that seem to have sprung up in response, such as howtowinmyhouse.com, or usahomeraffle.com.

Lots of Red Flags
The arithmetic here is certainly attractive for both sellers, and ticket holders. Gigantic amounts of planning and compliance with everything from state law, to postal regulations, and more, are absolute requirements before one should even begin to consider the idea, let alone do it.

Disclaimer: We have NO experience, NO knowledge, and do NOT endorse, it's just curious.

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Filed Under: Sellers' Curiosities

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Baby Boomers: Passing of Norman Whitfield

No real estate on Thursdays...

Did you like Motown, particularly the years after 1966? If so, then it is Norman Whitfield who passed away this week, (more from MTV), who deserves most of the credit.

Whitfield was Motown's main producer and songwriter during the years of The British Invasion. His credits date from 1963, but his golden period there was from 1966-1972, especially with The Temptations.

This Week's Video Clip
The Temptaions: Beauty's Only Skin Deep, written and produced by Norman Whitfield and peaked at # 3 on The Billboard Charts in 1966.

ENJOY !
2 minutes and 25 seconds

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

News and Musings

The Social Sciences and Real Estate
Anyone who took some social sciences in college will certainly recall Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. How about the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief?

From The Department of Things Clever and Amusing, we now have, The Five Stages of Real Estate Grief .

Buffet Analyzes Business Cycles
In other news of economic models, Warren Buffet gives us "The Three I's" of any business cycle.

Email Alert
If you have ever received one of those Nigerian Scam emails, this email, about that $700 billion bailout, (it's a joke), has been getting a lot of play on the web.

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Filed Under: National Items

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Asheville's Gas Crunch: A Modest Proposal

Sometimes, when the media gives a name to an ongoing situation, it really is the stamp of authenticity instead of hype. The local TV station, among others, have dubbed the current gasoline shortage, "Panic at the Pump". It even has its own logo in the WLOS reports.

As far as gasoline in the Western mountains goes, with the Governor involved, accidents reported from long lines of vehicles in the street, people unable to get to work, public transportation impacted, and another 10 days in front of us, that's pretty authentic.

The Odd-Even Solution
With motorists described as swarming to any location with fuel, and at least one local blogger calling for rationing, it's time to unearth a 34 year old solution that will have a more immediate impact, at least on the buying process, than appeals for more supplies.

Simply, vehicles with even numbered license plates would fuel on even numbered calendar days, and vice-versa. There is room here sure, for drivers to circumvent, (we won't go into that), but the majority effect is worth it.

WLOS TV Videos

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Filed Under: Asheville and Miscellany

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Asheville: Gasoline Issues Persist

Hmm, this is something we did not expect to still be writing about, the shortage of gasoline locally in the mountains.

From The Citizen Times, today:
County and city governments around Western North Carolina have imposed fuel conservation measures including canceling events and limiting travel.
Waiting in line, even some altercations.

Q and A from today's paper on the situation.

A call to lawmakers.

Another week?

Highest prices in the state, when you can find it.


Filed Under: Asheville and Miscellany

Friday, September 19, 2008

Asheville's Two Droughts

Yep, we've had a pair of droughts here lately, one having to do with gasoline, and the other with water. The first is ending, and the latter improving.

About That Gasoline
We have followed the impacts of Hurricane Ike on the Asheville gasoline situation for some days now, and it is thankfully dissipating. In short, our mountain terrain poses distribution issues that have magnified the Gulf of Mexico disruptions for retail gasoline supplies locally.

For those thinking of driving to Asheville this weekend, The Citizen Times points out savings of around $0.22/gallon if one were to fill up in Charlotte, Greenville, SC, or Johnson City, TN on your way here. AAA Carolinas summarizes:
“You can’t find every grade at every station,” he said. “The outages are sporadic, and fuel is usually findable. It may not be on the first stop.”
Stay in touch with local gasoline prices at this link.

And The Other Drought

Despite an uptick in recent rains, the mountains remain in extreme drought. This is however an improvement from the more serious exceptional drought designation we experienced as recently as last month.

The city has managed well and no restrictions are in effect, while The French Broad River has more than doubled its historic low flows in August.

An odd but intuitive side effect to the drought is that initial forecasts call for Autumn colors to be early, and brilliant. We will certainly keep you posted on that.

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Filed Under: Asheville and Miscellany

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Asheville News: Updates and Outsourcing

About Local Gasoline
Seems the worst of Hurricane Ike's impact on the region has passed in terms of gasoline supplies here. We still see locations limiting the size of purchase, ($50.00), or with only one grade of fuel for sale, but improving daily.

In Other News
Gasoline Nationally:
The "Out of Gas" signs are not uncommon in other parts of the country as well. Prices are up in the near term until refineries gear back up, but down from July by more than 6%. There has been, not surprisingly, a months long trend now for Americans to consume less.

Crude Oil:
More than $50/bbl off of its high, but inventories are in the lower half of the normal range.

Housing Starts:
Lowest point since 1991, 66% below the peak in January, 2005. With the problem of excessive inventories this is a logical and long standing trend for builders. The cumulative result is that 2008 may well be the lowest year for starts since 1945. Drastic times require drastic measures if we are to see equilibrium return to housing markets.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Asheville Gasoline Supplies at "Reduced Rates"

Further to the local gasoline shortages, The Asheville Citizen Times reports today that:
The Colonial Pipeline, the main artery for fuel coming into the Carolinas, reopened Sunday, but gas supplies remained spotty throughout the mountains Monday and likely will for another week or so.
Here is a map of the Colonial that makes it easy to see how Asheville would be impacted. The pipeline is reopened, but at a "reduced rate".

Digging a little deeper, to see just what that rate might be, it's pretty surprising that even the US Department of Energy, in its latest hurricane update won't get any more specific. The blog Ashevegas gives us perspective noting that local prices are the second highest in the nation.

In case you're planning a trip for the weekend, one can keep track of Asheville retail gasoline prices here. Readers will note a range of $3.99/gallon to a high of $4.59/gallon.

It was routine for us in Madison County to be paying $3.59/gallon one week ago. Let's hope for a return to that, soon.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

In New York It's Lehman, In Asheville, It's Gasoline

With the events surrounding Lehman Brothers et. al., "The American financial system was shaken to its core on Sunday".

In greater Asheville however, the availability of gasoline is our more immediate concern, and the culprits are the recent hurricanes in The Gulf of Mexico.

In a nutshell, everything from crude production, to electricity for pipelines has been disrupted. The result is that only a fraction of normal deliveries are being made to local retail locations. In an extremely informal poll, we found that retail outlets are being limited to something like 30% to 50% of normal.

The Citizen Times reports today that prices have set a new record and that "many stations had run out of fuel to sell". In our own home town of Mars Hill yesterday, gasoline was completely unavailable.

Best option we found was a $20.00 limit, 11 miles north of town. The Governor has declared a "state of abnormal market disruption", and is urging calm. Prices vary wildly, from maybe $4.14/gallon to $4.75/gallon.

This slideshow of gasoline stations around the region tells the current story. We will keep you posted.

Filed Under: Asheville Items