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.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hiatus

This blog will be on a short hiatus for the next eight days, see you then!

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Quick Thursday Roundup

Ashvegas points to an interesting article on second home sales and trends.

The Citizen Times reports on a missing real estate developer, impacting yet another mountain subdivision in the region.
Federal regulators say hedge fund manager Arthur G. “Art” Nadel, of Sarasota, Fla., misled investors and overstated the value of investments in the six funds by about $300 million.

Nadel and his wife, Peg, are the developers of Laurel Mountain Preserve, a 430-acre subdivision on the Buncombe-McDowell county line.
Zillow has some resources that are very topical for us in the mountains lately on preventing frozen pipes.

Mountain Express reports on the trend with NC casinos in the current economy.

Carolina Mornings reminds us of "Asheville's Accolades", in other words, some of the many best of lists to which our fair city has been named.

And Mountain Express has a feature, (new to us), entitled Weekend on a Shoestring, how to enjoy Asheville with minimal cash expenditures.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby Boomers: Patrick McGoohan

Baby boomer fun is a semi regular Thursday feature where we leave real estate behind, at least on the blog!

Patrick McGoohan, a two time Emmy Winner died on Wednesday at the age of 80. Readers will remember him as the star of a short lived TV Series, (though a cult classic), entitled The Prisoner. There were only 17 episodes produced from October, 1967 through February, 1968.

Perhaps less recalled, though no less interesting was McGoohan's other TV series from that era, Secret Agent, (known in the UK as "Danger Man"). In the US, the series aired from 1964 until 1966. The theme for the show was the Johnny Rivers song, Secret Agent Man, which topped out at # 3 on the charts in 1966.

Here is the opening sequence from The Prisoner, approximately 2 minutes.
ENJOY !

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

News Bits: On and Off The Radar

Off the Radar
*Some Good News! Subaru had a good year, from Time Magazine.
*The number of wives earning more than their husbands has doubled in the last two decades.
*Shopping online? a pretty obvious idea when you think about it. How to get better deals.

On The Radar
*The last index to be released in real estate each month is the Pending Home Sales Index, (PHSI). The November, 2008 reading set a new low.
*December retail sales from Calculated Risk, (always with nice graphs), and Business Week.

Finally On The Radar
*The Congressional Oversight Committee on TARP, (Troubled Assets Relief Program), released its second report. Simply amazing, or maybe not, Treasury doesn't have a strategy, or much else with respect to that $700 billion.
*Former Chief Economist of our national trade association admits he put spin on the data. Check out his track record at The Wall Street Journal, and the feature story from that same publication.

Surprising To See On The Radar
*In which we agree with Nixon Treasury Secretary George Schultz.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Granite Counter Tops and Radon?

Hmm...more than a few times in the past year we have seen references to granite and radon emissions.

The bottom line seems to be that the boom in granite's popularity meant that sources of supply and types of granite became less uniform. Some granite, (some say about 10% of the market), might emit enough radon to matter.

The issue is sometimes controversial and varies from one home to the next. Bottom line if one is concerned would be to test for yourself. Below you will find some links to the issue.

Granite & Radon Information
From: The Consumer Reports Blog
From: This Old House
From: CBS News
From: The NY Times
From Zillow: Is Quartz The New Granite?

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Asheville Real Estate Roundup

The weather of late has been wild an wooly. We have seen everything from heavy rain and floods, including mudslides to 67 degrees F, and then 5 or more inches of snow in the mountains.

The real estate news in greater Asheville has also been notable.

In Real Estate
January 8:
The lead story in the print edition of The Citizen Times detailed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of the number 3 real estate firm in the the region. The culprit, declining sales:
The number of existing homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service in Buncombe County through November last year was about 27 percent lower than in the same period of 2007.

The total dollar value of all home sales in the county — the amount Realtors' commissions are typically based on — fell more than 30 percent, from $915.9 million to $632.8 million.
Those numbers are year to date. The decline has accelerated in recent months. November, 2008 sales were 50.4% less than one year ago, and 62% less than 2006. These numbers are 3 to 4 times softer than national averages.

Ashevegas has more.

It is important to note that Chapter 11 is a reorganization. Businesses in Chapter 11 continue to operate, and as the article noted:
"During the reorganization, 'Service to our clients — buyers and sellers alike — is really unaffected.' ”
January 6:
Ashevegas informs us about the closing of Jim Walter Homes. Here is more from MSNBC, and Tampa Biz Journals. Jim Walter was a fixture in local television advertising, one of those CEO's who did their own commercials. Walter started his business with $395 in 1946, quite a story.

January 6:
Mountain Express reported the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of a high end, 6,500 acre golf resort in the Boone area. The resort has now been acquired by new owners, more info here.

December 14:
Ashevegas covered this story where creditors of a high end community, just a few minutes from downtown have filed petitions against the development. Subsequent information is sketchy, but this web site, (never heard of them), has reported they have been placed in involuntary Chapter 11.

Chapter 11 Vs. Chapter 7
Because we were unclear ourselves, here is some very basic information on bankruptcy.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a reorganization where day to day operations continue. A corporation choosing this avenue receives an automatic stay from all creditors while it formulates a plan to pay bills and to emerge from its current conditions.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is where a business ceases operations, (usually), and its assets are liquidated to generate revenues to pay off creditors. It is apparently the most common form of bankruptcy in the US.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mountain Weather: A Primer

Many an area of the country will boast, "If you don't like the weather, just wait an hour, it will change". The mountain counties around Asheville are no different.

The fickle nature of our weather though just might be more true than elsewhere. The changes in elevation that we experience in our daily lives, and the slope of our terrain are important weather items as we shall see.

It was 67 degrees F at the airport yesterday, and today's forecast calls for everything from 2 to 5 inches of rain, and even snow. Whether you experience snow, or even the amount of rainfall all depends on where you are.

The Big Three
No, not the automakers, but there are three main factors that are part and parcel of the region's weather.

1) The Lapse Rate
This is the name that describes the simple fact, that as we travel to higher elevations, the temperature drops. Over the course of a day in greater Asheville, a person could easily change elevations by 3,000 or 4,000 feet, with just a 20 mile drive.

A 4,000 ft change in elevation can account for more than 14 degrees difference from the low land to the high land. This is the difference between rain or snow, a summer heat wave or comfort.

For a complete explanation of the lapse rate, please see our detailed explanation here.

2) Orographic Lift - Orographic Precipitation
When air masses sweep into the mountains, they are forced upwards. The lower temperatures and pressure means they lose their ability to hold moisture. So higher elevations get more rain than the City of Asheville, which sits at 2,288 feet above sea level.

Yep, the higher you live, the more liquid you are likely to see from the sky.

For a complete explanation of orographic rainfall, please see our detailed explanation here.

3) Microclimates
This is the idea that a particular valley can be warmer or colder than its surroundings. It depends on the exposure, e.g., South facing, and the steepness of the slopes which can hang onto air masses or weather in a very localized manner.

We have an area in one corner of our County that some locals call The Bermuda Triangle, for its ability to experience near blizzard conditions while the sun might be shining a mere 5 miles away.

For a complete explanation of microclimates, please visit our detailed explanation.

Mountain weather is not like the flat lands. The terrain here, which way it faces, and how steep it is can all make one's experience at home, quite different than down in the city.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

November, 2008 Real Estate Statistics

November numbers have all been reported, so here is the roundup.

The Quick Summary
Inventories continue to climb while prices and demand fall. There are no statistical indications as yet that any kind of turnaround is nearby.

Production and Inventories
Permits, Starts and Completions, (PDF): Declined from one year ago by 48.1%, 47.0%, and 22.8% respectively.

This represents the lowest level for new starts since 1959, and with respect to single family homes:
Single family housing permits, the most leading of indicators, again suggests extensive weakness in future construction activity dropping 46.28% nationally as compared to November 2007 and an astonishing 73.79% since the peak in January 2005.
New Home Inventories, (PDF): Are down more than 30% from a year ago in terms of raw numbers. However, when expressed as "months of supply", a more meaningful measure, they stand at 11.5 months. This has barely budged from the high of 11.8 months of supply earlier this year. Normal markets would like to see around 6 months of supply.

Existing Home Inventories, (PDF): Unlike new homes, the raw number of existing homes is essentially the same as one year ago. When expressed as months of supply, it stands at 11.2 months, a new high. This segment represents 85% to 90% of the national market.

Demand Side Data
New Home Sales, (PDF): The current pace stands at 35% less than one year ago, and more than 70 % less than the peak in 2005. 25% to 50% more new homes were sold nationally during the years 1963, 1964, 1965, or 1966 than will be sold this year.

Existing Home Sales, (PDF): Fell 10.6% from one year ago, and 31.0% from 2006. Calculated Risk gives perspective. It is important to remember that for existing homes, foreclosed properties represent 45% of total sales.

Forecasts?
Putting the larger issues of the global economy aside. Buyers or sellers with latitude in their positions would do well to wait as the market is close to 50% over supplied. For us, this would mean that prices will have to fall before inventories can be worked off.

When the months of supply numbers begin to decline for a couple of months in a row, this would seem to be a good preliminary indication that the road to equilibrium is more clear.

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