Blog :: 2011

Want an Asheville Real Estate Sale? Get the Picture!

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  In the case of the real estate market, a good picture can be worth thousands of dollars.  In a recent Wall Street Journal report, the use of nicer, professional photos increased home sale values anywhere from $934 to $116,076. The article details the specifics of how the figures were calculated. Professional quality photos of a listing can increase the sales price.  In addition, listings across all price tiers with such photos receive an average of 61% more views than home listings taken with point and shoot cameras.


Try to use a professional photo for your listing


Perhaps the most surprising statistic of all is that only 15.4% of the homes in the data set were marketed using professional quality photos.  While homeowners and brokers may balk at purchasing a DSLR camera ($500-$1,000+) for the simple purpose of illustrating a listing, consider that a professional photographer can do the work for you for $100-$500, a worthy investment considering the potential payback.

Homeowners often spend funds preparing the home for sale yet overlook investing in the photos to illustrate the beauty of their home.  It's important to note that potential buyers these days often begin their home search on-line.  In most cases, the first vision they have will be the photo posted with the listing.  To quote another well-known adage:  You only make a first impression once.  Why not spend a little extra, or choose a broker who does, to get a good quality photo that illustrates your home's true value.  For more information, please contact Greybeard Realty.

Will Asheville Real Estate Market Follow the National Trend Toward Fewer McMansions?

There are several signs that larger homes, often known as McMansions, may be headed the way of the dinosaur...or at least the albatross.  The American Institute of Architects survey in 2010 indicated that close to 60% of respondents noted that homes were getting smaller while the remainder reported that home sizes were staying the same.  Almost no one responded that homes were getting larger.

The interest in smaller homes can be understood given the recent tightening of mortgage restrictions, making it even more difficult to finance these larger homes.  In addition, with the national decline of  home values in the current economy, those hoping to upgrade to a McMansion may find it harder to get their value out of their existing home.


Larger Homes Less Popular

McMansions may be on the way out.


This trend toward to smaller homes is even making its way into the second home market.  In major markets across the country, developers are moving away from large vacation homes and moving toward smaller, more compact homes. Again, financing a second home can be more challenging than in the past, and potential homeowners seem to be looking for value and convenience over opulence.

In addition to being more difficult to finance, these larger homes, both primary and second homes, are more expensive to furnish, heat and upkeep, all of which is making the move away from super-sized homes more appealing.

Locally, since 2005, the number of larger homes sold has decreased in Buncombe County.  In 2005, 140 homes of 4,000 sq. ft. and 57 homes of 5,000 sq. ft. sold.  In 2010, those numbers of units sold had decreased to 93 units and 30 units respectfully. For more information or help in choosing the right sized home in the Asheville area, please contact Greybeard Realty.

Asheville Real Estate Market: National New Housing Starts

The Commerce Department just released housing start numbers for January 2011, and they showed a 14.6% increase to an annual rate of 596,000 units.  That figure was up from an annual rate of 520,000 in December, but economists warned that statistic could be misleading.  They said the majority of the increase could be attributed to apartment construction, not single family construction.

 In fact, single-family home permits, which is viewed as a more stable indicator of new homebuilding activity, stayed flat for the month. Again, however, economists noted that the figures alone did not tell the whole story.  They said that staying flat in this case could be seen as positive news.  Given the harsh winter weather, making new construction more challenging, some experts had predicted a decline in new building permits.


Home Building Permits

Building Permits on the Rise


In addition, future housing permits declined 10.4% from last month to 562,000 falling short of the 575,000 figure that a national survey had predicted. Once again, however, economists qualified the numbers by saying that the December future housing permits were perhaps artificially high as people hurried to beat more stringent building restrictions anticipated for 2011.  For more information, please contact Greybeard Realty.

Will National Home Sales Jump Extend to Asheville Real Estate Sales?

There are some new housing numbers that may indicate an improvement in the home sales market in the months to come.  Nationally, new home sales jumped 17.5% in December which increased sales of new homes to their highest levels in 8 months.  Economists had expected a 300,000 unit increase for the period.  Instead, there was a seasonally adjusted unit rate of 329,000. The numbers, provided by the Commerce Department, seem to indicate some signs of life in the housing market.

It's interesting to note, however, that these numbers were influenced by a spike in home sales in the West which economists feel have skewed the numbers toward the positive.  Also, it's important to note that while there was in increase, it was still down significantly from its peak of 1.283 million-units in 2005.


Real Estate Graphic

What do the numbers mean?


With the surge in the West leading the way, the supply of new homes declined to its lowest level since last April.  In addition, the median home price for the period of $241,500 showed an increased to the highest mark since April of 2008. 

Closer to home, Buncombe County Realtors sold $49 million worth of homes during December which was the highest sales volume for homes in the last five months. 

These numbers alone are not enough to indicate a increasing trend, but coupled with the recent stock market rise and the decision by the Federal Reserve to maintain the low interest rates available, it may be seen as a small sign of hope for the new home sales market. For assistance in the Asheville real estate market, please contact us.

Some Small Signs of Hope in Market Declines

Annual numbers for real estate sales for 2010 have been released by MLS, and at first glance it's hard to find much good news to hang your hat on.  A quick scan down to the percent change shows negative numbers in every category except one---and that one shows no change at all.  Those declines hold true for both Buncombe County and Black Mountain.



Western NC real estate sign

Greybeard Realty:Property for Sale



A closer look at those numbers, however, does indicate some signs that the market may be stabilizing.  In fact, coupled with the slight economic improvements cited by Chairman Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve earlier this month, one can even argue that the real estate market in our area is in a position to start an upward turn in the near future.

In Buncombe County, the number of homes sold held steady from 2009 to 2010 while the total sales volume and average price for home sales both declined at a rate of 4%.  That decrease is slightly lower than the 7% decrease experienced in the county market from 2008 to 2009 in average price and significantly less than the 17% decrease in total sales volume from 2008 to 2009.  And that's where one has to look at the county market with a bit of optimism.  With prices declining at a slightly lower rate than the previous year, the real estate market may be indicating that home prices are stabilizing.

In Black Mountain, the numbers are not as optimistic.  First of all, the area experienced a 14 percent decline in number of homes sold.  Sales volume decreased 17 percent as well.  The average home prices dropped 4% which actually is an improvement from the 11% decline from 2008 to 2009.

Black Mountain's real estate market buyers differ from those of the County because many of them tend to be buying second homes, homes for retirement and vacation homes.  There is little doubt that tighter mortgage restrictions on second homes have restricted the number of buyers who can afford to enter the market at this time.

So why, you may fairly ask, do I see signs of hope in these numbers?   First of all, it's important that home prices seem to have stabilized.  Buyers who have been waiting for the market's home prices to bottom out can see that the numbers seem to be slowing in their decline.  With that pricing trend, buyers who have been waiting may see that it's time to enter the market before prices start moving up. Secondly, the stock market reached a two year high this month indicating that some buyers with larger portfolios may now have the funds needed to buy their second homes outright or at least have the money required for a down payment on a second home.

More patience may be required before the area market shows a complete turnaround.  I do think, however, that the most recent numbers can be read as showing very slight signs of life.  As is often the case with the real estate market, it's too soon to know whether we should tip our hats to the bull market that's just around the corner or pass the hat for the trouble that's ahead.  In this case, however, I'm going to tip my hat and hope the economy continues on its change of course. We encourage you to check out our Buncombe County real estate listings, or contact us if you have any questions.

Time to Purchase Your Own Asheville Rental Cabin?

If you have dreamed of owning an Asheville rental cabin of your own, you may be interested in the information presented recently in the Wall Street Journal. The article indicates that second home sales in some markets increased at dramatic levels last year. According to the article, the soaring sales levels can be attributed to deeply discounted prices on those homes, cash purchases by buyers not dependent on second home mortgages, and increasing stock portfolios of buyers.



Enjoy the NC Vistas

Mountain Views



If you have considered buying a second home, this may be the time to really start your search.  Before entering the buyers' market, however, there are some simple steps which can alleviate future issues during the buying process.  First of all, do your homework.  What purpose would the home serve?  Will you be renting it out when you aren't there?  Will you retire there in a few years? How much room do you need? Will you need a management company to keep the home in good condition and keep it rented regularly?

Another important step is to assess your own financial situation.  Will you need a second home mortgage which requires more stringent financials?  How much can you afford to spend?  It makes no sense searching through $1 million homes if you have a budget of $350,000.  Do you have a stellar credit rating?  If not, clean it up prior to applying for that second mortgage.

In the article, financial experts indicated that mortgage lenders were requiring as much as 25% down on second homes and clean credit reports.  Further, they indicated that the best prices on homes were found by buyers able to pay full cash for the home price.  The markets studied were Barnstable County, Cape Cod, MA, Mercer Island, WA, Hilton Head, SC, and Palm Beach, FL, and the increase of the number of homes sold ranged from 9% to 181%.

National numbers for 2010 second home sales will not be available until March 2011, but if these specific markets are any indication, it may be time to consider looking around for that second home. For more information, contact Greybeard Realty.

Montreat 2010 Real Estate Year in Review

2010 Montreat Real Estate Year in Review

2010 was a bounceback year for the Montreat homes market.  Nine homes were sold throughout the year, compared to only 3 in 2009.  Such a number of homes sold had not been seen since 2007, before the downturn hit the area.  Even in the very peak of 2006, the number of homes sold was 9.

One reason for the increase in sales in 2010 may be the variety of options available to buyers.  After the stock market decline of 2008, many buyers remained on the sideline in 2009.  But since the stock market began to increase and other economic indicators normalized a bit, buyers began to re-enter the market.  And homes that had been on the market in 2009 were more ready to negotiate, as seen in the 2010 Sales/List Price ratio.

To see details and photos of all 9 sales in 2010, click here.


The Montreat land market may have also begun a turnaround.  Of course, Montreat's land market is small, but 2010 saw as many sales as 2007 and 2008, and far more sales than in 2006.


Even with improved buyer confidence in 2010, there are still more homes and lots available at great prices.  To see the currenty inventory, use the links below.

1-Click Property Searches on Greybeard Realty's Website


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