Category Archives: Buying a Home

Highlands Cashiers Real Estate Holds Promise for 2017

Best Real Estate Season in Years!

Highlands and Cashiers have seen great sales in real estate for 2017! In fact, it appears to be the strongest since the market fell off in 2006 & 2007. What many people don’t realize is that its lowest was 2012 (Case-Shiller Home Price Index). But before you get too excited, make sure you understand what this increase means. Continue reading Highlands Cashiers Real Estate Holds Promise for 2017

Real Estate Market Holding Steady

Single Family Home Sales Statistics
Land Sales Statistics
Overall Market View


No Extraordinary Sales Expected

While the Highlands/Cashiers area real estate market is coming back into its busy season, statistics show the market as status-quo.  In layering the sales data from 2014 until March of 2016, we see no major changes in the market. In fact, we see 2016 starting a little slower than 2015. What does this mean?

For Buyers, this is still a great time to buy a home in the mountains. It also means that buyers are in the drivers seat.

For Sellers, it means that expectations to sell their home should not be set too high. High expectations can result in homes staying on the market for longer periods of time (DOM or Days On Market).

Recent homes sales Macon and Jackson Counties
Market Outlook for Real Estate – Click for LARGER IMAGE.


Be reasonable. Look at the chart below. This shows the number of homes sold in March 2016 as compared to the inventory available. You might say, the blue area is your competition.

Inventory of homes in Highlands, Cashiers, Macon County
Price Competitively to Sell – Click for LARGER IMAGE

Now realize that the ORANGE SLIVER represents the 32 homes that did sell. So, divide the ORANGE SLIVER into 32 equal pieces. That one small section you end up with of the 32 is equal to your home. So, how do you compete? How do you  plan to get your home sold?

Believe it or not, your Broker wants the same thing you do; To sell your home for the most money they can get. However, your Broker is in the best position to tell you what the Market is doing. They watch the Market continually to offer you advise. While it is true you may “feel” your property is worth more or that you may have paid more for it or put a lot improvements into it, COST ≠ VALUE (Cost does not equal Value).

Be “IN” the Market, Not “On” the Market

While Market Data will state that homes sold for 90% of there List price, this does not paint a real picture.  This percentage is based upon the List price at the time it sold. In reviewing the “Original” List price, we find these homes sold for about 69% of the “Original” list price. Take a look at this graph to see what that looks like:

List to Sell Ration
Original List Price vs. Sold Price – Click for LARGER IMAGE

After many Days On Market (DOM) Sellers were forced to reduce their prices to get their homes sold. The mentality of many is, “The buyers are going to beat us up on price, so we’re going to price high so we can give a little,” is not a good strategy. Why not?

If you are overpriced, buyers are not going to look at your property. They will go look at properties that are closer to their budget. For example, if you’re priced at $495,000, buyers looking in the $400,000 – $450,000 range may never see your listing. If your home is not “In the Market” for what they are looking for, you are overpriced. The competition for the Market is tough and you have to be priced right to sell. Buyers know the market and they simple will not consider properties that are priced to high.

If you’re not getting many views on your home, chances are good you are priced too high. If you want your home sold during this upcoming selling season, you need to develop a strategy now.



Total homes listed in Highlands/Cashiers MLS: 1159 – This number is expected to rise as many Sellers desire to take advantage of the selling season. This number is expected to rise to around 1500.

Homes Sold This Month: 32-Less than the 2015 model, as seen in chart at top.

Average Sales per Month 1 Year Average: 47 (Unchanged)

Inventory: 24 months – This is determined using the Average Sales Per Month, as this market is very seasonal. Remember, a healthy market inventory is considered to be 6 months or less.

DOM: 533

Average DOM (YOY): 460

Median Sales Price: $243,500– This is a more significant number than “Average Selling Price.” This helps us to see where the middle of the market is selling.

Average List/Sell Ratio: 90.03% -Take into consideration this is not the “Original” List Price, as mentioned earlier. This continues to show that homes are overpriced. Sellers need to be aggressive in pricing to stir competition for their home. Pricing aggressively is what creates more lookers and more offers.

Synopsis: As we are coming into our Selling Season, Sellers should want to take advantage and be aggressive. As we go further into the season, if there is a lack of lookers, Sellers should want to consider their pricing and adjust accordingly before the season wanes.



Land Units Sold: 8

Total listed in all MLS: 1188-This number should continue to increase, which is not good for Sellers.

Inventory: 84 months. That’s 7 years of inventory. Some sellers have given their land away if the buyer covered the closing fee’s. Land is moving, but there is no real demand.

Synopsis: No demand means prices for land remain very low, compared to former pricing.


Overall Market View:

31% of home sales ranged from $200,000 to $499,999. This is the major portion of market sales.
15% of home sales ranged from $500,000 – $749,999. This was a significant rise in homes in this price range.
12% of sales were above $1,000,000. Unchanged.

Sellers, you should not expect top dollar for your home. If this is what you desire, you may want to remove your home from the market, temporarily.

Buyers, as we head into our busy season, good buys don’t last long. You need to be on top of any listings that pique your interest and be ready to move on them.



If you’re considering listing your home for sale or purchasing a home in NC, please feel free to contact a local agent or REALTOR®.  They  will make a specific report for your area of our MLS (Sapphire, Norton, Glenville, Highlands, Toxaway, Clear Creek, Breedlove, etc). You can then make an informed decision on how to sell or buy your home.



This material is based upon work performed by Rick Creel, Broker. It is intended to provide an overall view of the real estate market for Highlands, Cashiers and surrounding areas of the Highlands/Cashiers Board of Realtors. It is composed of data from the HCBOR and NAR for this MLS only. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations are those of the author and do not reflect the views of any others. There can be no assurance that this information is complete, accurate, or includes all available market data; all information is subject to change. Users of this information are advised to consult with their financial experts about the interpretation and usefulness of information contained herein. It is unlawful to duplicate or distribute the information contained in these reports. For more information or to consider listing your home with an agent or buying a home CLICK HERE.

Salesman or Agent, Is There A Difference


Lisitng Agent
Image courtesy of Mister GC at

We’ve seen the ads. In walks the man with the smirkish grin wearing penny loafers with no socks, shirt unbuttoned a third of the way down with a wooly mammoth chest, wearing a flashy gold chain around his neck and other gaudy accessories (large expensive watch, big rings, etc) and his hair slicked back. When he speaks he likes to tell you of all his accomplishments and what makes him so great. He likes you to know what makes him better than the rest. He is also willing to tell you just about anything you want to hear so you will buy his spiel and product. So let me ask you, are you impressed?

This is often the image invoked upon our minds when we see a salesperson. As we see them approaching we like to avoid them, if possible. If they’re persistent, we tell them we know what we’re looking for and already have someone helping us. We thus avoid awkward and uncomfortable moments. Truth is, we don’t like to be pressured. Such tactics often force us to do whatever just to get rid of such a person, even if it does mean buying something just so they will leave us alone. But is this the way with all salespeople?

What Is A Salesperson?

Truth is, we’re all salespeople. People are either selling their services or their products. This goes for doctors, painters, house cleaners, the people at the register, corporate executives and even an employee has to sell their abilities in order to be hired. In Real Estate, we’re all salespeople, like it or not. So, perhaps the better question is, what “type” of salesperson is your agent.

Say you want to sell your home. Do you choose the agent that likes to brag about his accomplishments or do you choose an agent that  will tell you how he is going to sell your home? Do you choose an agent that will list for the price that you would like to have or do you choose the agent that shows you the figures and why your home may or may not bring what you think? Agents that will bend to their client’s demands are sometimes referred to as “buying” their clients. They will do whatever their clients tell them. This may be OK in some respects, but a real agent is a professional. They will show their client the best action to take, what is in their client’s best interest and have the research and documentation to back it up.  Let’s look at it another way.

You have something serious going on with your health. You go to your doctor and tell him what you want. He informs you he can’t do anything until he performs an examination and perhaps some tests. You tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about and you just need a prescription of a certain medicine. Let’s just say that they would do that, but then your health continues to deteriorate. So, where’s the problem? You actually have 2. First, your doctor didn’t stick to his responsibility to perform his duty as he should. Before prescribing anything there should have been and examination and documentation to show what you needed. Second, you chose a professional that would tell you what you wanted to hear. And so it goes when finding a good real estate agent.

Finding A Good Agent

Finding a good real estate agent
Image courtesy of ddpavumba at

So ask yourself a few questions; “Does my agent listen to me?” “Is my agent willing to tell me what I may need to know (good or bad) to make an informed decision?” “Does my agent seem to be in a hurry to get me to buy something, or does he tell me the negatives as well as the positives?” “What am I looking for, a salesman or an agent?” While we are all salespeople, an agent will have his client’s best interests at heart. An agent knows that if he takes care of his client he will make the sell or get the listing. As an agent, you are a representative of your client.

So we’re back to our original question, “Salesman or Agent, Is There A Difference?” Perhaps the better question would be, “Which do you prefer?”

Contact The Agent

8 Tips to Find a Good Real Estate Agent

Whether you are selling your home or wanting to buy a home, find a good real estate agent. So,

How Do You Find A Good Real Estate Agent?

1. Listen – While a good real estate agent should be listening to you, you should also listen to your agent. Do they want to tell you what a great agent they are? Do they try to wow you with a lot of facts and figures? Does they “inflate” the conversation in hopes that you will choose them? Are they straight up with you, telling you what you can expect, good or bad? Are they willing to show you where they get data, figures and how they assess those values? Or do they tell you what you want to hear? You need someone that is not full of hype themselves, someone for which you can have trust and confidence.

How To Find A Real Estate Agent
How To Find A Real Estate Agent

2. Choose a Firm – Many agents work for large or national firms. This has both advantages and disadvantages. National firms advertise their “name” and are well known. However, they carry a price such as franchise fee’s, desk fee’s, printer fee’s and more for each agent. Agents must pay these fee’s to the firms to continue to work there.  However, with membership in the regional MLS and local Board of Realtors all agencies, national or not, will have the same information on homes for sale. Your local “generic” firms can often serve you just as well, if not better. In fact, experienced brokers may choose to work for local firms recognizing their value.

3. Form a Relationship – The agent is going to be handling some confidential matters for you. Make sure you understand your agents “fiduciary” responsibility to you, the client. The agent must be someone for which you can have complete confidence. After all, there responsibility is to help you make the best deal possible and to protect your bargaining power. However, if you’re not willing to sign an agreement with an agent to represent you, they no longer have that fiduciary responsibility. So be careful how much information you divulge to an agent before you have an agreement in writing.

4. Web Savvy – Does your agent have a presence on the internet? Just do a simple search on their name and see what comes up. There should be blogs, articles and more so you can see how your agent is connected with real estate on the web. If you can’t find your agent or what they’re up to, how is it that others will find them? Understanding the web and social marketing and content is a large part of an active agents responsibilities.

5. Videos/Photo’s – If you’re selling your home, does your agent understand the need for videos? Do they know how to put them together? Does your agent have any samples of videos that they can show you?  Follow this link to see one of the properties I have done: Mountain Home for Sale   Photo’s are just as important. These are a large part of marketing, which brings us to our next tip.

6. Marketing – All agencies and firms do marketing, but does your agent have any marketing experience himself or do they rely upon the agency to do all the marketing for them. In other words, how much control does your agent have in marketing and social media, and what will they be doing to market the sell of your property. For the buyer, do they understand the difference in “hype” so as to make you aware of any buzz words that are used as enticements.

7. Find a “Local” Agent – Many agents will move into an area that has been doing well, preying upon the good fortune of that market. However, such agents may know little about the area, background, culture, history, ordinances, etc. This information can prove invaluable to a buyer. Also, if you’re a buyer, you may want to use caution in working with an agent that is teamed with a builder or development. Such agents could be encouraging you to buy in behalf of the builder/developer.

Finding a good real estate agent
Image courtesy of ddpavumba at

8. Understand Commissions – Many buyers will begin a search, thinking if they find it themselves they will save money. Truth is, in NC, it is typically the seller that pays the commission. In other words, the buyer benefits greatly by having an agent represent them. There should be no cost to the buyer and the buyers agent will assist in finding the best deals, do the research, preview properties  and choose the ones that best fit the your needs. This can save the buyer valuable time at no cost. As for the seller, their commissions pay for advertising and other marketing expenses, answering phone calls, scheduling appointments and open houses, returning emails and other inquiries,  showing the property, gathering required documents, the cost of adding to MLS, and so much more.


In any circumstance, whether buying a home or selling a home, a good real estate agent is to your advantage. By using a few simple steps in finding a good real estate agent you will be on target to help you buy or sell your home.

CONTACT YOUR TOP LISTING AGENT, use this form or call 828-506-0011.

Buying a Home With Asbestos Siding

Asbestos – The Forbidden Word

Asbestos has been around since the beginning of time. While it had been previously used in many products, it was found that some of these would release asbestos particles into the air. This created health hazards such as cancer to lung tissues and mesothelioma. As a result, fear is invoked into the minds when we hear the word, “asbestos”, and rightly so. However, one must realize that not all products containing asbestos release those particles into the air. This can be the case when buying a home with asbestos.

Buying a home with Asbestos
courtesy Michelle Meiklejohn & free digital

Friable Versus Non-Friable Asbestos

These two terms are applied when considering health risks of asbestos. It’s important to understand these terms if you’re buying a home with asbestos siding or other materials.

  • Friable – “…may be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.” (
  • Non-Friable – “Category I non-friable ACM are asbestos-containing resilient floor coverings (commonly known as vinyl asbestos tile (VAT)), asphalt roofing products, packaging and gaskets. These materials rarely become friable. All other non-friable ACM are considered category II non-friable ACM.” (

According to the above information, what should one do? “Asbestos-containing materials that aren’t damaged or disturbed are not likely to pose a health risk. Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos-containing material alone if it is in good condition.” (


Buying a Home With Asbestos and What to Do

So, are you considering buying a home with asbestos siding? Asbestos siding is considered “non-friable”. It is “not likely to pose a health risk.” (see above)  This is especially the case if it has been encapsulated. This can be accomplished by putting vinyl siding over it, painting or other methods. As in the case of all asbestos, leaving it undisturbed is best. The same can be true with insulation containing asbestos. In fact, there are many commercial buildings that may still contain such insulation and are considered safe according to National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS)

Asbestos is a hazard, as are Electromagneitc Radiation (coming from appliances and power lines), gasoline fumes, etc.  However, we have learned to live with such hazards, safely. According to the EPA Standards and Guidelines, we can handle asbestos without the need of going into a panic. Again, the safest method is to leave it undisturbed, much like we would a sleeping lion. If we feel we must do something, the EPA has several websites with information about asbestos abatement. There are also contractors trained in the safe handling and disposal of this product. However, if the home you  are buying just has asbestos siding, there should be little to no concern over this.

So, if I found a house with asbestos siding or insulation would I live in it? Absolutely.
Would I be afraid to sell or buy a home with asbestos siding? No.
Would I sell a home that contained asbestos to my children or grandchildren? Yes.
Is having asbestos in the home a health risk? MDH says, “No.” (
Should you be concerned if a home you want to buy contains asbestos? That is a personal question that only you can answer.


Asbestos is still in some products. It will not be eliminated. Still, we know gas fumes are dangerous, but we continue to pump it into our vehicles every day. The minimum exposure from such is nominal. Such can be the case with Asbestos. If you understand the difference between Friable and Non-Friable, you may well find that your home containing asbestos may not be a problem. Here are a few more resources with information on homes containing asbestos.

Consumer Product Safety Commission -Asbestos In The Home

EPA – Asbestos – Protect Your Family

EPA – Asbestos – Frequently Asked Questions

MDH – Asbestos in the Home not a health risk

“Kick the Tires” – Why Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?

Why “Kick the Tires”?

Why Use Real Estate Agent
Courtesy debspoons and

In the early days, one would “kick the tires” because older tires may have had imperfections and were manufactured in many different ways.  “Kicking the tires” could reveal a defect, alerting the potential buyer of flaws. Today, “kicking the tires” is not enough to make an informed decision. The same is true if you’re planning on buying a home. A real estate agent can help you “kick the tires” on a home.


Why Use a Real Estate Agent?

It is in your best interest to have a “Buyers Agent” when looking at Real Estate. Why?

Some buyers think they can get a better deal without an agent. They feel they save money by not having to pay commissions. Truth is, the commission is usually already figured into the sellers side. So for the buyer, not only do they not pay any commissions, but they are getting representation at no cost. This is just the beginning of the benefits of using a real estate agent for the home buyer.

Just like “kicking the tires”, much remains to be unseen. Having a qualified professional look over things and assist you can save you potential heartache and problems down the road. For example, a seasoned real estate agent will make sure the seller has all documents in place. In NC, this includes a Residential Property and Owners Association Disclosure required by ALL sellers of real estate, even if it is a FSBO (For Sale By Owner). However, without having someone on your side, things can be missed. An agent is also familiar with the market and can help make sure you’re not paying to much for a property. He may be aware of similar properties to what you are considering for less. He will also check to see what other assessments, liens, encroachments, easements, etc. may be attached to the property. In other words, he will be looking for all the hidden factors that are often overlooked are not considered by many home buyers. A buyers agent has an obligation to make sure he is protecting your best interests. He knows how to look up what is owed on a property and other considerations to help you negotiate a good price.


Real Estate Commissions

While most real estate agents do earn a commission, this is often misunderstood by many in the general public. Because an agent earns more if he sells at a higher price, some feel the agent is trying to get the most he can out of a sale. However, this is not in the agents long term best interests. A good agent will do all he can to help a buyer save as much as possible. The buyer will then appreciate the agents efforts and tell their friends to use that agent. So it is the buyers referrals that are of benefit to that agent. By doing a good job he gets more work.  It’s the same in most professions. Referrals are the best source of income.



“Kick the Tires and Look Under the Hood”

How to Buy a Home
Photo courtesy of ponsulak &

So as we’ve considered, kicking the tires may not be enough. Even if you look under the hood, unless you know what you’re looking at this may all be of little benefit to you. If you could have

someone put your vehicle up on a rack and look it over to give you their professional opinion, at no cost to you, would you do it? Then why not get a buyers agent to help represent you? The seller is paying to have this done for you, so why not take advantage of those services? It really serves your best interests.