Best Places to See Fall Color in Maggie Valley

I usually write about Fall Color this time of year, so I thought I would do a timely update.  Due to the dry spell we’ve been having, color seems to be delayed a bit this year.  Hopefully it will kick in during the next couple of weeks.  Below I am paraphrasing an article from about the best places to see fall color in Maggie Valley, NC.

  1. The Blue Ridge Parkway-  Enter from Soco Road and go about 10 minutes west on Soco Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Two choices once you get there: First, go toward Cherokee and you will have beautiful vistas of tall mountains.  Take the first right onto Heintooga Road to see some great views off the overlooks.  The paved Heintooga Road ends at a picnic area, but for the adventurous there is a one lane gravel road (almost like a driveway) that runs from the end of the paved road downhill into Cherokee.  (This is called the Heintooga Round Bottom Road.)  You could also go back down the paved road to the Blue Ridge Parkway, turn right and continue to toward Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  2.  Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park-  The season for fall color in Cataloochee Valley is a little later due to its lower elevation.  This makes Cataloochee Valley a great place for viewing in late October.  Also, this is where the Elk have been reintroduced.  During fall you can hear the unforgettable sounds of the bull elk bugling to attract cows during their mating season.
  3.  Max Patch- Often called the crown jewel of the Appalachians, Max Patch is a beautiful 5000 ft. elevation bald in Haywood County.  Travel Hwy 209 from Waynesville toward Hot Springs, NC.  At Ferguson’s Store, Hwy 209 turns right; stay straight and the road becomes Max Patch Road.  The road is paved for a ways, then turns to gravel travelling up the mountain. Look for a small parking area on the right.  There is a loop trail that leads to the top and open views from the bald.  Charlie Ballentine, a long-time pilot from Waynesville told stories of landing here on this bald in a bi-plane many years ago and taking locals for plane rides for 50 cents a person.  Truly this was barn-storming in its heyday.
  4.  Big Creek- This is an area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park accessed off I-40 at the NC/TN state line at mile marker 451.  Follow the paved road down hill and over the river bridge.  Go left and pass the Waterville Power Plant, the stay straight into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Big Creek Area.  Many trails to choose from here, but the one from the parking area toward Walnut Bottoms is a wonder fall trail following Big Creek and eventually treating you to Midnight Hole, where young people swim in the summer, and Mouse Creek Waterfall on up the trail.
  5.  Purchase Knob- Travel Hwy 276 north to left on Hemphill Road.  Follow Hemphill Road to the end by a gate that accesses the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  From the gate you must walk up the gravel road for maybe one mile to access the open fields on Purchase Knob.  The purchase knob property was donated to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by a family who owned this property off Purchase Knob and donated the land and home for the public’s enjoyment.  I, for one, am very happy they donated this gorgeous hunk of Haywood County to the park.
  6.  West fork of the Pigeon River/ Hwy 215- Take Hwy 215 from downtown Canton South.  You will travel through the Bethel Community which is a pastoral farming community, continue on Hwy 215 past Lake Logan, on up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, passing a beautiful waterfall over a stone arch bridge on the way up the mountain.
  7.  Black Balsam Knob- When you travel up Hwy 215 (just above) continue to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then go left toward Asheville.  At milepost 420 turn left on the paved spur road.  This will take you to a parking area in the Pisgah National Forest.  From this high elevation parking area there are many beautiful hiking trails you an access.

These are my favorites, let me know yours, and thanks for reading!

Sales Trends in our Area

In August 2019, home sales in Haywood County rose 5.2% compared to August 2018.  121 homes were sold in August this year.  Also pending contracts increased 28.1% compared to August 2018.  This indicates strong buyer demand for homes in our area.  Maybe the most impressive statistic would be days on the market.  In August 2019 average days on the market was 50 days, compared to 85 days on the market in August 2018.  I actually had a home go under contract the next day after it was listed in our MLS.

One interesting aspect of our growing sales rate is continuing interest from buyers in the Asheville/ Buncombe County area.  Inventories in the Asheville area continue to contract due to strong buyer demand, and more new people moving to the area.  Many of these buyers are finding homes here in Haywood County are more affordable, and there is more inventory from which to choose.  This is definitely helping to drive home sales here.  Even people who work in the Asheville area find they can purchase a home on the Asheville side of Haywood County and still have only a 20 to 30 minute commute.

As we enter the October selling season we are still seeing strong buyer demand.  Due to the beautiful “Fall Leaf Season” we have here in October, home sales can be very strong during this month.

Whether you are considering buying a home or just want to see some beautiful Fall color, come on up and join us.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Lender

Loan terms, rates, and products can vary significantly from one company to the next. When shopping around, these are a few things you should ask about.

General questions:

What are the most popular mortgages you offer? Why are they so popular?

Are your rates, terms, fees, and closing costs negotiable?

Do you offer discounts for inspections, home ownership classes, or automatic payment set-up?

Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so, how much will it cost, and how long will it be required?

What escrow requirements do you have?

What kind of bill-pay options do you offer?

Loan-specific questions:

What would be included in my mortgage payment (homeowners insurance, property taxes, etc.)?

Which type of mortgage plan would you recommend for my situation?

Who will service this loan—your bank or another company?

How long will the rate on this loan be in a lock-in period? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if the market rate drops during this period?

How long will the loan approval process take?

How long will it take to close the loan?

Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying this loan?

How much will I be paying total over the life of this loan?

How to Prepare to Buy a Home

Know that there’s no “right” time to buy.
If you find the perfect home now, don’t risk losing it because you’re trying to guess where the housing market and interest rates are going. Those factors usually don’t change fast enough to make a difference in an individual home’s price.

Don’t ask for too many opinions.
It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of the people who will actually be living in the home.

Accept that no house is ever perfect.
If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go. Also, accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will most likely pass.

Don’t try to be a killer negotiator.
Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or refusing to budge may cost you the home you love.

Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself that you forget about important issues such as noise level, access to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.

Plan ahead.
Don’t wait until you’ve found a home to get approved for a mortgage, investigate insurance, or consider a moving schedule. Being prepared will make your bid more attractive to sellers.

Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation.
A home is still considered a great investment, but its most important role is as a comfortable, safe place to live.

Some Facts about our Area

Maggie Valley real estate

From time to time clients ask about climate, or geographical facts about our area.  The largest town in Haywood County is Waynesville, with a 2010 population of about 10,000.  I expect the population in 2020 should be about 12,000 to 15,000 as our area continues to be discovered and to grow in population.  The average high summer temperatures run from about 75 degrees in May to about 83 degrees in July and August, and back to about 77 degrees in September.  The remainder of the year, high temperatures average about 69 degrees in October to a January average high of 49 degrees, warming to an average high of 68 degrees in April.  Now these are historic average highs.  In the last few years we seem to be going above the averages with some regularity.  Also, these are the highs for Waynesville, which is only about 2700 feet or so above sea level.  Waynesville is surrounded by high mountains, and usually, the higher you go, the cooler the air.  Last Sunday my wife, our fur-baby and I took a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Although it was 83 degrees in the valley, when we reached about 6000 feet above sea level on the parkway, it was a cool 67 degrees.

Haywood County is surrounded by many mountains well over 5000 feet above sea  level, and several above 6000 feet above sea level are found in this county.  In fact, Haywood County, by mean elevation is considered the highest county east of the Mississippi River at an average of 3600 feet above sea level.  (All these facts are according to Wikipedia.)

So, if you are looking for a great place to escape the heat, with winters that are not too cold, come have a look at what Haywood County has to offer.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Keeping in Touch with our Clients and Friends

Here at Mountain Dreams Realty we really value our clients, and most of our clients become our friends.  We do want to keep in touch with our client family as best we can.  We have a Facebook page on which we post articles from various sources, as well as attractions, festivals, local businesses and upcoming activities.  We also send out an email twice monthly to our client family.  On or close to the 1st of each month we send an email with a link to sales that have occurred in the past month.  We go through our MLS and pick about 20 to 30 sales that have closed in the past month for this email.  Many of our clients really enjoy seeing current sales, particularly if they are planning on either selling or buying a home in the near future.  This can be a real help if a client is living in another state, as real estate pricing is very local.  The market may be a bit slow in another state, but booming here.

On or about the 15th of each month we send an email to our client family about upcoming attractions in Maggie Valley and Waynesville.  This can help visitors or second home owners plan trips that coincide with festivals, car shows or motorcycle events.  If you are not currently receiving these emails on the 1st and the 15th of each month, please send me your name and email and I will make sure you are added to our list.  You can reach me through

If you are reading this, thank you, and we look forward to serving you.  Remember, if you have a real estate question, please let us know.  If we don’t know the answer, we can find someone for you who does.


Take the Worries out of Owning a Second Home

Here in Haywood County, and especially in Maggie Valley, we have a lot of second homes.  That is homes that are owned by someone living elsewhere like Georgia, Florida, or even the flat lands of North Carolina.  Many of these homes are on a vacation rental program, others are not.  When you live a good ways from your second home, it can be difficult to handle many maintenance tasks from that distance.  That is where Jess Osborn comes to the rescue.  Many of you know Jess, as he is a Realtor® here in our office.  Jess also wears another hat.  He owns the company While You’re Away, Mountain Home Services.  Jess has several different services that he offers.  He offers a basic service that includes a thorough inspection of the property with a written report and photos of any areas of concern. Prices begin at $39.95 for once a month inspections and range to twice monthly for $69.95 , three times a month for $89.95, or four times monthly for $99.95.  You choose the level of service you desire.  He checks for:

  • Break-ins and vandalism
  •  Power outages
  •  Broken water pipes
  •  Trees down on roof, driveway, yard, etc.
  •  Broken windows and doors
  •  Thermostat for heating and cooling
  •  Forwarding of mail if needed
  •  Batteries in fire and smoke detectors
  •  Many custom services available
  •  Insured and bonded

I have worked with Jess for many years and know him to be very honest and professional.  I highly recommend his services.  If you speak with his clients, I am sure they would also highly recommend Jess.  You can contact Jess on his cellphone at 828-506-1960, email him at, or visit his website at

Mortgage Rates are the Lowest Since 2016

June 28, 2019

Mortgage rates for 30, 15, ARM. Full information at


For the seventh time in the last nine weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped, reaching the lowest average since November 2016, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“While the industrial- and trade-related economic data continues to dominate the news, the drop in mortgage rates over the last two months is already being felt in the housing market,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Through late June, home purchase applications improved by five percentage points compared to the previous month. In the near term, we expect the housing market to continue to improve from both a sales and price perspective.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending June 27:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.73%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.84% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.55%
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.16%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.25% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.04%.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.39%, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.48% average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.87%.

News on the Tiny-Home Market

Over the last few years, some homeowners have swapped out spacious digs for 300-square-foot homes, favoring simplicity and lower costs. The tiny-home trend has played out on reality TV shows and throughout the media. But a new trend is emerging in the tiny-home movement—and it’s making a not-so-tiny splash.

Buyers of tiny homes are increasingly favoring larger styles of the small dwellings, and they’re opting for higher-end finishes that are moving overall costs higher,® reports. Some buyers want more space for their own enjoyment. Others are turning these tiny homes into vacation homes or renting them out for added income.

The newest tiny homes are coming with stainless steel appliances, solar panels, built-in TVs, and upgraded cabinetry, Mark Stemen, a professor who teaches sustainability at California State University in Chico, Calif., told®. These upgraded tiny homes are now fetching more than $200,000. That’s not too far from the median price for an existing single-family home, which is $267,300 as of April, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The higher prices are prompting lenders to step in. Banks are offering loans to help buyers afford these properties as prices on tiny residences rise. “The tiny-house movement is expanding to meet the desires and needs of the people who are in it and joining it every day,” Coles Whalen, a marketing director at Simple Life, told®. Simple Life is creating tiny-home communities in the South and recently debuted a pricier two-bedroom model that is about 540 square feet. “It’s adapting to accommodate the needs of people who are tired of spending money on square footage they’re not using, but they may want slightly more [room],” she says.

Tiny homes traditionally are about 20 feet long and 8 feet wide. However, some companies are responding to buyers’ desire for more space. The firm Cumming is showing off 30-foot plans, and the owner, Dan Louche, says he’s even getting requests for 40-foot models. “Are you still interested in a tiny house?” he says is his response to the larger home requests.

A DIY 20-foot tiny home traditionally costs about $15,000 to $20,000, including materials but not labor, Louche says. Prices have been moving upwards to around $65,000 to $75,000 for a standard 28-foot finished tiny home, but the costs are going even higher for those who desire more upgrades. For example, Tiny Heirloom in Portland, Ore., is selling customized models that can range from $89,000 to $220,000. One model includes a motorized deck that retracts in 30 seconds.

Shop for your Mortgage to Save Thousands in Fees

I found the below article in Realtor® Magazine.  This article makes a very valid point about saving money on up front mortgage fees:

Shopping around for a mortgage can provide savings beyond just the interest rate. Borrowers could save thousands in lender fees as well.

Borrowers who collect up to five offers from mortgage lenders could save more than $2,000 on mortgage fees, according to a new study from LendingTree of 300,000 loan offers. These extra fees include the costs for a mortgage application, underwriting, origination, appraisals, and up to 16 other fees that borrowers are charged by lenders.

Some mortgage fees are flat fees. Others may be based on a percentage of the loan amount.

“Most aspiring home buyers are focused on saving for their down payment—and they may not have budgeted for additional thousands of dollars in fees,” the study’s authors note.

About 7% of new-purchase borrowers paid no fees when taking out a mortgage, and 15% paid less than $500. On the other hand, 13% of purchase borrowers paid $5,000 in fees and 3% paid more than $10,000.

Taxes, flood certification, city and county stamps, and recording fees tend not to be negotiable. But other mortgage fees may be, researchers say.

“You can skip the back-and-forth by shopping around for the best rate and fees before you commit to a lender,” the researchers note. “In our study, we looked at the savings available to the same borrower who received offers from multiple lenders. The median spread between the highest and lowest fees proposed was $2,045 for people who received five offers or more. That’s a lot of money to potentially save.”