Home Prices Continue to Rise

I would like to take a moment to talk about home prices in our area.  I am looking at our Canopy MLS Local Market Update for October 2021.  (The November update is not published yet.)   In October 2020 we had 156 new listings in Haywood County.  This year we only had 145 new listings.  In October 2020 our inventory of homes for sale was 302.  This year our inventory of homes for sale dropped to 206.  That is almost 32% fewer homes on the market.  This shortage of homes for sale has driven prices upwards.  In October 2020 the median sale price of homes sold was $257,000.  This year the median price of homes sold in October had risen to $325,000, a 26.5% increase in one year.  Last year the average list price on homes on the market was $353,292.  This year the average list price in October had risen to $429,042.

The above numbers reflect the fact that home prices are simply based on supply and demand.  When demand is strong and supply is dwindling, prices will invariably rise.  I have clients who keep asking where are home prices headed?  In my opinion, home prices will continue to rise as long as supply remains tight.  I would hope that prices rise at a more reasonable rate next year.  Of course, there are many factors at play here.  The pandemic, politics, war, natural disasters and other unknows cannot be predicted.

Maggie Valley is Growing!

According to the 2020 Census numbers released on August 12, 2021, Maggie Valley had a larger population gain than any other municipality in Haywood County.  From 2010 to 2020 Maggie Valley went from 1150 residents to 1687 residents, for a gain of 537 residents or a 47% population gain.  To put that in perspective: Canton had a 4.6% population gain, Clyde had an 11.9% gain, and Waynesville gained only 2.7%.  Maggie Valley actually had more new residents than Canton and Waynesville combined.

Based on the new tax appraisals, Maggie Valley was able to lower the tax rate from  $0.43 per hundred dollars of appraised value to $0.40.  This make the tax rate for the town of Maggie Valley the lowest of any municipality in Haywood County.

Maggie Valley will celebrate its 50th year as an incorporated municipality in 2024.  It would be great to see our population up to 2000 residents by then.  Based on the current rate of increase, this seems entirely possible.

One other bragging right of Maggie Valley- the general fund of Maggie Valley remains completely debt free for a second year.

Thinking of moving to the mountains?  Come on up to Maggie Valley; we’ll keep the door open for you.

Millennials to Keep Housing Strong for Years to Come

Expanding wealth and growing families are prompting more millennials to become homeowners. Ultra-low mortgage rates are continuing to attract them as well.

Young adults ranging from 26 to 41 years old comprise about 22% of the U.S. population. It’s why the housing market has been watching this age segment so closely for so long.

More millennials have become homeowners since the pandemic. Millennials have accounted for the largest share of home buyers over the past year—37%, reports Barron’s.

The pandemic is motivating purchases. The number of households headed by adults aged 30 to 44 years old jumped by 1.3 million during the pandemic.

Married couples ages 31 to 40 were more likely than any other age group to purchase homes, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Also, the largest group of unmarried couples who purchased homes were adults between the ages of 22 to 30.

Millennials are approaching their peak earning years. “Over the next couple of decades, a quarter of the U.S. population is going to reach peak earning years, fueling continued housing demand—especially for inexpensive starter homes, which nationally had a beginning price of $304,200 in the second quarter of 2021,” Barron’s reports.

Remote work will only further housing demand, reports suggest. Millennials were the most likely generation to say that the reason for owning a home was to have a space of their own for a larger home, according to NAR’s data.

Student loan debt continues to hit this generation hard, however. That has made it more difficult to save enough to afford higher home prices. Read more: Student Debt Sidelines Half of Would-Be Buyers and Loosening the Yoke of Student Loan Debt

But housing analysts continue to remain bullish about the millennial generation’s impact on housing. Low interest rates, strong employment, and the growing perceptions over the importance of a home will likely continue to fuel a millennial housing boom, writes Dana Peterson for Barron’s.

This article is from Realtor® Magazine November 1, 2021

Avoiding Foundation Problems

Crack in foundation wall

©nicolamargaret – Getty Images

7 Fixes to Avoid Major Foundation Problems

Water can damage a foundation in countless ways, so homeowners should look to experts for the dos and don’ts.

by Barbara Ballinger

Water is not always our friend. Sure, we drink it, swim in it, and need it to survive, but when it comes to homes, it can destroy the foundation, says home inspector Thomas Dabb of Immaculate Home Inspections in South Orange, N.J.

Water can enter a home from the exterior and interior, so buyers and homeowners need to keep their eyes open for signs of its presence—or worse—its damage.

The good news is that there are many experts available to spot and diagnose a problem and suggest the best fix. Water expert Steve Barckley with Exceptional Stone Products in Livingston, N.J., believes that homeowners should start by doing everything possible on the outside of the homes to correct problems and divert water away from a foundation.

Share these seven solutions with clients to help them minimize a foundation’s damage in various scenarios.

1. Improve grading. The slope of a property may direct water toward the base of a single-family house or multifamily dwelling rather than away. Cracks or openings in the foundation then allow it to enter, as well as through higher-level walls, the roof, and other entry points. Fix: “Be sure the grade slopes away from the house,” says Bill Coulbourne, a structural engineer whose eponymous company is near Annapolis, Md. A berm of soil or a swale with planting can prevent water from making its way to a foundation, says Cary Jozefiak, a home inspector with Home Team Inspection in Chicago. Caveats: This approach requires periodic maintenance to be sure the berm doesn’t erode. “It also needs to be directed so water doesn’t move toward a neighbor’s property,” Coulbourne says. Using a French drain to allow water to dissipate slowly from near the foundation into the landscape is more environmentally friendly than introducing it into the street to wash away, says Barckley. French drains also require some preventive maintenance to avoid clogging, Jozefiak says.

2. Waterproof a foundation. Keeping the foundation dry will prevent moisture from accumulating on the outside or entering inside. Fix: If wet, the best fix is to waterproof the exterior perimeter and interior walls of a basement or crawl space to prevent capillary action from building up, says New York City architect Victor Body-Lawson of Body Lawson Associates. “What we try to do is create an envelope around a building so water can’t enter through its skin, sometimes with a rain screen that drains water down and out to a storm drainage system,” he says. A sump pump will help if there’s moisture and water inside. It must drain far enough from a house, so water doesn’t recycle back inside if the property slopes or there’s an opening. Home inspector David Rose of Astute Home Inspections in Plainfield, N.J., suggests the drain be at least 5 feet from a house. A backup battery will prove useful if power fails.

3. Install gutters and downspouts. Water flowing off a roof will land near a house and possibly cause damage over time. Fix: A good line of defense is to have both gutters and downspouts installed around a home or building’s perimeter. The downspouts should extend far enough to carry away the water rather than have it sit near a foundation. Jozefiak recommends six feet away from a house. To keep gutters and downspouts functioning, they must be cleaned. How often to do so may depend on the trees near a house, Coulbourne says.

4. Keep large trees and bushes away from a house. Tree roots and other plant materials try to grow toward water, which can destabilize a structure and penetrate foundations, says Rose. Fix: If large trees already grow near a house, check that plumbing lines are free, and confirm there aren’t foundation cracks. If problems arise, the tree may need to be taken down or bushes transplanted, Body-Lawson says. Sacramento, Calif.-based landscape designer Michael Glassman suggests consulting a licensed arborist to check roots, stability, and if the tree should be removed. “The best time to remove trees is in winter when they are dormant,” Glassman says.

5. Don’t ignore diagonal cracks. Movement, temperature changes, and time may cause foundation cracks to develop. But large diagonal ones require attention from a structural engineer to avoid bigger issues. “Visual clues appear before structural inadequacies do,” says Madison, Conn.-based architect Duo Dickinson. Among the problems are moisture and salt destroying anything made of steel and non-pressure-treated wood, which may rot, Dickinson says. Fix: Cracks suggest settlement and send a red flag that something might be wrong with a foundation, says Body-Lawson. “It might have sagged but it may not deteriorate further. However, if it continues to do so, the foundation needs underpinning.” Cracks that appear in foundation walls due to settlement may be visible in a first floor’s interior, too, says Coulbourne. Hairline cracks are common, but when it’s a quarter-inch in width and V-shaped, it may indicate pressure on an exterior wall.

6. Check for significant leaks and stains, especially efflorescence in a basement. “An unfinished basement is the best basement because it’s easier to see problems,” says Rose. Fix: When a basement is finished, experts recommend looking for clues. For example, a rust color that shows through paint can be a sign of moisture, says Barckley. Efflorescence—white powder left behind from minerals in water—may also appear. Coulbourne says that mold is another indicator, most likely visible at the base of a wall where moisture accumulates. Use your nose, too, he says. “If you walk into a damp basement, you can smell that,” he says. Sometimes areas covered over need to be checked. For example, Rose may pop open ceiling tiles to examine what’s behind them.

7. Learn why interior or patio floors may slant. It could be that a house is settling, which happens over time, says Body-Lawson. “Old houses may sag a little and then stop,” he says. But if the floor or patio was level and now slants, it might be time to hire a structural engineer, says Jason Chang of Jersey Inspections in Verona, N.J. Fix: Floorboards, tiles, and carpet can be picked up, joists shimmed, and a new layer installed, says Body-Lawson. If water gets under pavers outdoors, they may need to be taken up, the pitch of the patio checked, a membrane or drainage system installed, then pavers put back, Jozefiak says.

Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the perfect culinary space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).

Article courtesy of Realtor®

Preparing to Finance a Home

Especially for first-time home buyers, obtaining a mortgage to finance your home purchase can be a daunting task.  Below is some information from the National Association of Realtor®  with tips to help you prepare for getting a mortgage.


Prepare to Finance a Home

Develop a budget: Instead of telling yourself what you’d like to spend, use receipts to create a budget that reflects your actual habits over the last several months. This approach will better factor in unexpected expenses alongside more predictable costs such as utility bills and groceries. You’ll probably spot some ways to save, whether it’s cutting out that morning trip to Starbucks or eating dinner at home more often.


Reduce debt: Lenders generally look for a debt load of no more than 36 percent of income. This figure includes your mortgage, which typically ranges between 25 and 28 percent of your net household income. So you need to get monthly payments on the rest of your installment debt—car loans, student loans, and revolving balances on credit cards — down to between 8 and 10 percent of your net monthly income.


Increase your income: Now’s the time to ask for a raise! If that’s not an option, you may want to consider taking on a second job to get your income at a level high enough to qualify for the home you want.


Save for a down payment: Designate a certain amount of money each month to put away in your savings account. Although it’s possible to get a mortgage with 5 percent down or less, you can usually get a better rate if you put down a larger percentage of the total purchase. Aim for a 20 percent down payment.


Keep your job: While you don’t need to be in the same job forever to qualify for a home loan, having a job for less than two years may mean you have to pay a higher interest rate.


Establish a good credit history: Get a credit card and make payments by the due date. Do the same for all your other bills, too. Pay off entire balances as promptly as possible.


Start saving: Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs, which can average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.


Obtain a copy of your credit report: Make sure it is accurate and correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.


Decide what kind of mortgage you can afford: Generally, you want to look for homes valued between two and three times your gross income, but a financing professional can help determine the size of loan for which you’ll qualify. Find out what kind of mortgage (30-year or 15-year? Fixed or adjustable rate?) is best for you. Also, gather the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan, such as W-2s, pay stub copies, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements. Don’t forget property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and association fees, if applicable.


Seek down payment help: Check with your state and local government to find out whether you qualify for special mortgage or down payment assistance programs. If you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your first home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.

Realtors® Donate $400,000 for Flood Relief

The Board of Directors of Canopy Realtor® Association and Canopy MLS voted to donate a total of $400,000 in funds to support Haywood County flood relief efforts.  ($200,000 from Canopy Realtor® Association and $200,000 from Canopy MLS)  As many of you know, residents in the south end of Haywood County (Cruso, Bethel, and Lake Logan areas) were hard hit by the flooding from Tropical Storm Fred.

In making the donation announcement, David Kennedy, Canopy Realtor® Association/ Canopy MLS president said “We care deeply about the people and communities that we serve and now, more than ever, our neighbors who have lost their homes and so much more need our assistance.”

Seventy-five percent, amounting to $300,000 in funding, will go to the United Way of Haywood County, and twenty-five percent, amounting to $100,000, will be donated to Mountain Projects, for a total of $400,000.

Celesa Willet, executive director of United Way of Haywood County said “We sincerely appreciate this generous donation.  This gift will meet the immediate need to help people get back into their homes.  This will help with 20 houses.  When you get a call like that, it really hits you.  The fact they have confidence in United Way to make it work is very humbling.  We’re here for the long haul.”

We have experienced many gifts coming into the county to help our flood victims.  Plus many hours of volunteer help cleaning debris and feeding those who were flooded.  Thank you one and all for the generous donations of money, food, cleaning items and time donated.  It was truly amazing to see everyone come together to help.  We live in a wonderful area of beautiful scenery and beautiful people.

Haywood County Flood Relief

As many of you know, we had some terrible flash flooding in the Cruso, Lake Logan, Bethel and Canton areas of the county from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred.  It seems the storm caused a literal cloudburst in the Cold Mountain, Shining Rock areas which ran downstream and caused severe damage along the forks of the Pigeon River.  Six residents lost their lives, many lost their homes and cars.  Structural damage to roads and bridges was severe.  The flooding actually damaged many homes and structures not typically associated with being in a flood-prone area.

So many volunteers have come forward to help donating their time, labor, and money.  Many churches and community service organizations have gone above and beyond to help.  Our own Canopy Realtors® Association and our Canopy MLS have jointly donated $400,000 for flood relief helping those in need.

It has been amazing to see everyone come together to help those in need.  We truly live in an area of not just natural beauty, but of beautiful people also.

The State of Our Market

This week I will briefly discuss some market statistics regarding the sale of homes in Haywood County, NC.  (The Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Clyde and Canton areas)

According to Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, vacation home sales rose 57% this year compared to 2020.  This was attributed to flexible work options offered by many companies allowing employees to work from home.  A second reason may be urban residents fleeing urban areas due to the pandemic.  Whatever the reason, shortly after the pandemic began, buyers began buying vacation properties.  Of course our beautiful mountains brought lots of buyers our way; many purchasing with cash.

As a result of this influx of buyers two things happened.  Prices went up and the inventory of available homes went down.  The county-wide average sales price in July 2020 was $283,008.  By July 2021 this average sales price had jumped to $333,394.

Our inventory of homes for sale in July 2020 was 369.  By July 2021 our inventory of homes for sale dropped to 241.

A four to five months supply of homes is considered an average or neutral market.  In July 2020 we only had a 3.7 months supply of homes on the market.  By July 2021 this had dropped to a 1.9 months supply of homes on the market.  This is considered a “sellers’ market”, which explains the almost 18% increase in the average home sales price from July 2020 to July 2021.

If you are looking for that special vacation home, full-time home, or summer home, come on up to the mountains and let us help you.  If you don’t want to purchase a home right now, give some consideration to purchasing a home site to build on.  Prices for home sites and acreage have not increased like home prices.  Now may be the opportune time to purchase that home site, and build later.  We’ll be here waiting for you.


Meet Brittany Heathman

Many of you know Paul Heathman, who owns Mountain Dreams Realty.  Brittany is Paul’s daughter and one of our newest agents.  Brittany is a natural for our office as she has “real estate in her blood”.  She does a very informative mailer weekly.  For this week’s blog, I have posted a link below to her most recent email titled Smoky Mountain Market Report.  Please enjoy!


National Real Estate Trends

I thought I would take a moment to touch on some of the real estate trends that are occurring not just here in the mountains, but all across our nation.

Remote workers (or digital workers as some are called) are renting AirBnB or VRBO vacation homes so they can still work while on vacation.  Remote computer work and meetings on Zoom gives these workers the flexibility to work from any location.  This seems to have been one of the reasons vacation rentals have been and continue to be so popular.

The median price of homes sold nationally has reached $341,600.  This represents a new record price for the median home sale.

8 of 10 homes sold in the last 6 months sold at or above the listing price.  Offers below the listing price are unlikely to be competitive in the current market.

Homeowners saw a nearly 20% jump in their home equity in the last 12 months.  (Equity is what your home is worth on the current market minus any mortgage you may have.)

Lumber prices have increased more than 200% over the last 12 months.  Some good news though, futures prices for July deliveries dropped to $1158 per thousand board feet.  That is down 30% from the record high of $1711 per thousand board feet on May 10th.  Hopefully builders will begin building new homes again, as many builders have been waiting on material prices to decrease.

Our homes are getting older.  The average age of a home in this nation has risen to almost 40 years.  This is due to the decreases in new home sales in the last few years.

If you are looking for a home in the mountains, or that special piece of land for your dream home, please let us know.  We can help.