A perfect day in the mountains…for me.

I like sitting on my porch on a day like today when the the sky is that perfect North Carolina blue, the sun is warm on my face, but a spring time breeze is still cool enough to require an extra layer.  My preferred spot isn’t in on of the “directors” chairs we head to at the end of the day where we sit and enjoy the amazing view of the mountains and watch the sun set paint the sky in shades of blues and pinks. On days like today I much prefer my spot on the steps off our deck that leads to our back yard.  The wood has absorbed the heat of the sun and it shares it with me as I lean against the railing for support. I put my head back, close my eyes, and let my other senses take over.  We are blessed to live in a place where, on most days, the only sounds we hear are the rustling trees and the birds. On occasion there may be the sound of tires on a gravel road somewhere near by or of a plane passing overhead, but otherwise, this is the quietest most peaceful spot I have ever lived in my 60-some years. 

Here on my perch, I stretch out my legs as much as I can and use my bent knees to support a book or a favorite magazine. On this particular day, my choice is the latest edition of Garden & Gun, a magazine I never would have chosen on my own, based on the name alone. But I received it as a gift subscription last year and can now no longer do without it. The magazine is based in Charleston, South Carolina and its pages are filled with articles, recipes, stories, and all things southern.  I look forward to its arrival like an old family friend.

The sun glares off the white pages and since reading glasses are a necessity, sunglasses are not an option. I don’t mind really. For reasons unknown to me, I enjoy getting familiar with the contents of a magazine before I delve into reading it page by page.  It’s a lot like reading a restaurant menu.  I look at each offering deciding if it sounds like something I might like, how it is prepared, how many calories might be hiding in the dish, and what it costs. I do all this before considering the next item on the menu. Eventually I narrow down my options and make a choice. 

So it is with me and magazines. I love a good book and welcome those times when I can lose myself in a good story. But books pretty much force the reader to start on page one and follow each page in succession lest they lose the story line. Not magazines.  I can start on the back cover and work my way to the front without missing a thing. On this first pass I notice ads but I might be compelled to read an article if it is a short one or holds some immediate interest for me. More than likely I scan it quickly, making a mental note about the subject matter and file until I have the time an opportunity to read it. It isn’t until I have flipped backwards through all the pages that I decide what I want to read first, and not necessarily in any particular order.

One of the many things that I appreciate about Garden & Gun is the writing. The articles are more like short stories that waste no time grabbing my attention and holding it until the last word. Most issues have some story involving a dog so naturally I go there first. Today, though, my attention lingered in the recipe section where a fresh blackberry and peach cobbler recipe caught my eye. Peaches, juicy ripe berries, and luscious tomatoes are the only reason I tolerate summer and this particular recipe recalled me to my mother’s kitchen and summers growing up in the south. Peach cobbler was a staple in our house when peaches were in season. I can still remember the soft bite of a fresh peach swimming in sweet cinnamon laced juice, perfectly thickened and topped with flaky pie dough. A spot of butter or a scoop of vanilla ice cream made it all the better. My mom is passed now but seeing that recipe and remembering the days when the smell of peach cobbler filled her kitchen fills my heart with sweet memories.

I don’t know when I will have another chance to sit on my steps again like this and do nothing but enjoy the sun and while away my time reading.  Our life is pretty busy these days trying to balance work, projects around the house, and carving out some time for friends. But when I find the opportunity I will spend it on that familiar step looking backwards at a favorite magazine, and maybe a memory or two.

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What you need to know about radon.

Once a home is under contract, the inspection process begins.  A typical set of inspections include the home inspection, septic, water, termite,  and radon.  Over the years I have found that most people get a blank look on their face when we start talking about radon.  They’ve never heard of it, they don’t know what it is or where it comes from,  and they don’t understand the health risks. So let’s go over the basics.

Radon Element SymbolRadon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from igneous rock and it is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer.  Radon levels can vary greatly depending on where you live, but in North Carolina we recognize the Surgeon General’s recommendation that a test reading should not exceed 4 pCi/l.  In most cases, if the reading is over 4 pCi/l buyers will go back to the seller to request a mitigation system.  Depending on the size of the home, access to a crawlspace, and other factors, a mitigation system runs about $2,000.  While a reading of 4 pCi/l or less is the accepted level, it’s not uncommon to see readings much higher than that but those readings can be affected by several factors, including the weather.  If a radon test result comes back unusually high, we recommend a second test. The tests are inexpensive and worth your peace of mind.

When a radon test kit is placed in your home, it’s extremely important that windows and doors remain closed during the testing period, which is usually 48-72 hours. If you are living in the home, it’s perfectly fine to come and go as you normally would but leaving windows and doors open will compromise the test results.

Radon mitigation is something any buyer should consider whether you are buying an existing home or building a new one.  In our area most new home builders automatically include one in the building process, but not always, so be sure to ask.

Even if you aren’t in the market to buy or sell a home, it’s a good idea to understand radon and the risks associated with it. There are a number of good resources for in-depth information about radon, but this article from the Transylvania Times here in Brevard, North Carolina sums it up nicely.

(source: Transylvania Times, Brevard, NC)

January is National Radon Action Month and the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) encourages Americans around the country to test their homes for radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Each year about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon. Testing is the only way to know if your home has an elevated level of radon. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend taking action to fix your home if the radon level is 4 picocuries per Liter of air or more. “Testing your home for radon is one of the easiest ways to help keep your family safe and healthy,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Radon exposure is preventable. Test kits are inexpensive and readily available. Reducing exposure protects families, saves lives and avoids the health care costs of radon-caused lung cancer. Everyone who takes action helps to make America’s homes and schools safer for future generations.”

Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are available online, at many home improvement and hardware stores and are easy to use. You can also hire a qualified radon professional. If your home is found to have a high radon level, a professionally installed radon reduction system, using a vent pipe and exhaust fan, will remove the radon from beneath your home and discharge it outside. These systems are affordable, especially compared to the risk of lung cancer.

Taking action to reduce your exposure to radon is a long-term investment in your health and your home.

A working mitigation system is a positive selling point for homes on the market ; in many areas a radon test is a standard part of real estate transactions. If you’re building a new home, work with your builder to include radon-resistant construction techniques.

Radon reduction strategies are included in the National Radon Action Plan, which was launched in November 2015 by EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services and nine national non-governmental organizations. This partnership will help coordinate radon reduction efforts and resources with the goal of preventing 3,200 lung cancer deaths annually by 2020, through increased collaboration and consumer awareness strategies.

For more information on testing and obtaining a radon test kit, contact the state radon office at 1-800-SOS-RADON.

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If you are buying or selling a home in western North Carolina, call the Clay Team today at 828-551-6290 or visit us online at BrevardNCProperty.com.

Unlocking the Secret Code of Realtors

I’ve been working with a great young couple who have uncovered the secret code of Realtors.

They will be relocating to the Hendersonville, NC area and have taken a very active role in their search by doing a drive by on every home they want to see. Not only does this save me valuable time, it helps them understand the various communities so they can narrow in on exactly where they want to be. The fact that they are incredibly tech savvy and can find any location on their phone or Ipad…and get there… has been a bonus. When we go out to look at homes together, they have already scoped out the area and are ready to take a closer look.

Along the way they commented that they are learning to read between the lines and interpret the true meaning behind the words and phrases some Realtors employ when describing a property. Here are a few of the highlights that we’ve uncovered during several of their now famous drive bys:

“Serene pond” – Translation: Stagnant body of water. After one particular visit on their own, they described this “serene pond” to me in terms of the murky color, the strange smell, and the zombie fish moving slowing through the still water. We surmised that they were probably preserving their energy because of the lack of oxygen in the water which made us all kinda sad for the fish.ZombieFish

“Private wooded setting” – Translation: You better pack a lunch. If you live in an urban area, a “private wooded setting” may describe a property with some trees and something slightly more than a half an acre. Here in the mountains, it can mean something quite different and you better be prepared for anything. It could mean, just as it sounds, a nice home on a wooded lot surrounded by nature. Or, it might mean you better have 4WD and be able to navigate a steep gravel road deep into the woods where all the neighbors have four legs.

“Unique floor plan” – Translation: The opposite of open floor plan. I’m always leery of any description that includes the word “unique” unless it is accompanied by a picture to explain it. Otherwise, it leaves far too much to the imagination.

“Dine al dente” – Translation: ??. I actually saw this on a listing the other day.
If you are a fan of Italian food you probably already know that “al dente” describes the desired texture of cooked pasta. It literally means “to the tooth”. Perhaps this agent meant to say “al fresco” which means a casual form of dining outside. We may never know for certain, though.

“Creek on property” – Translation: There is some water on the property…somewhere. Finding land with a bold or even quietly babbling creek is a dream for many of our buyers…and I don’t blame them. It’s a very desirable feature. The question is “where” on the property. Is it by the building site or do you need repelling gear to get to it. If you are a buyer, this is where you really need an experienced agent who is willing to get their boots dirty helping you locate the creek.

My intention here is certainly not to disparage my fellow Realtors. When we list a property, it is our job to frame the home or land in the best possible light, highlighting the best features, minimizing the less desirable ones. You have to admit, though, that sometimes a property’s description and what it is in reality can vary drastically and that can set a buyer up for a heap of disappointment. It’s just one of the many reasons why you need the help of a knowledgeable, experienced agent who can translate the code for you and cut through the fluff.

Like this couple I’m working with, today’s buyers are more informed than ever and often know a lot about a property before we ever meet. But no third party web site like Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com can ever replace an agent who is experienced and knowledgable about the area where they do business.

If you are buying or selling a home or land and would like some help deciphering and navigating western North Carolina, give us a call. We are full time, professional Realtors proudly serving buyers and sellers in Brevard, Hendersonville, Pisgah Forest, Asheville, and all the great little mountain communities in between.let's go somewhere

 

2011 Market Report – Brevard, NC Real Estate

2011 is now just a vision in our rear view mirror but before we get too far down the road and into a new year, we wanted to give you a brief look back at the local real estate market here in the Brevard, NC area and the various ups and downs that happened during this past year.  There is so much on the news about real estate (and don’t we all wish for a speedy and full recovery!) but real estate is a regional, even local issue so here is what has happened here in our back yard.

So which way did the market go? The good news is the number of residential sales in our area was up for the second year in a row. There were 308 single family homes sold in the Brevard area during 2011, up by 20 over 2010 and up by 66 over 2009. The average list price was $281,000 which is about a 4.5% decrease compared to 2010 and the average selling price was $247,000 or roughly a 7% drop. The bulk of sales for the last two years has consistently been in the $100K-$300K price range.  We are still a long way off from the “rock and roll” days of 2006, and we may never get back to those days, but at least these are encouraging signs and hopefully indicative of good things to come.

When the housing industry began it’s decline, it took over a year for us to feel the real effect here. And when it did reach us, the adjustments needed have not been as great as they have been in other parts of our country, primarily because our market was not grossly overpriced and “bloated” like other markets.

The one area that has not shown signs of snapping back quickly is in land sales. That segment of the market is dramatically different than it was back in 2006. As such, it’s a difficult time for sellers, but a very good opportunity for buyers who are interested in buying land, even if it’s to hold onto for the future.

For a closer look at all the numbers, visit us at BrevardNCProperty.com, or give us a call at 828-551-6291.

Find Foreclosure Properties Here!

Find Foreclosures Here!There’s just no heads or tails about it! Banks have hundreds of foreclosure properties in the Asheville, Cashiers, Brevard, Hendersonville area that they want to sell. Large mountain tracts with glorious views, development lots, small homes, million dollar homes…they’re all available for pennies on the dollar.

Contact the Clay Team today and tell us what kind of property you’re looking for. We have the experience of working with the banks and will guide you every step of the way!

 

Visit us online at BrevardNCProperty.com.
Email us at RobertClay@KW.com or CarolClay@KW.com.
Call us today at 828-551-6291 or 828-551-6290.

Things to do in Brevard NC

It’s not too early to start making your plans for the Labor Day Weekend.  Two events you should absolutely include when you are in the Brevard, NC area are the 2010 Farm Fair and the 2nd Annual Founders Day. Both events will be held on Saturday, September 4.

Farm Fair is sponsored by the Brevard/Transylvania County Chamber of Commerce and it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the rich and diverse farming community in the area. Enjoy events, tastings, and demonstrations from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm at the American Legion Hall.

Founders Day is sponsored by the Transylvania County Heritage Society and celebrates the areas founding families.

Friday night, the 2nd SC Rifles Re-enactment group will set up an authentic Civil War camp. Then on Saturday morning from 9-10 am, a docent will lead a walking tour of Historic Uptown Brevard, $10 per person, reservations suggested, call 884-2347. Starting at 10 am, craftspeople will demonstrate their skills and sell their wares in the old-fashioned arts, like spinning, weaving, patchwork, woodcarving, and more, with many dressed in period costumes. Antique cars will be on display.

Also from 11 am to 5 pm, the Main Stage will present area musical talent including: Lynn Goldsmith & Jeter Mountain; Rabon Creek Bluegrass; Bobby & Blue Ridge Tradition; East Fork Gals; and Transylvania Troubadours. Forge Mountain Cloggers will perform at 12 noon, and Sylvan Squares at 2:30.

The Museum will showcase Founding Family displays with descendants on hand to discuss the lives and legacies of Transylvania’s settlers. Special pioneer crafts will be available for the kids to do.

With all this activity, people will be hungry and thirsty, so Marco’s will be selling pizza by the slice and the Hobnob restaurant will have “food that would have been eaten during the Civil War but better!” Top that off with items from the Museum’s bake sale booth or some Kiwi Gelato to complete a wonderful day.

Both events are real down home fun for the entire family! Don’t miss it!

For more information about the Brevard area, things to do while you’re here, or for places to stay, visit BrevardNCproperty.com

Event information provided by the Chamber of Commerce and the Transylvania County Heritage Museum.

Home for sale in Straus Park, Brevard NC

Straus Park, with its stylish upscale homes and condos and first-class community amenities, has long been considered one of Brevard’s finest neighborhoods. Living in Straus Park also means you’re only minutes from shopping and health care and all the things that make Brevard, NC one of “America’s Coolest Small Towns” according to a recent poll conducted by Budget Travel.

Straus ParkThis 4 bedroom, 3 bath home for sale in Straus Park is tastefully designed and features a well thought out floor plan with all the primary living areas on the main floor. A few of the highlights include the updated kitchen with granite counters that opens to a cozy living room with a gas fireplace.  It’s the perfect layout for entertaining. For outdoor entertaining, you’ll enjoy the spacious open deck that overlooks lush, uninterrupted green space.

The master suite is a sanctuary of peace and relaxation. Large windows fill the room with natural light and the high ceilings enhance the feeling of open space. The spacious master bath includes a garden tub and separate shower, two sinks and ample storage space. Just off the master bedroom is a private screened porch, a perfect retreat at the end of the day.

Other features of the main floor include a guest room and full second bath, a formal dining area, and a study with built ins.

The finished lower level includes two additional bedrooms, a full bath, and family room. Perfect for visiting friends and family!

Other extras include a large garage workshop, exceptional storage, and an invisible fence for the pets.

For more information about this home for sale in Straus Park, visit us online at BrevardNCproperty.com, or call us at 828-551-6290 or 828-551-6291.

Or…Take a virtual tour of this home right here!