Planning on Moving to West Asheville? Here’s 5 things You Need to Know

1.) The average cost of a home: $348,298 according to a review of recent listings. Investment properties start around $150,000, but houses up to the $600,000 range are available in W. Asheville.

2.) The average cost of a restaurant meal: $13-15 is the Asheville average for a single entree according to this Mountain Xpress article from last fall. Offerings range from tacos (Zia Taqueria and White Duck come to mind) to finer dining establishments like The Admiral. West Asheville residents also have a number of walkable chain groceries and local markets along Haywood Road for home-cooking supplies and ingredients.

3.) Parking availability/car necessity: Unless you manage to work remotely or actually in West Asheville, you’ll probably need a car. Many West Asheville homes have room to park at least one car in the drive, but car collectors beware; multi-car households may struggle.

4.) Schools: West Asheville is part of both the city of Asheville school system and the Buncombe county system. Residents benefit from access to both of these

5.) Culture:  The people and places of West Asheville have their own history. It’s not just charmingly aged window-dressing. Moving to West Asheville means putting down roots next to folks that have become local institutions. If you’re moving to West Asheville, you’re getting ready to become part of a real neighborhood.

*Bonus TipGet to Sunny Point early. Or consider drastically changing your eating schedule. Lunch at 3? Sounds perfect.

 

Want more? Check out this amazing time-lapse video of Asheville for a breathtaking look at our beautiful city.

Bond spending projects get first presentation in February

On February 7th, staff presented Asheville City Council with plans for a host of bond-funded projects and there’s a lot in there for anyone who lives or works in Asheville to be excited about.

Improving on perfection

Most if not all of our state’s college and universities will be able to start or complete major projects, repairs, or refurbishments. Parks improvements benefit residents, visitors, and local businesses either directly or indirectly. As Asheville seeks to lure in larger companies to drive wages and the local/regional economy, these improvements will be necessary to proving Asheville has what companies and workers want. Employers already established in Asheville and the state are expected to add jobs both in the midst of completing bond projects and after.

Affordable housing

For those of us currently making Asheville our home, the potential development of more affordable housing is of particular relevance. It’s unclear what type of housing will be built. One of the companies involved constructs single family homes as well as apartment buildings. Regardless, this is great news for the artists, service workers, and others who have long lamented the unintended side effects of Asheville’s remarkable economic growth.

A careful foundation

It’s also worth noting that even though supporters of the bill are looking forward to favorite projects taking off, the County and City are taking their time to make sure the plan addresses the stated need. A-B Tech representatives will have to take another crack at presenting a proposal that meets the Buncombe County Commissioner’s concerns about low minority enrollment rates at the college. The current owners of one property under consideration for the affordable housing project agreed to give the City eight years to decide whether or not to make the purchase.

Tracking progress

But we won’t have to wait eight years to see progress. The next few City Council meetings this spring will focus on the budget, where bond projects will again come under discussion or review. Spending on projects is slated to begin in 2018, when the bond money sees its first disbursement. Hopefully the City will continue to update their super-cool interactive map showing the locations of all proposed bond spending to indicate what gets the final green light.

 

If you’re new to the bond measure conversation, read Understanding the NC Bond Measure on HiAltaRealEstate.com.

Want to keep up on Buncombe County Commissioner meetings?

How about Asheville City Council meetings?

Understanding the Connect NC Bond Measure

NC voters approved the state’s plan to use bond funds to pay for improvements and infrastructure in parks, schools, and neighborhoods last year, but it’s easy to be confused about the hows and whys of how the plan will work. Following is a quick rundown of what a bond is, a little history of the NC bond measure and how the money is to be divided and spent at the state, county, and city levels, and some ways to keep up with future developments.

What is a bond?

Essentially, a bond is a loan where you are the bank. You give an amount to someone (usually a government or company) with the expectation that they will be able to pay you back, plus a little for the use of your money.

So investors are loaning money to North Carolina against its history of growth and debt repayment. NC enjoys a triple-A credit rating, part of the justification for adding new debt to the state budget.

We voted on the decision because the bonds are being issued against North Carolina’s General Fund, the name for the pool of money that largely comes from our taxes. Investors expect that if something goes awry, they will be repaid from the General Fund. This type of bond is referred to as a general obligation or GO bond. Voters have a say in GO bonds in many states.

The Connect NC Bond Bill

Here’s the full-text of the bill proposing the recent bond measure. The title states that the act will “…further economic development…consistent with the Connect NC plan.”

Connect NC was originally a transportation infrastructure plan enacted by then-Governor McCrory in the early aughts. It was criticized for going back on its promise that no tax increases would be required to pay for it in the very next year after its enactment. Since then, gas taxes and various vehicle-related fees go back into highway and transportation funding. So highway projects were cut from projects in the new bond bill.

Governor McCrory habitually made cuts to education in order to balance tax cuts elsewhere. The Connect NC plan was seemingly intended to address some of the problems colleges and universities have faced in implementing slashed budgets over the years. Critics of the bond measure from the left point out that the measure won’t be a replacement for this funding and could obscure the real need occurring on campuses and in departments across the state. Opponents from both sides remain unconvinced that the plan will function as intended, recalling the previous Connect NC measure.

The Connect NC plan addresses more than education infrastructure, however, and proponents expect that projects will have a real, measurable positive effect on North Carolina’s economy.

Allocating Bond Funds

The next few meetings about the future and timeline of the Connect NC bond at the City and County levels here in Asheville/Buncombe county will focus on the budget.

Instead of trying to untangle county versus city versus state budgets on large-scale undertakings that involve every level of government, the bond will move forward on a project basis. Schools, parks, and other entities will work with all relevant parties to put together plans that, once approved, use funds to achieve specific ends.

Ongoing

News about the Connect NC bond will continue to emerge as projects get approved, denied, or modified. Keep an eye on your favorite parks and local college websites; many have been posting regularly about their plans, like this from UNCA about building renovations.

Read more about the first presentation of bond projects on HiAltaRealEstate.com

Check out Connect.NC.gov for ongoing information about projects.

 

Wintertime Tips for Energy Efficiency

winter house

Following our first serious blast of winter weather, now is as good a time as any to go over some tips for keeping our homes as energy-efficient as possible and saving money on monthly utility bills. Especially for those of us who live in older houses, constructed long before the advent of the “green building” revolution, it’s important to know what we can do to improve efficiency at minimal cost.

The Building Envelope

envelope

Many of you, especially those in the construction world, are already familiar with the concept of a building envelope. The idea is pretty simple: to maintain the greatest efficiency, we want our homes to remain sealed up as tightly as possible. According to data from the US Department of Energy, taking steps to reduce air leaks could help us save as much as 30% on our heating bills. Although we may have little control over those pesky family members who like to stand in the doorway – with the door wide open – to chat with the neighbors, there are certain steps we can take to address persistent air leaks in our homes:

  • Install Weather Stripping Around Doors & Windows
    • Any home-improvement store should have a wide variety to choose from, and most kinds are really easy to install.
    • Even a rolled-up towel stuffed against a drafty door is better than nothing. Or, if you’re feeling especially crafty, you can make your own draft snake.
  • Use Caulk or Insulating Foam to Seal Cracks
  • Put Plastic on the Windows

window plasticind_qa_windowfilm_0814_web1window plastic hairdryer

 

  • Add Insulation in Attics & Basements
    • Don’t want to deal with the mess? Hire a contractor (or an unemployed family member).
  • Install Storm Windows & Storm Doors

HVAC System & Water Heater

Addressing issues with the building envelope will go a long way towards improving efficiency, but some minor adjustments to the way you heat air & water in your home can make a big difference as well:

  • Turn Down the Thermostat
    • Or, for added convenience, consider investing in a programmable thermostat. This can really help you reduce heating costs during times when you’re away from home or asleep.
    • Some scientists even say that sleeping in cooler temperatures is better for your health.
  • Clean or Replace Air Filtersclean-vs-dirty-air-filters
    • Whether your air filters are located in the heating unit itself or in a return air vent inside your home, it’s extremely important to clean or replace these filters regularly.
    • Consult the owner’s manual that came with your HVAC system if you have any questions, or consult a licensed professional.
  • Inspect Ductwork
  • Insulate Hot Water Pipesinsulate pipes
    • Not only will this save you money on heating water, but you’ll reduce the risk of pipes freezing as well.
    • Visit your local home improvement store and ask for the best product to fit your particular situation.
  • Adjust Water Heater
    • Similar to the suggestion above about HVAC, there’s no reason to keep a tank full of water unnecessarily hot around the clock. If you have a water heater that uses a tank, try turning the thermostat down incrementally to see how low you can keep the temp without it negatively impacting your household needs.
    • If you need to replace an old water heater, consider switching to a tankless model, which is often much more efficient.

Thinking Big Picture

  • Get a Home Energy Audit
    • If you’re unsure how efficient your home may (or may not) be, you can have a licensed professional perform a home energy audit. This can provide you with valuable information about where your home may be losing efficiency and suggest the appropriate remedies.
  • Take Advantage of Tax Credits
    • If you need to replace older appliances or if you have a little extra money to spend on other home improvements, there may be valuable tax incentives you could take advantage of. There are quite a few federal tax credits as well as some that are specific to North Carolina.

Other Suggestions

  • Consider Upgrading Lightbulbs to High-Efficiency LEDs
    • LED lighting technology is getting better and better all the time. LED bulbs tend to be an expensive purchase on the front end, but the energy savings over the long haul will more than make up for the initial expense.
    • According to a number of reports, though, not all LEDs are created equal. So consider buying high-quality bulbs if you’re going to make the investment. Here’s one example of a site reviewing different products.
  • Think Smart About Ways to Save
    • If you’ve got several loads of laundry to do, try to keep the dryer running until you’re done with it. Once that thing has gotten hot, it’s a lot more efficient to keep it running than to let it cool down between loads.
    • Keep south-facing windows uncovered during the day to take advantage of passive solar heat.
    • Come up with your own creative techniques (and share them).

Alan Wray is a broker at Hi-Alta Real Estate and lives with his family in West Asheville.

You can contact him at alan.wray@hialtarealestate.com

 

Why Asheville?

So you’re looking to move to Asheville and hoping to find real estate that is just right for you. Whether you’re coming here to start a business, start a family or just start anew, Asheville is known for its real estate for a reason. From breath-taking mountains views to a bustling culturally diverse downtown, Asheville is home to more than 87,000 people who appreciate all this mountain metro has to offer.

Our team of realtors at Hi-Alta Real Estate are here to help you with your real estate search. We have commercial listings, lots and land, and a variety of homes to show. If we didn’t list it, no worries because our team of realtors are available to show you any property that you may be interested in visiting.

Just give us a call today or email us at info@hialtarealestate.com. Whether you’re looking for new construction, a traditional home in a long-standing community, the perfect mountain getaway or an investment property, you can count on Hi-Alta Real Estate.