Monday, November 23, 2015

Asheville Market Real Estate Update

From the November 6th Asheville Citizen Times newspaper...
We have set many new records for real estate sales in Asheville and Buncombe County.  The number of  homes sold in Asheville during the third quarter was 401.  This is the highest on record since the same time period in 2006 when there were 399 sold.
We also have a new median sales price record of $244,000 for the 3rd quarter compared to $235,000 for the fourth quarter of 2007.
Median sales price for all homes (including condos, townhomes and mobile homes) through Sept 30 is $348,950 compared to the old record of $345,900.
Another sign of the strength of the housing market is the reduction in inventory of higher priced homes.   When levels are more than 6 months = buyers market and when they are less than 6 months = sellers market.
Buyers are mostly coming from New York, Florida, New Jersey and California
One home referenced in the article was purchased in 2005 for $175,000, now, the home is listed at $271,500.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

‘Tis the Season for Extra Home Security

Protecting your home is always an important topic, but it’s especially so with the holidays approaching. Burglaries and break-ins peak at this otherwise festive time of year. More time is spent away from home and more packages are delivered, leaving your house and belongings more vulnerable than ever. Help keep your home safe by following these  security solutions.
Tips to Avoid Vacation Violators When You Are Away
1. Let your trustworthy neighbor know you are going to be away and ask them to help you with your trash collection and removing any packages or solicitor materials left at your door.
2. Automatic light timers with battery backup (in case of power failure) can create the simulation of someone being at home. Setting at various times throughout the house can create the illusion of movement and activity in different areas of your home.
3. Turn home phone ringers down, and if you utilize a voice message machine, silence it.vacation written on memo
4. Stop delivery of newspapers and mail.
5. If you are gone for a long period of time, maintain any landscaping care (lawn, snow removal) to give the illusion that you are home.
6. If you have a garage, keep your vehicle parked in it. If you keep your vehicle in the driveway, make sure there are no spare keys or garage door openers left inside.
7. Be proactive! Record a video of each room to document proof of your belongings should you need to make an insurance claim.
8. Check with your local police station to see if they employ and neighborhood patrol, or a “vacant house list.” Criminals will be leery to enter a home if they know it’s being watched, especially by authorities.
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Protecting Your Holiday Packages from Porch Pirates
Who doesn’t love holiday packages? Deliveries left in open areas are easy targets for burglars and can spoil your holiday cheer. It’s been reported that this time of year thieves will even trail delivery trucks stalking prime targets. Thieves are looking for anything that can be converted to cash, so be mindful when purchasing high-value items in boxes that may clue to what is inside. Additionally, break down and immediately trash any boxes that reveal high-priced purchases.
A few other considerations for protecting your holiday packages this holiday season include:
Whether you are traveling or staying at home this holiday season, the threat of thievery remains. Knowing these helpful tips may help prevent the season from being soured!1. Thieves commonly strike during work hours when many homes are empty. Consider having packages delivered to your office, not your house.
2. Request a signature for all packages to be delivered.
3. Check with delivery providers to see if they offer additional security features. UPS has a program calledUPS My Choice which allows a customer to receive an email or text message before a package arrives and reroute it if no one is going to be home.
4. Take advantage of tracking and delivery alerts so you know exactly when the package is delivered.

Whether you are traveling or staying home this holiday season, the threat of thievery remains. Knowing these helpful tips may help prevent your season from being soured!

Asheville's First Community Wind Program

Now, Asheville residents can use clean wind energy through Arcardia Power.
To sign up, go to
Link your local utility account to Arcadia Power
Enjoy 100% clean energy at home and receive $20 off your first clean energy bill.
Or you can call, 866-526-0083

Local business customers: Limones, Patton Ave Pet Company, Green Sage Cafe and Biscuit Head

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Short Term Rental Debate

From our friends at Marshall, Roth & Gregory, PC, here is a legal moment from Phillip Roth regarding a very hot topic, Short Term Rentals in Asheville. 

The State of Short-Term Rentals in Asheville

A lawsuit filed on October 20th in Buncombe County Superior Court has taken the current debate in Asheville over short-term rentals (STRs) to a new level by challenging the City’s authority to enact ordinances regulating STRs.

   In Robertson et al v. City of Asheville, No. 15-CVS-4688, the plaintiff homeowners routinely rent out their residences to guests for periods of fewer than 30 days, expressly in violation of § 7-2-5 of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).  Having been issued citations by the City under the ordinance, the plaintiffs are challenging the legality and the constitutionality of the ordinance on a number of grounds, arguably the most interesting of which is claiming that the City has no authority to regulate short-term rentals because that authority is “preempted” by the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act (N.C. Gen Stat. § 42A-1 et. seq.).

   Generally, a municipal ordinance is invalid (“preempted”) under North Carolina law where it purports to regulate a field for which the State of North Carolina has shown legislative intent to provide a complete and integrated regulatory scheme to the exclusion of local regulation, or if the local ordinance makes unlawful an act, omission, or condition which is expressly made lawful by State law. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-l74(b).

   The plaintiffs in Robertson contend that this is what has occurred with regard to STRs by virtue of the Vacation Rental Act.  Acknowledging that the “growth of the tourism industry has led to a greatly expanded market” for short-term vacation rentals that present “unique situations not normally found in the rental of primary residences for long terms,” lawmakers concluded that it is “necessary for the General Assembly to enact laws regulating the competing interests of landlords, real estate brokers, and tenants.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 42A-2.

   Although the Vacation Rental Act appears more focused on the contractual relations among the short-term tenants, landlords and real estate brokers -- rather than expressing a broad policy statement on the legality and regulation of short-term rentals within cities -- the Plaintiffs find support for their position in a section of the Act that implies that vacation rentals of less than 30 days are legal in contrast to the City’s ordinance providing just to the contrary – this amounts to a near head-on collision, legally speaking.

   Whether the Plaintiff’s contention will withstand judicial scrutiny remains to be seen and it could be months and more likely a year or more before the lawsuit reaches trial.

   The stakes are obviously high both locally and nationally.  There are more than 600 short-term rentals listed on the various websites for Asheville. And although the Plaintiffs were fined $100 per night under the old ordinance, City Council recently raised the penalty provision of the ordinance to call for a fine of $500 per night.  Rather than relying on citizen complaints to alert it to short-term rental violations, moreover, the City also decided to create an enforcement position that would actively seek out violators.

   If recent events in San Francisco are a harbinger of things to come, it will not be surprising if short-term rental companies like AirBnB, HomeAway and VRBO enter the fray as part of a national campaign to keep short-term rentals legal.  Following on the heels of successfully defeating “Proposition F” – which would have curtailed short-term rentals in San Francisco – AirBnB has stated its intention to combat attempts by municipalities to regulate short-term rentals elsewhere.  It is doing this in part by mobilizing the property owners for whom it lists vacation rentals as a potent political force.  AirBnB and its ilk may also follow Uber’s strategy whereby it pays the citations and/or defends actions brought against its drivers by the various municipalities.

   Keep in mind that the City's ordinance only applies where the entire property is rented.  It remains legal for a property owner to rent out a portion of the home on a short-term basis – a so-called “homestay” – just so long as the owner resides in the home at the same time.
   Finally, as discussed in a prior edition of A Legal Moment, the issue of short-term rentals is also a hot one in private planned communities where residents feel that short-term rentals have the effect of decreasing property values and generally raising the nuisance level occasioned by partying short-term tenants.  Homeowner Associations are actively amending their Declarations with provisions regulating both long- and short-term rentals within their jurisdictions.