Celebrating the Diversity of Luxe Homes - TribPapers

Celebrating the Diversity of Luxe Homes

This article is dedicated to those who work so hard and so smart in the service of their neighbors, they are able to live as fine art.

Asheville – An article in Barron’s announced, “Asheville Was Already Cool—Now It’s Luxe.” The article, by Shivani Vora, also appeared the next day in Mansion Global.
The article reports that “relative affordability for high-end homes” has met “soaring demand” for upscale living amidst the splendor of forests and mountain vistas, many of which have earned the distinction of preservation through state and national designations. Other draws include the year-round temperate climate and the foodie, art, and microbrewery scenes that are part of the lifestyle of contemporary affluence.

Marilyn Wright, a professional advisor for Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, was interviewed for the article. Wright sold $63 million in real estate last year, and she expects to double that amount this year. Asked for the demographics of her clientele, she said they come from “around the country and around the world.” Most were from South Florida, the Northeast, Texas, and California. More would come here were it not for the limited inventory.

Asheville’s growing market for luxury homes started about five years ago, and it is still going strong. Over that period, the value of the average home increased by 40%, or $150,000. According to various sources, the average home’s sale price has been around $450,000 for about a year. The article reported that the median home selling price in May this year was just under $500,000.

According to Wright, Sotheby’s hadn’t seen multi-million-dollar properties in the area before 2008. “Now, homes that cost $5 million or more are the norm more than the exception,” she said.

The article went on to interview various developers and residents of luxury homes and luxury communities in Asheville. Matt Osada is in the process of building 22 homes valued at at least $3 million. He has seen his business’ revenues climb from $10 million to $20 million over the last three years.

He said tastes in luxury homes in Western North Carolina have shifted away from a traditional aesthetic. He describes the typical luxury home he is building as meeting demand for a more contemporary look with large windows, high ceilings, and minimal accents. Amenities people are more likely to demand, he said, are 800-square-foot closets, elaborate stone swimming pools, and theme rooms decorated with collections of anything from vinyl records to bourbon.

Desirable amenities mentioned by others interviewed included ample square footage and acreage, a bedroom suite with a library and gym, and a wine cellar. Wright sold Lou and Laurie Appignani a $5 million, 9,500-square-foot home in Biltmore Forest. They moved in from Miami and were touched when a neighbor brought them homemade bread for a housewarming present. “There aren’t many places that exist anymore where you can expect a gesture like that,” said Laurie.

As of this writing, Redfin reported 138 luxury homes for sale in Asheville. Several three-bedroom, two-bathroom models don’t look like they could have sold for more than $100,000 a few decades ago, while others are, in a word, staggering.

Back in March, Mansion Global reported the setting of a new record for home selling price in the Asheville area. Actually in Biltmore Forest, this house was listed and sold by Premier Sotheby’s and closed at $9.6 million. The English Tudor was tastefully proportioned, the massing of its 10,000 square feet overshadowed by far by its elegance and grace. Its amenities included a porte-cochère, a golf simulator, a sunroom, and a wine cellar. The interior is also tastefully done, with handsome timber framing and a lot of built-in space.

Last month, Deerhaven Gardens Estate went on the market for $34 million. The home was described as second only to the Biltmore House in construction costs. It featured amenities common to celebrity homes like acreage, a full-size tennis court, an infinity pool, and a two-story guest house.

Is your house worth a million dollars? You’ll soon find out, as “property cards” from Buncombe County Tax Assessor Keith Miller have hit the mail. A new step in the revaluation process, the cards give residents a heads-up before they get sticker shock from their new assessment. The cards merely ask property owners to verify straightforward features like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the square footage of finished and unfinished space.

Property owners are also asked to report any substantial improvements they have made to their homes since the last assessment, such as finishing their basement, adding a room, or adding solar panels, as well as any mishaps that could devalue the property, like that tree that fell on the roof. If nothing has changed, it is not necessary to return the no-postage-necessary cards.