Tourists are still coming and buying Black Mountain properties, local rental agency says

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
The Black Mountain visitor center is experiencing more foot traffic than expected, Sharon Tabor says.

BLACK MOUNTAIN - The Black Mountain visitor center is experiencing more foot traffic than expected, Sharon Tabor says. Previous months had been slow, but August was different.

“I think, last week, I probably filled in more relocation questions than I had the previous 11 months,” said Tabor, executive director of the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce. Though traffic was still 75% compared to last year, there are “a lot of people right now looking to relocate.”

David Teske, manager of Black Mountain Kilwin’s, said downtown businesses had recent success with an increasing flow of tourists. Chip Craig, owner and broker for Greybeard Realty and Rentals, says the town has succeeded in bringing new residents to the area.

Craig estimates the agency canceled 600-700 reservations set for April and May. Going into August, July was up 43% from the previous year.

The transition from April to August was drastic.

“It was awful, but since then it’s really come back,” Craig said. September is normally a “transition month” with not as much activity, he said, “but it’s been really, really strong.”

Compared to August 2019, Greybeard Realty and Rentals experienced an 18% increase in rentals. Customers are staying two days longer than average, Craig said.

Tabor said the area has seen an uptick in interest from potential buyers.

“Real estate’s crazy,” Tabor said. “We had a couple (of properties) in the visitor center last week where 22 people submitted a contract on the same house in the first 15 minutes it went online.”

Craig did not expect realtors to have this much success in the year even without current pandemic conditions. 

“It’s nuts,” Craig said. “Last year, I thought the inventory (for the country) was really low, and inventory is 40% of what it was last year.”

Both Tabor and Craig agree that the mountains have remained a viable vacation option for those aiming to not stay in denser populations. Some renters are aiming to move their at-home office to a different setting, Craig says.

“The other thing we’re hearing or seeing is that people are working remotely and are getting tired of being in their houses wherever they are, whether it’s Charlotte or whatever, so they’re coming to the mountains to work,” Craig said.

Conditions for renter and realty agents have changed with customers opting for socially distant opportunities. Because of this, local options “logically make sense.”

“Instead of going to Europe or Colorado or flying or driving to the mountains, they’re staying longer average stays,” Craig said. “They’re looking to get away from a Miami.”

Contrasted to the difficulties experienced by other fields, realty came back to life in August.

“You look at the news and you think everything is awful, which it is, but then you look at this, these two businesses, and they’re both really strong right now,” Craig said.