'Mission (nearly) Impossible': Long-term rental availability scarce in Black Mountain

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Realtors say most potential newcomers to Black Mountain aim to rent for a year while determining where to buy or build a house in town.

Black Mountain realtors report a lack of long-term rental availability in Black Mountain due to out-of-towners moving to the area and a significant short-term rental presence.

Bethany Corn, long-term rental manager with Greybeard Realty, grew up in Black Mountain and now lives in Mills River. While buying a house in Black Mountain can be difficult, Corn said finding a rental is nearly impossible.

"There's hardly no availability, particularly in Black Mountain," Corn said. "We can post a house and within a day it's rented with multiple applications on it."

Recent discussion among town staff, community members and realtors has shown a lack of affordable housing in Black Mountain. Affordable housing is defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as housing in which the occupant pays no more than 30% of gross income for housing costs, including utilities.

More:'People are desperate': Black Mountain community and town staff talk affordable housing

Beverly Hart, a realtor with Keller Williams, an agency in Black Mountain, agreed that rental availability poses challenges to potential movers to the area.

"I think that a lot of the homeowners that are doing rentals are finding that short-term rentals make them more money," Hart said. 

Short-term rentals for visitors to the area have been a recent subject of discussion for Black Mountain realtors and community members. Short-term stays such as Airbnbs have made long-term renting difficult to find.

Airbnb advertises more than 300 stays in Black Mountain with roughly 16,000 guests having visited the area. Prices for a two-bedroom stay range from $100-$300 per night.

A survey provided by the Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce of employers with 100-1,000 employees showed 33.3% of respondents replied 'yes' to rentals/housing impacting their ability to retain and hire employees. The other 66.7% said rentals/housing may impact hiring. None of the respondents replied 'no.'

Housing availability and cost were the two categories respondents marked as main deterring factors for accessing local housing. 

Though buying a house may be slightly easier than renting in Black Mountain, according to local realtors, both deal with the problem of availability.

Greybeard, which conducts business in Asheville as well as Black Mountain, manages 394 long-term rentals in the area. Corn said only three rentals are currently available, none of which are in Black Mountain. 

Greybeard also manages roughly 250 short-term rentals, according to Corn.

"Oftentimes people can't even get here to look at a place," Corn said. "The first time they actually see the house they're going to be moving into is when they pick up the keys on move-in day."

Corn receives many calls for renters wanting to live in Black Mountain specifically. She said these people typically want to rent first before deciding to settle in the area.

In addition to houses for rent, Greybeard has no apartments or other smaller rental units available. With cheaper rent for smaller units, Corn said Greybeard has walk-ins constantly but as units become secured for the long-term, nothing is available. 

"It seems like when people come to this area and they get kind of settled into Black Mountain, they don't leave," Corn said. "We're seeing a lot of people wanting to sign another lease to stay in Black Mountain or do whatever they can to stay in this area."

Growing up in Black Mountain and now working in the area, Corn said she rarely sees locals moving to town, that most of her leases come from out-of-towners.

Most renters want to live in Black Mountain for at least a year while they search for a place to buy or build, Corn said. 

On average, for a two-bedroom rental, Corn said the cost ranges from $1,400 to $1,800. She said these rent costs are comparable to Asheville prices.

Similar to Greybeard, Hart said Keller Williams has been unable to offer long-term rental options in Black Mountain due to high demand. She said cost and availability are equally challenging when it comes to buying a house.

"It is definitely easier to buy a house in Black Mountain than it is to find a rental," Hart said. "It's also difficult for people (to buy a house)."

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.