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An Interview with Joe Lasher of M7 Realty Solutions
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Recently, on February 7, 2008, ashevilleNC.com interviewed Mr. Joe Lasher, Owner / Broker of M7 Realty Solutions, LLC. Some interesting insight into the Asheville real estate market was given, as well as some pointers and general market observations regarding homes and land in the Asheville, North Carolina area.
ashevilleNC: How did you happen to name your company M7?
Joe: 10 years ago, I grew up in a restaurant environment, learning events catering and eventually management of the company. It was started with seven partners, called the Magnificent Seven, and it stuck, spilling over to M7 Event Solutions and M7 Realty.
What makes M7 different from other real estate firms?
We at M7 focus on the emotional aspect and experience of purchasing real estate. Real estate purchases are emotional, and helping people realize what area and particular properties are right for them is part of our business. Our hospitality background helps us to serve our clients; that is why the visitor and information center in our office give them an idea of the lifestyle we as residents have here in the mountains of Asheville. This is why we are not just a private community, i.e., we try to fit people to the property lifestyle of the mountain area.
Homes sold through MLS (Multiple Listing Service) in the Asheville area fell 19.1% in 2007. December 2007 sales compared to December 2006 were down 17.9%. Do you feel we have turned the corner for our market here in Asheville?
I think we, in the Asheville area, are operating at a more normal level. The Asheville market was riding a wave -- we were the last market to slow, and will be the first to come back. This comeback could be this month, or this year. Our company has written more contracts during the month of January, 2008 than the entire last quarter of 2007.
Home prices in the Asheville area rose for most of 2007, and were actually up 7.5% from 2006, with prices dropping in November and December. Do you see that downward price trend continuing?
What I have seen is that the "spec" home builders were beginning to have to carry mortgages, and had to get out of that market. I do not think it is indicative of a downward trend, price-wise. What currently exists on the market are homes that need to sell, but those properties that do not have an urgent need to sell, remain in inventory. There has been no "bubble burst" in the Asheville market -- people are purchasing Asheville real estate, it is just that they have more choice and selection.
What price range in Asheville seems to be the least affected, and most affected?
The least-affected range is the less-than $300,000 price range, where Asheville real estate is fairly steady. $350-600K has been affected the most, as it is not moving as swiftly as most sellers would like.
Is there a particular area in Asheville you would suggest looking in to get the "most bang for your buck?"
North Buncombe, and Madison County.
What trends have you seen as far as new home construction is concerned?
For those people that are building homes for primary residences, now is the time. Building material costs are down considerably, leading to lower cost per square foot of floor space. Our company sold lots of vacant land to buyers to build private residences, and now they are building. There recently has not been much in the way of building to specifications, only the spec. market under $250K may be open for building. To cite an example of lowered building costs: Sheet rock previously was $16, and I have learned recently that a builder received a quote for $6 a sheet.
What do you see regarding future growth in Asheville?
The Asheville area has been growing since the era of Thomas Wolfe in the early twentieth century. Considering the increase in a retiring Baby Boomer population, I have heard that 20% of that generation will end up in North Carolina. I love it here [in Asheville], and we at M7 pass the feeling of the mountains on to our clients -- it's an emotional thing. In Asheville, I believe that we have a Bohemian lifestyle; drumming circles on Friday nights, Shindig on the Green festival, and a plethora of local artists just to name a few facets of life.
Are there any areas / sections in the Asheville real estate market that have been "hit harder" than others?
The concept that certain sections of Asheville have been slower to move is less important than the concept of real estate price range. Mostly, the market here is affected by the price point of the home as well as the financing terms. Sub-prime buyers were purchasing real estate for $500-770K, while realistically those buyers should have been purchasing homes in the $350,000 price range and below.
For more information about Mr. Lasher's company, M7 Realty Solutions, LLC, visit their website here: M7 Realty Solutions
For more information, see the Area Info section on Asheville real estate information, the directory listings for real estate, land and communities in Asheville, NC as well as Asheville real estate statistics.