Why Highlands? Why Not?
It’s hard to believe the number of people in this little town. In our annual license plate visual survey, we have seen them from all over the place, with maybe even more than usual from the northern states. I guess we should have seen it coming since people are restricting their air travel and choosing to go to places within easy reach.
As of June 22, Macon County had 252 cases of the Coronavirus, 17 of those showing as recovered, and 1 death. We knew as the states opened, there would be more community spread as well as from ‘the outside world.’ For the next couple of weeks, we will remain in Phase II, (AKA Safer at Home) Along with our new mantra ‘Remember the 3 Ws- Wear, Wait, Wash,’ we should follow the guidelines from the CDC, including 1) avoiding sick people, practice social distancing, 2) use a cloth cover over our nose and mouth when we can’t be 6 feet apart, 3) Wash our hands with soap/water for at least 20 seconds, 4)Avoid touching our eyes, nose, and mouth with our hands, 5)cover our coughs with a tissue and then dispose of the tissue, 6) clean and disinfect surfaces according to the label instructions, and never mix chemicals. Clean all surfaces that are recently touched.
You can track the number of cases by Zip Code for NC by going to www.ncdhhs.gov scroll down to where you can choose county (Macon) or Zip Code (28741) As of June 22nd, there have been 51 cases in Highlands with no reported deaths.
(Note: all but the second one is standard for any time of year, but especially during cold and flu season. Oh yeah, a pandemic. Maybe, just maybe with all these precautions, our ‘normal’ cold and flu season won’t be bad.)
Gentle reminders are set around town. The three Ws. Wear- Wait- Wash
Real estate in Highlands hasn’t really slowed down because of the Coronavirus. Maybe one reason is when it started. Living in a seasonal town, we’re sort of used to slowing down, staying home more during the winter. The people than normally fly south, or travel to other countries, or have an active social life were certainly affected. Our office had several closings during January-May, and all of them were subject to bank loans, which could have gone awry at any moment with the ups and downs of the market, but they didn’t. Banks and mortgage companies have incredibly low-interest rates right now, and one of the things that slowed the process a little was that the banks were overloaded with people refinancing their homes.
Vacation rentals have been a little like watching an old episode of Demolition Derby, really hit or miss. We had cancelations and gave full refunds, then we had others seemingly standing in line to take their place, then we had some of the early cancelers that called us back to rebook. Our June rentals (with half the month to go yet) is up over 25% of nights rented from last year. These do not include annual leases, owners, or their guests. Of course, we hope the rest of the season pans out this way as well, but a lot of the final picture depends on residents and visitors following the guidelines of whatever Phase is prevalent.
Easley an Artist on 4th Street in Highlands. Where anyone can easily become an artist. You can visit their gallery or take a class.
There are plenty of properties on the real estate market right now, but at the rate they are selling, we will need more to take their place. There have been more closings in 2020 to date than in 2019. Some buyers and sellers may be concerned about looking at properties or having their properties shown during a pandemic. If everyone follows the guidelines, everyone should be safe and remain healthy. Most Realtors are using safe practice protocols to protect the buyers, sellers, and themselves. One thing suggested is to do the preliminary house hunting online. Most people have pretty much mastered Facebook live, or FaceTime, but emailing still shots or videos work well too. Buyers can make offers sight-unseen based on what they have seen in a video and with their Broker’s commentary, and before or after their offer has been accepted, they can make a personal visit to the property. This will not work for everyone, but there are cases it could, like a property the buyer has seen before recently or years prior, or if the buyer is planning a total renovation and is mainly interested in the location, and knows the location, and I’m sure there are other opportunities as well. Part of their due diligence would be a visual inspection.
We have learned many things in 2020, and one of them is the need to be flexible. Flexible with our routine, our family, and our business model.
Jeannie and Tucker Chambers are owners/brokers of Chambers Realty & Vacation Rentals, located at 401 N. Fifth Street in Highlands. We hope wherever you are, you’re safe and healthy. Contact us to help you find your place in Highlands. [email protected] or 828-526-3717