High Country Realtors Report Continued Sales Growth in Housing Market

The local real estate market started the new year much as it ended the old — home sales continued to increase as prices remained flat.

Realtor-assisted home sales in January hit a six-year high for the month, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which tracks Realtor sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

The median sold price, meanwhile, was the lowest recorded for any month in almost five years.

There were 74 homes sold worth $18.5 million last month, the busiest January since the first month of 2008 when 93 homes sold worth $30.32 million.

Sales for the month were up 16 percent compared to January 2013, and 35 percent compared to January 2012.

Prices continued to be held down. The median sold price for January was $173,500, a 20 percent decline from January 2013 ($220,000). It was also the lowest median sold price for any month since March 2009 ($164,000).

There were 214 new listings added during the month, the second fewest since the end of 2012. At the start of February, more than 2,300 homes were on the market in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

In recent years, January has become the traditional low watermark for the year’s Realtor sales. The strong start to 2014 could indicate an especially busy year ahead, according to the MLS.

“This is a great time to buy a home in the High Country,” said Sam Taylor, 2014 president of the High Country Association of Realtors. “Continued low interest rates, along with a high inventory of homes in the local market, have us optimistic that 2014 is going to be an even better year than 2013.”

Local Realtors are coming off their fourth straight year of growing sales. They sold 1,299 homes in 2013, a 3 percent increase from 2012, and a 28 percent increase from 2011. In that same time span, the annual median sold price declined 10 percent, from $212,000 in 2011 to $190,000 in 2013.

Nationally, existing-home sales were up 9.1 percent, according to the National Association of. That was the strongest performance since 2006.

The national median price for the year was $197,100, which was 11.5 percent above the 2012 median of $176,800.

“Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Mortgage rates remain steady.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.23 percent during the first week of February, down from 4.32 percent the week before, according to Freddie Mac.

When You’re Away, Let Others Play! Make a Profitable Investment in Echota with Foscoe Rentals

Pete and Pat Floyd of Rock Hill, S.C., have been spending downtime in the High Country for years, purchasing a two-bedroom unit at Echota four years ago. When Chalakee opened, they purchased a one-bedroom unit with views of Grandfather Mountain and have been leasing both properties to vacationers through Foscoe Rentals. Read more…

Top 3 Reasons That NOW Is The Time To Buy A Home

According to a recent article on RISMedia, the top 3 reasons that now is the right time to buy a home are:

1. Rising Home Prices: Home prices are inching upward at an accelerated rate. Since price is likely the most significant consideration most people have when buying, this is important. If prices continue to rise, and you buy now, your equity will begin to build as soon as you close. And home prices ARE projected to increase.

2. Low Mortgage Rates: Yes, interest rates did go up a little in the last month, but they are still super low! And the gurus are projecting that they will go up even more over the next year. NOW is the time to get locked in.

3. The Re-emergence of New Construction: Builders are building again, but not at the rate they built in the mid 2000s. Land costs more, materials cost more, labor costs more. New home prices are going up, too. Buying today may be your best option because the cost of new constructions isn’t likely to decrease.

Regardless of what is happening in the market today, tomorrow, or a year from now, real estate is almost always a good investment for the long term.


Echota’s New Backyard Music Series

Bring your friends and family (and a lawnchair!), and enjoy Echota’s new Summer Concert Series!

Just in case you needed another reason to run away to the mountains this summer, Echota is now offering a Summer Concert Series for owners, renters and their guests. On the second Saturday of every month, June through October, we’ll feature a different local band in an outdoor concert at the top of the mountain in Chalakee.








Our featured band on July 13th will be Soul Benefactor, the High Country’s premier funky Soul and Classic Rock ‘n’ Roll band. Since forming in 2007, Soul Benefactor has been cranking out some of the best grooves from the ‘60s and ‘70s to crowds of all ages.

Our series will give you a chance to sample great local bluegrass, soul, jazz and acoustic music while connecting with friends and neighbors.

Concerts will run from 5 to 7 p.m., and a cash bar will be provided by Appalachian Mountain Brewery featuring local craft beers, wine and water. Admission is free – just bring yourself, your friends and a lawnchair to enjoy the music with a view!

If you want to stay tuned to what bands are playing when, connect with Echota on Facebook at or email Leah Grove at to be included on the event mailing list.

Sky Valley Zip Tours OPEN for the Season!

Each three hour tour takes you on a thrilling and educational journey through the trees. Begin your trip with an off-road ATV ride through the river and up the mountain! Once at the top, you will learn the simple techniques used to navigate the course before departing on the first “breath-taker” ride across the valley. Two expertly trained Rangers accompany every tour, providing you with both peace of mind and teaching you about the course along the way, the natural environment, and the history of the area. Ten zip lines, a cliff jump, a swinging bridge and countless views later – you have an experience you won’t soon forget. And if you think all that zipping will worked up a hunger, add lunch to your tour and enjoy a gourmet feast from the The Gamekeeper Restaurant!
Sky Valley Zip Tours
Ready to start your adventure? Call 1-855-4-SKY-ZIP or click “Book Now” on to get detailed schedules and pricing. There are usually spaces available within the week if you are flexible for date and time, but if you are on a schedule, we highly recommend that you book your trip ahead of time.

Marketing Your Echota Home

It you’re looking to sell your Echota property, news is good these days. Foscoe Realty’s Resale Director Leigh Hamilton says resales are gradually rising. She saw 31 Echota resales last year and expects the numbers to keep growing.

“The advantage of marketing your home with us is that our location is right here on site,” she says. “We get the walk-in traffic.” That means vacationers who find Echota on a whim can drive in and see a condo or single-family home right then and there.

“We also have a solid marketing budget,” Leigh adds. “We’re the only group with billboards directing traffic here, and all of our investment is in marketing Echota, no one else.” Read more…

High Country Wineries

While North Carolina boats over 100 wineries and has become a well-known viticulture destination, it’s not just the popular Yadkin Valley that offers tastings and tours. We have some very fine wine destinations right here in the High Country. Read more…

Sugar Mountain Resort is Open!

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort in North Carolina is open today, on Halloween, Wednesday, October 31, 2012 for day skiing and snowboarding. Read more…

Five Reasons to Buy a Home Now

Originally posted by The KCM Crew, September 17, 2012

Based on prices, mortgage rates and soaring rents, there may have never been a better time in real estate history to purchase a home than right now. Here are five major reasons purchasers should consider buying:

Supply Is Shrinking
With inventory declining in many regions, finding a home of your dreams may become more difficult going forward. There are buyers in more and more markets surprised that there is no longer a large assortment of houses to choose from. The best homes in the best locations sell first. Don’t miss the opportunity to get that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buy.

Price Increases Are on the Horizon
Prices will bounce along the bottom this winter. However, projections call for appreciation after that. Several studies and surveys call for price increases over the next few years starting in 2013. One such survey shows that prices will increase over 10% by 2016.

Rents Are Skyrocketing
Rents historically increase by 3.2% on an annual basis. A study issued earlier this year projects rent increases of 4% for the next two years. Trulia recently reported that rents this year have actually shot up by 5.4%.

Interest Rates Are at Historic Lows
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has kept interest rates low in an effort to stimulate a lethargic economy. He understands that low rates will help housing and housing is a key to bringing back the economy. As the economy approves, the need to keep rates low will no longer exist. The 30-year-mortgage rate before the financial crisis was 6.57% (August 2007).

Buy Low, Sell High
We would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’. It’s time to buy.

Add A Little Zip To Your Trip

Zipping through the air at 200 feet on a 1,500 or 2,000 foot zip line might be a little intimidating at first, but it’s worth it to take in the views, experience nature, and have an adventure like no other.

Sky Valley Zip Tours 
If you’re looking for a true canopy tour, Sky Valley Zip Tours is the place to be.

Read more…

High Country Realtors Post Best Sales Since 2008

First quarter real estate sales in the High Country were the highest since 2008, according to the High Country Association of Realtors, which represents 600 members in Avery, Ashe and Watauga counties.

For the months of January through March, 234 Realtor-assisted properties sold in Avery, Ashe and Watauga counties, the association announced April 20.

Total sales were $61.25 million, as recorded by the High Country Multiple Listing Service. The first quarter 2012 numbers are 27 percent higher than the same three months last year, and more than 60 percent higher than 2010, the association said. Read more…

Community Sales Bring Exciting News to Echota

By mid-December, Echota (Foscoe Realty) had posted 39 total sales – 29 resales and 10 Chalakee purchases which is slightly up from 2009 and 2010. “We’re excited about what’s happening,” says Will Sears, director of sales. “The more we hear about things that are going on around us, the more proud we are about what we have accomplished over the past 12 months.” Read more…

Don’t Hibernate….Celebrate!

Join the Village of Blowing Rock as they celebrate the fun side of winter at the 14th Annual Blowing Rock Winterfest! Read more…

Luxury and Vacation Homes are Selling

It has been a trying time for most segments of the real estate industry. However, two areas that are showing improvement are the luxury home and vacation home markets. It seems that people in these segments are again beginning to purchase.

Vacation Homes
Last week Market Watch published an article discussing the vacation home market. Dan White, president of Daniel A. White & Associates, a wealth-management firm in the Philadelphia area, was quoted in the article.

“A lot of people are worried about the [stock] market today because of the volatility and the fact we could be going into a double-dip recession. They’re looking for other avenues. Real estate, if we’re not at the bottom [in prices], people think we’re pretty darn close.”

The article also explained some purchasers are seeing this as an opportunity to buy a vacation/retirement home:

“Some baby boomers are seizing an opportunity to get a deal on a vacation home they can enjoy now but that’s also a home that eventually will become their primary residence when they retire.” Read more…

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?

Appalachian State University football held an entertaining intrasquad scrimmage in front of over 8,000 fans during Appalachian’s annual Fan Fest on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

 2011 ASU Football Schedule

Sept. 3rd – Virginia Tech – at Blacksburg, VA. – 12:30pm
Sept. 10th – North Carolina A&T – Boone, NC – 3:30 pm
Sept. 17th – Savannah State – Boone, NC – 6 pm
Sept. 24th – Chattanooga – Boone, NC – 3:30pm
Oct. 1st – Wofford – at Spartanburg, SC – 3pm
Oct. 15th – The Citadel – at Charleston, SC – 2pm
Oct. 22nd – Samford (Homecoming) – Boone, NC – 3:30pm
Oct. 29th – Georgia Southern  – Boone, NC – 3pm
Nov. 5th – Furman – at Greenville, SC – 1:30pm
Nov. 12 – Western Carolina – Boone, NC – 3:30pm
Nov. 19th – Elon – at Elon, NC – 3pm

For more information, visit

Why Now Is The Perfect Time To Buy

Chalakee sales are going strong, and Echota properties are moving, too. As the economy rests on the cusp of recovery, savvy buyers know now is the time to purchase that second home.

In 2009, one in 10 real estate transactions in the U.S. was for a vacation home, according to the National Association of Realtors. While many real estate developers have shied away from making any new investments, our latest project, Chalakee, is moving full speed ahead.

And so are buyers. Fifteen out of 16 available units at Chalakee are currently under contract. Pat and Pete Floyd of Rock Hill, S.C., bought a one-bedroom unit at Chalakee last year. They already own a condo at Echota and wanted more space for their children and grandchildren when they visit. “From an investment standpoint, inflation is creeping,” says Pete. “I thought purchasing the unit at Chalakee was a good hedge against inflation.” Read more…

Chalakee and Echota Properties Selling Strongly

While many real estate developers have chosen to sit on the sidelines the last two years, Echota owner Mark Harrill isn’t one of them. And the results are in. Sales at Echota’s newest neighborhood, Chalakee are already going strong. 13 units have gone under contract at Chalakee since it opened in the fall, and eight of those are for one-bedroom units. “The one-bedroom really resonates with buyers,” says Will Sears, Foscoe Companies’ vice president of development. “Couples with grown children who don’t need a lot of space for a second home really like them.” Read more…

Winter Fun in the Mountains

When the snow starts falling in the High Country, there are plenty of activities to keep families busy on winter weekends. Read more…

High Country General Store Tour

The High Country is an area that’s rich in natural beauty, outdoor recreation activities, excellent dining establishments and shopping that can take you back in time. Take the day and enjoy a General Store Tour through the High Country!
Read more…

Introducing Chalakee: Echota’s Newest Neighborhood

Check out the latest offering in the Echota family on a high plateau landscape under the gaze of Grandfather Mountain.

While there are many resort communities that sell off their best properties first, Echota has never followed that model, and the company’s latest offering proves the case. Chalakee, which means “people who live in the mountains” in Cherokee, is a high plateau landscape with views that go on forever in all directions.

“This is a very unique property,” says Foscoe Companies owner Mark Harrill, who has been planning Chalakee for several years now. Read more…

Summer Events in the High Country

With summer now officially underway, there will be plenty of activities to enjoy in the High Country these next few months. Here are some highlights for July: Read more…

The Top 10 Questions You Should Ask When Buying Second Home Real Estate in the Current Market

While a lot of real estate buyers may be shying away from purchasing vacation homes with the real estate market nationwide in a state of slowdown, now could be the best time to buy, according to North Carolina developer Mark Harrill. Read more…

Summer Birding in the Blue Ridge

With its temperate valleys, chilly mountain peaks, thick woodlands, open meadows, and grassy balds, the High Country is a birder’s paradise.North Carolina birding

They come to us with names that sing across our tongues like the lovely colors of their wings – scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, belted kingfisher, cerulean warblers, and northern flicker. They are the birds of the North Carolina High Country – the year-round residents, the seasonal migrants, the sparsely spotted interlopers that have been driven here by odd weather and confusion. Read more…

What’s Blooming on the Parkway?

It’s that time of year again- time to take scenic drives along America’s favorite byway and enjoy the profusion of spring color!

Each year some 20 million visitors descend on the Blue Ridge Parkway, many of them coming to enjoy the array of wildflowers that line the road and trails from early spring through summer. It’s no wonder. Read more…

Blowing Rock Restaurant an Echota Homeowners’ Favorite

Many Echota residents are already familiar with The Best Cellar, a restaurant that has successfully made its home in Blowing Rock for the past 32 years as the area’s premier “mountain casual” dining experience. Read more…

Echota Owners (and Employees!) Love ASU

Appalchain State Football - Boone, NC

Appalchain State Football - Boone, NC

What do you think the chances are that your next door neighbor at Echota went to Appalachian State University? Or that one of the Echota staff you know did? It might be as high as one in three, as it turns out. In fact, a third of Echota employees are former ASU students, most of who chose to settle in the High Country after graduation. Read more…

From Cradles to Caskets

The Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, was once the Wal-Mart of yesteryear. When it opened in the late 19th century, then as the Taylor Store, it proclaimed to carry everything from cradles to caskets. And it did. Like all country stores, it offered farm equipment, clothes, dry goods, seed, food items – anything one could possibly want to get along in the mountains of western North Carolina at the turn of the century. Read more…

Echota’s Grandparents’ Club Helps Troubled Kids Find Their Way

Echota homeowners are known for their generosity. They freely donate their time and money to state and local organizations, and they promote awareness to causes worthy of the spotlight. Continuing in this tradition, last year Echota on the Ridge homeowners Ed and Cathy Owner formed the Echota chapter of the Grandparents’ Club and now serve as local leaders of the statewide fundraising group benefiting the boys and girls of Banner Elk’s Grandfather Home for Children. Read more…

What can you do during the winter at Echota?

When the weather in the High Country turns cold and the snow starts falling some might think that everyone bundles up and sits inside by the fire. That’s not true for all of us here at Echota! The mountains of North Carolina are an outdoor enthusiasts dream in the winter months. From skiing at elevations reaching 5506 feet at Ski Beech to zip-lining over your friends tubing at Hawksnest, there’s an outdoor activity for everyone. The area boasts four major resorts: Read more…

High Country Native Mark Harrill Honored as a “Visionary Developer”

Mark Harrill, owner of Foscoe Companies, was recently named one of “5 Visionary Developers” in the 5th anniversary issue of Mountain Homes Southern Style. Read more…

The Club Without The Course: Buyers Flock to Natural Amenities in the High Country

While the conventional vision of  a second home often includes a view of the golf course, sales in the North Carolina High Country, where golf is rarely part of the amenity package, prove that more and more homeowners are seeking the club without the course. Read more…

Foscoe Owners Named Employer of the Year

Boone Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes Mark and Missy Harrill for their dedicated work in the community. Read more…