Rural NC real estate sees spike during pandemic

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YANCEYVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Some people are finding that they just want out of the city life and into the country.

“I typically have 25 to 30 sales in a year, and in four weeks I did six months of my year. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said realtor Diane Vander Linden.

In July, the more urban Buncombe County had a 59% increase in pending sales. That number jumps in the more rural mountain areas. In the same month, Yancey County was 67% higher, 73% higher in Mitchell County, and Madison County a whopping 139% spike. Vander Linden said there is a reason.

“We’re selling a lot of second-home property because people said they want a place to come to feel safe if this would happen again with a COVID-type issue or with the riots and the protesting.”

Before the pandemic, Matthew Hoagland and his wife picked up and moved from the city to Yanceyville. It is a town of about 2,000 people in Caswell County. He’s written a book about it to help guide fellow millennials.

“We got involved right away with boards and commissions. My wife started her business. I got hired as the county planner, even though I had never had a local government job before. And, best of all a house for $39,000,” said Hoagland.

He said it’s allowed him and his wife to build a life without going into deep debt. They found themselves lucky when the pandemic hit. It’s been a lot easier and less stressful than if they were in an urban area.

“Here in town, my wife and I still went on a walk every day. We have a newborn daughter and we took her out in the stroller,” Hoagland said. “We have tennis courts in town and mountain biking trails. With those things, not only are we still able to enjoy those amenities, (but) we actually had a little more time to do it.”

One thing suddenly out of demand, said Vander Linden, is that big, open floor plan that’s been so popular.

“People working from home, if they have children, that doesn’t work for them. They need separate rooms. They need maybe a dining room area that they can turn into an office or a separate bedroom area that they can turn into an office,” she said.

“Everybody, whether secondary home or primary home, they’re working from home.”

People, no matter what they’re looking for, are encouraged to do their homework. “If they’re going to take their job with them, for example, is that feasible? What is an Internet connection or connectivity like in an area they might want to move to?” Hoagland asked. “What is real estate pricing like? What commercial real estate looks like if you want to start a business? Just do a lot of research upfront.”

Vander Linden also said that, because lenders are so busy, it’s important to be prepared for the closing to take longer than normal — especially with interest rates as low as they are.

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