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Barron’s Best Places for Second Homes – Asheville Ranks #15

When Barron’s called the bottom of the market for expensive second homes just about a year ago, some folks wondered what kind of caviar we’d been eating.

Prices of high-end homes had sunk 20% from their 2007 peak, and vacation homes were doing even worse, with some markets off 40%. America’s mainstream housing scene was getting pounded by foreclosures, and anxious pundits were warning of a double-dip recession.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but we were right.

Home prices in moneyed enclaves from Beverly Hills to Aspen to Greenwich climbed more than 10% last year, according to data from realty brokers and other experts and conversations with local residents. Though the rebound has been lumpy, the general uptrend looks to be firmly in place.

Two years after the worst of the financial crisis, the rich have dusted themselves off and resumed some serious discretionary spending. Both sales volume and prices are clearly on the rise for luxury vacation homes, one of the greatest indulgences of all. Prices for the majority of the 15 locales in our annual ranking of best places for second homes climbed in 2010, sometimes dramatically.

In seeking out and ranking these havens, we looked for beauty, comfort, convenience, a range of lifestyles and — always the paramount criterion at Barron’s — value. We wanted prices that had clearly hit bottom and were either rising or ready to rise.

Asheville is a funky town nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains. It has a thriving art and music scene, and a burgeoning reputation for micro-breweries. A University of North Carolina campus keeps the town young and vibrant.

15. Asheville, N.C.

It’s an easy place to live in, with enough culture and outdoor activities to keep even the most demanding resident satisfied. The Biltmore Forest development behind the world-famous Biltmore House is especially inviting. The tree-lined streets of Biltmore Forest, developed in the 1920s, reflect the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape master who designed New York’s Central Park. The houses have an English country feel, plus access to a Donald Ross-designed golf course.

To some extent, Asheville is still in transition from Southern mountain town to major destination. But it already has come a long way. Think of it as the value buy for patient homeowners.

Median 2009: $635.000

Median 2010: $982,000

For more information on Asheville Real Estate and the Western North Carolina area including Cashier, Highlands, Hendersonville, Lake Lure, Lake Toxaway, Waynesville, Maggie Valley and Brevard, contact Kim N. Bregman, Exclusive Buyer Broker at kim@optimaproperties.com.
Visit www.OptimaProperties.com for property searches, area information, informative links, and more.

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