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Homebuyers paying a high premium to live in West Asheville

A new home built by LMT homes at 80 Richland Ave. has more than 3200-square-feet and was listed at $640,000. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Retirees Al and Becky Wilson are proud to call West Asheville home. The couple are part of a growing trend of buyers willing to pay more than $500,000 to live in West Asheville.

"I wanted to be in the city," said Becky. "And he wanted to have a mountain view, so we couldn't believe that we found this lot."

They built their home on Riverview Drive, overlooking the French Broad, for a little less than $700,000. It has everything they want from a cozy master bedroom on the first floor to a downstairs music room and den, to two second-floor bedrooms for when their adult sons come to stay.

Al, who also has a real estate license, said he did a large amount of market analyzation before buying the lot. They also had confidence in their builder, whom the Wilsons said had the vision to buy several lots on Riverview Drive years ago after seeing how the neighborhood was transforming and becoming desirable to an increasing number of families because of it's walkability to Haywood businesses and the River Arts District.

"Buying this lot in West Asheville and putting this size house on it, I think, may turn out to be a better decision than we realized," said Al.

"We've been here 18 months, and we have loved every minute of it," said Becky.

The 28806 ZIP code, which is West Asheville, has a myriad of new build housing options. From small craftsman bungalows to modern green homes that are contemporary in design.

Tom Metcalf, with Dwell Realty, is a longtime agent who knows the neighborhoods well. He said an increasing number of homes are being built to sell for $500,000 and above.

"I don't think it's surprising," said Metcalf, "And, I think we're going to see a lot more. We have a very sophisticated buyer who is moving in this market."

Decades ago as North Asheville and downtown became pricey, West Asheville was in transition and became a new frontier for those looking to purchase more affordable homes or lots on which to build.

Three newly constructed homes, by Green Earth Developments, at Haywood and Sulpher Springs roads have all been sold -- the latest one listed for $499,000 just went under contract. That home has high-end upgrades that include solar panels on the roof to significantly save the homeowner on utility costs.

A new home built by LMT homes at 80 Richland Ave. has more than 3200-square-feet and was listed at $640,000, Metcalf said. It, too, went under contract immediately, he said.

The neighborhood is tucked away just about a half-mile from New Belgium and off Waynesville Avenue.

"People are moving here because they really feel like it's got an LA Hills kind of feel to it."

Around the corner on Tremont Street is a unique paneled home built by Greg McGuffey, with Earthtone Builders.

"Our approach is to do naturally modern design, so that's what this is," said McGuffey. The home, he expects, will appraise at more than $600,000. But McGuffey said he doesn't plan to list it -- he plans to live in it. He said he will use it as a model to show prospective clients what they can build in a higher-end price range.

As for the West Asheville surge in higher-priced homes, McGuffey said he's seeing it as well.

"Well, it's interesting because it's just happening now. We are at the very beginning of this increased price of a home in West Asheville," McGuffey said.

"It's the proximity to the River Arts District, New Belgium brewery right down the street, and everything happening on Haywood Road. It makes it a prime location back here."

According to Don Davies, in the last four years the median price for a West Asheville home has climbed from $180,000 in 2014 to $245,000 in 2017. That amounts to a $65,050 increase. Davies also ran numbers for homes selling for more than $475,000. In 2014, there were six, in 2015 there were eight, and in 2016, 22 homes sold for more than $475,000. So far in 2017, 14 homes have sold for more than $475,000.

David Low has lived on Richland Avenue in West Asheville for six years.

"It's definitely jumped in values around here," said Low.

He lives next to the new home that listed for $640,000.

"It seems pretty crazy to be pricing a house twice as much as what I paid for mine," he said.

Low is confident he made a wise investment, though he realizes in several years his backyard that is now brush and trees may be developed with homes.

The increasing price-point for a home in West Asheville does have him concerned.

"A lot of artists may not be able to live here," said Low. "I have mixed feelings about Asheville losing some of it's edginess and authenticity and turning into more of a resort area."

While most of West Asheville has been developed, there are still lots left where homes with a more moderate price tag can be built.

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