Back in March, as the nation’s economy was shut down because of the coronavirus, many were predicting the real estate market would face a major collapse. Some forecasts called for a 15-20% decline in transactions. However, six months later, it seems as though the housing market has fully recovered.
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, announced last week:
“Since hitting a low point during the initial stages of the pandemic, the only major industry to display immunity to the economic impacts of the coronavirus is the housing market. Housing has experienced a strong V-shaped recovery and is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”
The Economic & Strategic Research Group at Fannie Mae upgraded its forecast for home sales last week:
“Housing data over the past month continued to show a strong V-shape rebound, helping drive the broader economy. Existing home sales jumped to a pace not seen since 2006…We have substantially upgraded our forecasts for both new and existing home sales. For 2020, total home sales are now expected to be 1.3% higher than in 2019.”
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) agrees. In their last Pending Sales Report, NAR shared projections from Chief Economist Lawrence Yun:
“Yun forecasts existing-home sales to ramp up to 5.8 million in the second half. That expected rebound would bring the full-year level of existing-home sales to 5.4 million, a 1.1% gain compared to 2019.”
Yun’s forecast for 2021 was even more optimistic, stating, “Home sales will ramp up again next year, increasing between 8% – 12%.”
The housing market has come roaring back and looks as though it may even surpass last year’s success.
Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, hit the nail on the head when he said, “On an aggregated level, the housing economy remains rock solid despite the shock and awe of the pandemic.”
The Best Courses in North Georgia and Western Carolina
An escape from reality means different things to different people. Some might be looking to get away from big city life and enjoy a slower pace of life while others might be looking to breathe in the freshness of the great outdoors after a long day at the office. Set against the Blue Ridge Mountains, and woven around the sparkling waters of Lake Chatuge and Lake Nottely, the rolling hills of North Georgia and Western Carolina offer a golfing experience like no other. Situated just a couple hours outside of Atlanta, Chattanooga and Knoxville, Appalachian golf courses epitomize peacefulness on the golf course with their unique combination of scenic views, cooler temperatures and fresh mountain air. Visiting one of the area’s local golf courses will be just what you need for a truly memorable North Georgia/Western Carolina golfing experience.
Located a mere two hours from the Atlanta metropolis, the award-winning Brasstown Valley Golf Course is one of the area’s most breathtaking and popular courses. It has been ranked by both Golf Digest and Leading Golf Courses of America as one of Georgia’s top golf courses. These accolades come as no surprise to anyone who has ever visited the course. Unlike other courses you may have played, your day at Brasstown Valley’s golf course will take you through picturesque streams, ponds, mountain views and even wildlife preserves, all expertly incorporated into the layout by Denis Griffiths, who worked to make an unforgettable course set in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Young Harris, GA.
Perfect for all occasions – a weekend getaway, a couple’s outing or a corporate event – the Brasstown Valley Golf Club provides 18 holes of championship golfing and five tee sets, perfect for all skill levels to enjoy. The Brasstown Valley course is a Scottish links-style course, meaning that it is equal parts fun and challenging. For those unfamiliar with the Scottish links-style of golfing, some of the popular features of a links-style course include steep-walled bunkers, treeless fairways, and often a few bump-and-run shots.
Brasstown Valley’s golf course is excellently maintained by the resort staff, under the guidance of the Director of Golf, Steve Phelps. Phelps is a PGA Professional who is available to assist you on a daily basis, whether you are looking for golf lessons, clinics, tournament set-ups, or some other golf-related activity.
While you're at Brasstown, you may also want to try out some of the other activities the resort has on site. Their stables, for example, offer guided horseback riding tours through the wooded trails surrounding the resort. Excellent dining facilities and indoor/outdoor pool areas complement time spent in the resort’s exercise room stocked with cardio and weight equipment. Full locker rooms are available as well, and come equipped with both a sauna and steam room for guests of the resort to enjoy at their leisure.
In addition to those onsite amenities, Brasstown Valley Resort also has its own spa across the street from the main resort area. The Equani Spa is a luxury spa that draws upon the local Cherokee heritage in their décor, spa rituals and practices. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources developed Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa to honor the heritage for which the area is known, and this cultural sensitivity is seen in the way the spa incorporates Cherokee cultural beliefs and customs into their services. A visit to the spa would be the perfect way to end your visit to the golf course.
Golf Shores Golf Course
As you might have guessed from the name, the Chatuge Shores Golf Course is located just off the shores of Lake Chatuge. Only a few minutes away from the popular recreation areas of Chatuge Dam and the charming town of Hayesville, NC, Chatuge Shores golf course provides one of the most likeable golfing experiences the area has to offer.
Chatuge Shores has been rated a 4-star course by Golf Advisor and Golf Link publications, and as a 3-star course by Golf Digest. The course itself boasts gently rolling hills lined by large shade trees, and is kept in beautiful condition by local staff members.
The Head Golf Professional and General Manager of Chatuge Shores Golf Club is Bill Rinaldo, a PGA Life Member with over 25 years of golfing experience. He is available to provide information regarding golf instruction, golf outings, and membership options available through Chatuge Shores.
As a public facility, Chatuge Shores offers multiple amenities for locals and visitors to enjoy. They have a well-stocked pro shop onsite, as well as a driving range, putting green, and tennis courts. Although the Chatuge Shores pool is currently closed for renovations, it is expected to reopen and provide another gathering place to beat the heat by the time the 2020 season comes around.
During the summer months, Chatuge Shores offers dining options 7 days a week at the Greenside Grill. The grill is a casual dining experience; however, they are also available to host, and even cater, private functions and events. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a leisurely morning on the course, followed by a filling lunch at the club, Chatuge Shores may be just the place for you.
Formally known as The Ridges, Mountain Harbour Golf Club blends beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain Scenery with an excellent golfing environment to give you the perfect blend of challenge and relaxation. Mountain Harbour Golf Club, located just off Highway 64 East in Hayesville, NC, gives you a luxury golfing experience in a hometown environment, making it one of the area’s most charming courses.
Because Mountain Harbour Golf Club resides in the heart of the country club, it offers a myriad of activities for you to enjoy. Options range from card games, to the pool, to lunch at the grill.
The Sequoyah Bar & Grill at the Ridges Country Club in Hayesville is a great option for lunch after a morning of golfing, while the upstairs lounge is a great choice for those who prefer afternoon golfing. The grill is open daily at 11am, but keep in mind that the lounge only opens Wednesday through Saturday beginning at 5pm.
Members can find a perfect opportunity for relaxing after time spent on the golf course by visiting the club pool. It is suitable for all ages and stays open from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
You may also be interested in the Fitness Facility which is fully stocked with cardio equipment, machines and free weights. The facility also has shower rooms that come equipped with access to a steam room. This area is accessible on a 24-hour basis to members of the Mountain Harbour Community.
Heralded as an “unequaled” course in the North Georgia Mountains, Old Union Golf Course makes an excellent choice for those in the Blue Ridge, Murphy and Blairsville areas. Old Union is enjoyable for all skill levels, thanks to its valley layout, and is full of opportunities for golfers to enjoy – from regular tee times to immaculate practice facilities.
Old Union's practice facilities come equipped with a practice bunker and short game area as well as practice putting and chipping greens. The practice facilities also offer all weather tees large turf tees and sculptured target greens, making them ideal for both the beginner and the advanced golfer.
Whether you are looking to simply use the practice facility, take a golf lesson or enjoy 9 or 18 holes of golf, Old Union proudly provides something for every golfer. They also offer refreshments on the porch as a way to truly seal in the relaxation benefits of the game of golf.
“Newly pending sales are up 25.5% compared to the same week last year, the highest year-over-year increase in the weekly Zillow database.”
Whenever there is a shortage in supply of an item that’s in high demand, the price of that item increases. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market right now. CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that values have increased by 5.5% over the last year.
This is great news if you’re planning to sell your house; on the other hand, as either a first-time or repeat buyer, this may instead seem like troubling news. However, purchasers should realize that the price of a house is not as important as the cost. Let’s break it down.
There are several factors that influence the cost of a home. The two major ones are the price of the home and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase the home.
Last week, Freddie Mac announced that the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.87%. At this time last year, the rate was 3.73%. Let’s use an example to see how that difference impacts the true cost of a home.
Assume you purchased a home last year and took out a $250,000 mortgage. As mentioned above, home values have increased by 5.5% over the last year. To buy that same home this year, you would need to take out a mortgage of $263,750.
How will your monthly mortgage payment change based on today’s lower mortgage rate? This table calculates the difference in your monthly payment:
That’s a savings of $61 monthly, which adds up to $732 annually and $21,960 over the life of the loan.
Even though home values have appreciated, it’s a great time to buy a home because mortgage rates are at historic lows.
A Place to Stay and Play in Clay County, NC
Hidden amidst the breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and surrounded by the inviting waters of Lake Chatuge, visitors to Hayesville, NC can find a place kick back, relax and play at the Clay County Recreation Park. A mere two hours from bustling cities like Atlanta, Chattanooga and Ashville, Hayesville is a tiny town tucked into the majestic Nantahala National Forest in the Western Carolina mountains. If you blink, you might miss all the treasures this small town can show you. Visitors might be surprised to find that such a quaint place offers such expansive recreational options.
Hayesville’s charming downtown is the perfect place to wander through quaint shops, try out local eateries and visit the resident ice cream parlor, but once you’ve seen the downtown, put on your running shoes or your bathing suit, and enjoy the area’s outdoor fun at the Clay County Recreation Park located just Southeast of the town’s center. It’s sure to give you a lakeside afternoon you won’t find in the big city.
Endless Recreational Options
Outfitted with camping areas, bathrooms, shower facilities, a pavilion, playground, pathway, swim beach, fishing areas, ballpark, and public boat ramp, Clay County Recreation Area has something fun for everyone.
Those looking for a great camping experience will love camping at the Clay County Rec Park where the majority of campsites are conveniently positioned directly on the shores of Lake Chatuge. Even campsites that are not on the lake still overlook it, and provide unmatched views of all that the Nantahala National Forest is known for – beauty, tranquility and outdoor fun. Fortunately for all campers and daytime visitors, the rec park is an open area that makes it possible for all types of visitors to have easy access to the water. While the area welcomes its daytime visitors, it also accommodates tent campers and all types of RV campers. This area is referred to by the locals as Gibson Cove. For availability, visit Reserve America, which allows you to pick a spot suitable to your interests and needs.
Whether or not you and your family are camping at the park, all visitors have access to recreational activities and are welcome to enjoy the park as they wish. The playground and pavilions are located next to the family beach and swimming area, making it the perfect place to enjoy a summer afternoon or evening. There is no lifeguard present and visitors to the park are advised to swim at their own risk; however, the swimming area is visibly roped off for your protection.
Go on a long walk or jog, give the kids time to play their hearts out on the playground, and then enjoy a picnic by the water or cool off with some swim time. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy the scenic views of the Chatuge waters and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The breathtaking, peaceful surroundings will be just what you need for a perfect afternoon in the Western Carolina mountains.
A Park for All Seasons
The Clay County Recreation Area also provides access for kayakers, canoers and paddle boarders. If this is your idea of outdoor recreational fun, Clay County will not disappoint. Visitors can use the area below the Chatuge Dam parking lot (known to locals as the spillway) or by the playground/swimming area to access the water. Either input option provides you with access to miles of lake water. With the exception of the peak summer season when boaters are out in abundance, non-motorized water recreation will find the waters peaceful and calm.
Fishing is another widely-enjoyed sport that can find fulfillment at Clay County’s Recreation Area. Lake Chatuge, as well as the surrounding creeks and rivers, are home to an abundance of fish species making it an ideal spot for fishing. It is not uncommon to find professional fisherman enjoying the waters of Lake Chatuge, and depending on the time of year you visit the dam and rec park, you may even get the chance to witness fishermen engaging in various fishing competitions.
Although walking trails, playgrounds and pavilions are open throughout the year, the season for camping, restroom facilities and swimming runs from April 1st through October 31st. Even outside of that season, though, the park can be found bustling with activity. Many locals use the Chatuge Dam path as their daily walking or jogging path, regardless of the season. The views and beauty of the area provide plenty of incentive to get outside despite off-seasons.
Certainly, summertime is the season to smell meat sizzling over open fires, to listen to children laughing and splashing in the water, and to feel the energy of boats speeding by pulling skiers and knee boarders, but other seasons bring their own charm. The fall finds the park’s pathways covered in crisp leaves, creating an ideal environment for getting outside before the weather turns cold. Winter at the rec area brings its own kind of charm as well. The calm waters provide a stark contrast to the frigid air and make walking or jogging outdoors worth the effort. Once spring rolls around, the park quickly bustles back to life as plants begin to bloom and the playgrounds and ballparks begin to have more visitors. The area leisurely makes way for a new summer of fun. As you can tell, Clay County Recreation Area offers a year-round connection to the great outdoors.
Navigating the Pathways at the Rec Park
For those interested in walking, jogging, or even biking, the pathways at Clay County's Recreation Area is the perfect location for getting in that mileage. The path totals approximately 4 miles when done in its entirety. To complete all 4 miles, begin at the top (the spillway parking lot) and work your way down to the playground and back.
From the spillway lot, you will take the paved path that goes straight across the dam towards the wooded area. Go through the winding wooded path, and continue past the first set of bathrooms. Below the bathrooms, you will notice lake shore campsites next to a parking lot with boat ramp access off Myers Chapel Road. Cross the parking lot and enter another, shorter, patch of trees. At the end of this section, make a left, and continue through the lower campsites. Circle around the pavilion, passing the playground and beach area, and return to your starting point at the spillway parking lot.
Although more than 4 miles inevitably means repeating all or part of the same path, the changing scenery of each section helps to break up the boredom. If 4 or more miles is not appealing to your tastes, simply take a leisurely stroll across the dam, taking time to enjoy the vast views and the calming waters. As they say, being outdoors and spending time in nature is good for the soul. With views as peaceful as the Blue Ridge Mountains and waters as calm as Lake Chatuge, Clay County's Recreation Area will be exactly what you need during your visit to the Western Carolina Mountains.
Want to fetch top dollar for your home and walk away with as much money in your pocket as possible? Of course you do. Your first instinct may be to just pick the highest bid on the table. But the offer price isn't the only thing worth considering. Here are five areas to evaluate in addition too price.
The Earnest Money Deposit
One important consideration when weighing an offer is the size of the earnest money deposit. A standard EMD is 1% to 3% of the cost of the home. If a buyer tries to back out of an offer for no good reason, the seller typically keeps the EMD. Therefore, the higher the earnest money, the stronger the offer.
Most offers have contingencies - provisions that must be met for the transaction to go through, or the buyer is entitled to walk away from the deal with their earnest money. Contingencies include financing, title, sale of current home, appraisal, and inspection. Contracts with fewer contingencies are more likely to reach closing, and in a timely fashion.
The Down Payment
Depending on the type of mortgage, the buyer must make a down payment on the house - and the size of that down payment can affect the strength of the offer. Generally, a larger down payment signals the buyer's financial wherewithal to complete the sale.
The All-Cash Offer
The more cash the buyer plunks down, the more likely the lender is to approve their loan. All-cash offers eliminate the need for an appraisal contingency or a financing contingency and allows the transaction to proceed more quickly.
The Closing Date
Settlement, or "closing" is the day when both parties sign the final paperwork and make the sale official. Whether you want a slow or quick settlement will depend on your circumstances. If you've already purchased your next home, for instance, you probably want to close as soon as possible. On the other hand, you may want a longer closing period - say, 60 days - if you need the proceeds from the sale to purchase your new home.
If you have other questions about offers on your home or want to discuss these aspects of an offer more in-depth, give us a Call!!
Located on Highway 515 about one mile West of the heart of Blairsville, GA is the well-known and family-friendly Meeks Park. Established in 1992, and named after Bill Meeks, the park is home to some of the North Georgia Mountains most scenic walking trails, playgrounds, ball fields and picnic areas. Meeks Park is also popular for hosting annual festivals, as well as for its refreshing splash pad and pool area.
Meeks Park provides a great recreation area for students, faculty and staff of North Georgia Technical College students, but locals as well as visitors from all over the country enjoy all the park offers the community. Regardless of the activity that brings you to Meeks Park, or to Union County, GA, you will leave refreshed by everything this beautiful park offers.
Athletic and recreational facilities at Meeks Park include a playground, a swimming pool, a splash pad, a basketball court, a disk golf course, a skateboard park, tennis courts, seven ball fields, four batting cages, canoe and kayak launch points, paved and unpaved nature trails, a riverside gazebo, picnic areas, fishing areas and plenty of opportunity for school field trips, family trips to the park, reunions and local events.
Nature Pathways and Walking Trails
Aside from the picturesque backdrop of the North Georgia Mountains, part of the appeal of Meeks Park comes from Butternut creek and the Nottely River which both wind through the park and lend it a charming character. The water follows the walking trails, creating that peaceful environment for which the Blue Ridge Mountains are known. Regardless of your fitness level, Meeks Park has a trail to fit your interests. Nature trails through wooded areas, gentle hills, more vigorous hills and paved walking/jogging areas can all be found within the park’s perimeter. Trails can be combined and modified to create a gentle 1-mile walk to a more rigorous 4.62-mile workout. Those who are partial to hiking National Forest Trails will find the wooded area to their liking, while those seeking a gentler low-impact walk will enjoy following the path across from the playground beside the waterway. Make sure to take a look at the sculpture by local resident Al Garnto whose work is sure to interest even the smallest of visitors.
Although the park welcomes hikers, walkers, joggers and bikers, it does not welcome dogs on its grounds. They can, however, find plenty of room to enjoy themselves at the Union County Dog Park located across from Meeks Park directly behind Georgia Technical College. While still a part of the Meek Park Trails system, this 1.18 mile trail goes through a wooded area that includes a pavilion near the Nottely River.
If you’re looking for a place your furry friend can run free, the Union County Dog Park also has a fenced off-leash area with two pens and doggie drinking fountain. In order to keep the park clean, you can pick up doggie clean-up bags at the park. The Dog Park is free to all canine visitors and their owners.
There are several pavilions available for use at Meeks Park. They make a great area to hold birthday parties, family reunions or field trips. You will need to reserve a pavilion through the Recreation Department prior to use and the cost of reservation ranges between $35 - $50.
All Things Water
The swimming pool and splash pad are located behind the upper baseball fields just inside the entrance to Meeks Park. This area provides endless Summer entertainment and includes amenities such as a concession area, lounge chairs, tables, restrooms and showers.
The pool also offers adult water aerobics classes, youth swimming lessons and tiny tot swimming lessons. It also offers the opportunity to have Meeks Park host your summer pool party. Whether you are looking to have a party, swim for fun or take part in an aerobics class or swimming lessons, you will need to contact the Recreation Department for fees and membership information.
Camping, Boat Ramps and Lake Access
The Poteete Creek Campground is a 59-site campground situated on beautiful Nottely Lake that boasts beautiful lake and mountain views. This area also provides access to a swimming beach, boat ramp, and a bathhouse with showers, among other amenities. Access to the area requires a fee, and more information can be found on the Poteete Creek Campground website.
Meeks Park hosts some of North Georgia’s most popular festivals. Each year, visitors are entertained at the Butternut Creek Festival, the Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games, and the Sorghum Festival.
Adult Classes and Activities
Meeks Park hosts several adult classes and activities. These include regular aerobics, step aerobics, Zumba, line dancing, strength classes, yoga and more. For more information about the classes and sessions available, visit their web page.
Youth Athletic Programs
Meeks Park is home to several organized sports offered through the Union County Recreation Department. These are offered to the public and include baseball, softball, basketball, football, cheerleading and cross country. Visit Union County Parks and Recreation for more information.
At almost 5,000 feet above sea level, Brasstown Bald Recreation Area & Visitor Center in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is the highest point in Georgia. Owned by the US Forest Service and just a short drive from Hiawassee, Young Harris, Blairsville and Helen, GA, Brasstown Bald offers visitors 360-degree viewing opportunities of the surrounding areas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and sometimes the Atlanta skyline can all be seen from the Visitor Center’s observation deck.
In addition to the spectacular views, visitors to the Bald can also enjoy an afternoon of hiking on one of three trailheads, visiting the natural science and history museum or picnicking in one of the many scenic picnic areas. Area schools can also participate in all that Brasstown Bald has to offer by scheduling a field trip tailored to your class age, size and interests. There is something for everyone to enjoy at the Bald!
Opportunities to Enjoy Brasstown Bald
Educational programs are a priority at Brasstown Bald Recreation and Visitor Center. While there, you can participate in several programs geared towards different learning goals. These programs encompass studying the local history, understanding the local culture, discovering the role of environmental science in the Bald’s current and historical settings, and participating in fun activities designed for children of all ages.
Students, homeschoolers and visitors to Brasstown Bald can take part in these daily educational opportunities. Brasstown Bald’s visitor center hosts a free scavenger hunt that encourages young minds to stay alert as they make their way around the museum’s various exhibits. Children 10 and older can also participate in the Brasstown Bald Junior Ranger Program, which encompasses learning about Brasstown Bald and the surrounding Appalachia history, environment and culture. Once children/students have completed the activities that are a part of this program, they will have the opportunity to be sworn in as a Junior Ranger of Brasstown Bald.
The mountaintop theater is a favorite of Brasstown Bald as it shows visitors a picturesque view of the seasonal changes the mountain encounters. Each season showcases a unique view of the Bald. Fall is rich with crisp, colorful leaves, while Spring and Summer show vibrant shades of green foliage complemented by bright, sunny skies. Winter is especially worth seeing at the theater as the roads to access Brasstown Bald are often closed in Winter due to inclement weather. The video offers the views that many are unable to see in person. The theater’s video shows the Bald in the very best light and at peak viewing points throughout the year. Regardless of how the weather turns out on the day you plan your visit, Brasstown Bald Visitor Information Center has two webcams which stream live feeds. These are available to view at your convenience any time of the day or night.
While informational panels are positioned on the observation deck to assist you in identifying what you are seeing, staff members are also prepared to answer any questions you may have. The visitor center is open daily from 10am – 5pm, mid-March through December, weather permitting. Although the general store stocked with locally-made products, elevator, shuttle service, restrooms and visitor center close at 5pm, visitors are welcome to enjoy the observation deck and hiking trails 24/7. Public parking is still available, as is the use of a single pit toilet, once visiting hours have ended.
Events at Brasstown Bald
The Brasstown Bald Visitor Center hosts several activities throughout the year that might be of interest to you during your travels. Some require booking reservations prior to the event. Be sure to check the calendar for a list of events and book accordingly.
Some educational events/programs that might be of interest to you include:
Hiking at Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald boasts three trailheads – Arkaquah, Jack’s Knob, and the Wagon Train. The trailheads for each are located adjacent to the parking lot for easy access. The Arkaquah Foot Trail is 5.5 miles long and ends at Track Rock Gap. Jack’s Knob Foot Trial is 4.5 miles long. This trial leads into the Appalachian Trail and might be of interest to those who enjoy hiking along the AT. The Wagon Train Foot Trail is 5.8 miles long and leads to Wagon Train Road. This trail ends at Young Harris College. The walk from the parking lot to the Brasstown Bald Visitor Information Center is paved, but steep. For those willing to give it a try, the trail is a ½ mile long. For those who would prefer to view the Bald without the hike, there is a shuttle bus available. The bus is operated by a concessionaire and requires a fee.
The US Forest Service warns that some GPS units might bring you to the wrong location. This is because there is no physical address for the property. They provide longitude and latitude coordinates, as well as maps and detailed directions coming from Blairsville, GA on their website. There are many places to stay in the area, all of which might have you coming from different directions. Be sure to check directions before leaving for the Bald.
Whether you are coming to the Bald for sightseeing, educational tours, field trips, hiking or picnicking, Brasstown Bald offers something for everyone. With 360 degree views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and city skylines, your trip will be well worth the visit.