Are Bathrooms Affecting Asheville Real Estate?

By now, most folks are probalby familiar with North Carolina's infamous "Bathroom Bill" (House Bill 2 – HB2). In short, this bill made a big issue out of something which had never been a problem: transgender folk using the bathroom with which they identify their gender. I have been using bathrooms in North Carolina for 50 years, and I have never had a problem with this or with the fear-mongering scenario that a guy will dress as a woman to use the women's room to molest children. The HB2 bill also took away other rights regarding harrassement and was overall punitive and stupid. On a personal level, it has caused me heartache to watch my LBGT friends have to consider where they will be welcomed and treated well since this bill has brought up anti-gay sentiments in some sectors and drawn attention back on people who just want to live their lives in peace – if not acceptance.

The result of the HB2 debacle has been a national outcry against North Carolina, with many companies protesting this discriminatory bill by canceling conventions here, artists canceling concerts, and the NBA pulling out of Charlotte. On a smaller scale, individuals have changed plans to travel to our state, or if they do come, they refuse to spend money here. While trying to support the LBGT community, these boycotts are actually hurting those they want to support. This excellent article gives a good overview of the situation.

After reading the article, someone asked me if HB2 was hurting my business, and that question made me stop to ponder (we "ponder" in the south). I hadn't considered it before, but I did know that personally, my transactions are down for the year when the market is actually booming and sales are abundant. I did move and have some personal distractions, so I had attributed my slower year to that, but then I realized that I haven't had a single gay or lesbian client all year. And that is very unusual for me. I mentioned it to some clients who said, "oh, yes, our [gay] nephew and his partner won't consider moving to North Carolina because North Carolina 'doesn't like them.'"

NO. I mean NO. North Carolina likes you! Our legislature is practicing fear and diversion tactics to distract the voters from the real issues in the state, like the education crisis (also brought on by the legislature). And jobs. And coal ash. You know, the important stuff.

And Asheville is very different from this narrow perception of our state. In fact, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and most of the more urban areas of the state are disgusted with HB2. And we need like-minded people to come here to affect change.

Asheville is a welcoming and embracing town. Gay or straight, trans or not, unless you are a bigot, you will be welcomed in Asheville. If you are thinking of moving here but worried about the state spiraling backwards, then come help us move back to the progressive future that was in our sights just a few years ago before fear took over common sense.

I realize not everyone will think it prudent that I post a blog about a controversial "issue." After all, as someone trying to attract home buyers and sellers, shouldn't I err on the side of neutrality? Maybe, but on this I can't be neutral, because it isn't about what bathroom you use. It is about human dignity and rights and not discriminating blatantly or subtly against anyone. Anyone.

Moving Tips – Materials

Isn't moving fun! I have done my fair share of moving. Since college, I count this as my 10th move. Since my mom sent me out of the house with a ton of old (but very nice) family furniture, most of my moves, even in my 20s, involved movers. But I always pack the boxes myself, and getting boxes and packing materials (without paying for them) can be tricky. Lots of visits to the liquor store . . .

Jimmy and I are now in the midst of move #10, so I put together a short video with some ideas:

My Own Medicine is a Bitter Pill: Selling My Own House in Asheville!

Jimmy and I thought we had the house we would stay in forever. But life changes, Mom needs to move in, and we must sell and buy a different type of house to accommodate our new needs. So we are preparing the current house for sale, and I find myself having to take my own advice in staging and preparation. I know that my house is a hot commodity due to location, setting, and upgrades, but I want it to be as competitive as possible, so we are decluttering and staging.

The house is only 1500 sqf with no basement or attic, so how do we have so much stuff – especially since I consider us on the "minimalist" side of the scale!? In an effort to make the house as tidy as possible, we have rented a mid-sized storage unit nearby. And we have filled it up! Granted, things could be stacked higher, but wow, where did all that stuff come from?

Here is what we have done:

1. Removed excess furniture. The house wasn't over-crowded, but the goal in staging a house is for it to look like the ideal – the model home. None of us really live that way, but that is how a house should be shown. It enables prospective buyers to look past your furniture and stuff and see the potential for them of living in the house. You don't want an empty house as most folks can't imagine it furnished, but rather you want just enough furniture to show how great the space is but to allow the buyer to see themselves and their stuff there. We took out some over-sized bookcases – and all the books 🙁 Then we removed an extra table and chairs that remained after we bough a new dining table – no one really needs two dining tables and chairs! The extra chest of drawers that blocked a window is gone. And we removed my grandmother's dressing table and secretary which serve no real purpose other than that I am sentimental about them. Now all the rooms look more spacious!

2. Organized and cleaned-out pantry and cabinets. So, if you have a food product that you moved from your last house, and it expired in 2009, you probably are never going to use it. Lots of things left the pantry for the garbage or the crisis ministry (if still good). Extra "party" plates and serving pieces were packed-up. We have a lot of this type of stuff that is rarely used and most people don't have, so I removed it to show that there is really plenty of storage space in the kitchen!

3. Linen closets and bath cabinets. Same thing as the kitchen. All the extra/expired stuff is gone!

4. What we should still do! There are some minor cosmetics that could be better, and we may get them done before listing it (especially if we get snowed-in this weekend). I tell my sellers that I am going to tell them the ideal is that they should do to get the house ready. But I realize that most people can't do everything, so I will priortize for them what is most important. I have done the same thing with our house. I feel confident that the many, many pluses overwhelm these small cosmetic fixes.

If it were summer, we would also make sure the grass is kept mowed and the yard tidy, but winter saves us some outside work.

I have always said that real estate agents should have to buy and sell every 5-10 years just to remind us what we ask our clients to go through to maximize for a quick sale and highest price. I moved last in 2009, so I guess I am due for my reminder!

Downtown Asheville in December

Downtown Asheville is getting festive! Music, decorations, and people everywhere!


There are some wonderful window scenes and lots of people out and about on the streets and in our unique shops.


""And on every street corner you hear . . . Well, there were bells, but they are on the ground. These folks were terrific playing spoons, banjo and washbucket bass!