Mosaic broker Alyssa Augustine landed in Asheville’s luxury home sector five years ago, growing a reputation as a highly skilled adviser to her clients, and it’s no surprise. With a 20-year background in corporate marketing, communications and IT for a Fortune 500 company, coupled with a deep understanding of high-quality home construction (her husband is an Asheville-area contractor), Augustine offers what few brokers can: savvy, strategic guidance in a highly specialized housing niche.
What drew you to the luxury-home sector?
I grew up in an affluent area of the country, Connecticut, and spent 20 years in corporate America working with c-suite executives, so these are people that I know well and feel very comfortable supporting. I understand what these clients are looking for in a strategic adviser and this translates well to the luxury home market.
Alyssa Augustine on her Asheville luxury home market knowhow
What about your background contributes to your strengths as an agent in the Asheville luxury-home market?
I believe that high-net-worth buyers often expect more of a “concierge” service – they have limited time and want to work with a professional who is not only a well-qualified strategic adviser, but who has strong communication skills, solid business skills, and can also handle all the little details for them. Typically an affluent buyer is busy and needs information communicated to them quickly and in a succinct manner. They also expect a strong strategic adviser to help them understand if they’re making a good, solid financial investment. So while I have personally bought, sold and owned a number of homes, both as primary residences and investments, I honed my financial and communication skills prior to getting into real estate, which sets me apart from a lot of the other agents in our area, specifically when working with more affluent buyers.
It’s also critical to understand that luxury isn’t just about price: Often it has a lot to do with the features the property offers, the quality of the finishes, the amenities the home and community offer, and the location. That also ties in to my personal experiences because I’m married to a contractor who spent most of his career renovating high-end historic homes in New England, so I have a deep understanding of construction and high-quality finishes and materials. This is something that adds a lot of value when dealing with more luxury properties.
What kind of growth have you seen in the Asheville luxury home market in the last few years?
I’ve been with Mosaic nine years and during that period I’ve spent more and more time in the luxury market as we continue to see more affluent buyers enter our market and move to Western North Carolina. In Buncombe County specifically, anything $600,000 and up is considered a luxury property. That price point had generally accounted for around 5-7% of the homes sold, but in 2020, it increased to 10% of the market, as we’ve continued to see prices in our area increase over time.
The million-dollar-and-up range has been, in the past years, 1.5 to 2% of the market, but this last year it increased to 2.5%. That’s a pretty significant increase in such a short period of time.
A growing demand for luxury homes across Buncombe County
Speak to the new high-end neighborhoods that have been borne out of the growing demand in the Asheville market. Any unexpected or nontraditional areas that have come into play within the luxury sector?
Asheville and Buncombe County have always had a handful of high-end subdivisions and neighborhoods, but I would say the biggest growth within the sector in the past year is not necessarily in those traditional luxury communities; it has been among properties outside of the city proper where buyers can secure bigger plots of land. As the pandemic has had more people spending time at home, we’re seeing more luxury clients having a desire not only for larger homes, but homes with more space around them for both privacy and to allow them to spend more time outside.
Talk a little about how luxury can intersect with other traits specific to an Asheville home. In other words, what sets the Asheville luxury market apart?
Affluent buyers are often looking for a home with some kind of “wow” factor. Oftentimes that’s a property that makes you feel like you’re on vacation, that’s a getaway to nature, and the Asheville area is renowned for that. So while you may be able to find a high-end luxury penthouse in New York, it doesn’t offer the same relaxing, on-vacation feel that our area has, which I think is one of the things that’s driving so many buyers to Asheville and Western North Carolina over the past 10 years. If people don’t have a commute, and as they have the option to live wherever they want more and more these days, they want places where they can seamlessly blend work, fun and relaxation, and the Buncombe County area offers that.
What do you love about Asheville?
Before moving to Asheville, I lived in the Northeast – the Tri-state, New York City rat-race area – so when I had the opportunity to not have to work in an office anymore, we came to Asheville and it really appealed to me. Not only is it a beautiful location with its mountains, hiking trails, and waterfalls to make you feel like you’re on vacation everyday, it also has fantastic restaurants, music venues, and an incredible art scene. To me, it’s the perfect combination of natural beauty and big-city style amenities, but in a place that feels more like a small town.