Mosaic agent Elizabeth Putnam is that rare Ashevillian, born and bred in this beautiful mountain town and first-hand witness to its intriguing evolution. That native perspective gives her an unparalleled understanding of Asheville market intricacies, and it’s that deep insight she brings to every real estate relationship she shepherds. Here, Putnam talks about the Asheville allure that held her from an early age, her unique insider’s view of the city’s transformation, and how she’s found a way to successfully blend her passion for service with her enduring love for the community she calls home.
Talk a little about your background, both personal and professional. What drew you into real estate?
I have loved my hometown since I was a little girl. There is a mysterious and unique energy that surrounds these mountains and draws people in. As a little girl, I can remember taking family trips to the beach for the summer. As we would return home, I would see our mountains rising in the horizon, and I would tear up. To this day, I still have that reaction when returning home.
I have also witnessed Asheville’s transformation. As a very young girl, I remember shopping in downtown Asheville for patent leather shoes with my grandmother. Soon after, downtown Asheville became deserted and boarded up. It wasn’t until my adolescence that we began to see coffee shops like Vincent’s Ear and consignment stores popping up on Lexington Ave. Be Here Now became my regular hang out spot on Tuesdays and Thursdays for Contra dancing. Bean Streets and the Green Door helped facilitate my love of language with weekly poetry slams. And look at Asheville now! What an amazing transformation. The food scene has exploded and people move here in droves to be a part of the burgeoning scene.
My real estate journey actually began in the healthcare community. I have known, since a young girl, that I wanted to give back and pay it forward. I started my professional career as a Master Level Licensed Therapist working in community mental health with children and families, then transitioned into emergency mental health followed by hospital administration. Service has always been at the core of who I am and how I choose to live my life each day. After a successful career in healthcare, I decided in 2013 that it was time to shake things up and start a new adventure. What better way to combine my love of service to others with my perpetual love of the community I call home!
My successful career in real estate has allowed me the opportunity to give back to the community I so love. Over the years I have financially contributed to various organizations that are near and dear to my heart such as the Masters Park project through the Haw Creek Community Association, Buncombe County School Food Pantry, Bounty and Soul, the Western Women’s Business Center, and the Police Unity Tour. I believe it is important to give back and support the various organizations that support the people and families of Western North Carolina. Service and stewardship is at the core of my real estate practice and I am grateful to support my community.
Elizabeth Putnam: An Asheville Native With a Mindful Approach to Real Estate
How has your perspective as an Asheville native informed your approach to real estate?
As a little girl, I grew up in North Asheville and went to Ira B. Jones Elementary. I watched many of the families of my friends move out of the Asheville area due to the high cost of living. This is not a new issue, and is one that has persisted for decades. Asheville’s economy is primarily supported through tourism and healthcare, and we as residents pay a premium to live in these beautiful mountains. Asheville’s demographic represents a broad swath of income levels and backgrounds, adding to the diversity and cultural richness that I so love and support.
Because of Asheville’s charm and eclectic nature of its people, it continues and will continue to be a haven for people relocating or investing in second homes. I welcome the continued diversity that comes with the infusion of new people, their customs and cultures; however, I also acknowledge the additional challenges that this can present to our current residents. Our increasing real estate market and decreased housing inventory put a considerable financial strain on many of our fellow residents working in the industries that support our beloved community. I practice a mindful approach to real estate and work hard to understand my clients’ unique and specific needs.
You are an experienced second-home/luxury-home agent. How has that market shifted in the last few years, and how do you help guide clients through the changes?
Between 2019 and 2020, there was a 67% increase in luxury sales in the southern regions of the county. Ten percent of sales in Buncombe County in 2021 were over 700K or higher, representing a 22% increase in luxury sales from 2020 - 2021. As this subset of the market increased, I wanted to ensure I improved my competency and skill set to serve this unique population. I received my Certified Luxury Agent specialty designation from The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing in May of 2021. Whether buying or selling, I want my luxury clients to feel confident I have the knowledge, experience and resources to help them skillfully navigate the complexities of the luxury market.
Many luxury and secondary-home buyers are purchasing from out of state. I have tailored a niche service for these discerning buyers, who expect prompt open dialogue and quality service by gathering pertinent information and clarifying expectations. My knowledge of the region and luxury communities has given me the opportunity to serve my clients both near and far.
And I’m quick to adapt my services to whatever the situation demands: During the height of the pandemic, when face-to-face service was curtailed, one set of clients driving through Asheville connected me to their car stereo system as I verbally guided them on a tour of the city’s finest neighborhoods. Once they returned home, I continued touring properties for them, creating walk-through videos showcasing homes of interest and comparing and contrasting various communities and neighborhoods. This allowed those clients to go under contract on a property sight unseen.
Guiding Locals and Transplants Through Asheville’s Real Estate Market
Recent events have driven an unprecedented boom in relocations to the area. What advice would you give to out-of-town buyers seeking to put down roots in Asheville and Western N.C.?
One of the things I most love about the residents of Asheville is our diversity. I oftentimes will tell my clients that regardless of life experiences, gender, sex, socioeconomic background, upbringing, religion, education, sexual orientation or ethnicity, we have something for everyone. You will find your tribe and yet also be surrounded by many different kinds of people with different backgrounds and experiences. I believe that Asheville offers a platform and opportunity to listen, learn and grow from one another.
Our location is unparalleled. We experience a mild climate with four beautiful seasons. We are generally safe from many of Mother Nature’s most devastating natural disasters: significant earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and forest fires. Most buyers are surprised to hear that we receive more rainfall on average than Seattle. Environmental scientists predict our climate in Western North Carolina will experience more rainfall as time goes on. As a result, it is important to review flood map data.
At the same time, the boom presents fresh challenges for locals looking to buy homes here. How do you help them navigate the Asheville real estate market?
It has become increasingly difficult as a local to purchase property in Asheville and the surrounding areas. The primary reason is due to the lack of inventory and pent up buyer demand in the market. I feel my role as a buyer’s agent is to provide an accurate representation of the market and help buyers assess their readiness to enter the market. I provide an honest assessment of a property’s value and my assessment of what it will likely take to be the winning bid. It is then my buyer’s responsibility to determine how they want to proceed given my recommendations.
For those ready to sell their Asheville property, what do you bring to the table as a seasoned listing agent?
As a seasoned listing professional, my primary role is to masterfully market a property with the utmost care and diligence. I see myself as an artist, painting a picture of the lifestyle a buyer may experience. In order to do this, I utilize all of the tools available to me. This requires investing in the highest quality residential real estate photography, videography, 3D imagery, Web design, home staging, and Web-based advertising as well as print brochures and advertising. It takes a community of professionals to create a masterpiece. I work in concert with my sellers to make sure we capture the very essence of their home before we actively market. I believe in a team approach; and it takes a team to knock a listing out of the park.
What gives you an edge in the Asheville real estate market?
Beyond being a native, I have been in the Top 100 Realtors in Buncombe County for six consecutive years. I closed over $24 million in real estate transactions in 2021, serving more than 50 families in Western North Carolina. I helped 21 property owners list and sell their homes and helped 30 buyers purchase new homes. Asheville’s demographics are diverse, and I believe the clients I serve should be equally diverse and represented. I provide all sellers with my utmost care and diligence regardless of price point, whether it is a first-time home buyer purchasing a starter home or a buyer looking for a luxury home in our beautiful mountains. Working both with buyers and sellers gives me a unique opportunity to see things through the eyes of all parties, providing a holistic view of a property or transaction.
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