Virtually overnight the world has recalibrated. Moments of such change, crisis, and shifting priorities are often a great wake up call, beckoning us to examine more closely our values, our beliefs, and our thought structures. “What’s In” in Highlands real estate has changed as well. And changed for the better.
We are all now reaching for something familiar to hold on to that connects us to a time and place where/when the ground beneath our feet felt solid, safe, and secure.
For those of us who have the great fortune of living and making our homes in Highlands, we enjoy that long sought-after security and feeling of connection that most seek at any time, but most especially in this uncertain climate.
So, how has this “new reality” impacted how we prefer enjoying our time in the mountains?
A national real estate advisor with over 30 years’ experience, Charles Perry of Pine Street Partners, Inc., suggests the shift in the economy has fostered a similar shift in what we now demand in second homes/resort properties. I spoke with Chuck recently, and we both agree that the brave new world of real estate is so much smarter now.
No longer interested solely in exclusive, wall-to-wall amenities, we are now seeking experiences that provide open spaces and passive amenities (like lake recreation, hiking, fishing, and even barefoot golf). We are also searching for lower density neighborhoods, a true sense of community, and a place for family and fellowship with friends.
In other words, we want our properties to enable us to spend our precious time doing activities that rejuvenate and restore us, as well as fill our internal reservoirs by improving our health, fitness, and wellness. We want properties and communities that inspire us to engage in outdoor and water sports, as well as deepen our creative expression through the arts, and promote a connection to our natural surroundings. And, perhaps most importantly, we want to reconnect to ourselves and to our loved ones.
We are also becoming much more interested in smart homes, often homes that have a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification. According to the US Green Building Council, “LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”
Similarly, developments must be more innovative as they meet the demands of today’s buyer. Through the use of conservation easements (offering perpetual protection to the land), requirements that all horizontal site work utilize best management practices, strategic placement of organic gardens, and perhaps even a Community Supported Agriculture program, developers are in a unique position to reshape our landscape and our thinking.
The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust defines conservation easement as “a written agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization such as a Land Trust in which the landowner promises to keep the land in its natural condition and the land trust is granted the right to enforce the agreement and to monitor the property.” Beyond the environmental and protection benefits, many are also discovering the tax benefits that conservation easements might offer if structured properly.
Another example of “What’s In” involves the concept of what Chuck and I call a “Shared EstateSM,” whereby a property can be shared/owned by more than one owner. The Shared EstateSM concept is a variation of what many refer to as interval ownership and offers a means to enjoy second home living without the cost, burden, and waste associated with sole ownership.
The National Association of Realtors reports that property owners in the South spend an average of only 27 nights a year at their second homes, leaving the property vacant for the majority of the time. The Shared EstateSM ownership model lets the investor enjoy time at her or his second home, while sharing the cost of ownership and maintenance with other owners.
Perhaps now more than ever before, such forward-thinking ways to purchase and enjoy real estate in Highlands offers buyers a multitude of options that make sense financially, intellectually, and emotionally. As we all give careful attention to how we spend our time and invest our resources, we most likely would all agree that Highlands is an ideal community for enjoying the best that life has to offer.