Q&A with Blue Ridge Mountain Club’s Nick Presnell
The Western North Carolina High Country is one of the most sought-after second-home and retirement destinations in the country. These are what locals refer to as “the high hills,” as towering and majestic as they are infinitely rolling.
There’s something about their blue-tinted beauty that connects deep with one’s soul and beckons exploration and discovery. Indeed, the entire area grants access to a scenic world of breathtaking natural beauty, quaint mountain towns, and an endless array of outdoor recreation.
Unlike some mountain destinations that are seasonal (going dormant during the winter months), the High Country enjoys four distinct seasons—each endowed with its own distinct charms—and seemingly in competition with the others to impress and woo locals and visitors alike. The charming towns of Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk, have become coveted real estate destinations for families looking for the perfect mountain home.
And as the area has evolved over the past decade—and as buyer behavior has shifted over that time—we thought it would be a good idea to talk to someone who has their finger on the pulse of the High Country real estate market. Nick Presnell is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Blue Ridge Mountain Club, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Blowing Rock. He took the time to share his views on market behavior, and what exactly today’s buyers are looking for.
Q&A: Nick Presnell
Q: Nick you’ve been in the area for some time, how has buyer behavior changed over the past decade with the second-home market?
A: Generally speaking, home buyers in the High Country are looking for nature communities. They want experiences built around outdoor activities and amenities. They aren’t as concerned about traditional luxury clubs or golf communities. Even regular golfers are looking to live in nature-centric communities and play golf wherever they prefer. We see several multi-generational families who prefer the privacy and space that a nature community provides. Their lives are busy and stressful, often in crowded urban areas, so coming to a place like Blue Ridge Mountain Club is their escape.
Q: What types of activities are popular with buyers today?
A: Anything outdoors. Today’s buyers, regardless of age, like to stay active. They want to be healthy and focus largely on overall wellness. So they want to be in a community that is conducive to that. Fishing and hiking are big. Most folks want a nature preserve setting with a vast network of trails as well as parks and pavilions with ample green space throughout. This desire played a large role in the design of our premier amenities and the open air concept that flows throughout the Ascent Wellness and Fitness Center, Lookout Grill, and the Jasper House.
Q: Are there any popular new trends?
A: UTVs and ATVs are huge. This has become one of the most sought-after amenities in the last couple of years. I think it speaks to people’s sense of adventure and desire to soak up the outdoors in new, fun ways. It’s certainly one of the bigger attractions at BRMC. We see lots of buyers asking if we have UTV trails—and fortunately we do, miles and miles of them.
Q: Is privacy important today?
A: Yes. Again, many families are looking to escape the city and the frenzy of day-to-day living. The appeal of having a home that is perfectly positioned in nature, in a community that is not saturated, is very important. But even though people want privacy, they like to be connected. So a sense of community and camaraderie with other families and neighbors is also something that buyers value. They want spaces and places to gather, indoors and out. At BRMC we have gone to great lengths to provide these spaces and amenities, while protecting the privacy and serenity of this natural environment.
Q: If you had to name one thing as most important with today’s buyer what would it be?
A: Quality mountain homes in a community that provides an authentic mountain experience. People expect craftsmanship and quality. They may want a rustic, mountain feel, but they also want modern comfort and conveniences. They don’t want to compromise. In many cases, people are building their dream mountain home, so they want the best quality at the best value. At the end of the day, they want a mountain community that has it all: scenic beauty, privacy, a sense of community, quality homes, and great amenities and activities.