Things to Know
A few things to know about buying real estate in Swain County
-The local MLS area covers Macon County, Jackson County, and Swain. It is called Carolina Smokies Association of Realtors. The County seats/biggest towns are Bryson City, Sylva, and Franklin. Each are roughly twenty minutes drive from each other. Franklin and Sylva have more resources and traffic, etc., than Bryson City. Both have a Wal Mart and a Lowe’s, and a greater number of restaurants, etc.
– Only 14% of Swain County is privately owned, so this limits the availability and increases property values. The rest of the County is Lake Fontana, Nantahala National Forest, or the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
– Singlewide trailer homes are usually in the $50k to $75k range, depending on age etc. They are difficult to finance, but can be a great way to get a lot with water and sewer installed.
– Occasionally 1-2 bedroom homes come on the market in good condition. They may be priced from $90k to around $120k depending on condition and acreage.
– 2/2 and 3/2 homes are typically over $200k if they are in good condition and do not need extensive updating. A home under $200k is often a double wide manufactured home or a stick built home that needs updated kitchen/bathrooms etc. Some homes here started as smaller vacation homes and had random additions over the years. Don’t be surprised to find some unique floor plans or period specific areas in homes under $225k.
– The high end homes are typically at Fontana Lake Estates or Bear Lake Preserve, as well as some other subdivisions or random locations. Those prices are typically from $800k to $1.4 million or so.
– Your two options for property are unrestricted and restricted, as in other communities. The difference here is that there is no zoning; so unrestricted properties can have a greater impact on their neighbors. It is still common for an unrestricted parcel to become a group of single-wide trailers. The only limiting factors are the availability of city sewer/septic relative to the water source, whether it be well or city water, after considering topography.
– There are typical restrictions you may find in a subdivision in Swain. They protect values but are not as stringent as those in the cities. Here’s what to expect:
– Minimum building size, usually around 1100 sf, maybe a 600ft minimum for second floor.
– No commercial activities that would change the atmosphere/traffic in neighborhood.
– No livestock, nuisance animals.
– No abandoned or un-registered vehicles on lots.
– There may be phrasing about the type or style, exterior finish, or attached vs. detached garages.
– They may require homes are finished within one year of start.
– They may allow an RV or camping during construction.
– The high-price subdivisions with more expensive homes may restrict against vacation rentals.
– There are usually dues for road maintenance, common area maintenance, insurance, and community water system if they have one. The numbers I’ve seen range from $350 per year to $1200, offhand.
– It can be easier to finance with local banks. The gravel roads w maintenance agreements, shared community water systems etc. can make it harder to finance with the big-city lenders.
– In the map below, the blue area is Whittier. It is close to Sylva and Dillsboro, and the Casino. Rentals do well here because of the Casino and Cherokee, etc.
– The green area is Bryson City, Deep Creek. Rentals do really well there because people love Bryson City, Deep Creek, Road to Nowhere, etc. It is a central location for all the surrounding activities and other destinations.
– The pink area is Alarka. That road crosses Hwy 74 offering access to all destinations. Alarka is a name you see a lot in searches for listings, as there are a lot of properties out there. It is not particularly close to anything, or far either. And there are a whole variety of property types out there from unrestricted to high-end view subdivisions.
– The red area is Nantahala Gorge, Needmore Rd., and Almond. This is the more outdoorsy zone with biking at Tsali, rafting and kayaking on Nantahala, swimming at Fontana etc. It is also a closer area to the Dragon’s Tail, the 300 curves going into Tennessee.