WE CARE. Will Rogers once said “In time of crisis people want to know that you care, more than they care what you know.”    As little as we all really “know” about the COVID 19 crisis, we appreciate that our leaders care about the health and well-being of the local residents, second home owners and tourists and small businesses. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, local Mayor Pat Taylor and county mandates are not shuttering second homeowners and tourists out as an unwelcome guests, but simply protecting the long-term viability of our wonderful community. Enforcing these measures will have the corollary effect of protecting the real estate investments of all property owners on the Plateau in the future.

It is heartbreaking to see the local streets and highways empty and our beloved restaurants, stores and cultural institutions closed. We will never complain about not getting a parking place in Highlands or Cashiers ever again! We local business owners appreciate and love our clients and part-timers!! Our community is able to absorb the activity of a healthy group of active participants in the summer enjoying all the activities our Plateau has to offer. However, just as the Hamptons is experiencing the exodus of “hotspot New Yorkers” overwhelming their small community buying up all of the inventory of the small, local grocery stores, our small piece of paradise has a limited and finite ability to accommodate the health needs and resources for a population who would like to join us in this crisis.

As either a Seller or Buyer, do not lose confidence in this market. Any uneasiness or concern over the long-term strength and appeal of our area should be put to rest by the following facts:

1. Sales volume is still up 41 % and unit sales are up 26% over this time last year;

2. Buyers are committed to performing on contracts. When COVID 19 was first recognized as a bona-fide crisis, I had six properties under contract. Two have closed, two went from due-diligence to pending and the other two are on track to close in April;

3. Mortgage rates are still at all- time lows;

4. Investors are starting to look at real estate as a more stable investment than equities right now;

5. Inventory is tighter than it has been in the last ten years.

After 9/11, home sales skyrocketed in this real estate market as thoughtful persons sought a safer, calmer environment to have as a refuge for their whole family. Based on all of the video conferences shared in the real estate world this past week, experts are predicting that the same trend will occur after this crisis passes: a major exit from cities to smaller towns.

Despite the “shelter in home” order in place, real estate is considered “an essential business.” Every real estate office that I know is asking their employees and agents to work from home for their protection and for the protection of their clients. However, the real estate community is working behind the scenes to continue to promote and market properties on-line as well as staying in touch with clients. I believe that I can speak for all of us in real estate by saying “we are in this together” and are willing to help out our community, our colleagues, our clients and our fellow business owners any way we can.

Be assured that this unique and precious spot on Earth will continue to be popular and appealing long after this crisis passes. Stay calm, stay home, practice social distancing and carry on. Our prayers are for you and your family’s safety.Jody and Wood Lovell own Highlands Sotheby’s International Realty celebrating its 20th year on the Highlands/Cashiers/Lake Toxaway Plateau. At a time like this, they realize more than ever how blessed they have been to meet so many wonderful clients who are now friends, colleagues who are like family and wonderful new tourists that visit every year. Thank you all for your friendship and support!