Looking to save on your tax bill?

I’m excited to share with you information on a new law that went into effect a few weeks ago to help us vacation cabin owners as a result of the COVID pandemic we are working our way through.

The law, called the CARES Act, includes a provision that will allow cabin owners – and other businesses – to charge the losses against taxes we paid in previous years for up to the last five years. Some of the relief you can seek on your taxes under the CARES Act (as listed on the irs.gov website) include:

  • waiving the carryback period in the case of a net operating loss arising in a taxable year beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2021,
  • disregarding certain amounts of foreign income subject to transition tax that would normally have been included as income during the five-year carryback period, and
  • waiving a carryback period, reducing a carryback period, or revoking an election to waive a carryback period for a taxable year that began before Jan. 1, 2018, and ended after Dec. 31, 2017.

I’m working with a company called ACRS (Accelerated Cost Recovery Solutions) that specializes in helping with tax reduction on vacation cabins through a process called Cost Segregation, “a strategy for accelerating depreciation, reducing taxes, and increasing cash flow,” as their company puts it. The process is simple. Every item in your cabin has a monetary depreciation value that can be determined by someone like ACRS. Whether it’s a pool table, a kitchen set, or even the lamp in the corner of the living room, all of these items can be checked to determine what the value will be for reducing your bill at tax time. Having this study done can save you a bundle, and you only pay about 10 percent of what you get back in taxes for the study.

You should talk to your tax attorney or CPA to see if a cost segregation study is right for you, but in the meantime if you’d like to learn more about it you can check out the ACRS website for a bit more explanation on how the study works.

Right now they are doing a study of my cabins to help me figure out where I can save on my tax bill.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Entering a new season in 2020

I hope you and your family are staying safe as we navigate the global challenge of the coronavirus.

As a cabin owner, it’s important to me to keep you updated as to the values of your real estate in the Great Smoky Mountains. This is a very unusual time, and a very difficult time to predict what the aftermath of this crisis is going to mean to real estate values. However, we do have data from our last challenge with the National Park Wildfires. And, we have insights that we gained as we worked our way through the national economic downturn more than 10 years ago. So, we can see ahead at least to the end of this year.

To understand it a little better, let’s look at where we were right before this all began. We just came through the first quarter of 2020, with record sales and high values. Visitation to our area and occupancy rates broke records. We saw over 12.5 million visitors to the National Park (setting a new record). We climbed to the top of the market in terms of property values and reached pre-economic downturn figures. Inventory continued to be down being a part of keeping values high. Then the coronavirus happened…

So what to expect?  Of course April and May will be very extremely quiet. The National Park is closed at the moment as well as all our large venues, Dollywood Theme Park, our shows, our convention centers.  Rental income will be fairly dismal.

We believe two new sellers emerge out of this crisis.  Most of our cabin owners have significant equity in their cabins. We are fairly certain that there is going to be flurry of cabin sellers over the summer. These new sellers are going to use their cabin equity through a sale to help their families heal financially. The other seller is a second home owner who did not make a purchase that pays for itself and will need to sell as their discretionary income will not allow them to continue this luxury as the rental market makes a comeback. It will be about the middle of the summer before these sales will be recorded. This is important as these sales will almost surely drive values down. However we expect there to be continued demand among buyers.  So it’s not likely that we will see dramatic shortsales or high rates of foreclosures the way we did in the downturn. We believe that lending will continue to offer low rates making it attractive and possible for buyers to purchase. We think some of the more creative loans will disappear and banks will become more conservative on terms and approvals of loans. But healthy sales will continue but not at the level of 2019.

Therefore, we are going to recommend that if selling is to your advantage you go ahead and get ahead of this group.  If you are in a position to hold your property we recommend that you remodel, deep clean, enjoy your property. We are here for you if you want to discuss this in more detail.  We are working from home at the moment! But so are you! My cell is 865-765-6157, or you can email me at deborahkorlin@gmail.com – text is always wonderful as well. 

In the meantime, if you have time and want to read more sign up for my monthly email newsletter and get on my blog site.  I will continue to follow the results of this crisis and what it means to Smoky Mountain Real Estate values.  We will also update you on events as we open the National Park again and all our attractions, shopping and restaurants in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area.  We will also list investment opportunities as they appear, featuring homes and cabins currently on the market.  If you have money to invest in a cabin, let us know that as well. We have sellers who won’t list their properties on the market  publicly as they do not want their rental company to withdraw marketing efforts but they would sell.  They want to buy stocks – imagine that. They expect a rebound in several years, believe they will double their money, and then return to the Smokies to build some more over-night rental cabins with their profits! 

Goodness! It’s a crazy time no doubt!  My company and I sincerely hope and pray you are weathering this storm well and I know we will all appreciate the sunny days ahead.

Cabin, home values continue to rise in the Smokies

Almost a year ago, our region was devastated by wildfires that began in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and swept across our local communities. Since then we’ve been working to rebuild, but we still have a long way to go. The December fires that destroyed hundreds of homes and cabins and cleared property of trees have also caused home values to increase.

Where we are with home values

As we approach the last quarter of 2017, we continue to have a shortage in available real estate listings in our market. This shortage is driven largely by the result of the fires, but also as a result of having a larger pool of buyers than sellers. We have seen a shift from a buyer’s market to a sellers’ market. This means that home values have continued to rise. The overall increase has been around 16 percent, but there are pockets of appreciation that are much higher – even up to 30 percent. Properties with higher increases in sales price include highly sought after cabins, places full of amenities, homes and cabins with amazing mountain views, and new construction projects.

With the rapidly changing real estate market, we’ve begun to experience a bit of crisis with appraisals. When an appraiser considers a home’s value, one of the most important components in the comparison is the sales price of similar properties. However, as prices rise, yesterday’s sold “comparables” went for less than what a buyer is willing to pay today. That means that appraisers have the unhappy job of finding something whose home value directly compares with what is being appraised in a very short time period. This is a very difficult task. However many buyers understand the nature of this situation and have been willing to pay over the “appraised” value. They are confident that what they are buying is worth the price they are paying. Usually they are confident because they have lost several contracts to more aggressive buyers who were willing to bid over the asking price.

This can be very disconcerting to conservative buyers who find it difficult to push past yesterday’s home values. It is also difficult if they purchased a home or cabin in the last few years when buyers were king. Foreclosures and short sales were plentiful and you always offered less than list price and most of the time won the contract. For us in the Great Smoky Mountains market, those days are again behind us – and will hopefully remain so.

Where we’re going with home values

While currently the purchase of an older home or cabin is still less than the cost of building a new one, my expectation is that we will see prices continue to rise into 2018 until we reach a place that the new construction and the older property values meet.

Despite an increase in home values, building is still more expensive than buying.This brings me to what is happening with those who lost homes in the December fire. The first thing we saw was a group of buyers entering the market to repurchase what was lost as soon as they were able to settle with their insurance company. Most buyers reported very cooperative insurance companies and had very positive experiences. They repurchased home and investment cabins in the first quarter of 2017 and have settled in. However, there were many home owners and many more cabin owners who waited to decide whether to build back or buy again. They have now settled with their insurance company and have gotten quotes to rebuild. They have run into some various obstacles to building, though. Some found they were underinsured, while others learned the cost of building is much higher than they expected. For still others, the lot is not as desirable as it once was because what made it attractive was burned, whether that is the natural landscape around the cabin or a popular locale, and may not return for a number of years. Hardest of all for some cabin owners was the discovery that the home they had now falls under new code upgrades making the home either very expensive to be rebuilt to meet those codes, or unable to be built because it wouldn’t be in compliance at all. Therefore, we have a new group of buyers who are entering the market. These buyers have been a part of pushing the inventory down and the prices up.

What does this mean for sellers and buyers? It makes it a good time to sell, as home values are higher and competition is less. Will prices continue to rise? I think so. But they may slow down after this wave of buyers. So if you’re a buyer planning on purchasing within the next two years I would recommend speeding it up. Go ahead and try to lock down what you desire, though you should not panic! Wait for the right property but don’t be so picky and drag your feet that you end up paying 30 percent more in a year from now. Try to keep in mind that no property is perfect. There are always compromises… just like with life.

I love the quote I brought home the other day, “your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!” It’s true of your life and true of property!

As always, we are here to help at any time with any of your real estate questions or concerns.

North Carolina couple uses rental cabins to start ministry

ministryRecently, I was invited to take part at a trade show in Sevierville for people interested in log cabins, and our friends at Smoky’s Furniture were gracious enough to offer a painting as a door prize. Our winners, as it turned out, were Mark and Debbie Searcy. They were in the area looking for lots where they could build cabins and decided to attend the trade show. I was humbled by the opportunity to help them, as the homes they are planning to build will be used to help fund their ministry in Panama.

They were kind enough to allow us to share their story about their ministry with our partners at the Sevier News Messenger, who published the article here.

 

We are proving we are ‘Mountain Strong’

As we enter the spring season here in the Smokies, we are proving that we are mountain strong each day, keeping one foot in front of another! You often don’t know what you are made of until you face a life threatening challenge. You also often don’t appreciate what your neighbor really means to you until need them.

My husband, Mike, wrote some of our family and friends right after the fires last year that swept across Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Our oldest daughter, Jessea Tolar, her husband Ben, and our amazing grandchildren!

What do you say to someone who has lost their home and stands before you in clothes that are not their own? I’m sorry does not seem adequate. “Here is some money”? Yeah, great, but you cannot give them back the photos and keepsakes that they’ve lost. Overwhelming. But the response from the community was overwhelming as well. Many opened their homes to those who had lost everything. Clothes and food donations poured in and the organizations received so much in such a short amount of time that they had to ask folks to slow down the giving and called for volunteers to load and transport all the items. What an incredible place to live in!

mountain strong
Celebrating with our son, Greg, and his friends and family a few moments after being baptized.

 I am overwhelmed by the wonderful spirit of our area as I am sitting in a little Chinese restaurant in Sevierville. And I am grateful. Grateful to have a home here.  Grateful for the sweet people who live here. Grateful for the people who risked their lives so others might live. For the firemen, the policemen, the paramedics, the EMS workers, the medical community and the churches and other organizations who opened their hearts, their doors and their wallets. And for the thousands who helped.

Tonight I am grateful for everything. Grateful to be alive, grateful to have my family, grateful to be in love with my wife, grateful for my relatives both near and far. Grateful to be healthy, grateful to be walking and grateful to feel this gratitude in my heart. Tonight I am not worried about going shopping for Christmas gifts, the thread on my tires or that I need to change the oil in my tractor. Tonight nothing can bother me. The waitress forgets about me but I don’t care I’ll still give her the same tip. A big fellow blocks the isle to the food but I don’t care, I am grateful for him, too. Glad that he is alive, glad that he has food to eat. Oh how incredibly rich we are! Rich in the privilege to live in this wonderful country, with neighbors who care about you and who lend a hand whenever there’s a need.” 

So just a check-in and a great, great thanks to all of you who have come to visit us and support our recovery! You will be pleased to know that in those efforts, $4.1 million was donated to those in need, 40,000 volunteers came to our aid, and 127,000 documented hours of help was logged.

New development

The recovery effort isn’t the only area we are seeing construction and development taking place. You will be excited to know that this year we have great plans to continue to grow – Cal Ripken Sports Complex was a huge success in its first year of operation with 650 baseball teams visiting from 25 states including of course Canada.  The new 2017 Season opened in March and we are ready for a fantastic second year. Our community is also in the process of creating a Mountain Mile & Town Shop center filled with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment opening in the same area of Pigeon Forge. This complex will be on 174 acres. Also this year, a 30,000 square foot Country Cascades Waterpark, part of a complex that will be called the “The Summit,” has been launched. And Dollywood has added three new rides: DropLine, Whistler Punk Chaser, and within Splash Country, “Tail Spinner.” We have a new Wyile Cider Bar, a Smith Creek Moonshine and the Casual Pint.

All this, of course, makes investing in this area solid.  It also makes buying an investment cabin that you can rent out lucrative, and it makes this place a great place to live! We are here to make all that possible!

Information on the Gatlinburg fire

Hi friends!

As I’m sure you have heard by now, a fire that swept across parts of Gatlinburg and into Pigeon Forge in the last week of November claimed the lives of at least 14 people and injured almost 200. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who were personally affected by this tragedy, including those who lost loved ones, lost their homes or businesses, or suffered as a result of the fires.

Thank you all for all of the phone calls, emails, and messages we have received in expression of support during this time. We are sad to report that more than 1,100 residential structures were determined to be destroyed by the fire. Of course, when we say residential structures this includes second home and investment cabins and chalets.

The challenge ahead of us is to rebuild, and it is a challenge that city officials in Gatlinburg have stated they are committed to completing.

It is a time like this that we appreciate the preciousness of human beings and realize that our belongings are not the treasures of our life. The real treasures are found in the lives of our friends and families. The outpouring of sacrifice and volunteer spirit is very overwhelming here as firefighters, police officers, restaurants, churches, all step in to save lives, and property. And there is still much work to be done as the clean-up effort continues. Right now, local news outlets are reporting that thousands of volunteer helpers are needed for the work.

Looking ahead

Gatlinburg is open for business and as tourists return to the area this week, every effort is being made to get back to the regular routine of serving our guests in the Smokies. So come visit us, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, and enjoy the Smokies!

I like what our Gatlinburg mayor was quoted as saying: “We are mountain tough, and we have a strong, strong faith in God.” My friends at Smoky’s Furniture shared if there’s anything that can be learned from the tremendous support that has been triggered by these events is that we are a tight-knit family and we can always count on family to help us through the tough times. Always stay “Smokies Strong.” I couldn’t agree more!

Blessings,
Deborah

What we know about the fire (UPDATED)

Hi all. We are keeping a close watch as news continues to come out of Gatlinburg about what is happening and what officials are discovering in the aftermath of this week’s terrible fire. We will continue to post new updates as we can, and as we learn things that we know you are wondering about.

From Thursday’s afternoon news conference: City officials have just announced they will allow property owners and renters into Gatlinburg tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The entry point will be on the East Parkway from Glades Rd.

All roads will be accessible EXCEPT Walker Trail, Wiley Oakley, and Beech Branch.

All of us at Century 21 MVP are so devastated to see our community ravaged this week by a raging fire that quickly swept across 500 acres of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, into Gatlinburg, and down toward Pigeon Forge.

As many of you have heard by now, a fire that started on Chimney Tops was carried by wind to nearby areas on Monday and quickly spread across the National Park. By the end of the day, it had spread so rapidly that it reached Gatlinburg and spread across to Pigeon Forge. The entire city of Gatlinburg was evacuated, as were homes around Wears Valley.

There are many stories already of answered prayers and miraculous intervention that have prevented loss of life and provided for safety of so many individuals. Currently 75 people have needed medical attention and we have 10 confirmed deaths. That number has been climbing as they were able to assess burned areas that were previously impossible to reach.   

It is a time like this that we appreciate the preciousness of human beings and realize that our belongings are not the treasures of our life. The real treasures are found in the lives of our friends and families. The outpouring of sacrifice and volunteer spirit is very overwhelming here as firefighters, police officers, restaurants, churches, all step in to save lives, and property.

Thankfully, the rain we had been praying so long for arrived late Monday evening, but not soon enough to avoid the evacuation of approximately 14,000 people from Gatlinburg. 100 structures in Cobbly Nob burned and at least 300 buildings in Gatlinburg were destroyed by the fire. We also learned Tuesday morning that 100 buildings at West Gate are gone, as well as cabins in Gatlinburg Falls and many cabins and homes on the ridges surrounding Gatlinburg are destroyed.  In all, it appears that it is possible that an additional 150 structures were destroyed by fire out in the county.  Most of these fires were started by heavy winds blowing down transformers that ignited brush fires that quickly took out homes and cabins.  There were also embers that floated through the area up to one mile from where they originated. The National Guard was called in to provide aid and evacuation centers were set up for displaced residents. Volunteer firefighters from multiple fire departments are still out stabilizing the area, clearing power lines.  Many have lost power as the strong winds – reaching gusts of almost 90 miles per hour at times have sent down trees that then toppled the power lines.

City officials told local news outlets that half – about five miles of the city of Gatlinburg, which covers a 10 mile area – was affected by the fire, but not the downtown area.

Please keep our communities, our emergency personnel, and all of those directly affected by these fires in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

I will continue to update my blog site as we learn more about the extent of the damage. Ripley’s Aquarium staff have posted on their Facebook page that the building is intact and the animals are safe. Helicopters also dumped water on the fires to help put them out.  The eagles and animals at Dollywood have been evacuated as well and are being cared for.

WATE has been providing continuous coverage of what’s going on in Sevier County. You can learn more about the fire and how it has affected our communities at wate.com.

Fire forces evacuation of Gatlinburg

Prayers for Gatlinburg after fire

All of us at Century 21 MVP are so devastated to see our community ravaged this week by a raging fire that quickly swept across 500 acres of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, into Gatlinburg, and down toward Pigeon Forge.

As many of you have heard by now, a fire that started on Chimney Tops was carried by wind to nearby areas on Monday and quickly spread across the National Park. By the end of the day, it had spread so rapidly that it reached Gatlinburg and spread across to Pigeon Forge. The entire city of Gatlinburg was evacuated, as were homes around Wears Valley.

There are many stories already of answered prayers and miraculous intervention for so many individuals. As the reports began to come in from the news and social media in the early morning hours, we learned at least 12 people were in need of medical attention (though nothing life-threatening to that point), and we learned late in the afternoon that three people lost their lives. It is a time like this that we appreciate the preciousness of human beings and realize that our belongings are not the treasures of our life. The real treasures are found in the lives of our friends and families.
The outpouring of sacrifice and volunteer spirit is very overwhelming here as firefighters, police officers, restaurants, churches, all step in to save lives, and property.

Thankfully, the rain we had been praying so long for arrived late Monday evening, but not soon enough to avoid the evacuation of approximately 14,000 people from Gatlinburg. Tuesday afternoon, it was reported that three people have lost their lives in the fire, and some families are still separated and searching for each other. 100 structures in Cobbly Nob burned and at least 30 buildings in Gatlinburg were destroyed by the fire. We also learned Tuesday morning that 100 buildings at West Gate are gone, as well as cabins in Black Bear Falls. In all, about 150 structures were destroyed by fire in Sevier County. The National Guard was called in to provide aid and evacuation centers were set up for displaced residents. Volunteer firefighters from multiple fire departments are still out battling the blazes to keep them contained while we wait for more rain to come. Police officers have been going door to door to evacuate people. And many lost power as the strong winds – reaching gusts of almost 90 miles per hour at times – pulled down electric poles and power lines that contributed to the spread of the fire.

City officials told local news outlets that half – about five miles of the city of Gatlinburg – was affected by the fire, but not the downtown area.

Firefighters continue to battle fires

By late Tuesday morning, 14 fires were still reported to be burning but firefighters are continuing to do everything they could to contain them while we await more rain. Please keep our communities, our emergency personnel, and all of those directly effected by these fires in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

WATE has been providing continuous coverage of what’s going on in Sevier County. You can learn more about the fire and how it has affected our communities here and at wate.com.

New ‘Mountain Mile’ center coming to Pigeon Forge

For the last few months, I’ve been sharing all the fantastic opportunities that are coming for people who want to own newly constructed rental cabins, both in areas with already established resorts as well as areas where no resorts have existed before. We are working with developers and builders to build new cabins in Sherwood Forest, Black Bear Ridge, Hibernation Station, and Mountain Shadows. I’m very excited to see all the new building coming back to the area after the downturn of the market in 2008 when construction all but stopped.

In our area, there are so many great reasons to own a rental cabin in the Smokies, and I’ve talked about many of those before. But above all else what makes this area such a great place to own vacation rental property is the tourist appeal. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States, surpassing the second most visited national park by an almost 2 to 1 ratio! In 2015, nearly 12 million people visited the Smoky Mountains – and that doesn’t include the number of people who just come to visit the tourist attractions of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge! Between Dollywood, the number of specialty shops, musical shows, and other activities, our region is one of the most popular tourist sites!

‘The Mountain Mile’

What’s more, the number of opportunities for things to do and see in our area is increasing all the time. One of the most exciting new developments is “The Mountain Mile,” a 1,000,000 square foot stretch of retail and restaurant space spread over more than 174 acres. The new endeavor will include about a mile of frontage along Teaster Lane and is located next to the Cal Ripken baseball complex. The Island and LeConte Center are also close by to the new development. If you haven’t been to The Island recently you owe it to yourself. It is really delightful! The Cal Rip-ken baseball complex and The Rocky Top sports complex have been big hits with our visitors as well. “The Mountain Mile” will be a fantastic addition to that area!

You can learn more about the plans for “The Mountain Mile” here.

The continuing addition of quality entertainment, shopping and sports venues increases the value of your property as well as produces renters for you! I love that when these national companies have done market studies it has led them to us! We knew that we were a wonderful and special place. It’s affirming that their numbers and research agree with us!

We are looking forward to the development of “The Mountain Mile” and all it is going to add to our region!