Joseph Swicegood Brings the Local Flavor
Literally. Sure, Joe knows a bit about the metaphorical local flavor of Asheville - the places, the people, all the best shortcuts to get from here to there, and how the city has changed. He’s lived here his whole life, aside from the 2 months he spent in Alaska working a pretty wild job at a fishing lodge - more on that adventure in a bit. And then there is the savory side of local flavor, the kind that satisfies a craving and has that authentic, ‘we may not be fancy but we’re the real deal air about it.
The kind of place that local folks in the know don’t necessarily want too many other folks to know about. But they do know about the longest family-owned restaurant still operating in Asheville, opened by his grandparents in 1963, serving up legit N.C. bbq with a fascinating side of Asheville history adorning its walls in the form of family photos and serious throw-back shots of the area.
Having access to several generations of insider local knowledge is a major asset for Joe as a realtor, and he is eager to share what he knows with his clients and team members (who are in turn understandably also eager for Joe to share some bbq, which he does.) Joe grew up doing a lot of odd labor jobs, as lending a hand in the local community to anyone who needed it was just kind of the way his family rolled. He also gained insight into understanding building and structures while working on commercial projects with his father, an area developer, as well as working with a highly regarded local custom home building company where he focused on framing homes. This combination of knowledge and skills around places, people and structures provided Joe with a roadmap to real estate, where he uses those skills to help people land where they need to be. It also gives him opportunities to be an active part of development projects within his community.
1. What do you love most about working in real estate - do you have a favorite part of the process?
Like so many of those in the TBT office, Joe genuinely loves the end result - seeing clients happy with their home purchase, evidence that he did a good job and made a contribution. He also shared how much he really enjoys gaining insight and understanding into prospective clients:
“I love the initial meet and getting to feel out people, I think you really have to use your senses. Sometimes people will say one thing, and then you get a totally different read based on their actions later.”
2. Do you work with both buyers and sellers, or do you have a preferred niche that works best for you?
While he often prefers working with sellers in terms of the residential market, Joe gets especially excited when working with investors or buyers of commercial properties. These transactions provide an opportunity for him to be on the ground level of new projects and business offerings within the community and exercise what Joe calls his ‘unicorn hunting’ skills. He is often researching commercial zoning laws, attending city council meetings and helping investor clients map out the details and benefits their projects might bring to a community.
“It is so satisfying - and challenging - to find just the right fit for an investor. Often it’s a zoning challenge, the parameters that apply to land and buildings are so different - sometimes you have to do a lot of digging.” He’s fascinated by “seeing what the community is willing to accept in terms of change, and explaining what a client is potentially bringing to them.”
3. Technology has created far more resources than ever before for both buyers and sellers who think they can ‘do it on their own’ - what do you say to folks who think they don’t need a real estate agent anymore?
Joe agrees there is definitely a lot of technology that helps make people feel comfortable, engaging them when they start the process of looking for a home or property. However “knowing what is really happening on the ground in that area is a different story. People really need a local agent who has a genuine feel for the area.”
4. Real estate is considered a fairly competitive industry in the greater AVL area, with numerous agencies and a steady stream of new agents - what differentiates you and TBT agents from the rest of the WNC real estate crowd? What is your favorite thing about working with the TBT team?
Joe believes the eclectic backgrounds of all of the team members produce the perfect knowledge base for his team to share with each other and their clients.
“We are a melting pot of different agents, some are transplants, others are local folks like myself who have lived here our whole lives. We have a wide network as a result. With Billy having developed communities, and my family restaurant being a staple in town - we know a lot of people, and we have a very community-based attitude. It’s a small world. I have a big family spread out all over the area. When I meet people, somebody always seems to know somebody else - good or bad!”
5. Takeaways from what you’ve learned in your industry: What is the important piece of advice you would give to prospective homebuyers? And to home sellers?
“Stick to your roots.”
Fitting advice from this 3rd generation Ashevillian.
“Don’t get swayed by the flashy thing if it is out of your budget. I’ve seen folks go away from their hard criteria because of one attractive element they never indicated they even wanted, and then they usually regret it. I’ve had others be really grateful I reminded them of what they said at the onset, and then they end up with the right property for them, with no regrets.”
Joe also advises clients to really look at the house plan, and see if the plan accommodates what they can envision wanting in the long run. Plan your budget with future projects in mind.
6. The WNC real estate market is certainly booming - any predictions on where it will go next, or new trends you are seeing?
Joe is seeing a lot of growth moving south into the Fletcher and Mills River area. He’s had some past experience working with the Fletcher Town Hall and city council specifically and notes that the community seems to be putting a lot of effort into making well-informed decisions for the area as it expands. Joe is also curious to see where interest rates go, hoping to see a healthy correction being perhaps not the old normal, but nothing too drastic.
7. Can you share the funniest or most memorable moment - anecdote or experience - you’ve had during the course of a real estate deal (positive or negative)?
“Which one to tell?!?”
Joe ponders the question, settling on a story in which he will be “telling on myself.”
“When I was a new agent I was putting a new listing on the market, and trying to make sure I got all of the paperwork right. It was pre-covid, and you had the option to put a new listing on an agent's tour; agents would ride along together in groups to check out what was new on the market. Well, it turns out somehow in the paperwork I had put this house on one of these tours and did not know it.”
“I get a call from the owner: ‘Joe what the heck is going on? There is a line of real estate agents outside my house, and I’m hanging out here in my P.J.’s…’ Thankfully, the listing was that of a close friend, so we were able to laugh it off. Never made that mistake again!”
8. Do you have a favorite hobby, pursuit or interest that might surprise your clients - or that has worked to your advantage in connecting with clients?
“I think probably the Alaska fishing lodge experience - that surprises people.”
Joe was living in a tent for much of that gig, and it was a pretty bare-bones experience - a cozy home with all of the amenities was definitely not part of the deal. He learned a lot about making do with what was available.
Maybe that’s why Joe is so measured about reminding his clients to stick to what they really need in a home - to stick to their roots. You can always add on bells and whistles at a later time. Don’t buy the 2 story home when you knew a ranch better suited your lifestyle, just because it had a hot tub and that just sounded like so much fun…
Sounds kind of like a good bbq - it’s best when it is authentic and not trying to be something it is not. Need a local recommendation?
Joseph enjoys chatting it up with friends at the annual Team Billy Taylor Client appreciation celebration.