“Are you a native Ashevillian?” This is a question most residents of the Asheville area hear a lot - they either get asked or more often than not, ask others. Since this little pocket of WNC is known to have many transplants from other states, it’s kind of like finding a unicorn when you meet someone from the area - originally from the area. Nick Ianucci proudly boasts he is a ‘real local’ and takes pause when folks who have lived here since 2010 or before claim to be locals.
Two decades and a handful of months do not make a real local Ashevillian make, according to Nick, who was born and raised in South Asheville. Nick returned to the Asheville area after earning his college degree in criminology and sociology from N.C. State. He built a successful career as a restauranter of a popular and profitable dining spot that was an institution in the community for 43 years.
Then came 2020, the year that became the great career-shifting catalyst for so many. Locals who go way back tend to know other locals who go way back, and so when Nick was exploring new options, he found himself tossing ideas around with one of his best friends from childhood - Billy Taylor - one of the only people who knew of Nick’s plans to close the restaurant. It was important to Nick to stay involved with the community he’d been a part of for so long. There is a difference between remaining local by way of a map, and really being local in spirit and contribution to others, and that’s what Nick wanted most.
When Billy suggested real estate to Nick as a way to stay relevant in the community and apply his business and management skills, he admits he didn’t instantly see the connection. Nick recalls his immediate response to Billy’s idea of pursuing a career in real estate: “I told him - ‘not me, I’m not doing it!’ But then Billy made it make sense.” Once Nick realized that this career would also allow him to fulfill his intention to truly assist others, he didn’t look back.
1. What do you love most about working in real estate - do you have a favorite part of the process?
“My interest in this is to help people. I was in a business where I made six figures and had a lot of responsibility, and then things in life really shifted for me, and I was very drawn to philanthropy.”
Nick sees his real estate career as a way of really helping people with what is likely the largest purchase of their life. He shares that this is the driving force behind the business practice at the TBT office: “If you come in here and try to fake it, you look like a salesman.”
Another favorite part of the process for Nick is closings. He loves seeing that moment when it all comes together when people are excited and forget anything negative that may have happened up to that point. “You go from zero to hero real quick!”
2. Do you work with both buyers and sellers, or do you have a preferred niche that works best for you?
While some agents may have a preference for working with sellers over buyers or vice versa, Nick is happy to work with whoever needs the help. He does not believe that one is easier than the other, and finds both processes to be crazy and hard in their own unique ways. He recalls a client who had lived in her home for 40 years and had to sell under some duress. Helping her through the deeply emotional parts of that process had a big impact on him:
“She was a wreck, and I wanted to figure out what I could do differently to support her through it. Now she is living her next chapter.”
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?
“You can watch Grey’s Anatomy on TV, it doesn’t mean you can perform surgery.”
Nick shares the statistic that ‘For Sale by Owner' real estate transactions lose an average of 26% in market value - so if you are selling on your own in order to save 6% in commissions, that math just doesn’t make sense. Furthermore, he says
“Do you really want complete strangers coming into your house - under what other circumstances would you just grant access to your home, to people you know nothing about? That’s nuts! Agents monitor that kind of stuff - and more - for your protection throughout the process.”
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?
“I ran a business and I know firsthand it can be hard to get everyone on the same page. Billy doesn’t just let anyone on this team, we all have a strong work ethic; we are proud of ourselves and are sharpshooters. We all have the end in mind, and we utilize each other as resources rather than step on each other to get to that end. And we know there is enough out there for all of us.”
Nick resoundingly sums it up this way:
“Billy didn’t pick a team of realtors - he picked a team first - and we all happen to sell real estate.”
5. Takeaways from what you’ve learned in your industry: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to prospective homebuyers? And to home sellers?
Nick’s advice is the same for both buyers and sellers: “Be patient.”
“It’s a lot of money, and if you are patient and open to ideas things will work out.”
He adds that clients sometimes speak before they think, and he encourages them to literally write things down throughout negotiations - figures and terms - to reposition their reactions out of their headspace and into something tangible. Nick understands that it is an emotional process and there is a great deal of psychology involved - he enjoys his role as the level-headed voice of reason, providing stability and helping clients break it all down so they understand exactly what is transpiring - and what it means after the deal is done.
6. The WNC real estate market is certainly booming - any predictions on where it will go next, or new trends you are seeing?
“We are getting some breathing room, but the market is holding strong - it is definitely not softening.”
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)?
Nick ponders this question for a few moments and determines that the instances he thinks of may not make good copy. Not on account of his own participation - but rather the unsavory evidence left by uninvited guests to vacant properties. Of course, this is not the first time a realtor has shared the hazards of fieldwork.
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?
In response to this question, Nick does have an anecdote to share, rather emphatically:
“Yes - my Bees and Beekeeping entomology class in college - that class made me a commission!”
Nick recalls a deal he closed early on as an agent - probably his second or third at the time. He was working with some potential clients who were looking to buy in the area, and top of mind on their list of priorities.
“We are avid beekeepers,” they told him, “we need a place to raise bees.”
Despite the teasing of some of his collegiate peers, Nick had taken an advanced beekeeping class as an elective while attending N.C. State, also well known in the U.S. as a top horticultural school. These particular clients were from up north, but as committed apiarists, they were aware of important work being done by the beekeeping community and were familiar with the curriculum at N.C State on the topic. Not only that - they knew of Nick’s professor, who had some notoriety for discovering a certain kind of ‘blue’ honey.
Thanks to that class, Nick knew exactly what kind of property would satisfy their bee-keeping requirements - and he built a strong rapport with his clients as a result.
Never underestimate the value of college electives in broadening your horizons and assisting in career growth - in addition to providing great fodder for cocktail party conversations.
Nick happily shares with a chuckle: “They still send me honey.”
Nick is a people person. Here he is enjoying the company at the annual Team Billy Taylor Client Appreciation Celebration.