Unusual Houses Asheville NC

Biltmore Estate Asheville, NCThere are a great number of unusual houses in Asheville NC.  The most unusual, of course, is the famed Biltmore Estate, ranked eighth in America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects, and sits on some 8000 acres.

Having marketed unusual houses in Asheville as well as Hendersonville NC  since 1995, I am very familiar with the broad range of fun, unique, weird, and wonderful properties in the area.

Take a look at this map to see the surrounding counties.

Map of unusual houses Asheville NCBuncombe County — where Asheville is located;

Henderson County  — to the south and east with the quaint town of Hendersonville; 

Haywood County  — to the west, with wonderful Waynesville, just 20 minutes from Asheville;

Madison County — with the artistic and farming communities of Marshall and Mars Hill;

Polk County — with the horse country of Tryon;

Transylvania County — with the beautiful college town of Brevard, and over 250 waterfalls!

Yancey County — to the north and east, with Burnsville;




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Grow a Living Roof or Green Roof | Sustainable Living

grow a living roof on your homeThe thought to grow a living roof is becoming more and more common in the United States but living roofs are not a new idea.    

A living roof or green roof is one that has a layer of earth allowing vegetation, perfect for a simple lawn, flowers, trees or a vegetable garden.  

They have been an important part of architecture in European countries for more than 60 years.  Some countries have recognized their benefits to the extent of requiring that all new flat roofs grow a living roof.




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Brenda Thompson, Asheville Realtor® Helps Buyers Find Unique Properties

2015-01-28_19-04-48Brenda Thompson, owner of the boutique real estate agency, Special “Finds…”, helps buyers from all over the globe find unique properties in the western North Carolina. Like the properties she sells, her agency is truly one-of-a-kind with a focus on unique properties with a lot of character. She has owned the agency for nineteen years and has personally always owned unique houses. Thompson is the former director of marketing for the New York Stock Exchange.

Thompson’s agency, centered in Asheville, NC, helps buyers find unique properties within two to three-hour radius of Asheville, covering the entire western North Carolina mountain area. She combined her creative and poetic voice along with her marketing background and her love for (more…)



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Building a Hemp House

Hemp-building products may soon go mainstream. Here’s why your next home should be made with pot.

June 09, 2014  By: John Riha for HouseLogic Building a Hemp House

Building a Hemp House is interesting for a lot of different reasons!

No, you can’t saw off a chunk and smoke it.

But if you live in a house made with hemp building products, you may trim your utility bills, have more leisure time, and be safer and more comfortable.

Industrial hemp, the non-stoney relative of its more famous cousin, marijuana, is making its way into the building products marketplace. A recently signed federal farm bill has made hemp cultivation legal again. That means research can kick into high gear — likely leading to new hemp products for siding, roofing, drywall, and flooring. What’s So Great About Hemp? Hemp products — from insulation to particleboard — are non-toxic and resistant to mildew, pests, and fire, making them good choices for green home construction and remodeling. Plus, they don’t cast off any VOCs. Several U.S. states have homes with hemp products, but most are in Australia, Europe, and New Zealand. Why is it green?

  • It’s a fast-growing, drought-tolerant plant.
  • It doesn’t require chemical fertilizers, which also makes it cheaper to farm.
  • Its generous yields could ease pressure on dwindling forest resources.

Related: 8 Tips to Make Your Remodel Healthier and More Energy-Efficient

What Products Are Available Now Previously hemp was illegal to farm here, but legal to import from other countries. That hiked up the price of what would otherwise be a relatively inexpensive material. Those prices should come down as domestic products move into the marketplace. Currently available: Hempcrete: Generic term for a concrete-like material made from imported hemp fibers mixed with lime.

  • Can be made into walls or blocks
  • Good insulator
  • Flexes, so it might be a good material to withstand earthquakes

Cost: A 33-lb. bag is $30 and makes about 5 cubic feet of wall (about 5 sq. ft. of surface area for a 12-inch-thick hempcrete wall) with an insulating factor of R-25 — higher than a regular 3.5-inch stud wall insulated with fiberglass (R-13).

Hemp board: Generic term for material that can be used in place of plywood and particleboard for wall sheathing and green cabinet construction. Cost: 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of half-inch-thick hemp board, $40; regular particleboard, $20 Hemp Shield: Brand name for an exterior finish for wood decks, siding, planters, fences, and play structures. In professional independent testing, Hemp Shield outperformed other well-known wood finish products. Cost: $41/gallon, which covers about 450 sq. ft.; tinted versions are $45/gallon Hemp insulation: Soft, woven material made from hemp fibers.

  • Comparable performance to fiberglass insulation, according to Energy.gov
  • Insulating value of R-13 (same as fiberglass)
  • Doesn’t release fibers that can get into your lungs

Cost: About $2.75/sq. ft.; fiberglass batts of comparable thickness and insulating value are only about 30 cents/sq. ft

See this great video about building a hemp house in Asheville:  Hemp House in Asheville NC


Interested in owning a green-built home, or a modern home?  Search our database of Modern, Green & Eclectic Houses for sale. 



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Buyer’s Guide to Waterfront Properties

Best Places to Live on the Water

There’s something about being close to water, be it a river, ocean, or lake, that just makes you feel alive. The sound of the water rushing by, the smell of the salt in the air, and/or, the feeling of being surrounded by nature is truly invigorating. This Buyer’s Guide for Waterfront Living will help you identify areas that offer a wide choice of frontage on the water.

The price of waterfront homes in the US can vary greatly depending on the location. For example, riverfront homes in rural areas may be less costly than oceanfront homes in more developed areas. In general, however, prices for waterfront homes tend to be higher than non-waterfront homes due to their desirability and limited availability.

One of the main factors that will affect the price of a waterfront home is the size of the property. Acreage ranges for waterfront homes can differ greatly, from just a few acres to hundreds of acres. In general, the larger the property, the more expensive it will be. Another factor that can affect the price is the type of water frontage.

Waterfront homes are often seen as a luxurious purchase, and their prices reflect that. However, there are a variety of waterfront homes available at different price points to fit any budget. Whether you’re looking for a small riverfront cabin or a large oceanfront estate, there’s a waterfront home out there for you.

The US has the most coastline of any country in the world. With over 12,000 miles of coastline, the US is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and coastlines in the world. From the east coast to the west coast, there is a never-ending supply of coastline to explore in the US.

Oceanfront Living

Oceanfront homes on the east coast tend to be more expensive than those on the west coast. This is due to a number of factors, including population density and the proximity to major cities.

The type of water frontage also plays a role in determining the price of a waterfront home. Homes with direct oceanfront access are typically more expensive than those with indirect access or no access at all.

Oceanfront Properties by State:

Delaware’s coastline, at 28 miles, is the shortest of any oceanfront state.

Maine – With over 5,000 miles of coastline, Maine is home to some of the most beautiful and rugged coastlines in the world. From the rocky shores of Acadia National Park to the sandy beaches of Ogunquit, there is something for everyone to enjoy along Maine’s coast.

California – California is home to over 1,100 miles of coastline. From the rocky shores of Big Sur to the sandy beaches of Santa Barbara, there is no shortage of coastline to explore in California.

Connecticut – Connecticut is home to over 100 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Mystic to the shores of Old Saybrook, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Connecticut’s coast.

Florida – Florida is well-known for its stunning beaches and clear blue waters. With over 825 miles of coastline, Florida has something for everyone. From the white sand beaches of the Panhandle to the lively shores of Miami, there is no shortage of fun to be had in Florida.

Georgia – Georgia is home to over 100 miles of coastline. From the Golden Isles to Tybee Island, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Georgia’s coast.

Hawaii – With over 750 miles of coastline, Hawaii is a paradise for beach lovers. From the green sands of Maui to the black sand beaches of Hawaii Island, there is no shortage of beauty to be found along Hawaii’s coast.

Louisiana’s coastline is the third longest, at just over 320 miles. The state is home to several major port cities, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Maine – Maine is home to over 3,500 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Portland to the shores of Acadia National Park, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Maine’s coast.

Maryland – Maryland is home to over 3,000 miles of coastline. From the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Maryland’s coast. Delaware – Delaware is home to over 100 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Lewes to the shores of Rehoboth Beach, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Delaware’s coast.

Massachusetts – Massachusetts is home to over 500 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Cape Cod to the shores of Boston, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Massachusetts’ coast.

New Hampshire – New Hampshire is home to over 18 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Hampton to the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, there is no shortage of things to see and do along New Hampshire’s coast.

New Jersey – New Jersey is home to over 130 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Cape May to the shores of Sandy Hook, there is no shortage of things to see and do along New Jersey’s coast.

New York – New York is home to over 1,000 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Long Island to the shores of Niagara Falls, there is no shortage of things to see and do along New York’s coast.

North Carolina – North Carolina is home to over 300 miles of coastline. From the Outer Banks to the Crystal Coast, there is no shortage of things to see and do along North Carolina’s coast.

Oregon’s coastline comes in second place, at just over 363 miles. The state’s coastline is known for its dramatic cliffs and rocky shores, as well as its iconic lighthouse at Cape Meares.

Rhode Island – Rhode Island is home to over 400 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Narragansett to the shores of Newport, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Rhode Island’s coast.

South Carolina – South Carolina is home to over 200 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Charleston to the shores of Hilton Head, there is no shortage of things to see and do along South Carolina’s coast.

Texas has the longest oceanfront coastline in the contiguous United States. At nearly 800 miles long, the Texas coast stretches from the Sabine River on the border with Louisiana all the way down to Brownsville on the Mexican border.

Vermont – Vermont is home to over 100 miles of coastline. From the beaches of Burlington to the shores of Lake Champlain, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Vermont’s coast.

Virginia – Virginia is home to over 3,000 miles of coastline. From the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, there is no shortage of things to see and do along Virginia’s coast.

Riverfront Living

There are many US states with major riverfront real estate. Some of these states include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Each state has its own unique riverfront property offerings.

The Mighty Mississippi River is the largest river in the United States and flows through ten states including, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Mississippi River bridge. the larges rive in The US would be an interesting place to buy as noted in the Buyer's Guide to Waterfront Properties

The Colorado River is the 18th longest river in the US and flows through seven southwestern states including Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California.

Other large rivers in the US include the Susquehanna River (Pennsylvania), the Hudson River (New York), and the Rio Grande (Texas).

Lakefront Living

The United States is home to some of the largest lakes in the world. Here are five of the largest:

Lake Superior: This freshwater lake is the largest in the world by area, and it borders Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ontario.

Lake Huron: The second-largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Huron borders Michigan and Ontario.

Lake Michigan: The third-largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Michigan is completely contained within the United States and borders Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Lake Erie: The fourth-largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Erie borders New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Ontario.

Lake Ontario: The fifth-largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Ontario borders New York and Ontario.

In summary — There are many factors that can affect the price of a waterfront home.

  • The location of the waterfront property is a big deal.
  • The size of the property, the type of water frontage, and the location all play a role in determining the price.
  • Oceanfront homes on the east coast tend to be more expensive than those on the west coast.
  • Properties located in popular vacation destinations or near major cities will typically be more expensive than those in more rural areas.
  • Waterfront properties located in areas with harsh winters may also be less expensive than properties in warmer climates.
  • Depending on the type of waterfront property, weather can be a major factor. Consider the potential for storm damage.


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Checklist for Selling Your House – 2022

Use a Checklist to Get Your House Ready for Listing!

Whether you are selling as a for sale by owner (FSBO) or using a real estate agent, you want to have your house ready to go. The real estate market has been crazy these past few years! Getting your house ready to sell can be overwhelming. Using the attached checklist for selling your house is critically important.

Buyers make a decision to buy usually within the first seven seconds of being on your property!! Seven Seconds!!

I have shared the attached checklist with thousands of sellers and used it myself when selling my own homes. To use the checklist properly, follow the steps below BEFORE YOU HAVE PICTURES TAKEN! This is so important as pictures of your home will be all over the Internet. When you place your home on the market, you will have a lot of competition. You need to stand out to get attention. If your pictures are unappealing, you will get less buyer interest.

See Your Property from the Buyer’s Perspective

Be open minded and try to see your property the way a buyer will see it. 

First — Take a walk from the end of your driveway or from across the street. Look at the exterior and “see” what a buyer will see. You may have become blind to many items —

Are there cracks in your driveway or would a load of fresh gravel make a huge difference? Does the grass need to be cut? Are there dead bushes or would adding new bushes or flowers make a difference? Are there dangerous or fallen trees? Do the deck railings need to be painted or are they loose? Is pressure washing necessary? Are steps rotted, uneven, or loose? Are windows cracked?

Next, pretend you are being escorted by a real estate agent to your front door —

Where could you place attractive pots or flowers that will attract a buyer’s eyes? Move trash cans or other unsightly items from your entrance view. Is your front porch or doorway in good condition? Is it welcoming or might a small table with a lamp be attractive? If the weather permits, is there an inviting place for a buyer to sit and linger? Is the doorbell operable? Does the door open easily and quietly?

Next, walk inside. Use your senses to see, smell, hear, and feel what a buyer will notice — 

Are there cobwebs or dust? Are the windows dirty? How does the house smell upon entering? Does it smell musty or moldy, or smell of pets or smoke? All rooms should smell fresh. Is it uncomfortably cold or unpleasantly hot and humid? Consider turning on TV’s to show an attractive scene rather than just leaving them black.

Finally, use my free checklist for selling a house. It’s only a start as your house and property will have different needs. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a buyer will just make an offer unless you are willing to give up a great deal of money.

Go through your property, starting from the outside, and address as much as you can. Assign tasks to others who are willing to help. Consider having a home inspection beforehand and take care of any items that a buyer will discover. Be sure to disclose required items.

 Once you have your property looking the way you like it, it’s time to call a professional photographer or agent!



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How to Price Your Unique House 2022

If you’re lucky enough to own an unusual or unique home, you may be wondering how to price it. After all, traditional real estate pricing methods may not work for a one-of-a-kind property.

When I became a brand new real estate agent, I learned how to price a house.  We compared five or six houses in a subdivision, located along a single street.

Each house had basically the same look from the outside.  We learned how to price a house, by comparing the neighboring properties to the “subject” house – the house we were trying to determine how to price.  We used a form like the one below:


Determining how to price your unique house can be quite challenging but is definitely doable!

Quonset Hut Green Home


There are a few things you can do to help set a realistic and fair price for your unusual home:

1. Do your research: Look at comparable sales in your area to get an idea of what properties have sold for — even if they’re unlike your home. This will give you a good starting point.

2. Work with an experienced real estate broker: A real estate agent who knows the market and has experience pricing unusual homes can be a valuable asset. He or she can help you determine a fair price for your home based on its unique features, the current market conditions, and recent sales data. Listen to them!!

3. Consider all potential buyers: When pricing your home, it’s important to keep in mind that not all buyers will be willing to pay the same amount. Some may be looking for a bargain, while others may be willing to pay more for a one-of-a-kind property. It’s important to strike a balance so that you don’t alienate any potential buyers.

4. Be prepared to negotiate: Because there may not be more than one interested party in your unusual home. Remember that they will be taking into consideration the challenge of selling a property such as yours later on.

5. Buyers these days are savvy. By the time they arrive to take a look at your house, they have done their research. Expect that they are well educated about your home, your mortgage, the length of time you’ve been trying to sell, the pluses and minuses of your type of home, etc. 

It is far better to have more showings and less room to negotiate than a lot of room to negotiate and no showings!

If you follow these tips, you should be able to come up with a fair and reasonable listing price for your unusual home.



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How to Sell a Unique House

Tips You Can Use — Learn How to Sell a Unique House

If you own an unusual home, consider yourself lucky! You have something to advertise that other properties may not have. Use your property’s uniqueness to make it stand out from the crowd. Use the ideas below to formulate your plan and learn how to sell a unique house.

One of a Kind

When selling an unusual property, recognize that there is value in having something that is one-of-a-kind. Make sure to feature all of the special characteristics in marketing the property and don’t waste time and money in trying to market to ordinary buyers who aren’t looking for something unique or unusual. I would encourage sellers to make sure their agent has a plan on how they will market to buyers who are seeking a unique property.

How Do You Price Your Home?

One of the first things sellers of unique properties want to know is: “How do I price my home?” Pricing an unusual property is not at all the same as pricing a property in a traditional neighborhood or subdivision where comparable sales can be found in close proximity.

To find enough comparable sales to properly price a property, we often have to extend our search area quite a distance. With our focus on unusual properties, we catalog all unique listings in our market area and provide that as a resource for buyers through our SpecialFinds.com website.

We monitor unique properties as they sell, and have a database of unique property sales we can use for pricing analyses. Sellers are advised to make sure their agent can demonstrate a professional approach to pricing the property, taking into consideration the unique characteristics, and the challenge in finding comparable sales. 

See my Post on How to Price Your Unique House 2022

Unrealistic Listing Price

A common mistake that sellers make is to insist on an unrealistically high listing price, believing that they are creating room for negotiations and that they can reduce the price later if the listing is not attracting buyers. Although it is difficult to properly establish a market price for a unique property, buyers are more educated than in the past and most of the time can sense that a property is priced well above a fair price.

The most common result is a small number of showings or no showings, no offers, and therefore, no negotiations. The recommended approach is to price the property in a realistic range, attracting the highest number of interested buyers.

Emotional Buyers

There are buyers specifically looking for unusual properties, and sellers want to make sure they are attracting these buyers for their unique properties. Buyers of unique properties buy on emotions, so they first need to emotionally connect with the property and then they will consider the facts. Sellers of these properties will want to work with an agent that can verbalize the unique characteristics of the property so potential buyers will relate to it.

Use Stories to Bring Properties to Life

We use stories in our listings to bring the properties to life so that a buyer can “mentally” feel what it will be like to live there and be on the property. I like to bring as many senses as I can into the ads – what you see – floors the color of honey; what you hear – a train whistle in the distance; what you feel – cool slate floors; what you smell – freshly mowed grass. I want to describe the property so the buyer can feel the history of the place. The marketing should mentally transport buyers to the property from wherever they are as they read the story. We try to give them a feeling of what it’s like when the house in the description becomes their home.

Below are two examples of stories I have used in ads for unique home listings.


As if reaching for the very stars above, music filled the space. “Turn it all the way up, no one can hear us!” And they did…and they danced. Friends called, and 17 minutes later they met them downtown for dinner. Apogee, at a cooler 3950’, is the highest altitude Asheville address. Totally private with 75-mile views, she sits on 14.6, low maintenance, mostly wooded acres, sharing a .25-mile boundary with the Blue Ridge Parkway. With 6420 sq. ft., there are views from every room. Numerous porches & decks invite entertaining or reflection. A few of the high-end features include 2 master suites, ultra-luxurious ensuite bath, Crow’s Nest for star gazing; 2-story, stacked-stone, wood burning fireplace, enormous kitchen, both formal and relaxed spaces, hardwood & radiant heat tiled floors, wired sound system and closets aligned to incorporate an elevator. Awe-inspiring Asheville city lights.

“The Old Allison Place – 70 Acres”

Every Sunday, sinners, and saints showed up at Grandma Allison’s house. No invitation necessary, no shortage of food – fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried okra, and more. The kitchen was crowded, yet we all fit in — buttermilk biscuits hot out of the oven. Prayer, then pass the dishes – all gone. Kids everywhere, slamming doors, hiding in the bedrooms upstairs and down. Out in the big barn, men discuss livestock, and when or if to cut the timber again. Women relax on the wraparound porch. Banana pudding for dessert! Sitting on 70+ acres, with approximately 55 in woods.

Catch Phrases

Buyers often inquire about our listings by name or by elements of the house’s story, rather than the address. They will ask about “the house where the seven children grew up”, or “the place where the horses waited for the sound of the sliding barn door”. An interesting result of our descriptive advertising is that we have sold four of our listings to remote buyers just from the advertising without the buyer ever physically seeing the properties until coming to the closing table. We use detailed photography and video tours, so in any case, the buyer did have a virtual tour. We had the buyers agree to hold the sellers and our firm harmless if they didn’t like the property once they saw it, and each one closed without an issue.

Regardless of the type of property, it is always important that the house shows well, both on the outside as well as the interior. Make sure that the property is in very good condition and make sure that you keep it that way during the listing period. Be willing to show the property at any time. With an unusual property, make sure you are prepared to move when you have a buyer. When a buyer comes along there may not be ten of them looking for your property; there may only be one.

What sellers have said:

“An interview with several real estate agents prompted me to list with Brenda. However, she did so much more than ‘list.’ She met with us to lay the foundation for how she would present this house. She then spent time on the property to enable her to write a story of the home that would convey its unique character to buyers. The buyer approached her so she functioned professionally as a dual agent. Brenda and her assistant helped both the buyer and seller to move through the process and were an excellent liaison during due diligence and on through closing…… which occurred within 2 months of our initial meeting!”

– Pat T.

“My knowledge of Brenda is based not only on her skills but more importantly on her attitude. She listens to what I have to say, then responds accordingly. I don’t always like what I hear but I know that her facts are accurate. Brenda has a good heart. She understands how attached one can become to a property and home and she treats that attachment with respect. Anyone can list a property but not all are willing to do the extra things needed to show and sell. Do yourself a favor. Start with the best. Brenda can be counted on to work hard to get the job done.”

– Trudee S.


Why spend your time learning how to sell a unique house? We’re marketing experts.  Let us help you!


 For other ideas to help you sell your unique property, read my post: How to Price a House



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Shipping Container Homes

Shipping Container Homes are all the rage and for good reason. 
Where city building lots are getting smaller and smaller and construction costs are getting higher and higher, this type of structure can take advantage of its small footprint and incredible strength and be stacked to achieve multiple stories and as much square footage as you like. 
Also known as conex homes, conex box homes, or cube homes, they are incredibly inexpensive to purchase. Building a stick-built or site-built home in much of the US costs approximately $150 to $350 per square foot and require your frequent on-site supervision. Expect up to nine months, on average, for a stick-built home to be completed.
Modular-type homes are usually far better constructed than stick-built homes as they are “put-together” in a controlled, indoor environment. Usually, the manufacturer has a series of home plans and their employees are building the same plan repeatedly so there is less chance of mistakes. During construction, the homes are continuously inspected and when approved, they ship to you completed. 
If you are considering a container home, think ahead about the setting. Look carefully at picking a location where your ultra-modern design will fit best and can take advantage of the lot’s features. Generally, a container home won’t blend with more standard homes in more standard subdivisions. To make life easier, find a piece of land without restrictions or a homeowners association.    

It would appear that “Meka” is a stand-out in designing modular container-homes with the strength of a shipping container but the flexibility to have more windows, doors, etc.  Treehugger.com has a nice feature on shipping container homes by Meka — https://www.treehugger.com/meka-world-reinvents-shipping-container-housing-4858051

Meka modular container home

Courtesy Meka Modular Homes

Here’s more info on container homes from different designers — https://offgridworld.com/11-shipping-container-homes-you-can-buy-right-now/

Here’s a great blog from someone who built his own conex home a number of years ago. His story is a “Container Home 101”:  http://myconexhome.com/wp/ 



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Describe a House to Bring it Alive!

Describe your home to create an image of what it is like to live there. The goal of your real estate description is to emotionally transport house-hunters in such a fashion that they picture themselves in your home and on your grounds.

Whether you are a homeowner trying to sell on your own or a real estate agent representing a homeowner, a house is so much more than just a building.  All houses have a history — even new construction. The history of a house starts from the ground it is built on.  Why was it built there? What makes that location special or interesting? Does it have views? Is it within a quaint town, a Brownstone in a major city, or a seaside escape? 

Describing Your Home or Listing with Effective Words Can Make All the Difference

There are many tools you can use to describe a house. Focus on its setting, its architecture, history, owners, etc. I start with the setting or location first, then work my way inside, which I’ll share with you in the next post.

Using the Setting in Your Home’s Description

Talk about the setting to describe your home.  Is the house in a city? Talk about the neighborhood restaurants — “Cheers” if you will. Can you ride a bike to the green-grocers? If the property has hills or slopes does it have views or areas for terraced gardens or rock gardens? Is there a water feature — a pond that is stocked or could be stocked. Could you paddle a boat across it? Use creative words. Use your imagination to describe a house.

A gully presents an opportunity for an arched bridge. 

Use the unique architecture to describe a house.

Buyers search for water of any kind when buying a home.  Do you have a stream or creek — Is it seasonal or year-round? Is your property wooded or partly wooded? Is it low-maintenance or are the grounds manicured or need to be cleared? Are there perennial gardens that provide fresh flowers to grace your tables?  Is the land flat and appropriate for a tennis court or swimming pool? Are your neighbors nearby and will you miss them? Is your community active? Can you see your neighbors or are you beautifully private in a park-like setting? 

Following is an example of a house description using emotional wording. It paints a mental image of the setting, more than the house. The property description is most important as it lets a buyer know the history and use of the property which is farmland. The house itself is not the selling feature. It is very important to direct your property description to the right buyer, rather than just describing the property to the masses. 

Use Adjectives when Describing your Home – Use Emotions


Every Sunday, sinners, and saints showed up at Grandma Allison’s house. No invitation necessary, no shortage of food – fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and more. The kitchen was roomy and we all fit in — buttermilk biscuits hot out of the oven. Prayer, then pass the dishes – all gone.

Kids everywhere, slamming doors, hiding in the bedrooms upstairs and down. Out in the big barn, men discuss livestock, and when or if to cut the timber again. Women relax on the wraparound porch.  Banana pudding for dessert!

Use adjsectives and emotions to describe a house.

Having trouble coming up with adjectives to describe your home? 

Be careful not to overuse the same words! Is it better to use the word house or home? Rather than using the word “house”, You might use the word “home” in your descriptions. It gives your property warmth and feeling. The word home describes the home’s character. Buyers need to relate to your description and know that if they purchase your property they will feel at “home”.

Depending on the type of house or property, you could substitute those words with farm, or cottage, homeplace, manor or castle — use a descriptive name that makes sense and gives a true image of what you’re trying to convey. I use Inspirassione.com for assistance with ideas for coming up with adjectives when describing a house. The site helps you pick “elegant words”. You can also get suggestions for adverbs, nouns, verbs in many different languages! Plus, the site offers proofreading but I use the free version of Grammarly!


“A house is made of walls. The walls are designed to “contain” things. We buy the walls and the walls “hold in” our thoughts, our emotions.  We create rooms within the walls. We color the walls with our dreams. As the walls become embedded with our personalities — our experiences, the house transforms into our “home”.

When we decide to sell the house, we still see it as our “home”.  Our perception of its value is not only how much of our funds we’ve invested, but how much of “ourselves” we’ve invested. We don’t realize that in a buyer’s eyes, we are simply selling a “house”, a house upon which the new owner will imprint his or her own personality — and the cycle continues!”

© Brenda Thompson, 2016

Consider creating a video to describe a house. You can point out the features in a fun way without being too “salesy”!

In the video above, I used pictures to describe the house rather than a lengthy and wordy description.  We believed the buyer for this property would most likely be going to use it as a vacation home. We already had ads written with all the factual data but wanted to open a buyer’s eyes to the property’s potential use.  I used a whimsical and fun font and a little humor and it worked! And, because it was a light-hearted approach, buyers did not feel pushed or afraid to reach out to an agent to see the property.

Have fun as you write your home’s real estate description! Don’t be afraid to speak from your heart. Share stories so the buyer can see themselves living there and creating their own stories. Let your emotions flow free and bring your property to life with a fabulous property description!

Words on an image can be another good way to describe a house.


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Sustainable Living | Underground Homes

Underground Homes

As the cost of living increases, people are rethinking the way they live. Many people are turning to an energy efficient lifestyle. Not only is green living economically savvy but also environmentally friendly. Underground homes, also known as earth-sheltered homes are becoming a much more popular choice to those who are attracted to sustainable living. It’s truly a unique and exciting way of life!

The main component of an earth sheltered home is its infrastructure. Being built out of concrete, the home’s temperature will mimic closely to the internal temperature of the soil, the ground acts as a blanket. For example, If the soil in your area has a consistent temperature of 50 degrees you would expect your home to remain at a steady 50 degrees. Making heating the home much easier and affordable.

The benefits of owning an Earth Sheltered Home are numerous. They include: protection from temperature extremes, energy efficiency, economically feasible insurance breaks, water lines will never freeze, termite proof, and protection from nuclear fallout.

Notable Underground Homes Around the World

Picture of one of the Interesting and beautiful underground homes in the village of Holme in England

The above underground home was significant enough to be featured in Architectural Digest.  Located in the village of Holme in England, Architectural Digest referred to it as describes the significance of a home such as this here.


There are few underground homes, but this is an excellent exaple of one in Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK

The above house, known as The Sedum House, is an underground home located in Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK.  Featured on the Underground Home Directory, their description is “This home, innovative even by green roof standards, represents a great fusion between an unusual curved green roof and Geothermal design. this home “.  By the way, the Underground Home Directory is a great resource for unique homes.  Visit their site to learn all kinds of info about underground and earth-sheltered homes.

The Pinnacle House, An Underground homes located in Lyme, New Hampshire

The above “Pinnacle House” is an award-winning, sustainably-designed underground home in Lyme, New Hampshire. It was featured on Wilder Utopia, where they describe earth-sheltered homes as Earth Sheltered, energy-efficient houses are bright, airy, dry and quiet.”  Visit their site to read about all kinds of unusual properties.


One of the Underground Homes For Sale

few underground homes are available, but this one near Asheville NC at 6 Stonegate Trail, Leicester, is currently for sale.

Special Finds has been given the opportunity to list one of these amazing underground homes located just 20 minutes west of downtown Asheville. This specific house is built directly into a hill leaving only the front of the structure visible to the outside world. The design is extremely energy efficient thanks to the earth that is surrounding the home. Never too cold in the winter and never too hot in the summer. This home is environmentally friendly with low maintenance.  To learn more about this home click here.

Around the world, earth sheltered homes have become more and more popular with individuals wanting to live a more sustainable life as well. There tends to be little to no maintenance needed on these homes since they are often built out of concrete and protected from the elements by the earth itself.



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Getting Unique Homes Sold – a Creative Approach

Getting unique homes sold is the primary marketing focus of Special “Finds…”.
We use a completely different approach… a different thought pattern, to attact house hunters for our unusal properties.  
When selling an unusual property, homeowners often find that traditional marketing methods just don’t work. Special “Finds” is a marketing agency for unique properties that takes a creative approach to getting unique homes sold.
Special “Finds…” Uses an Innovative Approach to Market and Attract Buyers for Unique Homes

Special “Finds…” is a marketing and advertising agency that specializes in helping owners of unique homes get their properties noticed and sold. The agency uses innovative marketing techniques along with mass-market advertising campaigns to get wide exposure and reach potential house-hunters. They develop custom innovative marketing campaigns to get one-of-a-kind properties noticed.

The first step in the Special “Finds…” marketing approach is to “capture the feeling of the property.” The agency then crafts a lengthy property story written from the house’s perspective. The house is brought to life and buyers are emotionally transported through the property from wherever they are as they read the story. Buyers can feel what it’s like to live in the house and on the grounds.

Next, full-page ads are placed in the digital editions of the New York TimesWall Street Journal, Robb ReportMansion GlobalduPont Registry, and over 120 international publications representing over 60 countries, including in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. An HD video tour and Google Earth video fly-over are also created and used in all ads as well as on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media.

Each home is placed on the Special “Finds…” website, which has a national and international following of unique property buyers. All pages are translated into the language of the reader. This is an important part of the marketing strategy needed in getting unique homes sold!

Brenda Thompson, Special “Finds…” Founder, President, and CEO was the Director of Marketing at the New York Stock Exchange before entering the real estate industry in 1991. She founded Special “Finds…” in 1995 and has focused exclusively on marketing unique properties and getting unique homes sold. She has consistently used a creative marketing since she founded the firm.

Thompson said, “Every home I’ve ever owned has been unique, from a stone gatehouse on the Hudson River in New York to a post and beam home with colored bottles embedded in the walls in North Carolina. When I was ready to sell, my only option was to rely on traditional real estate firms. I quickly discovered their lack of marketing skills and that marketing a unique home in a sea of cookie-cutter houses was a certain recipe for failure. I then founded Special “Finds…” to fill the need for professional marketing in an unserved market in the real estate industry.”

Special “Finds…” is a professional marketing and advertising agency for selling unique properties. Headquartered in North Carolina, Special “Finds…” develops and executes marketing and advertising campaigns for unique properties throughout the United States and around the world. The agency is also a licensed real estate firm in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and represents buyers and sellers with their unique property transactions in those states.

See our unique properties for sale.




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Biophilic Design – Adding it to Your Home

How to Incorporate Biophilic Design into Your Home

Using Biophilic Design in areas of your home is an essential part of creating a stronger environment that syncs with the natural biorhythms of humanity. Consider these biophilic design principles to incorporate into your home. There are focused efforts to bring nature back into the normal scope of life. You’ll find many architects and interior designers incorporating areas of nature back into living spaces to reconnect humans with natural sources. 

What Is Biophilic Design?
Simply put, Biophilic Design is the practice of connecting humans to nature within areas of their homes. It isn’t just adding a houseplant or creating a living wall but using the natural forms, shapes, and colors of nature into an integrated design that supports the health of humanity. Biophilic Design incorporates a web of physical items that intricately work together to create an overall connection to nature within a space.

Understand Direct/Indirect Nature Experiences
There are both direct and indirect experiences that you can have with nature within your home. Direct experiences include exposure to light, air, water, and plants as well as animals, weather, and natural landscapes. Experiencing light through a picture window would be a direct nature experience as well as having a home located on waterfront property.biophilic design includes views or a deck open to nature

Some long experiences with nature include pictures of scenic landscaping, life, natural materials, and colors, as well as natural geometries. Experiencing nature through the recorded sounds of a bubbling brook or featuring wood tones within a home would be indirect natural experiences.

Biophilic Design Examples
Access to Fresh Air
Windows are an essential part of Biophilic Design as they allow access to a wide range of direct nature experiences. Opening a window will allow fresh air to enter your home which will connect you with nature as well as the current weather. Sunlight will filter into your home as well as the sounds of nature like birds chirping, raindrops falling, or wind blowing. Making sure that your home’s windows are easily accessible, as well as in good repair for frequent use, is vital in Biophilic Design.
Blur the Boundary
Many residents find themselves wanting to spend more time outdoors. The desire makes outdoor living spaces very important even in the smallest home or properties. Creating an outdoor space that is easily accessible will be used frequently and connect residents to nature in a profound manner. Investing in an outdoor area that feels just as comfortable as an indoor one will help blur the boundary between indoor and outdoor spaces of the home.

Add biophilic design in an outdoor seating area.

Another way to blur the boundary between outdoor and indoor areas of the home can be done by adding native plants to areas of your home. Bringing native plants indoors, that already do well in your climate, will help you not only appreciate nature but also witness the unique life that each plant exhibits. These indoor plants also help to create an awareness of native plants in your area that you will recognize and connect with on a daily basis.

Embrace Natural Aspects
One of the easiest ways to begin incorporating Biophilic Design into a home is to add natural shapes, forms, and colors in a way to appreciate nature. Choose to leave wood trim or furnishings a natural color instead of painting over them. Avoid straight lines that rarely occur in life but embrace the creativity of nature with imperfect curves and shapes. Add organically curved lines to areas of your home in the shape of the counter, wall decorations, or area rugs that replicate the many forms of beauty you see in local nature spots. Incorporate natural forms into your home by imitating the shapes of waves, shells, or plants in many areas of the house as well.

Create Unity Within the Space
Again, Biophilic Design is not just choosing one of these aspects to incorporate into your home but is instead the weaving of many elements together in an intricate manner. Choose items to add to your home that makes sense not only to you but also to each other to receive the most benefit. Try to make each space of your household have different Biophilic Design elements that are both subtle but noticeable to find harmony within the senses and nature at home.

There are many aspects to Biophilic Design that create a wonderfully complex way to connect with nature within an interior space. Consider these tips to incorporate Biophilic Design into your home to intimately unite with nature on a daily basis.

Kena Morris is a guest contributor, gardener, and flower expert who loves sharing in the growth of nature.




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Buying Unique Mountain Properties

Buying Unique Mountain Properties 

The mountains of western North Carolina are an easy drive from major cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh. Many residents already have a vacation or retirement home here. Heading toward cooler temperatures and escaping the asphalt jungle on weekends is a common practice for big city area residents.

The WNC mountains offer almost every type lifestyle imaginable from championship golf courses, ski and lake resorts, city living in Asheville, to small eclectic communities nearby, or to get out into the country in just 20 minutes. You can hike the Appalachian Trail, paddle any number of rivers, or drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, just to name a few of the many outdoor activities. If people-watching is your thing, there’s no better place to be than downtown Asheville! Housing choices range from adorable tiny houses, remote log cabins, organic farms, riverfront retreats to expensive luxury estates. All price ranges are represented.

Buying Unique Mountain Properties would include this spectacular home just west of Asheville

Do Your Research

When buying unique mountain properties, especially since the mountain area is so large and the options are so many, potential buyers from outside the area will want to narrow things down a bit before beginning their search for the perfect property. Two of the most important considerations are the budget and the type of area where you want to live. As an example, do you want to live close to conveniences such as shopping, restaurants and medical centers, or is your passion to be in proximity to recreation activities such as hiking, horseback riding trails, boating or skiing? These are not always mutually exclusive as we do have many communities that have both the modern conveniences as well as recreational amenities in close proximity. You will also want to decide on the size of the house you want including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms needed.

When buying unique mountain properties, is there a specific type of community where you would like to live? We have a large variety in the mountain area with communities focused on some recreational activities such as skiing, golf, equestrian and fishing and boating at rivers and lakes. There are communities focused on the arts and spiritual or holistic living. We have historic districts and gated-luxury communities. Another consideration is the amount of land you desire. Consider if you want to live in a city or town with close proximity to neighbors, or in a more isolated, rural setting.

These are just examples of some of the initial points buyers will want to consider before starting the search for a property. Once you have a pretty good idea of what you are looking for, it’s time to contact an agent or start searching online. In addition to all of our own Special “Finds…” listings, we have put together a catalog of all listed unique properties in the mountain area, in one place, on our website.

We review every property listing in the mountains and identify the ones we would classify as unique. We then sort them by style and type and organize them for buyers to review on SpecialFinds.com. These properties are sorted into the following categories: Log and Rustic Properties, Historic Properties, Water Front or Water View Properties, Horse Properties and Farms, Modern Green Eclectic Houses and Luxury Homes and Estates.

SpecialFinds.com is the only place buyers can find virtually every listed unique property in the mountain area without having to wade through the clutter of ordinary properties seen on other real estate websites. We can tell by our web traffic that buyers will visit the site, often lingering for hours, searching through the various unique property listings.

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Choosing a Swimming Pool Liner Color

What is the best choice for a Swimming Pool Liner Color?

Recently, the owners of one of our luxury historic homes decided to investigate replacing the vinyl liner of their heated inground swimming pool to stretch out the time the pool could be used. The sellers looked at the benefits associated with choosing a different liner colors, specifically dark blue versus light blue.

This property sits is in the mountains of western North Carolina in the charming college town of Sylva. It is located less than an hour west of Asheville, and like Asheville, this property enjoys four distinct seasons – a short winter, long warm spring, short hot summer, and long warm fall. 

The sellers have a large family. Children and grandchildren are frequent visitors and spend much time splashing in the pool.  In their quest for a different swimming pool liners, they discovered the following pros and cons:

Cleanliness — A light swimming pool liner color will show more dirt. The aqua colored liner that they had previously was seldom dirty, but any leaves or dirt in the pool caused it to appear dirty, especially as debris beneath the water became magnified.

light swimming pool liner color at this home


dark swimming pool liner color at this home


Temperature — One of the biggest advantages attributed to their new dark swimming pool liner color is that it absorbs the heat from the sun as opposed to their former light color pool liner that reflected the sun.

Energy Savings — This pool has a new gas heater but because of the new dark swimming pool liner color, the heater is not used as often and definitely reduces gas usage!

Aerial view of historic luxury home with dark swimming pool liner color.Bottom line, they love the new dark swimming pool liner color. Aesthetically, the pool blends beautifully with the home’s exterior. The pool is much more inviting and has a more relaxing appearance!  

Learn more about this house and amazing property that is currently for sale for $865,000:



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