By Nathan Ham
A new real estate venture has opened in Banner Elk that will add in a special benefit to the community it serves. License partners James J. Ward and Tricia Ward Holloway along with managing broker Jami Prince will lead the newly established Engel & Volkers Banner Elk.
“Banner Elk is an ideal expansion market for Engel & Volkers,” said Anthony Hitt, president and CEO of Engel & Volkers Americas. “Our growth has always been dictated by our clients, where they are coming from and where they want to be. Banner Elk joins our growing network inclusive of many desirable resort destinations and the markets that feed into them, and we’re thrilled to have James, Tricia and Jami leading the charge. Collectively, they bring a new level of industry prowess, expertise and luxury client service to the area.”
The brokerage will provide real estate services to home buyers and sellers in Avery and Watauga counties, including the towns and neighborhoods of Banner Elk, Newland, Linville Ridge, Diamond Creek, Eceloa Club, Elk River Club, Grandfather Mountain Club, Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock and Boone. Engel & Volkers is a worldwide real estate leader that began in Europe and has since found its way to North Carolina.
“They are very picky with who they choose to become licensed partners so we had about five meetings before they (E&V) became comfortable with us,” said Holloway. “It’s the only real estate brand that has ever come from Europe to the United States.”
Right now there are about 180 locations in North America as Engel & Volkers continues to expand to other markets outside of Europe. Overall they have over 800 offices worldwide.
“Our market is ready for a fresh approach to real estate service,” said Ward. “Many Banner Elk residents have other homes in different markets, so it was especially important for us to partner with a brand that offered an extensive global network while maintaining a high standard of quality and expertise from shop to shop. Engel & Volkers is globally recognized for providing a bespoke approach to the home buying and selling experience, and this made our partnership a natural fit.”
One thing that sets E&V apart from others is in the area is their charitable contribution back to the community.
“All of the proceeds after expenses will go to the High Country Charitable Foundation. Last year the foundation had over $1 million in grant requests and they filled 32 of them at about $400,000. That’s how the idea came about on how do we bridge the gap,” Holloway said.
Holloway is the daughter of Jim Ward, who is the founder of the High Country Charitable Foundation. HCCF was founded in 2016.
“The people around here have been very supportive. The first year we raised $100,000. Last year, we were able to raise $430,000,” Ward said.
He envisions the addition of Engel & Volkers to the community as another leg on the stool of support for Avery County. In addition to donations from the community, Engel & Volkers donating their proceeds to the High Country Charitable Foundation will be another big key to supporting Avery County.
“We wanted to get another income source for the foundation. We were very lucky to get Engel & Volkers to come to Banner Elk,” said Ward.
The third leg of the stool is going to be an annual concert in conjunction with Appalachian State University that will bring a popular musical act to the High Country each year with proceeds from that concert going to the HCCF.
As needs continue to grow across the High Country, particularly in Avery County, the foundation is always hard at work managing the money that they receive.
“Half the battle is raising the money. The other half is making sure we’re giving it out to legitimate 501-c-3’s. We have committees that go and check out each charity,” Ward says.
Jacob Stepan, the Executive Vice President of Expansion at Engel & Volkers, said that Ward was a driving force in bringing the real estate company to Banner Elk.
“He (Jim) was really the visionary saying this would be a perfect location and would be great for the community and great for the people that live here. I think from our perspective, we’ve got such great partners and I think it’s really going to be good for the area too,” Stepan said. “The foundation made a lot of sense, they’re smart business people, so it just made a lot of sense for us to get involved. Banner Elk is a special place and we really think E&V will be perfect here.”
The event was coordinated by Elizabeth Hempfling, owner of Events by Elizabeth Ashley, LLC. She grew up in Avery County, so she has seen first-hand the importance of what lending a helping hand can do for the community. The presence of Engel & Volkers in Banner Elk should add a lot to the High Country Charitable Foundation.
“I was completely blown away by the concept and what they (E&V) are doing for the community, especially being someone that is from the area and grew up here. I see what some of the needs are,” said Hempfling. “It was great to see how caring and giving they are, and what the real estate business is going to give back to Avery County. It’s awesome to have that interconnection. There’s no other real estate office that can top that in the area.”
Hempfling shared a brief story on how the idea of the High Country Charitable Foundation came about. She said that Jim knew a man that worked at the stables at Elk River Club that has problems with his hearing. Jim helped pay for that man to get everything taken care of with his hearing to be able to live a better quality of life.
“Mr. Ward started it because he saw the need. He saw that there wasn’t a lot of support in the area so the High Country Charitable Foundation was started to provide that support for the county,” Hempfling said.
The two-story building will be home to Engel & Volkers on the bottom floor and the main office for the High Country Charitable Foundation on the top floor. The grand opening celebration took place on Friday June 14.
“It’s nice to see the community come together not just for the grand opening and ribbon cutting, but also to show at the same time what the charitable organization is going to help do for the community,” said Hempfling. “We don’t always think about the person out living in the woods. They may not have heat; they may not have sufficient food or clothing for their children. Just having this connection to the area and knowing that someone cares that much to give back is huge.”
Engel & Volkers is looking for agents interested in joining E&V to make a good living while also contributing to the community.
For more information on Engel & Volkers Banner Elk, visit their website at https://bannerelk.evrealestate.com/.
Pictures from the Grand Opening on Friday, June 14: