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Mortgages and Starting a Business in Asheville

Mortgages and Starting a Business in Asheville


Asheville, in many ways, is a hot-spot for entrepreneurs.  From restaurateurs to musicians, retailers to real estate professionals, the eclectic and healthy local economy can be the ideal spot for a startup.  One such business is PennFirst Mortgages, founded and owned by Matthew Oswald. Oswald and Greg Bauguess, a mortgage loan officer with PennFirst, joined us to discuss starting a business in Asheville, as well as mortgages and what PennFirst offers to homebuyers and investors.


Oswald, who founded PennFirst in 2013 before moving to Asheville a few years later, and Bauguess, who got his start in finance, see Asheville as an ideal location for self-starters to get their ideas off the ground.  While it can be a competitive market, it is also a unique one – Bauguess cites the tourism industry and the revenue it brings in with creating opportunities, particularly for young people, to follow unique and interesting paths, and to advance along with the city in certain high-growth industries.  Oswald’s advice for those looking to get started in Asheville (or elsewhere) is to plan, plan some more, and then go for it! If the business fails, he says, so be it – most entrepreneurs will experience multiple failures before eventual success, and without trying there’s no opportunity to succeed.


PennFirst’s success is due not only to planning ahead and hard work but also to the growth of real estate in the area – as a mortgage brokerage, it depends upon people moving to the area; there hasn’t been any shortage of new arrivals in recent years, and both Bauguess and Oswald see that trend continuing for the foreseeable future.  Bauguess highlights upstate South Carolina, Asheville, Johnson City, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the regions in between as prime areas for real estate growth.


Of course, while this is great news for lenders and investors, it isn’t so positive for those who wish to move here – there is, they acknowledge, something of a housing crisis in Asheville at present.  According to Oswald, there continues to be an extremely low vacancy rate for apartments, which can make it difficult to find a place to stay at a reasonable price. Still, there are positives – the alternative to renting, of course, is buying, and in an area like Asheville where rent can be very high buying may become a more attractive option.


While renting typically has lower associated costs than owning (taxes, repairs, and so forth), rent is often much higher than a monthly mortgage payment.  And, though the housing shortage affects the real estate market to an extent as well, there are properties to be had if buyers know where to look.


One way in which PennFirst is helping buyers find and purchase properties at the right price is by offering renovation loans that can enable buyers to invest in properties that require renovations and repairs.  These properties might not financeable through traditional means, particularly if the repairs they require are extensive. A renovation loan makes these properties accessible and provides buyers with the funds to get the appropriate renovations and repairs.


Of course, not everyone is inclined to work on a fixer-upper – PennFirst works with a variety of lenders to offer different types of financing, so they’re sure to have a solution for every buyer.  To learn more about PennFirst, visit or call 828-484-2160!