My story starts in Grinnell, Iowa. I was born there on May 3, 1960. In 1965, my family moved to Muscatine, Iowa, when my father bought a printing company and changed the name to Linden Printing. Growing up on the Mississippi River was a great adventure. I was the middle child between two brothers who were always my best friends and still are to this day. We all worked from the time we could walk. Us working was never an option with my parents. If you had free time, you had time to work. I thank them for that now, as it has given me a great work ethic which is especially necessary in the real estate world where I am usually just a phone call or email away from my clients.
I attended Muscatine Community College where I had a full scholarship to play basketball, and later transferred to Hawkeye Institute of Technology to pursue my photography career. After graduation in 1980, I moved back to my home town and opened Linden Photography. I married in 1984 and in 1987 my daughter, Cattlin, was born and my life changed forever. She became my shadow and came to work with me every day. After divorcing in 1993, I closed Linden Photography in Muscatine and moved to Weaverville, NC. Cattlin, myself, four cats, two dogs and two very large trucks moved in September of 1993. I bought a home in which I could reopen my photography studio so I could be there when Cattlin got home from school. Everyone said it was such a brave thing to do because I didn’t know anyone here, but I just knew that I needed to move here.
My moving 14 hours to the NC mountains allows me understand what you, my clients, are going through as you move into to a new home. You may be moving to a place you know, or to an unfamiliar place, and it may seem strange at first, but western North Carolina is a beautiful place and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. With the digital world and big business changing the photography world, I had to make a decision. Stay in the business and reinvest in more equipment, or call it a day! I had been the primary portrait photographer for the Mountain Air Country Club since they opened the new club house in 1996, so I decided to call some of the owners and discuss my dilemma with them. The developer suggested I get my real estate license and come to work for Mountain Air. So, in 2007, I closed Linden Photography, got my real estate license the same year, and started the new chapter in my life as a real estate broker. The change was bittersweet, because as much as I loved my new job, being a photographer never seemed like going to work, as it was a joy every day to celebrate milestones in people’s lives.
The biggest surprise about being in this business was the fact even though I changed jobs, I am still working with people who are celebrating milestones in their lives as they move to a new area, a new home and a new neighborhood, whether they are first time buyers, 2nd and 3rd home buyers, moving because of a job change, or deciding they want to be a farmer. Others are looking for new homes and selling so that they can downsize and travel, or selling so that they can buy a bigger home to in which to raise their family. Some people are buying land to build the home of their dreams. I am basically still in the same type of sales business and I love it! I am still in the business of helping people live and fulfill their dreams and I get to be there to assist them in their celebration.
When I left selling at that gated community at the end of 2008, the thought of going into general real estate was terrifying! How would I ever find my way around all of these neighborhoods! With the Mountain Air job, I only had to learn one really large neighborhood for the past two years and suddenly there were so many cities out there full of incredible houses for sale! My fiancé, Guy, bought me a GPS system which saved my life when I got a referral to list all of the foreclosures for a local bank. At one point, I had property in 5 counties and I was still listing and selling property at Mountain Air. I was very blessed to have those bank listings; it was one of the best experiences and the hardest jobs I ever had in my life. My theory is, if you are going to be in real estate, you may as well experience every type of housing out there, and over a three year period, I was selling $25,000 house trailers and million dollar homes all at the same time, and I loved it.
In January 2015, I opened my own firm, WNC Mountain Realty Group, LLC. I realized that Asheville is the reason buyers come into the area, but they don’t always want to live in Asheville. I can’t be all things to all people in all places, so I decided to recruit some of the best brokers in the counties that I am not as familiar with and to work together assisting clients in finding the perfect area for them to live. We can all work together for buyers and sellers in referring each other to people wanting to buy or sell in areas that we may not be as familiar with. My goal is to have every county from Avery to Cherokee covered with a quality, hand-selected broker who will work together and refer business back and forth to one another. With this system, you, the client, will not feel lost or feel like you are starting over if you start your search in one county and end up in another one. I personally know each of these brokers and I chose them to be a part of this new adventure because I know it will be the best real estate experience for you and for all of us. Cindy Casper worked at Mountain Air with me and we also had a realty company together for a short time. She is an extremely hard worker and she manages the office that she works in. Richard Parker is probably the newest to the area but is anxious to keep learning more about the counties that he works in. I have sent him several referrals that he has been great at following up with, to help find the home they want. Troy Winterrowd and Kelly Erin-Spinney at Modern Asheville are the pros when it comes to anything modern. I worked with them at a national real estate company and have known them personally for many years. I met Jane Wallin when I needed help with some property in the Wolf Laurel area. She was so great to work with that I never forgot her kindness and knowledge of that area. Ron Armstrong came to a green built real estate class that I organized and held at the Ciel community. We have co-listed several properties together and he has built a great team. Rob Roland was good friends with the golf pro at a community that I worked with and Rob and I became friends right away. With Rob’s golf sales background, he is well connected and he is the expert in the Waynesville area and any golf course community! I met Linda Cramblit when she worked with me on a million dollar property I had listed in Avery County. She has great connections there to get things done. Noah George came to me as a recommendation from Ron Armstrong. Noah is one of the best in Henderson County and I look forward to getting to know him better over this year. His numbers speak for themselves.
I have made this site as simple as possible to navigate and will continue to fine tune it to serve you, the client. You can search property first, then the broker will be assigned or you can search for the broker, then the property in the county you want to live in. Please do not hesitate to send me any questions or feedback on the website, as it is a work in progress and I want it to work for you, since you are who it was built to serve. I look forward to helping you with your housing adventure, whether it is selling a treasured family home or making a new purchase. Our group is here to assist you along the way. We love where we live and we want to welcome you to Western North Carolina.
Diane Vander Linden, Broker/Owner