I have specialized in wild trout stream, secluded properties. I have extensive knowledge of the surrounding areas for the past 25yrs. As past president of the Rainbow Springs river association and realtor , I can accurately state the following relevant to the Rainbow Springs area: Recent average price for Macon county side river/lake lots per acre has been 120K+ range. The average price for clay county river front only is 50K per acre and river/ lake property 90K The average cost for building square footage to be $125.00. Add 30K for site prep, well and septic. These costs reflect depressed market and were higher several years ago. The remoteness of the area drives up sq ft costs. I speak from experience. Consider that contractors spend over 1 hr per day just on drive time and the subs hate the distance which means you end up paying more to build in this area.
The Rainbow springs community area is really an anomaly due to the fact it is completely surrounded by NFS land, bordered by the Rainbow Springs Club ( a 5000+ acre private hunting preserve that has been deeded to a conservancy). Additionally, the Rainbow springs club is bordered by the Standing Indian Wilderness area and NFS. All of which means the Nantahala river that flows across the area properties is completely protected from development, deforestation and other adverse affects. The water quality is outstanding, clear and pure. The wild life is abundant. The Nantahala river of course is what feeds into the beautiful Lake Nantahala. large % of the lake shore is also NFS creating one of the most beautiful lakes east of the Mississippi.
The question becomes what is it worth to own a part of something so rare? This is what drives the fact that there are really no other homes on the market in this area. (in fact there are a few other homes but I wouldnt recommend touching them!) Point is that people really hang on to these properties. The final analysis: This area is the only way to go to get the value of remote, extremely private, protected land that includes ownership of both river and lake frontage. The people in this area all really value those qualities. Think about it....how many places offer river frontage, lake frontage, ultra-remote, great neighbors and have deeded fishing/hunting rights for the entire community?
Finally, I could point to other many other areas in Western North Carolina that have good selection of homes either on "rivers" or "lakes". I feel that None will come close to the offerings and profile of rainbow springs area. It really does come down to the personal value someone places on such an rare area.