Which is harder to endure, the reporters that don’t bother to learn Woodbine from Priest Lake from Antioch, or the ever-dependable Facebook trolls who, anytime there is bad news in the area, can be counted on to post, “Just another day in the hood.”
That “PR problem” sometimes resulted in stories that those of us who live here would find humorous, if not so pathetic. Like the real estate agent who described how she braved death and took an appointment to show a condo in the Murfreesboro Road area, scheduling it so she would have plenty of time to get home before dark. As she was cutting across Old Hickory Boulevard on the way back home in Brentwood, her car stalled on Bell Road in the Hickory Hollow area. She described the stark terror she felt as she waited half an hour, windows rolled up in summer heat and doors locked, to be mugged, murdered or for her husband to rescue her.
These days residents of Southeast Nashville who keep up with developments in the area through the media and groups like Crossing Nashville Action Partnership (CNAP) and Southeast Nashville United (SENU) feel something akin to watching a rocket with the steam and smoke rising from the bottom right before blast-off. Hickory Hollow has been rebranded as The Crossings. Steady progress is being made on the infrastructure work for the 300-acre Century Farms development. Community Health Systems is moving the first of 2,000 employees into their new office building. Ikea will build a 341,000-square-foot store in Century Farms (that’s the size of almost six football fields under roof, to give you some perspective). The city is completing the design phase of a 600-acre park. And there is more; we’re ready for blast-off.
Lorinda Hale and her allies at SENU decided we needed a way to communicate and celebrate the developments in our area. They remembered when East Nashville, which is a few years ahead of us with their turn-around, told the world about their enthusiasm for their community with a bumper sticker so they designed this colorful bumper sticker for Southeast Nashville. It will only work if there are enough of them that people begin to take notice, so let’s get them out there. They are free and as bright as Southeast Nashville’s future. Text, call (615-310-2496) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll get one to you.
Greater Nashville REALTORS® tracks home sales in Middle
Tennessee using data from RealTracs Solutions, the multiple listing service
(MLS) for Middle Tennessee. The report includes real estate listings and sales
in Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner,
Williamson, and Wilson Counties. They reported 3,267 real estate closings for
the area in October. That number is down 1.7 percent from the 3,324 closings
reported for October 2016. The MLS tracks four categories of real estate: single-family residential, condominiums,
multi-family, and farms, land, and lots.
Year-to-date there were 34,059 closings through the end
of October, and an increase of 4.2 percent over last year.
The negative percentages in the number of sales comparing
October 2017 to October 2016 is more an indication of the continuing tight
inventory than it is a lack of demand. Smyrna stands out as the lone exception.
Smyrna's closings in October demonstrate that new construction is finally
providing a significant number of homes in that zip code. New construction is also seen in the double-digit increases in median prices for the Smyrna market. Eighteen of October’s
sales in Smyrna were new construction. We should see that happen in the
Southeast Nashville and La Vergne zip codes as new construction is finally
ramping up throughout the area.
In Metro Nashville, at the end of September, there were 6,380 single family homes on the market and 525 condominiums. This compares to 6,638 single-family homes and 603 condominiums units on the market at the end of September 2016.
There were 3,544 real estate sales in September, a 2% increase over the 3,474 closings in September 2016.
Rutherford County closed 591 real estate transactions in September. The sales price to list price ratio was 99.96 percent. The seller’s market continues and there is no sign that the market is cooling. Expect another blast of market heat as the selling season ramps up next spring.
Realtor.com continued to include Nashville in its list of the 20 hottest markets in the country, moving it up 4 notches to rank us at 16 after having us as the last entry on their 20 hottest list in August.
In a recent Facebook post, one of our Southeast Nashville neighbors reported that a strange man had just drove up and down her street a couple of times taking pictures of her house. Had anyone else seen anything like this and why would he do this?
Several posters chimed in to report that they had seen something similar at some time in the past and others offered their conspiratorial conjectures about the picture-taker's likely mischief.
I offered a brief explanation, based on my own experience, about why he may have been taking those pictures. It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to offer a more detailed explanation here and maybe ease some of the worries you have when you see someone taking pictures on your street.
Financial institutions keep tabs on their money. If you have a mortgage, homeowner’s insurance, or pay taxes, somebody will occasionally take pictures of your house. Also, if you bought your house within the last year it may be used as a "comp" for sales that are taking place nearby. Comp is real estate speak for comparable.
An estimate of a property’s value is determined by comparing it to what similar properties in the area have sold for in the past year, or six months in a fast moving market like we've had recently.
Banks, mortgage lenders and insurance companies are not going to put thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars, at risk, some of it for as long as 30 years, and say, "Okay, we've made that loan (or issued that insurance policy), hope things go well there." No, they have someone check on it from time to time and send them pictures.
Who does these inspections and takes the pictures?The Metro Nashville/Davidson County tax assessor is required to review and reassess property taxes every four years. Someone from the tax assessor’s office visits every property in the county during each four-year period--and takes at least a front picture of the house. Go to the property assessors website and you can see the most recent picture.
Financial institutions, have a system for these ongoing property inspections and evaluations. They contract with companies, called valuation companies, that provide this service. The valuation companies, in turn, have relationships with real estate agents and appraisers across the country. These are agents and appraisers they have vetted and, in many cases, run background checks on.
A financial institution places an order with a valuation company for an inspection with instructions for what they want in the report. The valuation company then sends that order out to one of their affiliated inspectors who does the inspection, takes the pictures and submits the report.
Why bother if the payments are being made on time? A lender or insurer may want to review the status of a property for many reasons.
They may be doing a routine check on properties on which they have a mortgage or insurance.
Mortgages are negotiable securities. They are bought and sold like stocks and bonds. One company may be in talks to buy ten million dollars worth of mortgages from another company. That buyer pulls a sample of the properties in that batch of securities and asks a valuation company to inspect those properties to ensure they are buying what they think they are buying.
Some years ago I was sent to inspect a rural property in western Williamson County. House numbers are often few and far between in rural areas. I drove back and forth trying to find that address. Frustrated, I pulled over on the side of the road to review my instructions and figure out what to do next. Stopped, I could see the outlines of a foundation and the remains of a burned out house in the weeds right where the address told me I should see a house. I don't know why the company had ordered that inspection. Inspectors seldom know the reason for an inspection. Maybe they already knew about the fire and were sending me to verify it. Anyway, they got their pictures of the vacant lot and what remained after the fire.
On another inspection in Antioch, I pulled up to the front of a newer, 2-story house. The lawn and landscaping were well maintained. The house appeared to be in perfect condition but, when pulled around to get a picture of the left side of the house, I could see the back of it was completely burned out.
After the 2010 floods in Middle Tennessee, inspections were ordered by the hundreds. Many flooded houses were not in a flood plain. Companies heard about the flooding and wanted to assess and track their risks.
If things are rocking along and the payments are showing up on time, inspections are probably infrequent. Each company has its procedures and schedules. But if you miss a payment, the first thing a mortgage servicer does is order an inspection. Is the lawn mowed, shrubbery trimmed, everything neat and well maintained, or does it show "deferred maintenance?" Does it look abandoned? That property will be tracked closely, probably every 30 days, until payments are up-to-date or foreclosure is completed.
If you are a neighbor and the property is abandoned, you should welcome the inspection because the lender will move more quickly to begin basic maintenance to keep the property from becoming overgrown and damaged.
Nell and I have done these reports for years. An inspection report may require only one or two pictures and a short checklist about the appearance of the house and the neighborhood. The most common report is more detailed and is called a broker price opinion (BPO). A BPO typically requires six pictures, front, house number (if there is no house number then the two closest numbers on each side of the subject property), both sides and pictures down the street in both directions. BPO's require information on the condition of the house, comments about the neighborhood, comments on the local market conditions and an estimated value based on current listings and recent sales in the area.
There are some simple rules for inspectors. Stay on public property, don't go on private property. Don't take pictures with people in them. Don't discuss what you are doing with anybody.
So, be a good neighbor. Watch out for your neighborhood and if you see anything suspicious, call the police. But if it is someone taking a few pictures from their car, it is probably just a financial institution checking up on a property where they have some financial interest or potential liability.
The number of new jobs being created in the U.S. is roughly twice the rate of growth in the number of workers, says Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics.
Our Southeast Metro Nashville, La Vergne, and Smyrna communities seem to be a demonstration model for Zandi's analysis. Bridgestone has just opened its new facility in the former Sears store building at The Crossings, formerly Hickory Hollow Mall, adding 500 jobs in our area. The six-story Community Health Systems (CHS) building in the new Century Farms development is about ready, and 1,600 new Antioch employees will begin moving in a few weeks.
The massive former Whirlpool plant building in La Vergne is now fully leased. SVP Worldwide, known for its Singer, Husqvarna Viking, and Pfaff brands, will move its headquarters, already located in La Vergne, and a new Singer research and development facility into 213,774 square feet of office and industrial space increasing its current local work force of 120 employees by 20%. Some of that research and development staff is being relocated here from overseas. Paul Block, Singer's CEO, was quoted in The Tennessean as saying Singer's focus is "shifting from sewing for necessity to sewing for hobby. They're looking to do quilting, embroidery and sewing for fun."
A Hong Kong-based company, Sinomax, announced in 2015 that they would begin manufacturing
pillows and mattresses in another part of that former Whirlpool plant. The plant brings 350 new jobs to our area. This is Sinomax's first U. S. venture. Their president of USA operations, Frank Chen, says Sinomax was motivated by their desire to cut the cost of shipping their bulky products to the U. S. market.
And that's just the big stuff. Smaller employers announce their impending arrival in Southeast Nashville almost daily. Recent announcements by Taco John's and Chick-fil-A come to mind.
Nationally home prices continue to increase at an alarming rate. In May, according to the National Association of Realtors®, the median list price for all types of housing topped $250,000 for the first time (median meaning that half of all listings were below $250,000 and half were above that number). Yet, the ADP National Employment Report says there were an estimated 2,000 fewer construction jobs in June. The limited supply of labor is slowing the number of homes builders can complete and, since there is plenty of demand in upper price ranges, the builders are concentrating their work there while supplies of lower priced new construction languish.
Demand for housing continues to be high. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said, "Prospective buyers are being sidelined by both limited choices and home prices that are climbing too fast." It seems Yun could be thinking about the greater Nashville area when he says, "The lack of listings in the affordable price range are creating lopsided conditions in many areas where investors and repeat buyers with larger down payments are making up a bulk of the sales activity. Meanwhile, many prospective first-time buyers can't catch a break. Prices are going up, and there's intense competition for the homes they're financially able to purchase."
When a seller asks for a consultation about selling their house, the conversation eventually gets around to price.
That’s when a seller often says, “We need at least [a certain amount] for this house. By the time of my visit, I have done some basic research on what similar houses have sold for in the neighborhood. As we’ve walked through the house and yard, I’ve been making mental adjustments to the numbers arrived at in my research
.If their number falls within the price range or close to the range I have in mind, we’re on our way.
But what if their number is well above the value of any similar recent sale in the area?
We have to address what these sellers need. A house is usually a family’s single biggest asset. That often leads, consciously or unconsciously, to an assumption that the value of the house is always there as the ultimate backer of the family’s financial needs.
That may or may not be true. Why? Because of buyers. Buyers have their own word. They are looking for a “deal.” In fact, they are looking for the best bargain they can find that will meet the needs of their family and their budget. That is the eternal tug of war between sellers and buyers. Buyers have little or no interest in what the sellers need. They focus on their own needs.
Real estate brokers live in this tension between sellers and buyers. The tension can be less painful if sellers and buyers understand how houses are valued. Here the broker becomes the educator. The broker’s first job is to get them to set the emotions aside. That’s seldom easy. Sellers often want to include a premium in the price for their memories and their past hard work on upkeep.
But the numbers are the numbers. Those numbers focus on what similar houses in the area have sold for in the past six months to a year.
I often tell sellers that we are going to have to sell this property twice. First, we have to sell it to a buyer. Then, if that buyer is getting a mortgage, we are going to have to sell it to an appraiser. The appraiser is there to protect the lender from loaning more on the house than it is worth and isn’t interested in anybody’s needs, wants or deals.
We have to clear those two hurdles before anybody can meet any of their needs or wants. That’s a win-win.
Every spring one of nature’s understated beauties hides among the new green leaves of tulip poplar trees. You have to get up close to appreciate the delicate structure and colors of these flowers, and that’s not always easy since the trees have been known to tower 190 feet with an average height of 70 to 100 feet.
The leaves of the tulip poplar have a unique and easily identifiable shape. They contribute glowing gold to red hues to the autumn color display.
The tulip poplar grows tall, straight and fast, for a hardwood tree. In 1947 the Tennessee General Assembly designated it the state tree “because it grows from one end of the state to the other,” and because it contributed to the development of the state by providing the lumber for houses and farm buildings.
Like one of the old vinyl records, we REALTORS® feel like we are stuck repeating the same thing over and over, rising prices and low inventory.
Turn on the news. You’ll hear that the job market is great and mortgage interest rates remain at historically low rates. So why is home ownership stuck at a 50-year low? The National Association of REALTORS® says it is because of a “perverse mix of affordability challenges, student loan debt, tight credit conditions, and housing supply shortages.” To that, they add “post-foreclosure stress disorder.”
The real estate market along the I-24E corridor through southeast Nashville, Antioch, La Vergne and Smyrna seems like it was drawn up as an illustration for the NAR analysis. The charts above show clearly that year-over-year price increases are out-pacing yearly wage growth which is stagnant in the 2% to 3% range.
In our five target zip codes, 37013, 37211, 37217, 37086 and 37167, there are 112 active new construction listings on the market and 199 new houses already under contract. Builders are working as fast as the labor market will allow. Be careful around new construction sites. You are apt to be handed a hammer or shovel and told, “You’re hired.”
In these zip codes, the least expensive is $205,000 for three bedrooms, two baths with 1,325 square feet in Antioch’s The Village at Harbortown development. The top price in these zips is $445,000 for three bedrooms, three and a half baths with 3,395 square feet in Hampton Roads Estates in La Vergne. Builders are now projecting completion dates of new homes out into November and December.
There is some indication that millennials are becoming more active buyers as they age into their 30’s and are motivated by increasing prices that threaten to put home ownership of reach if they don’t act now. Current homeowners continue to be reluctant sellers because of the challenges involved in making a smooth transition into a new purchase.
Someone recently asked what we are telling first-time buyers who are trying to navigate their way to home ownership in this market. That caused some reflection on what we have experienced with our clients; what has worked and what hasn’t.
Buyers need to understand how the current market is working. This is not your father's real estate market. Friends and family offer advice. “Take your time.” “Be patient and find exactly what you want.” “Buy in the best area.” “Start out with a low offer; you can always come up from there.” That’s all good advice, but in this market, if first-time buyers aren't careful, it will have them losing out on house after house.
This market requires a different approach, based on the realities of a rampant seller's market. Failure to know and do what works will likely result in renewing that rental lease again and again.
The successful buyer in this market starts with one clear goal: “I want to be a homeowner.” Nothing more complicated than that.
Then begins the journey through the requirements and compromises necessary to attain it. Here are four things we tell first-time home buyers:
REALTORS® share the emotional roller-coaster ride with buyers. When you start getting excited about a home, we join in. Likewise, when you are disappointed, we share the disappointment. Sometimes our clients will ask, “How do you do this day after day?” That’s where the experience comes in. If you need coaches who have been in this contest before, call us. We’ll use our experience to help you finish the race.
On Thursday morning, May 25, 2017, Antioch became the “It Neighborhood” of the “It City.”
That gasping, sputtering sound you heard from the east and west sides of the city was people choking on their lattes as they heard the news.
Metropolitan Nashville Mayor Megan Barry held a press conference, along with representatives of Ikea to announce that Ikea will be building a new store in Antioch. Here is what we have been able to glean from the announcement and various news stories:
Homeowners in the southeast Metro Nashville, La Vergne, and Smyrna, owe Oldacre McDonald, the developers of the Century City development, a big “Thank You.” This development will eventually change the character of the entire I-24E corridor. One of the most dramatic changes will be in the property values; we predict they will increase steadily during and after the development of Century City as more upscale businesses follow Ikea into the development.
The Ridgeview development in the Crossings at Hickory Hollow area continues to build, and sell as fast as they can build. Marhaden Pointe in the Hamilton Church Road/Pin Oak Drive area has four new homes listed under $250,000, as of this writing, with completion dates out into October. Hollandale Estates in La Vergne has some of the lowest prices for new construction in the I-24E corridor, offered with completion dates projected out near the end of the year. Likewise, Lenox of Smyrna has offerings slated for completion late in the year. Developers are working overtime planning new developments. This tight market looks like it will last for several years, barring national or international disruption. See the April 2017 Real Estate Market Report for Southeast Nashville, Antioch, La Vergne and Smyrna here.
On Saturday, May 20, noon to 3:00 p.m., the Special Operations Division of the Metro Nashville Police Department will hold their 2nd Annual Special Operations Division Open House in the football stadium of McGavock High School.
Watch the canine teams work. Get up-close looks at police helicopters, SWAT equipment, the Hazardous Devices Unit equipment, including their robot, and the department’s emergency contingency equipment.
Need a job? Recruiters for police officers and school crossing guards will be taking job applications.
There will also be presentations on traffic, pedestrian, and cyclist safety.
Food trucks will be there.
Everything is totally free and open to everyone.
Your home felt comfortable for a few years after you bought it. Now, your list of things you really wish it had grows longer every year. Browsing online, you get lots of ideas. Then you binge on HGTV. You begin to question, should we relocate or renovate? The answer depends on your needs and priorities.
Need a bigger kitchen for a growing family? Or maybe want your family to eat a more healthy diet and have more meals together as a family. You collection of cookware and appliances may have outgrown your cabinet space. Designing and renovating your kitchen can be satisfying and rewarding. Then it will also add value if you do decide to sell sometime in the future.
Is your family running out of space? Maybe you need another bathroom or a rec room. Finishing an unfinished basement may be a solution. If you don’t have the space to add that extra room, renovation may not be practical. If you are in a condo adding space is probably not an option. The expense and inconvenience of adding onto your current home may be as much trouble and expense as moving.
Is location an issue? You may love your neighborhood and not want to leave. The school can be an issue. If your child is happy and thriving in the school, you may be reluctant to risk a change. Renovation may be the better choice. If you are seeking more convenient shopping and restaurants, better schools or an easier commute than your current neighborhood provides, a move may be in order.
What family budget and investment issues play into the decision? If you have a mortgage payment that is easy to manage you may be reluctant to take on a larger monthly payment. Gradually improving your current home may be a more comfortable choice. On the other hand, you see prices moving upward in the Nashville area market. Perhaps you’ve had a nice bounce in family income. You may want to invest in a home in an area where home values are likely to increase more rapidly, making it likely you will benefit from a nice build-up in equity with the added benefit that you immediately have your wish list fulfilled. Here is a ranking, from the National Association of REALTORS®, of the top 10 remodeling projects that provide the best return on investment nationally.