Home sales in Rutherford County continue to gain momentum, new housing data shows.
The Home Builders Association of Middle Tennessee has announced dates for the 2012 Parade of Homes. The event will open Saturday, Oct. 6 and run daily through Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Kings’ Chapel community in Arrington, Tenn.
A total of 365 homes were sold last month, compared to 263 in June 2011, according to the Multiple Listing Service, a real estate advertising and marketing service company that also tracks home sales.
“Every month this year has been an improvement from the previous month and a huge improvement over the same month last year,” said Steven Dotson, president of Rutherford County-based Red Realty. “You can expect a 2-5 percent increase, but a 20 percent-plus increase year over year is awesome.”
He said Rutherford and surrounding counties are “in the middle of a nice, steady recovery,” as closings continue to increase and inventories decrease.
Kendra Cooke, president of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors, said inventory has been selling down and there currently exists less than a six-month supply of single-family residential in the Greater Nashville area.
Locally, home sales jumped 39 percent year-over-year, while closed prices remained level. That compares to a 22 percent increase in Williamson County, 18 percent increase in Davidson County and 47 percent increase in Wilson County, all during the same time period.
Pending home sales dipped slightly in June, when compared to the month prior, data shows. Rutherford County pended 363 sales, down from 12 percent in May, while Davidson County pending sales decreased 4 percent. Williamson and Wilson counties both experienced modest increased pending sales with 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
“Pendings are mixed and project we may see a slight pull back in closings in the next couple months,” Dotson said.
He also noted several factors holding the local housing market back from more substantial progress.
“Out-of-town appraisers are still being hired who don’t know the local market,” Dotson said. “My suggestion to buyers and Realtors is to only deal with banks who can guarantee a local, experienced appraiser will be hired to appraise their home. This is a very simple step that will help improve appraisal issues.”
With regards to mortgage and financial issues, Dotson said, “too many closings are being delayed due to financing issues at the last minute.” While some are legitimate reasons, others are far from it.
“I can’t wait to see us get back to common sense lending,” he said. “The National Association of Realtors is working on both of these issues in Washington, but we do need to understand how serious these issues are and that they must be fixed in order for us to see a full healthy recovery in real-estate markets.”
“Home sales are showing very positive signs in this region with indications that those trends can continue,” said Cooke said. “Current information indicates that June home sales in Greater Nashville are up over 20 percent from last year. And, both median prices and pending sales are up from where they were a year ago."
However, even with these positive trends, the fact is that sales are at levels comparable to the late 1990s, she explained. There is a significant amount of growth yet needed in order to improve to levels seen in the mid-2000s or even higher.
That brings us to a very sensitive, but critical issue, Cooke continues. There is no doubt that in order for the levels of home sales achieved in the mid-2000s to happen, there were some unfortunate choices made and practices followed. And, the response to that situation has resulted in over-restrictive policies combined with layers of regulation that make the process of home ownership considerably more time-consuming and difficult.
“Certainly there were mistakes made by lenders, Realtors, home buyers and others, which has created an increase in regulation,” said Eddie Latimer, president of Affordable Housing Resources. “While there is no way to defend the practices that caused the problems, the correction seems to be so overdone that the home ownership opportunity is being unnecessarily limited.”
Many of the regulations and policies currently in place are national in scope, so local or regional responses are not effective. However, the GNAR pointed out local choices, services, support and resources that can and will make a difference so that the recovery in Middle Tennessee is strong.
With that in mind, GNAR provided key suggestions and points of information during its inaugural housing summit as resources to help this region improve.
“First, it will be of great value for community leadership throughout the region to focus on the value of fiscal health as well as physical health,” GNAR leaders explained during the summit.
From training in school to providing counsel to those in need, financial health makes a tremendous difference in properly preparing for home ownership. Fundamentally sound fiscal practices for families can and do matter –for much more than home ownership.
“Conditions for affordability and home ownership opportunity are exceptional. Interest rates remain at historically low levels. But, some people have never had any financial training whatsoever,” said Jeff Tucker, 2012 President of the Nashville Mortgage Bankers Association.
“It should be no surprise that they have created difficulties for themselves financially or that they are uncomfortable with pursuing a mortgage. It can seem to be an overwhelming process, but that does not need to be the case. Talking with a qualified financial counselor or mortgage lender can be helpful in de-mystifying the process and help set a course for more stability and opportunity.”
Second is home ownership training. Even the most fiscally sound individual or family may have little understanding of all it takes to successfully own a home – including the regular maintenance required on many of the operating parts. There are training programs available which can make a huge positive impact on the home ownership experience for individuals and families.
“We find that many volunteers who help build Habitat for Humanity homes learn a great deal about maintenance and structure,” said Danny Herron, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. “Many of them go away saying how they wished they would have known more before they bought their own home. That is why we are so aggressive about preparing actual Habitat for Humanity homeowners prior to their purchase of a home. There is some outstanding training available through THDA and others that would benefit anyone and everyone considering purchasing a home. An added benefit is that mortgage costs can sometimes be lowered by taking the training.”
Professional support is also available. From pre-qualification for mortgages to the search for a home and a successful purchasing transaction, trained, responsible professionals with experience in this region and market are available.
“The need for trained professionals in the real estate industry becomes more significant almost daily,” said Dan Strebel, 2012 president of the Home Builders Association of Middle Tennessee. “The complexity of the transaction and the related risk is just too great for someone to do it on their own. Using professionals to protect your interests only makes sense, especially when you consider a home is the largest investment most people will ever make. Professional mortgage lenders, Realtors, and others are critically important to creating both a successful transaction and long-term satisfaction with the purchase and experience.”