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VOL. 37 | NO. 26 | Friday, June 28, 2013

Writer of hits scores renovation success

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Tia Sillers is best known for taking words used in everyday language, transforming them into lyrics, then choosing music notes that have been around since the beginning of time and melding the assemblage into art in the form of her songs.

Her work is reflective and intellectually provocative.

Sillers’ “I Hope You Dance,” recorded by Lee Ann Womack, has become a standard.

She reached the top 10 for the first time with “Lipstick Promises,” recorded by George Ducas, and her first No. 1 with a rock song, “Blue on Black.”

She followed that with the Dixie Chicks’ “There’s Your Trouble,” which became her first song to top the country charts. Additionally, she reached the New York Times bestseller list with her book “I Hope You Dance.” Alan Jackson topped the charts with her song, “That’d Be Alright.”

Along the way, she has had songs recorded by Martina McBride, Randy Travis, Trisha Yearwood, Trace Adkins, Patty Loveless and more.

When Tia is not combining lyrics and melodies, she is connecting friends with houses. While no chart exists for successes in matching people and houses, Sillers ranks high in the eyes and hearts of those she has guided.

The innate ability comes from her observation skills and her knowledge of construction, architecture and the residential real estate market.

Her fascination with houses began during childhood when her mother, the late Molly Sillers, would collect property maps in order to see how properties were zoned and who owned them. She would take Tia on jaunts around town to view the buildings.

Later, during her days at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, she was looking for a job and noticed a fellow who bought box-style houses –Tia referred to them as “ugly ducklings” – and transformed them into beautiful Tudors. Her association with him changed the way she looked at houses.

Tia Sillers

Now, Sillers is accomplished in the art of tile installation, can hang and finish drywall and is an interior designer, having become as familiar with the paint charts as she is with the Billboard charts. She admits to being able to perform “some electrical” procedures.

When experiencing writer’s block, she searches for renovation projects to help clear her mind. She swaps her pen for a trowel and exchanges her guitar for a level. Her muse consists of a stack of loose tiles, a bucket of adhesive and pail of grout.

She feels that her love for renovation coincides with her passion for songwriting, and that the two are linked. Tia would prefer to craft a song than to listen to it in its finished state. Accordingly, she would rather buy a house in disrepair than a home that is in perfect condition. Her definition of perfection lies more in practicality than fashion.

“Who cares if a kitchen is made of marble and granite and that it will last for eternity, the owner is going to rework the kitchen in six or seven years anyway.”

She harbors a similar opinion for the current trend in bathroom design.

“I don’t get the bathrooms. What is going on with that? What do people do in there?” she moans. “The history of man shows that we have survived on compromised plumbing, and the decline of every fallen civilization occurred when it did not know what to do with its trash.

“Nowadays, each child must have its own bathroom,” she laments. “As a kid, I was taught that it was important to share.”

Sillers prefers that her kitchens be decorated in white, shunning the tones and colors that do not show the dirt.

“If my kitchen is dirty, I want to be able to tell it’s dirty so that I can CLEAN it.”

Additionally she abhors the ostentatious McMansions appearing in fields that formerly served as homes for cattle.

“The houses are getting too tall for the furniture”

Her insight into housing as a financial investment is unique in that she feels songwriters investing in real estate have helped prolong their careers and allowed them the financial staying power to stay in the business.

By investing in homes, writers are able to build equity that can be converted to cash when the royalties decline.

Josh Kear

Those writers who have not purchased property are often forced to abandon their writing careers and return home to a steady job. Without home ownership, some of the great songs may not have been written.

Armed with this economic knowledge, a familiarity of the Nashville real estate market and a love for her colleagues in songwriting, Sillers is always on the lookout for housing opportunities. She can spot a bargain and help the buyers find good mortgage rates, trustworthy contractors and good inspectors.

If they catch her on a day when the creative juices are not flowing, she may even lay their tile for them.

During the sale of her former residence, another songwriter yet to experience success bought the house. She pointed to a diner-type, built-in booth that she and her husband, guitar wizard Mark Selby, had constructed.

“I won a Grammy writing on that table,” She offered.

The young songwriter responded that he hoped to have that type of success. That buyer was Josh Kear, who scored a No. 1 almost immediately after buying the home and has now won four Grammy Awards while inhabiting the home.

That’s some good, instant Karma.

Sale of the Week

The sale of the week is brought to us courtesy of Aaron Armstrong of Keller Williams Realty. Armstrong lives strong and leads the competition the old-fashioned way with grit, hustle, determination and a strong work ethic, not to mention that he is fluent in Spanish.

His recent listing at 3507 Dakota Avenue is located in the area dubbed Sylvan Heights long ago by the late Hal Wilson, a real estate icon with a penchant for hyperbole and the vision to match it.

Aaron described the home thusly: “Great Sylvan Heights cottage renovated to the studs.”

He added: ‘Vaulted ceilings in living room and kitchen, hardwoods, granite, stainless eat-in kitchen,” perhaps referring to the steel.

With two bedrooms and two baths and shining 902 square feet, Paula Cirulli of Realty Trust Residential raced over in Armstrong-like fashion and beat the other offers to the finish line, earning a gold contract within hours of the property being listed.

Her client was no dope, paying more than the $194,900 list price. Such a performance is widely accepted by the Real Estate Commission.

She gained her client a house with a new roof, no doubt the result of last year’s hailstorm, which drove Travelers Insurance to cancel a number of policies in the area.

In addition, everything else was new in 2009 as the seller was able to take advantage of recession-era pricing on materials and labor since construction had hit the wall after its Grand Prix years.

Richard Courtney is a partner with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney and Associates and can be reached at richard@richardcourtney.com.

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