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VOL. 41 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 17, 2017

Selling an old house? Better make it look like new again

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There were a record 2,411 home closings in January, Greater Nashville Realtors records show, once again suggesting this market is busy year-round.

If January acts like March temperature-wise, it might as well act like March as it pertains to real estate sales.

January sales were higher than sales for both January and February last year, notes Scott Troxel, president of Greater Nashville Realtors, with 2,755 pending sales.

The numbers should certainly surpass last February’s sales when pending sales in January were 2,212.

Not surprisingly, single-family and condominium prices have increased. And once again, inventory was down with 10,025 homes in inventory versus 11,352 a year ago.

Inventory normally dips in February, but with 2,722 pending sales and an equal number under contract, it could plummet. All the better reason to list now.

The National Association of Realtors’ federal political coordinators were regaled in Washington, D.C., last week by several panels of House and Senate members, staffers, and policy shakers and movers. The news was good.

Those who spoke assured almost all taxes are going to be reduced, the death tax eliminated and deductions – especially of large purchases – raised. And, yes, yes, yes, the mortgage interest deduction is safe.

Most of the regulations on banking and lending will be eased, and home ownership will be more accessible. Happy days are here again.

In Nashville, we have had record-breaking years for four consecutive years. But, the sun’ll come up tomorrow.

No, this is not the column I wrote in 2000, nor the work I penned in 2008. This is a new column.

As the former Hermit Peter Noone sings, second verse, same as the first.

Sale of the Week

There is a trend in the upper-end, older-home market toward staying on the market longer and having a larger disparity between list price and sale price.

Already this year for example, a house on West Hillwood built in 1955 sold for $885,000 after it being listed for $1,150,000, and a 2004 house in Camelot sold for $980,000 after hitting the market at $1,275,000 and a home built in 1921 on North Curtiswood entered the market at $1,295,000 and sold for $1,100,000.

A similar sale occurred on Woodmont Boulevard in which a house was listed at $1,495,000 and sold for $1,273,125.

One of the larger reductions occurred on 4416 Chickering Lane when Barbara Keith Payne, a veteran of many years in the business and one of the area’s most successful real estate brokers, listed a fabulously monumental home – 6,613 square feet – on 2.850 acres in Belle Meade.

On paper, this house was worth every penny of the $2,349,000 list price. But the market differed.

In her description, Barbara Keith wrote “exquisite architectural details and quality of construction” and “impeccably maintained.”

In Realtorspeak, “impeccably maintained” means the owner was meticulous when it came to changing filters, having mechanical systems serviced and probably changed the oil in his car every 3,000 miles.

That being said, those types see no good reason to trade in a perfectly good car for a newer model than they do swapping Corian for granite or switching the Kitchen Aid dishwasher with the new gaskets for a Bosch or Fisher Paykel that may not function as well as the 25-year-old Kitchen Aid.

When the dust settled on the sale, the house sold for $1,599,000 as Whitney Musser’s clients – the buyers – must have decided that they would not pay $1,600,000, no way, no how.

For their investment, they got five bedrooms, five full baths and two half baths.

On the other hand, upper-end new construction is selling for list price, at least so far this year.

On Richland, new construction on the former Welch College grounds listed for $2,083,379 and sold for – what do you know? – $2,083,379.

The same thing happened on Belmont Park Terrace where a $1.2 million house sold for list price, as did the $1,340,853 listing on Graybar.

On Glendale, a 2016 house dropped from $1,625,000 to $1,587,916, and, on Anandale a 2012 house dropped from $1,425,000 to $1.4 million.

This year, buyers are demanding new and paying for it, and so are the sellers of older homes.

When selling, make your old home new before listing.

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