Real estate frenzy reaches its inevitable slowdown

Friday, June 15, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 24

“Someone has grabbed a handbrake and jerked it backward quickly,” say one Nashville-based senior loan officer of the current residential real estate market. A group of top-producing Realtors opted for the “turning off the water hydrant” metaphor.

Both Realtors and lenders feel the easing of the residential market. But it could be a case of becoming accustomed to a frenzied, chaotic and unhealthy environment, then expecting it to last for all eternity.

The Nashville real estate market has many parallels to the current status of the Vanderbilt baseball team.

A trip to the NCAA super regionals concluded Sunday night with a heartbreaking loss to Mississippi State. But there were days when the dream of playing for a shot at the College World Series would have landed the dreamer in a mental institution.

Prior to Larry Schmittou taking the reins of the Vanderbilt baseball team, the group seldom posted a winning record. Two years prior to Schmittou’ s reign, the team won only two games all year, a condition similar to Nashville real estate during the recent Recession.

Schmittou took over in 1969, posting 21 wins, and by 1971 had won an SEC division title and eventually led the team to a 37-win season in 1973 following a then- unprecedented trip to the NCAA regional tournament.

His successor, Roy Mewbourne, won more than 20 games each year during his 23-year stint as head coach. Mewbourne was similar to the Nashville real estate market during his tenure (1979-2002), steady as a rock with no booms and few swains. He fared better than the market during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Then along came Tim Corbin, who recently completed his 15th season. He has guided Vanderbilt to the NCAA tournament 13 times, winning more than 50 games in five seasons, 40 in four others and 30 in five seasons.

This year’s team only – yes only – won 36 games and barely missed a trip to the College World Series. But compared to years past, it was somewhat disappointing. Such is the state of real estate today.

The Commodores own a prime piece of real estate, and its residents are an exuberant, friendly lot with a couple of exceptions – the whistlers. Situated among the fans are two men who constantly chirp triplets of staccato whistle bursts throughout the game. Fans respond with a trio of claps imitating the whistles.

These men are known as the whistlers, and they do. They are as annoying as a rapid rise in interest rates to opponents and people like me.

When I first heard the noise, I thought the public-address system had failed and was beeping, only to learn it was the whistler. Now there are two.

Some visiting teams find it annoying, and I understand. I admit that I am no fan of the whistlers. That statement could be sacrilegious among the Vanderbilt faithful, but it distracts from the game.

And the whistlers are now famous for their shrieks. If I want whistling, I’ll tune in to the “Andy Griffith Show.”

By the end of the 11th inning of the final game of the super regional – after having endured the chirps for five hours – I began to wonder how their parents would feel about this newfound stardom for their children. What does the whistler’s mother think of all of this?

I wish the whistlers well as they tweet, but I shall twitter to less noisy venues for more baseball while wishing the ’Dores and their amazing coach all the best.

And coach Corbin’s success will continue as he has new talent coming into the university from all over the universe.

Finally, the Nashville real estate market is landing some prize prospects with listings booming. All of this after a five-year drought. But, alas, where have all the buyers gone?

For the month of May, the Greater Nashville Realtors reported a sales decline of 4.5 percent. However, that was following the Corbin-like year of 2018, setting records for volume, transactions and appreciation.

Still, the average number of days on the market is 28, and there are 3,575 properties under contract, an increase of 235 from last year.

But then the handbrake/faucet thing kicks in. Neither of those numbers reflect what is happening now. The market appears to be slumping.

Many experts felt that the lack of inventory was slowing sales, but they have been proven wrong for now with inventory increasing by more than 1,000 units with 9,511 listings available.

Inventory is like blue-chip baseball prospects. Arguably, Vanderbilt had one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, yet they did not gel until late in the season.

The market is slow, but summer is upon the area and things slow when parents parent and begin driving the youngsters about.

Look for the market to slow until fall baseball begins and the new players hit the Vanderbilt campus.

Then, the Commodores can watch the Braves in the World Series as Vandy alums Dansby Swanson and Ryan Flaherty battle ex-teammate David Price and his Boston Red Sox.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at