Even in seller’s market, house must be spotless

Friday, September 20, 2013, Vol. 37, No. 38

Those in the hunt for housing in Nashville are going crazy, especially those who wish to purchase homes.

As the insanity ensues, it should be understood that they have every reason on earth to be mad. There is no inventory to speak of, and great homes are devoured before hitting the market – until now.

It’s getting better all the time for sellers, but worse for buyers. For many of these hopeful, hopeless buyers, the quest for home ownership has become their ultimate concern. The speed at which homes are selling has them awakening in the night screaming: “I’ll give you everything I’ve got for a little piece of mind!” For many, that’s the entry fee – everything they have.

Then there are the would-be sellers. To borrow a line from William Congreve – not Shakespeare – hell hath no fury like a seller scorned. Imagine the frustration of seeing every house in the neighborhood sell within hours while yours sits with no showings. And nothing can be sold that isn’t shown.

So what’s not selling? Houses that need work, any work. They must be perfect to enter the bidding wars. Furthermore, the homes must show well, sparkling and shining. They cannot smell of animals or have breakfast dishes on the table.

While most of Nashville appears to be buying all things realty, there are those who fear buying at the top of the market and worry that they may be making a bad investment. Rather than jump helter skelter into the fray, they have chosen to let it be. They might be right.

With interest rates as low as they have been in the recent past, high prices could be offset by lower rates and allowing for low monthly payments. With rates on the rise, prices are relaxing in some areas.

Since the Greater Nashville Association released its monthly sales information on Sept. 5, inventory has risen from 16,250 to 16,427, an increase of 177 with 169 of those units on the residential side. Not exactly a landslide, but a step in the right direction for the buyers.

As for the present, buyers and sellers alike should take the advice of John Lennon in his real estate song “Tomorrow Never Knows,” in which he suggests that they should “turn off your mind relax and float upstream.” Then get out of the boat and buy a house. He didn’t say the last part, but he would have.

Sale of the Week

To Londonberry Road we go for the first sale of the week. Located in the Sheffield on the Harpeth, which is no Stratford upon Avon, yet Realtor-turned-bard Patricia Strauss wrote that the home is in mint condition with oversized master suite, brand new hardwoods, fresh paint, large eat-in kitchen, natural light, walls of windows, HOA, pool, tennis, lakeside walking trail, volleyball, playground sidewalks, fantastic.

Listing agent Patti Strauss has real estate in her blood as her mother, the esteemed Joan Garfield, is legendary in the Cleveland, Ohio, market where she owns two RE/MAX offices. Patti relocated to Nashville and had an unsuccessful stint as a stay-at-home mom, having driven – by her own admission – her husband crazy.

Strauss is now with RE/MAX Elite and was the listing agent on Londonberry. Barbara Childs, also with RE/MAX Elite, represented the buyer, and that’s the gospel truth as Barbara is a member of the Blackwood family, aka the Blackwoods, the world renowned gospel singers. Barbara’s client paid $259,999 for the estate and sang her praises upon closing.

In keeping with the British Invasion, the next sale is Suzanne Lewter’s listing in Gloucester Square off Golf Club Lane.

Suzanne is from the Mule Capital of the World, that being Columbia, and pulls the plow for Fridrich and Clark Realty, well known for its stable of Mule People with Starling Davis and Karen Young Dobbs Albert.

Being a Mulie and a Fridrich and Clark alum, I have a special appreciation for this group. Suzanne noted that the home showed like a page from Southern Accents, the magazine, not her brogue.

This 2,789-square-foot dwelling sold for $646,000 after having been listed for $640,000. It has three bedrooms and three full baths, and is coated with true stucco, as opposed to synthetic stucco of EIFS, exterior insulation finishing system, better known by its brand name, Dryvit. This was not Dryvit.

Dawne Harris with Prudential Woodmont Realty brought the buyer across the threshold, as she is prone to do.

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