Williamson woe: Where to go once you’ve cashed in

Friday, April 14, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 15
By Bill Lewis

In Williamson County, homes are selling so fast and for so much money that some owners are refusing to sell.

They’re afraid they won’t be able to afford to buy another house in Williamson County.

“They know their house will sell fast, but they don’t want to move to Maury County,” says Monte Mohr, broker with the Mohr Group at Re/Max Elite in Brentwood.

The median home price jumped to $459,013 last month, according to the Williamson County Association of Realtors. A year ago, that price was $433,850.

Homes are selling faster, as well. Houses that closed last month were on the market for an average of 51 days compared with 67 days in March 2016.

As prices rise, the number of homes on the market is shrinking. There were 1,507 residences on the market last month, compared with 1,622 a year ago, according to WCAR.

“We have someone who wants to sell their property,” Mohr says. “Then we take them to see what’s around, and they say ‘I don’t want to sell.’”

One thing that hasn’t changed is the number of sales as more buyers chase fewer opportunities.

Last month 446 single-family homes and condos were sold. A year ago, there were 448 closings.

Homeowners insist on buying in Williamson County for a variety of reasons, from grandparents moving to be near their families to parents who want their children to attend the county’s highly rated schools and professionals following their employers.

Businesses moving to Williamson County include CKE Restaurants, the parent company of the Hardee’s fast food chain, home goods retailer Kirkland’s, which moved its headquarters to Maryland Farms from the Opry Mills area of Davidson County in 2014, and Schneider Electric, a global company that consolidated its Middle Tennessee operations in Franklin.

Skyrocketing prices are the result of more people competing for fewer houses, adds Moher, who recalls seeing houses on the market two years ago for $160,000 in Franklin.

“Those same houses are $300,000, $310,000,” he says. “It’s the same house.”

A new impact fee on home construction is also adding upward pressure on prices. The fee, which the county is using to pay for school construction, ranges from $1,145 to $11,210, depending on the home’s size and location.

The fee adds $8,788 to the price of a typical 2,400-square foot home. Over the life of a 30-year mortgage, it will add $20,880 to the cost of a house, says Trey Lewis, vice president for Ole South, the state’s largest builder.

“The workforce housing buyer will get hurt the most,” he explains.

There are a number of high-end subdivisions being developed, including Taramore, where prices reach $1 million, and Witherspoon, with prices reaching $2 million. Both neighborhoods are in Brentwood.

The search for affordability is pushing other buyers west to Fairview and south to Spring Hill.

Fairview’s median price last month was $301,846. In Spring Hill it was $347,785, according to WCAR.

Prices are rising, however. Fairview’s median price was $223,000 at the end of 2016. In Spring Hill, the median price was $337,784.

At the beginning of the year, Ole South launched a new Fairview neighborhood, Cumberland Estates. The company also announced the expansion of its Deer Valley Downs and Western Woods subdivisions.

In Spring Hill, Regent Homes is launching Petra Commons, a neighborhood of 79 townhomes and single-family houses. Prices are expected to start in the mid-$200,000s and range to the high $300,000s.

For home buyers, “price is the ultimate amenity,” says David McGowan Regent Homes president.

Convenience is another factor in Spring Hill’s growth, notes John Maher, one of the area’s busiest home builders.

“Spring Hill, located within southern Williamson County and northern Maury County, draws in buyers from all stages of life largely due to the affordability and proximity to other larger cities such as Franklin, Columbia and of course Nashville,” Maher adds.

Others are noticing the appeal of southern Williamson County. Crescent Homes, the largest private home builder in Charleston, South Carolina, has 75 lots under contract in Thompson’s Station’s Tollgate Village and Bridgemore Village subdivisions and plans to build single-family homes in the $350,000 to $700,000 range.

One of Alabama’s largest builders, Stoneridge Homes, has plans for 62 homes in Brixworth, located in the Thompson’s Station-Spring Hill corridor. Stoneridge joins Celebration Homes Patterson Homes, Woodridge Homes and Pulte Homes, a national builder.

Their starting prices are well below the $459,013 countywide median price.