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VOL. 44 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 18, 2020

No relief from real estate heat in mountain retreats

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Many Nashville-area families are headed to the mountains as COVID-19 has changed long-distance travel plans. Prices in Highlands and nearby Cheshire, North Carolina, have increased by as much as 40% since February, and Monteagle and Sewanee are seeing similar activity.

Ray Banks, a second-generation Realtor, owns Monteagle Sewanee Realtors after taking over from his mother Jeanette Banks, a pioneer and mainstay in the area’s real estate community for years. The company’s website lists their “Featured Communities” as Altamont, Beersheba Springs, Coalmont, Gruetli-Laager, Palmer, Pelham and Tracy City.

The market is so hot that a buyer purchased a home in the Clifftops community of Monteagle after only a brief visit and called Banks the night after closing and asked for directions to her new home. She was that knowledgeable of what she had purchased.

A buyer in a Sewanee development paid $1.27 million for a home and asked the listing agents if there were any good restaurants on the mountain. Those with culinary demands might want to visit a few restaurants before purchasing.

The Monteagle Sunday School Assembly has served as the summer home for several dozen Nashvillians for more than 100 years. Known as “The Assembly,” its website defines the development as “both a church and a community, a Chautauqua and sanctuary. It is a place etched in the memory of everyone who has spent time here.”

Those hoping to purchase property there need not search the Zillow or Trulia websites, as the properties are not allowed to be listed by Realtors. They are to be sold through word-of-mouth and posting within the community.

Buyers must be vetted through an approval contest, and neither buyer nor seller can be represented by Realtors. The houses are built upon land owned by the church, which is the Assembly, and leased by the person residing in the house, known as the homeowner in most real estate dealings but as the leaseholder in the Assembly.

Upon the sale of the property, there is a 10% transfer fee paid by the owner (leaseholder) to the Assembly.

There is a similar situation in the domain of the University of the South, also known as Sewanee. The houses within the domain are resting on properties owned by the University and leased to the owners of the houses upon the University’s land. The transfer fee there is not as steep.

The buyers of Sewanee properties are not required to be approved by anyone, though employees of the University have a right of first refusal and can opt to purchase the property that another buyer has under contract. This rarely happens in transfers in Sewanee.

In Clifftops, Myers Point, Cooley’s Rift and most communities on the Mountain, the properties are transferred in the more traditional manner. The recent demand has devoured the inventory there, although some feel that the new, higher prices might tempt more homeowners to sell.

The real estate community in the area is mourning the death of Margaret Donahue, one of the most successful Realtors in the storied history of Sewanee. Donahue came to the Mountain as a trailing spouse who had followed her husband and his job. He died shortly thereafter, but she had fallen in love with the area and began her brilliant real estate career. She died Nov. 6.

Sale of the Week

213 Woodford Place

Hounds Run is a community located off Granny White Pike south of Harding Place. Back in 1987, just before the recession that made its way through the real estate world thanks to the fall of a number savings and loan institutions, Hounds Run was in development.

A lot was developed at 213 Woodford Place by a group that identified itself as Hounds Run, Ltd. That deeded the lot to Hounds Run Partnership. The next owner was Fidelity Federal Savings and Loan. That is not a good sign. Fidelity Federal paid $1.4 million for this lot and others in 1989.

Four years later, Paul Cook, who was beginning to dominate the construction scene in the Hounds Run area, paid $59,000 for the lot. A fine builder of quality homes, Cook breathed life into the dying neighborhood. It began to flourish and has continued to do so for years.

The house sold for $780,000 in 2005 for $1.075 million last week, a number that was $25,000 more than list price. Jamie Granbery and Shannon Barton, a pair of veteran brokers with Pilkerton Realtors, listed the house, and the crafty Mindy Orman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Woodmont Realty represented the prevailing buyer.

The house includes 5,495 square feet and has five bedrooms, five full bathrooms and one half bathroom. One bedroom and one bathroom, along with 1,238 square feet, are located in the basement.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty, LLC and can be reached at richardrchardcourtney.com.

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