VOL. 37 | NO. 15 | Friday, April 12, 2013
Strong Q1 home sales drive Midstate real estate prices higher
By Bill Lewis
Pity the poor bargain hunters. Since the beginning of the housing downturn, they’ve been able to buy houses at discount prices. Not anymore.
Home sales in the Nashville region skyrocketed during this year’s first three months. Prices, which fell during the recession, were up in many areas as, well.
Demand is so strong that buyers are competing to buy homes, at least in the region’s most popular neighborhoods. Sellers have the luxury of choosing the highest offer.
“I’ve never had more multiple offers. This is like 2006, before the crash,” says John Ehlers, a Realtor with Re/Max who is especially active in the Rutherford County market.
Buyers who hesitate to make an offer are likely to lose the house to someone else, he says.
“In Rutherford County, inventory is so low. When a good house hits the market, it’s gone. Next time, if the buyer has lost one, they offer full price,” Ehlers says. “This is how aggressive the market is.”
Pent-up demand is high, says Stephanie Crawford, a Realtor and affiliate broker with Keller Williams Realty in Nashville.
“Many buyers have been sitting on the fence for years. The recent economic recovery and slowly climbing interest rates are causing buyers to hop off the fence in droves – and earlier in the selling season than normal,” she says.
In Davidson County, sales and prices during the first quarter of 2013 were up more than 11 percent compared to the same period last year. During the first three months of this year, 2,491 homes changed hands at an average price of $202,825. Last year, there were 2,232 sales at an average price of $182,728, according to a market survey by Chandler Reports.
The average price per square foot, a good measure of the market’s strength, also rose. In the first quarter of this year, buyers paid an average of $111 per square foot, compared to $102 a year ago.
One of Nashville’s hottest areas was the Inglewood neighborhood on the city’s east side. The average price was $133,795, a 45.5 percent increase over last year’s average of $91,963. There were 88 sales, a 33.3 percent increase over last year’s 66 sales.
In the 37212 zip code, which includes the Hillsboro-West End area, sales were up almost 46 percent and the average price was up more than 32 percent. There were 89 sales during the first quarter compared with 61 last year at the same time. The average price was $418,955. Last year the average price was $317,165.
The story was different in Green Hills. Sales were up 4.4 percent, to 119, but the average price of $497,576 was 6.6 percent lower. Last year it was $532,717, according to Chandler Reports.
In Williamson County, first quarter sales were strong but prices were flat. There were 914 closings during the first quarter, a 32.8 percent increase over last year’s 688. The average price, however, declined almost 1 percent to $363,007. Last year it was $366,358, according to Chandler Reports.
By another measure, the price per square foot, the Williamson County market showed greater strength. Consumers paid $130 per square foot during the first three months of this year. Last year they paid $116.
Thompson’s Station was the county’s strongest market. Sales were up 50 percent in this growing community south of Franklin along I-65. There were 75 closings during the first quarter, compared with 50 last year. The average price was up more than 27 percent to $276,151. Last year it was $217,324.
In Rutherford County, where Nissan and Amazon.com have created new jobs in the past year, sales were up more than 37 percent during the first quarter and the average price was up 5.4 percent. There were 1,167 sales during the quarter, compared with 850 during the same period last year. The average price was $155,704, compared with $147,731 a year ago. The average price per square foot was $80. Last year it was $79, according to Chandler Reports.
Sales and prices were up throughout Murfreesboro. In the city’s 37130 zip code, there were 187 closings, a 48.4 percent increase over the 126 sales during the first quarter of 2012. The average price was $154,424, a 10.1 percent increase over last year’s average of $140,273.
In Wilson County, sales and prices both increased by double-digit amounts. There were 503 closings during the first quarter, almost 19 percent more than last year, when there were 423. The average price was up 11.4 percent to $199,335. Last year it was $178,940. Home buyers paid $90 per square foot during the first quarter. Last year they paid $82, according to Chandler Reports.
The market has been strengthened by investors who buy distressed properties to quickly resell – a process called flipping – or to turn into rentals, says Phillip Teal, a Realtor with Century 21-West Main Realty and Auction in Lebanon.
“Foreclosures have been going crazy,” Teal says. Investors “are buying a dozen at a time.”
Fast-growing Mt. Juliet was one of Wilson County’s hottest areas. There were 261 closings during the first quarter, an 18.1 percent increase over last year’s 221. The average price was up 11.4 percent to $226,676. Last year it was $203,525.