Demand beats supply for Habitat houses

Friday, December 11, 2015, Vol. 39, No. 50

Danny Herron, the president and CEO of the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity, told a Realtor group last week that he and others in the affordable housing realm are faced with numerous challenges as Nashville-area property values continue to escalate.

Herron cited a statistic that every white-collar job created in Nashville requires three people in the service industry.

This growth in jobs has translated into 1,000 applications per year being submitted to the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity alone, and Herron’s group has the capacity to build 50 houses annually, almost one per week, a remarkable statistic for any homebuilder.

Yet the demand for 19 per week overshadows the accomplishment, especially when the fruit of the company’s labor is reviewed. Of the families that receive habitat builds, 90 percent of the children have improved grades in school and 90 percent say life is better and children no longer live in shame. In short, they become better citizens and contribute more to the community.

And before readers who feel these homes are handouts lubricate their keyboards, those eligible for a Habitat home must make 60 percent of the median income and must take 100 hours of education, including Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program, and they must create a budget and live within it for three months.

“They are people of low income, not low character,” Herron explains.

His staff and hundreds of volunteers provide instruction such as how and when to change the HVAC filters, and the homebuyers must perform hours and hours of sweat equity before getting their homes.

Herron’s background is in banking and he says the Habitat way of servicing its own loans creates the small-town bank relationship, adding borrowers are more likely to repay loans to their hometown banks than to some entity in a faraway land.

With classes two nights each week, the families get to know those involved in the Habitat family.

While servicing its own loans, the Habitat organization has only experienced a 3 percent foreclosure rate, even through the Recession, while holding some 650 mortgages.

In addition to the initial scrutiny, education and training, Habitat continues to monitor the homeowners and has the right to foreclose if the homeowner or anyone in the household is involved in activities that are not in keeping with the Homeowners Association.

During Herron’s reign, there was an occasion in which the loan was called due to unlawful activity in the home.

Other problems include a shortage of lots and the existence of some nimbyism (not in my backyard).

But the organization has evolved into a position to be able to develop properties and has been able to overcome those problems.

Sale of the Week

The Forest Hills area offers a diverse architectural gamut, yet showcases few of the double-decker vertical homes that are dominating the landscape in other neighborhoods.

If a person is excited about semi-ranch-style living, the house at 4620 Tara Drive would have fit the bill.

Built in 1960 and situated on 1.270 acres, this home has a sunroom added in 2010 with new roof and windows at about the same time.

A tankless water heater was installed in 2014.

Trudy Clark of Fridrich and Clark Realty and chair of too many non-profit boards to mention was the listing agent and noted the home has an “E3 signature crawlspace system and an active fresh air system.”

E3 is a company that specializes in clean air generated through a process of protecting the oxygen from bad things such as spores and moisture.

For $561,500, the buyer received 3,086 square feet at a rate of $181 per square foot for these four bedrooms with three full baths and one that could only attain half-bath status, even with its clean, fresh air.

Whit Clark of Fridrich and Clark – yes that Clark – delivered the buyer to his wife’s listing.

I hope the inspection went well for Whit, lest Whit be banished to the doghouse, which in this case would be the clubhouse as Whit – with Trudy’s approval – has fashioned their back yard into a baseball stadium of sorts.

The school districts that serve Forest Hills are Percy Priest, John Trotwood Moore and Hillsboro, so there is no need to fly into another county for quality education.

All of this for $181 per square foot – live, learn, breathe.

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