As They See It

It’s a great time to sell a house, and for the same reasons, it’s a tough time to buy one. Nonetheless, they’re selling like hotcakes, “everything from McMansions to double-wides,” according to Don Fenley, who analyzes local housing, economic and demographic trends at Core Data (donfenley.com).

Prices of houses — even the lumber used to build them — are skyrocketing. Demand is high, and because housing inventory in the region is low, prices continue to climb. Buyers are competing for the same house, says Town & Country Realtor Sharon Duncan. People are bidding up to $40,000 over asking prices. “When listings go on, you’ve got to be ready to ... be there with your client,” Duncan said.

Blue Ridge Properties owner and Realtor Collette George, who is also Kingsport’s vice mayor and a Sullivan County commissioner, calls the local housing market absolutely crazy.

“We are in multiple-offer situations on every home that we list,” George said. “We have so many people trying to move to this area. We all are dealing with cash buyers coming from other areas. So your local person who needs to get a loan is getting beat out because cash is king right now.”

At the end of March, the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors reported there were 991 homes in active inventory. At the same time, there were 983 pending sales and 905 new listings. The average listing price was $321,168, up about 20% in just a year. And the average sales price was $229,499 — 23% higher than last year.

The median time for homes to be on the market was about two months. Strong demand for homes in the $200,000 and below price range is stable, while demand for homes in the higher price ranges have seen the biggest growth rates. For instance, pending sales in the $400,000 to $500,000 range are more than 200% higher than last year, NETAR says, and the super-tight inventory of homes will continue.

But who are all these people that want to move here? Housing demand data from Realtor.com shows where local housing searches originate, and in the Johnson City metropolitan statistical area, almost half of all traffic is from out of state.

Leading the list are Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell at 6% and Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia at 5%. And at about 4% are Asheville, Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, New York-Newark-Jersey City and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria.

Between 2% and 3% of searches for local property in the Johnson City MSA originate from Tampa-St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington. Twenty-five percent of the total listing traffic comes from within Tennessee, and the remaining 25% is local traffic.

In the Kingsport-Bristol MSA — which includes Hawkins, Sullivan, Scott and Washington County, Virginia, out-of-state traffic accounts for about half of the traffic. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell led searches at nearly 6%, with Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia at 5%. Between 3% and 4% of searches originate from Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, New York-Newark-Jersey City, Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, and Chicago-Naperville-Elgin.

If those new neighbors seem to have a Chicago or New York accent, now you know why. And if that includes you, welcome to the neighborhood. We’re happy to have you.

Kingsport Times News