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March 15, 2018

February 2018 Home Sales Review

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

The three most prominent national market trends for residential real estate are the ongoing lack of abundant inventory, the steadily upward movement of home prices and year-over year declines in home sales. Sales declines are a natural result of there being fewer homes for sale, but higher prices often indicate higher demand leading of competitive bidding. Markets are poised for increased supply, so there is hope that more sellers will take advantage of what appears to be a ready and willing buyer base.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 2.6 percent to 948. Pending Sales were down 3.3 percent to 793. Inventory levels shrank 26.3 percent to 2,390 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 9.9 percent to $175,800. Days on Market was down 12.3 percent to 64 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 27.5 percent to 2.9 months.

In February, prevailing mortgage rates continued to rise. This has a notable impact on housing affordability and can leave consumers choosing between higher payments or lower-priced homes. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a 20 percent down payment that quality for backing by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose to its highest level since January 2014. A 4.5 or 4.6 percent rate might not seem high to those with extensive real estate business, but it is newly high for many potential first-time home buyers. Upward rate pressure is likely to continue as long as the economy fares well.

Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay in-the-know with what’s happening in Greater Chattanooga real estate, visit to access the best, local resources.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors® nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors®. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 423.698.8001.

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March 8, 2018

Own It

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has chosen “Own It” as their theme for 2018-2020. In turn, during my year as our local Association’s President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ will embrace the theme by Owning It in various ways throughout 2018 – more on that later.

You might be thinking: “What does the Own It mean?” or “I’m not looking to purchase a home in the near future.” Allow me to elaborate.  NAR’s current President, Elizabeth Mendenhall perfectly summed up what it means to Own It with, “We absolutely have the power to make a difference.” What that means to every individual is different, but it means fully committing yourself to whatever that goal is. Maybe it’s to volunteer more, be more focused on advancing your career, revisiting your New Year’s resolution, conquering a project at home you’ve been putting off, or simply spending more time with family. No matter what your personal goal is: Own It and do your very best to make it happen.

In 2018, one way Greater Chattanooga Realtors will be Owning It is by dedicating our time and resources to our Community Partnerships that include Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area and the Snack Pack Ministry. On April 9 we will host a fundraiser event, benefitting Habitat, that will include a golf tournament during the day and evening events with live and silent auctions – with all proceeds going directly to Habitat which helps our community. We are also recommitting to our partnership with Snack Pack Ministry. On May 2 we will be presenting them with a check to help support their mission of putting food in the hands of food insecure children in Hamilton County.

We encourage each of you to find your purpose or a goal for 2018 and make it your personal mission to accomplish it. Reach out to a local charity and see how you can be involved. Contact a school and see if they are in need of certain supplies that you can donate. Find your way to make a positive impact and Own It. Make it happen. Together, we can continue to make the Greater Chattanooga region wonderful, beautiful, and help it continue thriving.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors® nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors®. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 423.698.8001.

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March 1, 2018

Staging Your Home Can Capture Buyers’ Imagination and Corner the Market

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

Viewing a house for sale requires buyers to visualize the property as a future place to call home. Would-be buyers often must rely on their imagination for how they want to design the property as homeowners and what that man cave set-up in the basement could look like.

Staging your home before you put it on the market is a great way to impress potential buyers or create a living space homeowners may prefer. Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said staging made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2017 Profile of Home Staging.

Buyers want to be able to picture the home’s interior designs in the easiest way possible. Staging your home with even the smallest touches like new bathroom towels, drapes over the windows or flowers on a coffee table will liven up your listing and make a big difference to the buyer.

Staging your home can also put you ahead of the competition, no small feat in an unpredictable and high-cost housing market. Over 60 percent of sellers’ agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market. With so many factors that play in to what sells a home and what buyers are willing to pay, staging your home is an advantage that can mean selling faster or at a higher price.

Here are some simple staging tips that will help you spruce up your listing and stay ahead of the market.

Declutter living spaces. It is a good idea to clear all unnecessary objects throughout the house, such as magazines on the coffee table and bathroom items on the sink. In addition, take down magnets and pictures from the refrigerator and remove clothes you do not wear from closets to show a cleaner, more spacious area.

Refresh your walls. Remove and rearrange artwork or photos and then patch and paint interior walls in order to give buyers a better visual of each room. A new coat of paint can brighten up rooms and give the interior a facelift. Something as simple as refreshing walls can affect a buyer’s perception of the home’s value and potentially raise the price.

Personalize spare rooms. Buyers will have different needs depending on family size, and it is wise to stage a spare bedroom based on your target buyers. If you are putting a condo on the market, you might want to stage the spare bedroom as office space for young and single professionals. Make sure the room is comfortable, has overhead lighting, plenty of room for a desk and an area for filing cabinets. 

By simply following a few staging guidelines, you can increase your home’s value and help it sell more quickly. A Realtor, a member of the National Association of Realtors, can provide more information on staging your home and share advice about buying or selling a home in 2018. Set yourself up for success by connecting with a Realtor on

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors® nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors®. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 423.698.8001.

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February 28, 2018

In Remembrance of Francie Ryder

We are saddened to report that Francie Ryder passed away on February 28, 2018.

Francie served as the Executive Officer of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® from 1992 until her retirement on December 31, 2012. For the last two-and-a-half years, Francie fought a graceful and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Francie’s family and our members, many of whom worked closely with Francie during her tenure with the Association.

The family will receive friends for visitation on Friday March 2, from 5-7 pm, at Hamilton Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held at Burks United Methodist Church on Saturday March 3, at 2 pm. The family will also receive friends for visitation one hour prior to the memorial service, from 1-2 pm, at the church.

In lieu of flowers, please make any memorial contributions to Burks UMC, 6433 Hixson Pike, Hixson, TN 37343.

Arrangements are by Hamilton Funeral Home and Cremation Services; 4506 Hixson Pike, Hixson.  (423) 531-3975

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February 27, 2018

Update on HHF-DPA Program

A memo from Rhonda Ronnow, Director of Loan Operations for Tennessee Housing Development Agency was released regarding the status of the funds for the Hardest Hit Fund Downpayment Assistance Program administered by the THDA. 

View memo

If you have questions, please contact

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February 23, 2018

Fifteen REALTORS® Selected for 2018 Leadership Academy

Leadership Academy Identifies, Inspires, and Mentors Emerging Leaders

Greater Chattanooga Realtors selected fifteen Realtors for 2018’s Leadership Academy. The objective of Leadership Academy is to provide tools and a knowledge-based foundation to motivate and empower Realtors who desire to serve in a local leadership position.

This year’s participants were recognized at the Leadership Academy Kick-Off Reception on February 22 held at Gallery 1401: Donna Belvin, Sarah Brogdon, Amy T. Chastain, Lisi Chavarri, Jamie Curtis, Leatha Eaves, Melissa Hennessy, Beth Huling, Ryan May, Matt McDonald, Carey Skiles Norwood, Michael Purcell, Susan Robinson, Tyler Rogers, and Justin Tate.

These Realtors will meet at the Association regularly for specific classes designed to develop, enhance, and hone their leadership skills. In addition, they will have various opportunities to be involved with local governmental affairs and work with the Association on fundraising events such as Tee Up & Wine Down for Habitat on April 9.

For more information on Leadership Academy, visit

Photo Caption: Back L to R: Ryan May, Justin Tate, Jamie Curtis, Tyler Rogers, Matt McDonald, Carey Skiles Norwood and Michael Purcell Front L to R: Leatha Eaves, Melissa Hennessy, Amy Chastain, Susan Robinson, Donna Belvin, Lisi Chavarri, Sarah Brogdon and Beth Huling


Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 423.698.8001.

Contact: Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director

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February 23, 2018

Health Care Reform

A Message from Elizabeth J. Mendenhall, 2018 President for National Association of Realtors:

The Department of Labor is accepting feedback on a proposed rule expanding access to health insurance through Association Health Plans (AHPs) from now until March 6, 2018.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) encourages state associations to submit a comment on the proposed rule advocating for broad inclusion of self-employed individuals in AHPs, sharing their members' experiences with health insurance access and affordability.

To submit a letter:
Please go HERE on the Federal Register to voice your input directly to the Department of Labor.
You may write your own comments or personalize the attached sample letter provided with your feedback and letterhead. The comments can be copied and pasted into the text box or uploaded as a PDF file on the Federal Register website.
NAR also encourages State associations to solicit their large brokers to submit comment letters.
Comments are due by March 6, 2018.

Why Is This Important?
The proposed rule has the potentially to create a framework to allow self-employed individuals and small employers to purchase health insurance through professional or trade associations by expanding access to AHPs.
• An AHP plan would function in the large group insurance market, subject to different rules than plans offered in the individual and small group insurance markets – where REALTORS® are purchasing.
• As a result, AHPs plans may be more affordable for many REALTORS® thanks to increased flexibility in plan design and greater negotiating power to bargain for lower premiums.
Additional Resources, including a sample letter for individual REALTORS® to use, is available HERE.

NAR will also be submitting a comment on behalf of Realtors across the country and are happy to work with you on developing comments.

If you have any questions, please contact Christie DeSanctis, Regulatory Policy Representative at 202.383.1102 or

The Realtor Party. Vote. Act. Invest.
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February 22, 2018

ADA Reform Bill Passes House

On Thursday, February 15, the House of Representatives voted to pass HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, by a vote of 225-192.  This bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Rep. Poe (R-TX), adds a "notice-and-cure" provision to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), giving businesses an opportunity to fix alleged violations before a suit can be filed against them.  It also creates an education program between the Department of Justice, states/local governments, and businesses to raise awareness of ADA compliance issues, and a model mediation program for resolving ADA complaints. 

In recent years, the practice of "drive-by-ADA suits," in which attorneys hit many businesses with demand letters for small, easily curable infractions of the ADA (sometimes multiple times), has risen.  This disproportionately impacts small businesses and commercial properties, and they often end up spending time and resources settling the issue instead of on actually fixing the violation.  The attorneys behind these suits are simply trying to collect the legal fees associated with them; under the ADA, plaintiffs themselves do not collect any damages.  H.R. 620 restores integrity to the ADA by incentivizing businesses to quickly resolve ADA violations, ultimately furthering the purpose of the ADA: to ensure access for all individuals to public spaces.

National Association of REALTORS advocated strongly in support of HR 620, sending a letter of support to the full House of Representatives, and issuing a commercial-targeted call-for-action ahead of the floor vote.  Many state associations also reached out to their Congressional delegations in support of the bill.  NAR looks forward to working with the Senate on crafting a companion bill and ultimately working to see this legislation passed into law. Read NAR's letter of support for HR 620 

For questions and to learn more about the Realtor Party, contact Christy Auld, Commercial Services & Governmental Affairs Director at 423.702.7428 or

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February 22, 2018

Realtors Making a Positive Impact in the Community

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors take pride in walking clients through the home buying and selling processes, but it’s our community partnerships that round out the true definition of what it means to be a Realtor. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area and the Snack Pack Ministry, has given Realtors an avenue to better our community and the lives in it.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area is a non-profit you have likely heard of before. Spend five minutes with one of their volunteers or a homeowner who has a roof over his head thanks to Habitat and you will quickly realize how Habitat’s efforts to provide affordable housing have positively impacted countless families in our community. Together, we have completed neighborhood revitalization projects, worked on new construction builds, and helped with spreading the word about Habitat’s two ReStore locations (downtown Chattanooga and Ooltewah).

Tee Up & Wine Down for Habitat is a biennial fundraiser event held at Black Creek Club. In 2016, we raised more than $73,000 and hope to surpass that number at this year’s Tee Up & Wine Down for Habitat on April 9. Whether you enjoy a round of golf with friends, appreciate wine and delicious food, enjoy the thrill of an auction, or simply want to have fun while raising money for a great, local cause, you won’t want to miss this event. If you’re unable to attend, but want to contribute, we are currently looking for sponsors as well as items for the live and silent auctions. Learn more on or email

Snack Pack Ministry is an entirely volunteer-driven movement that, with the support of Realtors and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, is putting food in the hands of more than 1,630 students every week in 12 (and growing) Hamilton County schools. According to Snack Pack, 1 in 4 Hamilton County children are hungry on the weekends - that’s more than 44,000 who are food-insecure from the time they leave school on Friday until they return Monday morning. Snack Pack is fulfilling a need in our community that is making a big impact! Not only are children leaving school on Friday’s with food to carry them through the weekend, attendance has increased for those students.

Want to join us in the Snack Pack movement? Realtors and community volunteers gather the first Wednesday of each month school is in session to assemble snack packs. New volunteers of all ages are welcome. In addition, anyone can sponsor a child – just $80 feeds one child for an entire school year. Send a check noted with the Snack Pack initiative to East Brainerd Church of Christ (7745 E. Brainerd Rd.) or meet there to fill snack packs. Next date: March 7 at 6:30 pm.

Ronald Reagan said, “No one can help everyone. But everyone can help someone.” Greater Chattanooga Realtors is doing our part to make a difference in our community and we invite you to join our efforts. Learn more about Habitat, Snack Pack, and how you can get involved, visit

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors® nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors®. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 423.698.8001.

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February 15, 2018

January 2018 Home Sales Review

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

Click here for a more detailed report on the home sales discussed in this week's President's Column.

Greater Chattanooga’s housing market continued to be strong and competitive through January 2018. With inventory of home for sale at an all-time low, median home sales prices increase more than 10 percent from January 2017. Even with the stock market being volatile in the past couple of weeks, not much has changed from last year in terms of a healthy housing market and cautiously optimistic economists.

Last year, U.S. consumers seemed to be operating with a renewed but cautious optimism. The stock market was strong, wages were edging upwards and home buying activity was extremely competitive. Yet, there is a sort of seasoned prudence mixed into the high emotions that go with a major expense like a home purchase. We are now several years deep into a period of rising prices and low inventory. Those in the market to buy a home have caught on. As sellers attempt to take advantage of rising prices, expect buyers to be more selective.

New listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 7.6 percent to 942. Pending Sales were down 3.3 percent to 743. Inventory shrank 27.2 percent to 2,446 units.

In January, prices continued to gain traction as they did last year. For the second month in a row, the Median Sales Price increased (up 10.9 percent to $177,250) and Days on Market increase (up 6.3 percent to 67 days). Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply Inventory was down 26.8 percent to 3.0 months.

Whatever external forces are placed upon residential real estate markets across the country – whether they are related to tax legislation, mortgage rates, employment situation changes, new family formulations, the availability of new construction and the like – the appetite for home buying remains strong enough to drive prices upward in virtually all markets across the country. New sales are not necessarily following that trend, but monthly increases are expected until at least late summer.

2018 is expected to be another stellar year the Chattanooga region’s housing market. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or both, connect with a Realtor on to have access to the best resources at your fingertips during a competitive housing market.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 423.698.8001.

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February 8, 2018

Walkable Communities Drive Homebuying Decisions for Millennials, Silent Generation

Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

Condo or single-family house? Southside or St. Elmo? Hixson or Red Bank? Ooltewah or Ringgold? New construction or fixer-upper? Identifying their preferences for the type of home and neighborhood to live in are typically among the first things potential homebuyers do. Debating between the convenience of a short commute versus the spaciousness of suburban living can be challenging when deciding upon the right home. Greater Chattanooga’s housing market continues to be strong and develop as millennials are entering the housing market more than in previous years.

In the home buying process, understanding the preferred characteristics of a neighborhood can be as important as those of a home. Whether it’s a suburban single-family home in Ooltewah with more schooling options for children or a townhouse in downtown Chattanooga with better access to public transit, Realtors® - members of the National Association of Realtors® - can help homebuyers identify the communities that best serve their preferences and needs.

The National Association of Realtors 2017 National Community and Transportation Preferences Survey polled adults from across the U.S. about what they are looking for in a community and found that young buyers continue to view their dream neighborhood as a walkable, mixed-use community. In fact, according to the survey, six out of 10 millennials prefer walkable communities and short commutes, even if it means sacrificing living in a larger home with space to stretch their legs. The Southside in downtown Chattanooga and the recently revealed plan for Lupton City are perfect examples.

It is not surprising that younger buyers prefer the convenience of a neighborhood close to work and enjoy living near amenities like restaurants and retail. Real estate professionals continue to see a trend in millennials moving to areas where they don’t have to be in bumper-to-bumper traffic and can get around during their free time with little stress. CARTA’s free electric shuttles plus convenient access to renting a bicycle by the hour or day through Bike Chattanooga stations scattered in and around downtown add to the appeal for investing in a home in city limits.

Millennials are not the only generation of homebuyers, however, that prefer walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Members of the silent generation, those born before 1944, also prefer smaller homes in neighborhoods with easy walks to shops and restaurants. Over 50 percent of the silent generation prefer walkable communities and short commutes, even if it means living in an apartment or townhouse. 

Gen-Xers and baby boomers show a preference toward suburban living, with 55 percent of both groups saying that they are comfortable with a longer commute and driving to amenities if it means living in a single-family, detached home.

Homebuyers with children tend to shift their priorities when their kids get older. According to the report, six out of 10 millennials with kids in school characterize the ideal neighborhood as more of a conventional suburban area with homes containing more square feet and larger backyards. 

As ever-changing preferences distinguish where consumers want to live, Realtors provide insights on local market conditions and amenities for every generation to help find the most suitable and desirable home for themselves and their family.

Contact Greater Chattanooga Realtors or visit to speak with a Realtor, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, for information and advice about buying or selling a home in 2018.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 423.698.8001.

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February 1, 2018


Becky Cope English has been named 2017 Realtor® of the Year by fellow real estate professionals with Greater Chattanooga Realtors®. The award was presented at the Association’s recent Installment & Awards Reception.

The Realtor of the Year award is given to a Realtor in recognition of his or her contributions to the real estate industry, the community, and the local and state Associations. Mrs. English has not only been an active member of the Association, but continuously and consistently participates in civic activities to better causes in Greater Chattanooga while encouraging and inspiring others to do the same.

Mrs. English has served on many local Association committees including Budget & Finance, Community Partnerships, and Governmental Affairs. She has served as MLS Director, Association Director, and an RPAC Trustee. She participated in the Tennessee Realtors® Spring Conference and Annual Convention as well as the National Association of Realtors® Legislative Conference.

Mrs. English is a board member for Skyukah Hall, a school for 1st-10th grade students that provides individualized teaching and learning experiences for those that may have struggled in a typical learning environment. In addition, she is Trustee to the Advisory Board for the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center. The Center memorializes the valorous actions of the recipients of our nation’s highest military award and promotes the history and character associated with their gallantry, from the First Medals forward. Becky was the event chair for a luncheon that kicked off a campaign which has raised more than $1.3 million for the Center.

Mrs. English and her husband (and fellow Realtor), Derek English, adopted two teenagers while continuing to fulfill the commitments that accompany being a full-time agent – all this, while being a top producing agent in Greater Chattanooga.

Fellow Realtors describe her as “a dynamo of energy that exemplifies service to others and leadership,” “She does what is best for the community, not for personal gain,” “Becky puts herself last without ever even realizing it,” “She is a shining example of what we want our members to be in the community and our profession.”

Upon being announced as 2017’s Realtor of the Year, an overwhelmed and grateful Becky stepped away from the podium to first hug her parents who were an additional surprise to the award. “I don’t know what to say,” Mrs. English began. “Service is who I am and I’m happy to be a part of so many wonderful organizations including the Realtor Association. Thank you very much.”

For more information about Greater Chattanooga Realtors and the Realtor of the Year Award, click here.

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February 1, 2018


During the annual Installation & Awards Reception, Greater Chattanooga Realtors® presented the George Kangles Community Citizenship Award to local Realtor® Ron Tucker. The award was established in 2011 to remember the efforts of the late George Kangles and his dedication to serving the community and the Association. Mr. Kangles’ governmental and political affairs work on behalf of the Association at the local, state, and national level was unprecedented. George’s commitment to governmental and political affairs should be an example to all of us that we, too, can make a difference in not only our industry but our community as well.

This award, unlike many others, is presented only to signal a distinct recognition of the worthiest recipients who meet the ideals embodied in the award. In fact, since 2011 the Award has only been presented three times exemplifying the very select few who have personified such an achievement.

The award honors a Realtor who has a demonstrated positive and discernible impact on the governmental affairs activities of the Association affecting the real estate industry and our community at state and local levels. Past recipients of the George Kangles Award were also present to show their support of Mr. Tucker: Kathy Tucker (2015), Randy Durham (2013), and Lois Killebrew (2012).

Ron Tucker, the 2017 George Kangles Community Citizenship Award Recipient, has fulfilled these requirements without the first thought of receiving any type of recognition. The dedication and passion for governmental and political advocacy is exemplary. Mr. Tucker is revered by all who have had the pleasure of knowing him. Mr. Tucker’s impact on the Association has been essential to the role Realtors continue to play in the world of government and politics.

Whether attending Realtor Day on the Hill in Washington D.C. and Nashville, attending local governmental and political functions, or inspiring fellow Realtors to take action on important topics affecting the community, the 2017 George Kangles Community Citizenship Award recipient, Ron Tucker, is always willing to be of service to others. The importance of Mr. Tucker to the community is recognized by Realtors and political leaders alike. The knowledge he has instilled, and the leadership provided to those who have worked with him over the years can easily be surmised with this award.

For more information about Greater Chattanooga Realtors and the George Kangles Community Citizenship Award, click here.

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January 25, 2018

Superfund on the Southside

Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

The Southside in downtown Chattanooga has gone from up-and-coming to one of the most desired places to live in our area within just a few, short years. However, there is still work to be done to ensure a safe, clean environment for our community. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the Southside Chattanooga Lead Site to the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL).

Let’s start with the basics: What is the Superfund? Superfund investigates and cleans up hazardous waste sites, converting them into community resources. The EPA then adds sites to the NPL when contamination threatens human health and environment. In addition, only sites added to the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term cleanup.

The Southside Chattanooga Lead Site includes residential properties and other areas used by children that have been impacted by lead-contaminated soil where foundry waste material was used in past decades as fill or top soil. The sites in our area include: Alton Park, Cowart Place, Jefferson Heights, Richmond, and the Southside Gardens neighborhoods. Thanks to these properties being added to the NPL, the state and community will receive significant technical and financial resources needed to address current environmental concerns. The EPA will be working to clean the site and replace it with clean soil which will give residents peace of mind and allow the area to continue thriving.

Throughout the process of proposing the Southside Chattanooga Lead Site to the EPA, state and local officials have worked closely to test soil, identify health risks, and communicate with residents. Community partnerships are vital to Superfund site cleanups and the EPA will continue working closely with state and Hamilton County partners to ensure a collaborative and transparent cleanup process so that the Southside can continue to thrive and be enjoyed by residents.

As your Voice for Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga, Greater Chattanooga Realtors makes a conscious effort to stay informed of issues impacting housing and quality of life in our community. Greater Chattanooga Realtors will participate in the brief information session scheduled for Friday, February 2 at 9 a.m. at TDEC Chattanooga. We to encourage members of our beautiful community to do the same.

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January 18, 2018

Upcoming Changes to Flexmls Input Sheets

In the 4th Quarter of 2017, the MLS Committee conducted a thorough review of the Single-Family Input Sheet to remove redundancies and ensure details were categorized under the relevant field. As a result, the MLS Committee authorized revisions to the Single-Family Input Sheet*, which will be made the morning of Tuesday, January 23.

We selected January for making these changes due to the current low inventory and the desire to impact the fewest number of active listings. Following these revisions to Single-Family, similar ones will be made to Multi-Family, Land and Rentals, as applicable to those property types.

There is nothing you need to do to your current listings. When/if you edit a listing after these changes are made, you will be prompted to make edits in any field where there are new/different options for that field. 

*Revisions to Single-Family Input Sheet


  • Delete A-Frame, Contemporary, High Rise, Loft/Balcony, Manufactured Home, Manufactured Home 1 Story, Mobile Home 1 Story, Mobile Home 2 Story, and New Construction
  • NOTE: A Style field will be created to accommodate the choices deleted in this field


  • Delete All Cement Bock Foundation, Brick Over Foundation, and Poured Concrete Foundation
  • Delete ¼ brick. ¾ Brick. All Brick, All Stone, and Stone
  • Add Brick-All, Brick-Partial, Stone-All, and Stone-Partial

Exterior Features

  • Make this an optional field & Add 3 “Other” text fields
  • Add Outdoor Kitchen, Pool (and all items from the current Pool field)


  • Delete all items in this field
  • Add Block, Poured, Slab, Stone/Masonry


  • Delete “none” and move Above Ground, Below Ground, and Heated to Exterior Features

Lease Terms

  • Delete since there is now a Rental Property Type


  • Delete since there is now a Rental Property Type


  • Add Front Loading, Side Loading, and Rear Loading
  • Add 3 “Other” text fields


  • Add STEP


  • Delete Zoned Cooling
  • Add Geothermal


  • Delete Zoned Heating
  • Add Geothermal


  • Make this an optional field
  • Delete Part Or All TVA Pkg (move to Green Features)
  • Delete walk-In Closet (already in Bed/Bath)
  • Add Laundry Room
  • Correct “Plum” to read “Plumbed”


  • Delete None
  • Add En Suite and Add 2-3 “other” text fields.
  • Add 3 “Other” text fields


  • Make this an optional field & Add 3 “Other” text fields
  • Amend “Burglar Alarm” to “Security System”
  • Delete Ceiling Fan, Jetted Tub and None
  • Move Pool Equipment and Pool Furniture to Exterior


  • Make this an optional field & Add 3 “Other” text fields
  • Delete Window Treatments
  • Delete “window” from the remaining choices
  • Add Clad


  • Make this an optional field & Add 3 “Other” text fields
  • Delete one of the two Laminate options
  • Delete “Stained” from Stained Concrete
  • Delete Sub-Flooring/No Covering since this will now be an optional field
  • Add Vinyl


  • Make this an optional field & Add 3 “Other” text fields
  • Delete None

Lot Description

  • Make this an optional field & Add 3 “Other” text fields
  • Add City View
  • Alphabetize current options

Community Features

  • Make this an optional field & Add 3 “Other” text fields
  • Add Playground


  • Delete Owner Occupied and Tenant Occupied and replace with Occupied
  • Delete Seller Disclosure on File

Owner Pays

  • Add HOA Initiation Fee


  • Make this an optional field

Special Needs

  • Add 3 “Other” text fields

Green Features

  • Add Part Or All TVA Pkg (moved here from Interior)
  • Add Geothermal
  • Add 3 “Other” text fields


  • Delete other, Other 1, and Other 2 – To eliminate the lengthy list of similarly named documents already an option.

New Fields to be Added:

  • Y/N for Personal Interest
  • Y/N for Owner/Agent


  • Delete the signature line for Listing Broker and amend the listing Agent signature to read, “Listing Broker or Authorized Agent”
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January 18, 2018

December 2017 Home Sales Review

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

As we settle into the new year, let’s look back at how 2017’s Housing Market in the greater Chattanooga area wrapped up. It was a strong year for home sales as people flocked to our area, many millennials began entering homeownership, and homes were selling quickly – making for a very competitive housing market.

The number of homes for sale, days on market and months of supply were all down in year-over-year comparisons in a majority of the country for the entirety of 2017, as was housing affordability. And although total sales volumes were mixed, prices were consistently up in most markets – including greater Chattanooga. Buyers may not benefit from higher prices, but sellers do, and there should be more listing activity by more confident sellers in 2018. At least that would be the most viable prediction for an economic landscape pointing toward improved conditions for sellers.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 12.0 percent to 660. Pending Sales were up 6.0 percent to 619. Inventory levels shrank 26.2 percent to 2,530 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 7.9 percent to $178,000. Days on Market was up 1.7 percent to 59 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 26.2 percent to 3.1 months.

Unemployment rates have remained low throughout 2017, and wages have shown improvement, though not always to levels that match home price increases. Yet housing demand remained incredibly strong in 2017, even in the face of higher mortgage rates that are likely to increase further in 2018. Home building and selling professionals are both cautiously optimistic for the year ahead. Housing and economic indicators give reason for this optimism, with or without new federal tax legislation. 

2018 is expected to be another stellar year for the greater Chattanooga area’s housing market. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or both, connect with a Realtor on to make sure you’re i’s are dotted and t’s crossed so you’re ready when the right home or buyer comes along. 

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January 12, 2018


Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® joined together January 11, 2018 to recognize the installation of this year’s officers and directors. A total of 17 REALTORS® were sworn into office, including President Geoff Ramsey, President-elect Kim Bass, and Secretary-Treasurer Brandi Pearl Thompson.

President Geoff Ramsey has been a Realtor for more than 17 years and was elected by his peers to serve the highest office of the Association. He has built a successful career in real estate while also being a major sponsor for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and heavily involved with a half dozen St. Jude’s Dream Home giveaways.

President-elect Kim Bass has been an Affiliate Broker in both Tennessee and Georgia since 2005. She has served as both Secretary-Treasurer for the Association as well as President of Women’s Council of Realtors. Kim currently lives in Hixson with her husband, Brent and chihuahua, Alabama.

Secretary-Treasurer Brandi Pearl Thompson has been a licensed Realtor for over six years. A former New Englander, Brandi and her daughter, Vivian, relocated to Chattanooga 8 years ago and love calling it home and exploring all exciting things Greater Chattanooga has to offer.

To view a complete list of the 2018 Officers & Directors, click here.

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January 11, 2018

Winter Can Be a Hot Time for Sellers

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

The forecast for the end of the holiday season this year looks bleak as cold air and snow move throughout much of the country. This type of weather report will likely give people more reason to stay indoors during the holidays and not venture outside for much other than to meet up with friends to watch football or kick-off a healthy new year with a visit to the gym.

The cold winter months can also keep potential home buyers and sellers out of the market until the temperatures warm up and the Spring season begins to bloom. Home sales volume is normally higher in warmer months, with 40 percent of all homes sold last year during the summer.

Yet, there still proves to be advantages to selling a home during the Winter, mainly due to inventory shortages and motivated buyers often willing to pay a higher price. Selling your home during these colder months can pay off, but keep in mind, preparation is still needed for your home to stand out to potential buyers.

According to the National Association of Realtor’s® 2017 Profile of Home Staging, nearly 80 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. For homeowners interested in selling their home this winter, here are some typical listing and staging tips to keep in mind.

Festive Decor. With the festive, holiday season wrapping up, it is important for potential buyers to imagine themselves enjoying this time of year in your home. It is a good idea to decorate for the season when opening your doors for interested buyers, but don’t go too over-the-top. When hosting an open house, consider lighting the fireplace, festively decorating or hanging lights to showcase the season’s vibe to which buyers can relate.

Also, ensure your home is kept at warm temperature so potential buyers are comfortable when they walk inside from the cold.  

Don’t invite Jack Frost. Alongside adding holiday decorations to the exterior of your home, make sure to shovel your driveway and sidewalks and clear snow off any decks or patios. Potential buyers should be able to easily access your home without the danger of slipping on ice or tracking in snow. Also, remove any icicles or built-up snow from your roof, so that your home looks clean and ensure your “for sale” sign is easily visible in your front yard.

Work with a Realtor. Be sure to work with a Realtor, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, who can share more tips for listing your home this holiday season.

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January 4, 2018

2018 Housing Market Landscape

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

The start of the new year is a time when many people reflect on their goals and pledge personal resolutions for the next 365 days. Whether optimistic about or hoping for changes in the year to come, switching over the calendar also allows an opportunity to reassess one’s housing situation. 

This time of year has potential buyers and sellers reflecting on last year’s housing market data and examining the outlook for the next 12 months to better prepare themselves for entering the market and buying or selling a home.

Nationally, home sales and prices both increased in 2017. In 2018, existing-home sales are projected to be unchanged from 2017, at about 5.5 million sales, after rising the past three years, and the median home price will edge up only about 2 percent. One of the biggest challenges in 2018 will continue to be the low levels of homes available for sale. We’re certainly seeing that in Greater Chattanooga with inventory dropping steadily since a peak in mid-2014. The latest 12-month average regarding inventory was down 18.9 percent.

The National Association of Realtor’s Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey tracks topical real estate trends and renters and homeowners’ views and aspirations regarding homeownership. Released in December, the quarterly survey showed that at the end of 2017 a smaller share of homeowners believed that now is a good time to buy or sell a home, even with strong job creation and faster economic growth in the last months of 2017.

Since rising to 62 percent in the third quarter of last year, optimism that now is a good time to buy slipped to 60 percent, from 57 percent a year ago.

The report also found that 76 percent of homeowners think now is a good time to list their home for sale, which is down from last quarter (80 percent) but up from a year ago (67 percent). It seems we’re entering into 2018 with a slightly more positive outlook from sellers.

This data should help potential buyers and sellers better understand the market environment and know what to expect in 2018. The takeaways from this survey should help buyers and sellers who are heading into the market, and working with a real estate professional they can apply the lessons learned from the past year and expectations for the year ahead to achieve their home buying and selling goals.

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January 3, 2018

Geoff Ramsey Brings Zeal for Work, Homeownership to Realtors Group

Edge Magazine, January 2018: Energizing Home Sales: Geoff Ramsey Brings Zeal for Work, Homeownership to Realtors Group

Read the story featuring Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®' 2018 President Geoff Ramsey. 


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December 24, 2017

2018 Real Estate Projections

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

While many of the topics in this space over the last 12 months have used past sales and statistics to provide insights and information, today we will take a moment to look into 2018 and share some of my personal predictions.

Home sales in the Greater Chattanooga region will continue along a positive path in 2018.  As a result of the tight supply of homes available for sale, the increase will be modest, but sales will continue at the record levels we have been experiencing in 2017.  The overall economic outlook is positive, and unemployment remains low locally and nationally, so buyer confidence will continue into the new year.

As a result of the continued positive sales trend and tight inventory levels, home prices will continue to move upward.  While interest rates will slowly move into the mid 4% range, these low rates will keep affordability in check and well below the pre-recession boom.  National real estate experts tend to concur that buyers will stay in the market until rates reach the 6% range. 

The inventory of available home choices will remain tight in 2018 for 2 reasons.  The number of new home starts, while increasing in 2017 will continue to fall well below demand.  There are simply not enough building lots available and labor to build homes to match the demand in our region or across the country.  Many current home owners who are candidates to upsize or downsize will stay in place as they do not see acceptable options for the next phase in their lives. With no compelling motivation, their homes will stay off the market and continue to reinforce the tight supply chain.

There are several factors which will affect the housing market, but the impact and timing will vary. The recently passed "Tax cut and jobs act" will eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for many residents as they elect to take the enhanced standard deduction instead.  This loss of value combined with the loss property tax deductions will reduce the appeal of home ownership vs. renting.  The resulting negative impact on home values is yet to be seen.  A second looming change involves the long-discussed reform of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored entities, which along with FHA are the primary source of lending for Americans across the country. Any significant impact on affordability will surely derail the positive predictions outlined earlier.

It has been a pleasure sharing this space with you over the last 51 weeks and again I encourage you to engage a professional member of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors as you approach any real estate decision.

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December 17, 2017

“Surban” Living Gains Momentum

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

One of the hottest trends in the real estate industry across the country is the merger of suburban and urban areas to create a living style now known as “surban”.
Urban planners have historically used the term “mixed use” areas as the descriptor word for a community that offers greater walkability to retail and restaurants from a home or apartment, but in a suburban area.  Thus, a blend of both suburbia and city life is accomplished.

These areas generally feature highly rated schools, low crime rates, and shopping areas within walking distance.  Surban areas offer multiple housing options including: single-family residences, condos and townhomes according to Len Elder, an instructor at McKissock Learning and Superior School of Real Estate in a recently published article.   The Urban Land Institute estimates that surban areas will attract 80% of new households over the next decade.

“For the most part, housing areas have historically been categorized based on single-family residences, townhomes, condominiums or multifamily buildings,” Elder noted.  “The development and advancement of surban living have already begun blending housing options in a selected area.  It will not be uncommon to find townhomes and condos mixed in with single-family residences.  Ownership and rentals will exist in closer proximity to widen the retail base of the homes and provide an array of options for millennials.”
To bring the example home to the Chattanooga, one only needs to look at the community known as the “southside”.  Here you have new single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and rental apartments all being constructed in a harmonious fashion.   A new restaurant, salon, retail store or professional office seems to open every week in this hot area of town.  Battle Academy was constructed in advance of the coming building boom.

As you consider housing options for your next move, ask you Realtor about surban options available today and developing in the near future.

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December 11, 2017

New “Coming Soon” Listing Status

Statement from MLS Committee Re: “Coming Soon” Listings: For more than a year, the MLS Committee carefully monitored the industry-wide practice of “coming soon” listings and how other MLSs have embraced (or not) “coming soon” listings. As a result, the MLS Committee has authorized programming changes to Flexmls to provide a “coming soon” status for residential listings. By adopting a “coming soon” listing status, the MLS provides:

  • A mechanism to capture this “off-MLS” listing data and provide more comprehensive and accurate market data; and
  • An equitable way for potential cooperating brokers and their clients/customers to be made aware of such soon-to-be available properties and by which date showings are permitted.

In addition, the MLS Committee adopted the "coming soon" MLS Rules outlined below and a Pre-Marketing Addendum* to define the terms and conditions under which the “coming soon” status may be used and how such properties may be marketed.

*To access the Pre-Marketing Addendum in the future, on the Flexmls Dashboard, click on Forms & Contracts > MLS Forms > Pre-Marketing Addendum for Coming Soon Listings.

MLS Rules, Section 1.2.5. Listing Status Definitions

Coming Soon: A residential listing for sale and for which the Participant has a current listing agreement and the Seller has specified a Start Showing Date no more than fourteen (14) days, including weekends and holidays, in the future on which showings, open houses and/or previews will begin, and the listing automatically will change to Active status and Days on Market will begin to calculate. Coming Soon listings:

  1. do appear when searching for Active listings;
  2. are not included in syndication feeds;
  3. are not included in prospecting matches;
  4. may not be shown*;
  5. may only be advertised as “coming soon” and any date used to indicate when the property will be available for showings shall match the date by which the listing automatically or manually is changed to Active status*.

Coming Soon status is only available upon first entering a listing into the MLS. For any Coming Soon listing, the Participant shall execute an MLS-approved Pre-Marketing Addendum to confirm the Seller’s written acknowledgement and agreement that the above-stated provisions apply.

While the MLS does not require the posting of a “coming soon” sign/rider, Participants and Subscribers who post a “for sale” sign  without a “coming soon” sign/rider should be mindful of Article 12 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, which requires that “REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, market and other representations”; Article 3, which requires “REALTORS® shall cooperate with other brokers except when cooperation is not in the client’s best interest. The obligation to cooperate does not include the obligation to share commissions, fees, or to otherwise compensate another broker”; and Standard of Practice 3-8, which requires, “REALTORS® shall not misrepresent the availability of access to show or inspect a listed property.”

These MLS Rules do not prohibit a Seller from accepting an offer from a prospective buyer, who elects to make such an offer without the ability to view the property. Should a Seller accept an offer on a Coming Soon listing, the Participant shall change the listing to a status other than Coming Soon within the required forty-eight (48) hours as outlined in Section 1.4. Change of Status of Listing.

*Alleged violations of the terms and conditions outlined above for Coming Soon listings shall be referred to the Chief Executive Officer for appropriate action in accordance with the professional standards procedures established in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual. Sanctions which may be imposed on users include suspension of MLS rights and privileges and a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000).

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December 11, 2017

“Santa” Delivers a Bag Full of Gifts

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

Old St. Nick delivered a sack full of good news for the Greater Chattanooga housing community with the November market report!

Closed sales for the month of November were up +5.7% to the same month last year, which leaves the market with a +1.4% increase Year to Date.  Keep in mind that sales in 2016 were record highs in this market, so the 9,274 sales this year is a strong number.

Strong price increases  were the second gift in this report.  The median price increased +13.3% and the average price of a home sold increased by +10.5%.  These increases pushed the year to date median price to $175,000 which is up +9.4% and the average price for the year currently stands at $210,698 which is a +8.6% over the first 11 months of 2016.  This is all good news for home owners and underscores the strength of the local real estate market.

The third gift in this month’s report comes in the form of shorter days on the market.  It took the average home 58 days from listing date to contract for the month of November.  For the year the market is standing just under 2 months at 59 days which is down -10.6% from last year’s 66 days on the market.

Although it may be on many Realtors wish list this holiday season, Santa did not deliver tons of new homes and condos for them to sell, in fact just the opposite.  The number of new listings coming to market in November was down -4.5% and stands at -6.7% for the year to date.  With strong sales and decreased new inventory, the number of homes available for sale slipped to 2,814 in November, which represents a -25.3% decrease to the same month last year.  This inventory position combined with current sales trends produced a 3.4 months supply of inventory, which is a -27.7% decrease to November 2016.

As we look forward to 2018, all influencing factors are pointing to a continued strong housing market in the Greater Chattanooga region.  Unemployment is low, GDP is growing and interest rates remain fairly low.

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December 3, 2017

Plan Now if Selling a Home in 2018

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

So, you are thinking about selling your home next summer, because that’s the busiest time of the year for real estate sales.  While this is a true statement, take a moment to consider why you should go ahead and call a Realtor now.

The traditional mindset has been that you put your house up for sale in Spring and then it will sell in the following summer months.  For this reason, looking back over the last year we saw 1,252 houses come to market in March and 1,283 new listings in May.  In contrast only 750 new listings entered the market in December and 971 in February.  There was simply less fresh competition for those sellers who entered the market in the cold winter months and the first reason why you should consider calling a Realtor today.

While it may have been cold outside, home sales were hot all winter.  If you examined the same period December 2016 through March 2017 you will find that 2,897 houses closed during these traditional cold months.  The simple fact is that the immediacy of Federal tax refunds today, acts to jump start the housing market much earlier than it did 15 years ago.  Many Americans have more money in their bank account in mid-February than any other time of year-thus strong winter home sales and the second reason why you should call a Realtor today.

Acknowledging that  the month of December may be hectic for many, it is the perfect time to go ahead and schedule a consultation with an experienced member of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors.  Immediately after the holidays, most people experience a slow down in their work and social commitments.  With less to do, there is more time to focus on prepping your home to enter the market.  Rather than simply putting away holiday decorations, determine what you did not use this year or has become shop worn and get rid of those items.  If you meet with a Realtor and prepare a punch list, then January is the perfect time to declutter and dispose of items you have not used recently or will not be using in your next home.   Construction is traditionally slower in the winter, so if there are updates or repairs need, go ahead and schedule them now for January completion.

Common logic has been that a yard or moving sale is the best way to dispose of unwanted items, thus wait till spring.  However, you may find that calling a local thrift store, such as Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore to come pick up all of your items at one time and provide you a donation receipt is the best use of your time and you can use the donation as you file your taxes in April.

This is not to suggest that you stop decorating for holiday gatherings and going on family outings, but rather go ahead and contact a knowledgeable Realtor now so that you get a jump on the market in 2018!

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November 26, 2017

Deregulation: Not Always a Good Thing

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

While deregulation may sound appealing with hopes of spurring economic growth, one item that is on the way to passing may spell the end of your local Mom and Pop real estate office.

This past week, U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai (Senator from Kansas) released a plan to repeal so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations, which may sound like gibberish to you, but is a scary prospect for  small real estate offices locally and across the country.  Pai’s plan would dismantle the two-year-old Open Internet Order, which prohibits internet providers from blocking or slowing down websites, or charging higher fees for certain websites online and bundling services,

“Today, we propose to repeal utility-style regulation of the Internet,” said Pai, an Obama appointee to the FCC, elevated by Trump into Chairman of the agency, who voted against the Open Internet Order in 2015.  The repeal,  which is likely to be approved in December, would negate a ruling declaring broadband internet as an essential utility.  What this means is that  companies that provide internet, such as Comcast or Charter also known as “common carriers” under “Title II” of the Communications Act of 1934,  much like phone service and electricity,  must be “just and reasonable,” when charging consumers.

If this passes and internet providers were suddenly exempted from this provision as Pai proposes, they could technically begin charging internet users more to access certain websites such as Netflix, Google, or, more likely, smaller websites that don’t see as high demand  such as a local real estate  brokerage website.  Providers could also “throttle” consumer access to certain websites outside their bundles, making them load more slowly than other privileged websites.

While rapidly approaching reality, this is not a new agenda item in Washington.  The National Association of Realtors sent a letter to the FCC in July urging Pai to reconsider his motion to repeal the Open Internet Order.  Again, this past week NAR reaffirmed its opposition, accusing the agency of stacking the deck against smaller companies in favor of corporations

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said in a statement,“Technology is an increasingly important part of the way our membership delivers its services, whether through streaming video, drone technology, or other applications. We remain concerned that a rollback of net-neutrality rules could lead to blocking, throttling, or discriminating against Internet traffic, or even ‘paid prioritization’ arrangements that put small mom-and-pop businesses at a disadvantage in the marketplace. We will continue working with the FCC to share these concerns and ensure a fair and open internet where everyone can succeed."

The proposal, which would shift power from the FCC to large companies like AT&T and Comcast, is expected to pass on December 14, when the agency’s commission meets next.  The commission, comprised of three Republicans and two Democrats, is expected to vote largely along party lines with the Republicans supporting Pai’s plans. 

As you contemplate the far-reaching results, beyond local real estate brokers, you may wish to join the National Association of REALTORS® and express your concerns about this change to your US Senators.   However, do not delay, as this is expected to pass before year end.

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November 19, 2017

The American Dream of Homeownership is ALIVE!

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

Habitat for Humanity provides a critical path to achieve the American Dream of Homeownership!

Throughout 2017 this column has reported on rising home prices and decreases in the housing affordability index.  For the first 10 months of 2017, the median home price in the Greater Chattanooga Region has grown from $161,000 to $175,000.  While this 8.7% increase is music to the ears of existing home owners, to many in our community it is the reality that home ownership is slipping further and further out of reach.  For the most vulnerable of the working families around us, homeownership is just that, a “dream”….  hence the critical mission of Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity is a non profit organization that does far more than build affordable homes, it changes lives!  While most homes build by our local Habitat affiliate are 3 bedroom and 2 bath floor plans, they have also built slightly larger homes to accommodate specific family needs.  These 3 bedroom/2 bath homes generally appraise for $105-$115,000 in the current real estate market.  As you can imagine becoming a home owner at a price of  $115,000, thus $60,000 below the market median price opens the door for many working Chattanoogans to home ownership. 

This modest price is only accomplished through partnerships with local businesses, churches and civic organizations.  Volunteer man hours are critical to the process of keeping costs down.  Further more, the need for donations and fund raising is another key component to this low cost construction tight rope.  Greater Chattanooga Realtors is proud to be apart of a multi year partnership with Habitat for Humanity, both suppling volunteer workers as well as a bi annual fund raiser called “Tee Up and Wine Down”.  The next such event will be April 9,2018 at Black Creek.

The path to home ownership is not a quick or easy one for a Habitat family.  The initial application and vetting process is just the first of many steps that take place in the 18-24 month pathway to home ownership.  Families must complete between 200-400 hours of “sweat equity” working on both their homes and other construction in process.  Children under the age of 16 are taught the value of hard work, as their good grades and perfect attendance in school is counted toward these hours.  A total of 20 classes must be attended, with topics ranging from: saving money,  home maintenance, wills and estate planning, clean and healthy homes and more.  These classes help ensure once achieved, the Habitat Home owner keeps their home for many years.

Another key factor that keeps the costs of ownership low, is the 30 year 0% interest loan that is offered and serviced by Habitat.  With limited closing costs  and no long term interest accruing, the home owner starts paying toward their principal with the first payment.  This is only possible, thanks to Habitat’s non profit status.

So in this season of giving and thankfulness, if you would like to help continue the dream of home ownership by contributing your time or resources, simply contact Dominique Brandt at 423-756-0507 or you will find them on the web and on Facebook.  Another opportunity to support Habitat is by donating to their 2 ReStores, the first is located at 1150 E 14th street on Chattanooga’s Southside and the newest store is located at 9408 Apison Pike in Ooltewah.  Each store can schedule a free pick up for larger donations.

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November 12, 2017

Home Sales Remain Strong in October

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

The Chattanooga real estate market continued to demonstrate its resilience in October as sales increased over last year despite a significant decrease in the amount of available homes for sale.

For the month of October, Realtors in the Greater Chattanooga region sold 793 residential units compared to 788 in 2016.  This .6% increase in sales pushed the year to date total to 8,250 homes for a +.7% increase year to date.  This increase in sales was achieved, despite a -24.5% decrease in the number of available units for sale.  The region ended the month with just 2,909 homes on the market for sale, which is a record low in modern history.

Buyer confidence remained high and resulting demand pushed the median sales price up +2.9% to $175,000 for the month. At the same time the average sales price hit $211,202 which is a +5.8% increase to the same period last year.  The average price stands at $210,127 for the first 10 months, which is a strong increase over last year’s average through October at $193,763. 

The low inventory and strong demand meant homes sold at near record pace.  The average home took 54 days from listing date until it was placed under contract.  This represented a -12.9% decrease to October 2016 and pushed the YTD average down to 59 days on the market.  As would be expected, the months’ supply of inventory dipped to 3.5 MOS for October.  This represents a -27.1% decrease to last year and sets well below the national average which has been running at 4 months of supply.

The number of new listings coming to market remained very consistent with the year’s trend.  For the month of October new listings were down -6.9% to last year, which falls in line with the year to date trend of -6.8%.

While no one has a crystal ball, there is one indicator that gives clues to future months sales trends.  The number of contracts written but not yet closed, known as pending sales saw a strong surge in October.  Area Realtors placed 849 homes under contract in October, which is a +21.6% increase over last year.  This would indicate that sales for the November and December months should be strong and ensure the region ends the year on a positive sales path.

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November 5, 2017

Hurry Up and Wait

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

On a recent business trip, I realized there are numerous parallels between airline travel today and a home purchase.  At times both processes are a case of “hurry up and wait."

Most airline travelers today, book their flight in advance and arrive early on the day of travel to ensure they are ready to go.  This would be likened to a home buyer making loan application and getting pre-approved for a purchase so that when they are ready to shop for a home, they are truly really to roll.  Once at the airport they must produce credentials and identification, while a home buyer normally must summit recent bank statements, taxes and pay stubs.  Here you hurry up and submit and then wait for the “pre-approval letter”.

Once checked in, the rush to the security check commences.  The sometimes-daunting line and subsequent search, is very similar to a home search.  Checking every detail on your wish list for a home, looking for any defects or flaws, that can easily be spotted by a visual inspection or quick internet fact check.   Next comes the home inspection, which leaves no stone unturned, if only home inspectors had X-ray vision like the modern scanners which screen our persons and prod our personal belongings in airports today.   Standing in your sock feet, waiting for your bags to emerge from a scanner is very much like waiting for the results of your home inspection, hoping all is in good order and you can proceed forward with your plans.

Off you rush to the gate, only to wait for the call to board.  In this competitive market, waiting for the appraisal results might seem like an eternity, when it’s really only a matter of days.  Just as the flight crew checks and readies the plane, an appraiser checks every box and verifies he’s ready to submit, only to have “appraisal review” begin at the lender.  This final review, seems awfully similar to a pilot’s final check before announcing he’s ready to proceed 

We are now in the home stretch and seated on the plane, only to once again wait while the ground crew loads your bags as the tower and pilot coordinate final details of your trip.    Much the same takes place in the final days of residential real estate transaction.  The title company and lender prepare disclosures and paperwork for the buyer and seller to sign, while final checks and updates on the loan application are verified.

You think you are done and ready to be gone, only now you pull to the staging area on the tarmac to begin a new wait for your turn to take off.   Recent banking reform requires a closing disclosure with all costs and terms be disclosed 3 days prior to a residential loan closing.  Here again we wait for the days to tick by so you are fully informed and prepared for this possible 30-year trip.

While this all may seem simplistic and a little absorb, the simple fact is that those airlines with the best reviews make the traveling process seamless and smooth and others, simply do not.  The same is true with real estate professionals, a well prepared member of Greater Chattanooga Realtors can guide a home buyer through every step of the transaction and make it a calm and smooth process… the same time,  attempting to go it alone in a real estate transaction, will be like flying with one of those “other” airlines

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October 29, 2017

What To Inspect On Your Next Home Purchase

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

When considering a new residence as your potential home, there are many factors that contribute to a home’s selection, however one topic that is seldom is discussed are what physical inspections a new buyer should procure prior to purchasing the house?

Both Tennessee and Georgia provide a residential property disclosure form, where an existing owner can tell a prospective buyer everything they know about the house and what conveys with the home.  This is a excellent tool to use on the initial evaluation of a property.  Here you may learn about many items such as: defects which the owner has knowledge of, what conveys with the property, type of roofing materials and if there is a Home Owners Association.  Regardless of which state you are considering living in, the list of items is extensive.

The property  disclosure  may be rendered useless if the current property owner has not lived In the house for the last 3 years or the property is being transferred by a fiduciary in the course of the administration of a decedent’s estate, guardianship, conservatorship or trust.  In these cases, the owner may be exempted from completing a property disclosure in Tennessee.   In any of these cases the importance of physical inspection is increased.

There is a licensing process for home inspectors and wood destroying organisms in both Tennessee and Georgia.  These inspectors can advise a buyer of the overall condition of a home including such items as: electrical, heating/air conditioning, plumbing windows and doors.  They can also advise if there is active infestation of wood destroying organisms, such as termites and if a treatment is required.  These types of inspectors can give a buyer insight into what may not be readily visible to the untrained eye.

If you are thinking about putting up a fence, the home inspector can’t help you determine the boundary lines, here you need a surveyor.   A home inspector may look for leaking plumbing but they generally cannot provide information on utility connections or the capacity of the septic system for the home.   If these are important in your consideration, then different professionals should be brought in.

If you are concerned about crime, methamphetamine properties or sex offenders, a home inspector nor a realtor is the source for this type of information.  Here a buyer would need to consult local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. 

Perhaps a particular school districts or specific zoning codes are important to you in selecting a home.  Here again, consulting a local board of education or government office is the most accurate source.  

With so much to consider, an experienced Realtor member of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors should be your guide to help you navigate the inspection process.

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October 22, 2017

Proposed Tax Reform Hurts Homeowners

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

Federal Income tax reform is a hot topic in Washington right now and some elements being discussed may actually harm middle class homeowners, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issued a “call to action” this past week for its 1.3 million members to contact their Senators and Congressmen in Washington to encourage them to reform our tax code AND protect middle class homeowners.

Currently 83% of all federal income taxes are paid by American homeowners, NAR has pointed out, so major changes like removing the Mortgage Interest Tax deduction could be a major blow to these citizens.  A home mortgage interest deduction allows taxpayers, who own their home to reduce their taxable income by the amount of interest which they pay to the mortgage company.

This tax deduction was first enacted in 1913 and has been a bedrock of the home ownership value proposition since its inception.  NAR estimates that home-owning families with incomes from $50,000-$200,000 could face average tax hikes of $815 in the year after enactment.

Looking back in time to the 1986 Tax Reform Act, there were several changes that affected commercial real estate.  NAR noted that after this was enacted, property values in the commercial sector dropped significantly.  This drop not only affected owners, but also negatively impacted state and local tax revenue.

While American home owners have recouped the losses in value following the recent recession, analysts from the National Association of Realtors have calculated that these gains will once again be swept away if the mortgage interest tax deduction is removed.  NAR suggests that Americans could see a drop of more than 10% in home values with these suggested changes.

Another item being discussed in Federal tax reform is the removal of state and local property taxes as a tax deduction.  These incentives have proven critical for a strong housing market-which in terms creates jobs and builds stable communities.   If this deduction is also removed, then these 2 items could serve as a 1-2 punch to American home owners. 

For these reasons your local Greater Chattanooga Realtors along with Realtors across the state/nation are contacting legislators encouraging them not to turn our home-owning nation to a home-renting nation.  Please join us in the important effort and for more information go to .

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October 15, 2017

September Home Sales Announced

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

The Greater Chattanooga Region fell in line with the national trend of declining home sales in September with a 10.8% decrease.

For the month of September there were 784 closed units compared to 879 for the same period in 2016.  This decrease continues the developing trend of up and down-home sales this year.   Over the past 6 months, sales have been up 3 months and down 3 months.  Year to date the region stands at .1% increase over the first 9 months of 2016.

This sales decrease comes as no surprise to experienced students of the market.  The number of homes available for sale stood at 3,067, which is a 20.5% decrease to last year.  The number of new listings coming to market also declined by 1.6%.  This shrinking inventory has been putting pressure on sales all year and September was an example of low supply suppressing sales.

Of those homes that did sell, they sold quickly.  The average days on the market (time from listing until an acceptable contract is received) decreased to a short 56 days in September.  This is in comparison to 60 days on the market for the year to date average.

The suppressed sales results did not have a negative impact on prices, in fact home prices continued the march upward.  The median price of a home in September reached $180,000 which is a 6.6% increase over 2016 and the average price came in at $216,165 for a 11.4% increase.  While not an exact measure of appreciation, the average price YTD stands at $210,093 which is a 8.9% increase.  This increase in prices, paired with relatively stable interest rates have resulted in the affordability index declining by 10.6% for the year.

While no one has a crystal ball to predict the future of home sales in the Greater Chattanooga Region, we do have 1 indicator that gives us clues.  Through the multiple listing service of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors, one can measure the number of “pending” contracts.  These are properties which have a contract to sale but have not yet closed.  For the month of September, we experienced a 2.8% decrease in pending sales which follows a 4.2% decrease in August.  This would indicate that sales for the following 60 days should be flat or decrease to the previous year.  To underscore the accuracy of this tool, for the year pending sales are up .3% and actual closed sales are up .1%.

Interest rates are low, unemployment is low and the overall economic outlook is healthy.  Do not be deterred, this is a GREAT time to buy or sell real estate with the assistance of a professional member of the Great Chattanooga Realtors.

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October 10, 2017

It’s Time to Move

By Mark Hite, President
Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

A part of you knows you need to sell your house and move (upsize, downsize, etc.) but right now you are in total denial.

Your spouse, family and friends are telling you, it’s time to move but you resist and begin to accumulate “reasons” why now is not the right time.  You may need to declutter and physically can’t, the house needs work but you do not have the resources or relationships to get the work done, you have a mortgage and are not sure you would net enough to buy another house or perhaps your credit has been dinged and you may not be able to get a loan with favorable terms.  Denial and building of reasons/excuses are the first two steps to embracing change…. we are making progress.

While you do understand that you need to move, as a result of all these “reasons” you have amassed, you have become indifferent to the move/change.  You begin to ask yourself, where would I move to, IF I sold my house?  We are now onto the 3rd phase of change, indifference/acceptance.  Now is where you need an experienced member of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors to step in and start solving problems and helping you overcome these “reasons/objections” you have raised.

If your reason is “the house needs work” but you don’t know where to start or you don’t have a lot of available cash on hand or know qualified workers, here is where a Realtor can step in.  An experienced Realtor can research your neighborhood and help prioritize the work that needs to be done on your house.  From there they can connect you with qualified contractors to perform the tasks needed for your house.  In some cases, you may be able to negotiate having the monies taken out of your closing proceeds, in others a short-term loan may be required.  Here again a Realtor can guide you.

Perhaps the house needs decluttering to make it more appealing to perspective buyers.  Here again a Realtor can provide professional staging suggestions and even workers to complete the tasks.  You may find that rather than having a huge yard sale, you are better off to contact a local thrift store that will pick up your belongings, free of charge and give you a donation letter.  In this case the tax deduction may be more valuable than the work of preparing and selling your belongings for pennies on the dollar.  Here again, an experienced Realtor can guide you.

If you are unsure where you are going and what you can afford, then a Realtor is your life line.  They will connect you with a local lender to clarify what you are comfortable paying in the future and take a preview tour of homes that fit this budget.

You have now entered the 4th phase of change, acceptance of the idea and with all the “reasons” resolved, you decide moving is a great idea and you are so proud you thought of all these steps yourself!  Now, what are you waiting for?  Skip to step 4, call a Realtor today and get moving to the next home that fits your life!

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September 28, 2017

REALTORS® Volunteer Time and Resources Across Our Community

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

In addition to assisting buyers and sellers of real estate, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is committed to giving back to our community.

The largest ongoing community partnership we are committed to is with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area. This relationship has several components, the first of which is in support of Habitat ReStore trucks. Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® annually contribute $5,000 toward these trucks which pick up donations for Habitat ReStores, located at 1150 E 14th St. in Chattanooga and 9408 Apison Pike in Ooltewah. Anyone wishing to donate items to the stores, simply needs to call ahead and schedule a pick up.

In addition to contributing to Habitat, during 2017 local REALTORS® physically assisted in the construction of new homes and in neighborhood revitalization programs which contribute to the ongoing process of making our beautiful city—and it’s neighborhoods—even more beautiful. There was a total of 10 days designated for REALTORS® to join in these efforts over the course of the year. 

Tee Up and Wine Down for Habitat is a biennial golf tournament plus silent and live auctions, held by Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® to raise funds to help Habitat build a new, local home. The next Tee Up and Wine Down for Habitat is set for May 7, 2018 at Black Creek Golf Course. REALTORS® are working now to secure sponsorships for this event, which is critical to Habitat’s 2018 annual budget. The goal for 2018 is to exceed the $73,000 raised in the inaugural fund raiser. Anyone wishing to learn more about how they can join Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® in supporting Habitat can call 423.756.0507 or email

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® also partners with a local group to provide “Snack Packs” for more than 1,000 Hamilton County School Children each week. This partnership began in 2016 with a $20,000 contribution and $10,000 is contributed in subsequent years.  REALTORS® and community volunteers gather the first Wednesday of each month at East Brainerd Church of Christ to assemble snack packs for the coming month.  Anyone interested in joining this ongoing effort can contact the REALTORS® office  423.698.8001 for additional details.

The Northwest Georgia Council of the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is supporting students in need, in community schools as well. The NWGA Council held a school supply drive Fall 2017 with those items collected being delivered to Catoosa, Dade and Walker School Board offices for distribution as needed in December which is when schools and teachers begin running low on school supplies.

While these are examples of how Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®, as an organization gives back to the communities we serve, one will not have to look hard to find a local real estate office or individual agent giving back and volunteering their time and resources across our region.

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September 11, 2017

Summer Home Sales Continue Strong

By Mark Hite, President
Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

August is generally thought of as the end of the Summer selling season, as children return to school and fall arrives, the Greater Chattanooga housing market is showing no signs of “cooling” down.

This August, residential home sales were flat to last year, with a +0.2% increase. Keep in mind that this same month last year was the largest August sales month Chattanooga had experienced--so to be flat is an accomplishment. Year-to-date the market is standing at +1.1% to last year, which falls in line with early predictions.

Taking a closer look at sales data, it is particularly important to note that the region had a -23.5% decrease in the amount of residential units that were available for sale in August 2017 versus the same time last year. Area REALTORS® produced the same sales result with significantly less product to work with.

These strong sales, paired with decreased inventory, pushed the Months’ Supply of Inventory (MOS) down to 3.8 months. This represents a -24% reduction to last year’s figure and is consistent with last 7 months MOS.

Less inventory and consistent sales sent the Days on Market (DOM) plunging to 50 for August, which is a -13.8% reduction to last year’s 58 days and the year to date DOM stands at 60 vs. 67 for the first eight months of 2016.

It’s not hard to understand why prices continued their march upward as sales remained strong on less inventory. This August, the Median Sales Price increased to $178,450 which is +7.5% over last year and the Average Sales Price increased to $212,324 which is a +6.3% increase. Year to date, the average price of a home in the Chattanooga region stands at $209,432.

There are several factors which give clues to what future months of home sales may look like. The first category to consider are pending sales. These are sales contracts which have been written but have not yet closed. The number of pending contracts from August were down slightly from 2016, coming in at -1.0%. This is in line with the year-to-date number of contracts written, which is up +1.3% over the first eight months of 2016. This is a good sign that home sales should continue at near record levels and remain flat to last year over the next few months.

The other item that gives a clue to future sales results are the number of new listings coming to market. In this category, we saw a decrease of -9.4% compared to 2016, which is slightly weaker than the YTD trend of -7.4%. In the future, the reduced levels of inventory will push sales downward, but it does not look to be in the next few months--based on the year-to-date trends.

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September 7, 2017

2018 Officer & Director Candidates Announced

The Nominating Committee presents the following Candidates for the 2018 Board of Directors.

  • 2018 President-Elect: Kim Bass
  • 2018 Secretary-Treasurer: Brandi Pearl Thompson
  • 2018-2019 Directors (Four will be elected to serve a two-year term):
    • Brian Erwin
    • Grace Frank
    • Steven LaMar
    • Denise Murphy
    • Yadi Rosales
    • Joyce Smith
    • Ron Tucker

View Candidate Bios

ONLINE VOTING |  Begins Thursday, September 14, when each REALTOR member eligible to vote will receive an email from that contains secure voting credentials unique to the email recipient. Online voting will remain open until 5 pm on Wednesday, September 20. Election results will be announced the following morning during the Annual Meeting.

RSVP online and join us for the Annual Meeting (September 21, 8:30 am). In addition to a hot breakfast and mimosas, Coach Michael Burt will teach you how to Become a Person of Interest -  how to attract (not chase) massive opportunity in new clients by becoming a person others want a piece of and cannot live without. There will be a drawing for 6 copies of Burt's Person of Interest and 5 opportunities to participate in his remaining 2017 sessions of Monster Producer Chattanooga (a $399 value). 

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September 6, 2017

REALTOR® vs. Real Estate Agent: What’s the Difference?

By Mark Hite, President
Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®


The Preamble to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) begins:

Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization.

NAR, with 1.2 million members, is comprised of real estate licensees from 54 states and territorial associations. However, all real estate licensees are not necessarily members of NAR and thus subject to the Code of Ethics. This distinction is very important, regardless of the type of transaction you are considering - buying/selling a home, land or commercial transaction.

The Code of Ethics is divided into three distinct sections:
1. Duties to Clients and Customers
2. Duties to the Public
3. Duties to REALTORS®

Let’s examine these sections and their importance.

Duties to Clients and Customers states, “REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client.” REALTORS® further pledge to “avoid misrepresentation or concealment of pertinent facts” and “shall cooperate with other brokers except when cooperation is not in the client’s best interest.” In addition, there is strict guidance related to compensation received during and potentially outside of a real estate transaction. As one can imagine, all these areas have potential for misunderstanding and therefore are addressed in thorough detail.

Duties to the Public begins with a clear admonishment against discrimination: “REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.” This section addresses advertising practices as well, directing REALTORS® to “be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.”  The constant evolution of social media has presented many challenges in recent years to this section as new advertising venues are created almost daily.

The final section, Duties to REALTORS®, provides clear direction that “REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices.” To put it simply, if you don’t have something nice to say, then it’s best to say nothing at all.  From this most basic principle, this section continues with detail on how REALTORS® treat fellow REALTORS® and the clients of those REALTORS®.

If you are considering a real estate transaction, you can now see why it’s important to work with a REALTOR® member of NAR verses someone who only holds a real estate license and is not subject this Code of Ethics.

If you think you have experienced a breach in NAR’s Code of Ethics, contact us at Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® for details on how to file a complaint - click here or call 423.698.8001. We proudly serve Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia.
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August 29, 2017

Is it Too Late to Get Your Home Sold this Year?

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Summer has come to a close. You may be wondering whether you have waited too late to sell your house this year. Here are some facts to help you decide.

While the peak selling months for residential home sales are May through August, home sales occur in every month of the year and at varying levels. Of the 9,717 homes sales in the last 12 months, 32% of those sold in the September to December timeframe. To bring it down further in the most recent year we saw: September at 9%, October at 8%, November at 7% and December came in at 8% of the total sales. These sales amounts ranged from 701 to 879 homes sold per month, compared to June 2017’s high of 983 closed units.

In the not too distant past, it was perceived that all families moved during the summer months when children were out of school. This simply does not hold true in today’s market. Since our winters are mild, the home shopping season begins immediately after the first of the year and continues into the holiday season. Also, the internet allows today’s buyers to preview properties regardless of temperatures or weather conditions.

There are many reasons home purchases occur, regardless of the month or season – birth or adoption of a child and needing more space; children leaving the nest and no longer need the extra space; the aging process and inability to live independently; a positive (or negative) change in job/financial position that enables (or forces) a move. In addition to these factors, other motivations are marriages and divorces. Absolutely none of these factors are tied to school calendars or seasons of the year.

Because of the age-old perception that Spring/Summer is the best time to sell, many home owners have held off entering the market until the following year. This habit has lessened the number of potential new properties coming to market and reduces overall supply. With less supply and fairly stable sales levels, a Fall/Winter seller actually has less competition than the peak Spring/Summer seller. In our current “sellers” market this may provide further advantage to home sellers this fall/winter.

So, now that you have these facts, you can see that it is not too late to sell your home this year. Call on REALTOR® to prepare a market analysis of your home. A REALTOR® can give you insight into what your home may be worth and how long it should take to sell this Fall/Winter. 

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August 24, 2017

Summer Time Flooding?

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

While it may seem crazy to be talking about flood insurance in the depth of Summer, it’s actually an important issue with a major deadline looming in the near future.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created by the United States Congress through the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The program was designed to provide property owners with an avenue to purchase insurance against losses from flooding for properties across the county. While administered by the government, this insurance is required on loans and lines of credit for buildings and homes that are located within determined flood plains. Its primary design is to provide a means to insure against flooding disasters and maintain affordable costs.

Coastal flooding is the most common image that may come to mind when one thinks of this issue. A majority of properties covered by the NFIP are located in Florida and Texas, yet there are homes and businesses across the Greater Chattanooga region that are prone to flooding and for which flood insurance is required.

There have been a series of amendments and extensions to the NFIP over the years, including an expiration of the program in 2010 which disrupted more than 1,300 home sales daily/thus 40,000 per month. Next the “Biggert-Waters Flood Ins. Reform Act of 2012” was passed and allowed premiums to match actuarial risk of expected losses and sent many premiums skyrocketing. In January 2014, the US Senate passed the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014” that provided for subsidized premiums and reinstated lower rates.

The current version of the NFIP is expiring on September 30, 2017, and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) warns that this represents a threat to consumers. NAR President William E. Brown, believes that expiration would “deal significant damage to current policy-holding property owners, as well as threaten property sales and the broader housing market.”

With this looming threat fast approaching, the National Association of REALTORS® issued a “call for action” for its 1.6 million members on August 22. In this action, REALTORS® are urged to contact their respective Members of Congress and encourage them to support H.R. 2874, “The 21st Century Flood Reform Act”. This Act would reauthorize the NFIP and make a number of critical improvements which NAR feels are important to property owners.

If you do not own property that requires flood insurance, you may be thinking this issue is not your concern. Quite the opposite is true as any break in the NFIP would cause a disruption to national home sales, which would be a negative for all homeowners. The Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® encourages you to join us in supporting this important program

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August 17, 2017

July Home Sales Recap

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Home sales declined for the month of July. In comparison to the same period in 2016, this leaves the market at .8% increase YTD for 2017.

A key point to keep in perspective is that while the market is running “flat” to last year, 2016 was a record-setting year in the Greater Chattanooga region. Since the inventory of available homes for sale is down 22.9% compared to last year, to be even or slightly ahead of 2016 sales is a feat. Local real estate professionals are closing the same number of homes, with dramatically less product to work with.

New listings coming to market during the month of July was up 1% in comparison to last year. This increase represents the first time in 2017 that the number of new homes coming to market in a given month exceeded the prior year. In fact, new listings are running down 7.2% YTD.

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® were busy writing new purchase and sale agreements during the month of July as “pending” contracts were up 11.6% compared to last year. This is a positive sign as we look toward 3rd quarter home sales. It took the average home only 54 days to close in July, in comparison to 61 days in July 2016. This trend outpaces the YTD of 62 Days on Market, which is a 10.1% decrease from the first 7 months of last year. This heightened pace is a direct result of reduced inventory levels paired with consistent home sales.

On the pricing front, more positive news. The medium price in our market increased 11.3% in July to $183,600 which outperforms the YTD increase of 9.5%. In a slight contrast, the average sales price increased 7% to $213,726, which was a slight declined from June’s record $227,246. The average price is running in tandem with median with a YTD 9% increase. With increasing prices, the housing affordability index declined 13% and stands at a negative 11.5% YTD.

There was more negotiation taking place in July than the previous 3 months, as the average seller received 95.6% of their original list price. This is slightly lower than the 95.8% to 96.2% we saw in prior months. Percent of Original Price Received is a key number to track as we head into the Fall selling season.

Overall the market is performing as predicted with strong demand, only hampered by reduced inventory of properties available for sale.

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August 6, 2017

Housing Outlook Appears Bright

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

The outlook for home construction and sales appear to be bright in the foreseeable future, according to Dr Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Homebuilders.  Dr. Dietz spoke to a joint meeting of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga and the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors on Wednesday August 8th.

There were a number of economic factors, Dr. Dietz cited as he spoke with the group.  The first factor was the continued growth in the nation Growth Domestic Product (GDP) which softened in 2016 but is above 2% for 2017 and projected to continue at this pace through 2019.  Next up was the ongoing economic expansion, which is now standing at 97 months and counting.  He related this is the 3rd longest expansion in US history and is currently only eclipsed by a period in early 90’s and early 1960’s. 

Another positive factor is the low unemployment rate both locally and nationally.  He termed the labor market as being “tight” and addressed the shortage of skilled labor needed in the residential construction industry.  The labor pool in this sector is aging and vocational education as well as on the job training programs are needed to prevent this from becoming a drain on the industry in the near future.

Dr. Dietz brought the group up to speed on household debt and it’s shift since the 2008 recession. As a result of reduced mortgage interest rates, the average home owner spends 4.4% of their disposable income on mortgages compared to 7.2% in 2008.  At the same time, overall consumer debt declined until 2013 and has now risen to 5.6%.  To dig deeper he noted that credit card debit is lower than 2008 levels, but automobile loans are 144% of the 2008 number and Student loans are up 220% in comparison to the same period.

Again, on the positive side, Dr. Dietz addressed population growth, as Chattanooga is growing faster than the nation, which is a good sign for the housing industry.  One of the attractive points for moving to the Greater Chattanooga area is the overall affordability of housing.  While home prices have rebounded since the recession and price correction, overall housing cost is well below the national average.

While the overall size of new construction lots is shrinking on average, the price of these lots is increasing.  The cost of land and it’s development is impacting the overall cost of new construction, much like the increasing cost of lumber.  He related developers are shrinking the lot sizes in efforts to control the overall cost of each home and support affordable housing.

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July 30, 2017

Lending Changes Will Stimulate Home Buying

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

Some recently announced lending changes may open more doors to prospective home buyers.

Lending Giant Fannie Mae implemented changes to their Desktop Underwriter (DU) during the weekend of July 29th that now allows consideration of applicants with a maximum Debt to Income (DTI) ratio of 50%.  This increase in DTI will allow new buyers to either enter the market or increase the price of a home they now qualify for.  With multiple years of home prices outpacing wage growth this is seen as a stimulus to the housing market.

For those self-employed individuals who have been on the side lines, there is also new hope.  The documentation required to verify a borrower’s income was also updated this past weekend.  The number of case files eligible for the one year of personal and business tax return documentation requirements increased.  This move should again open up lending opportunities for home buyers.

Much has been reported about the impact of student loans and how these debts have kept home buyers on the sidelines over the last 7 years.  The recent practice on FHA loans has been to require lenders to count 1% on deferred loans, which has been a stopping point for many buyers. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will now count the payment on a student loan that is on the borrower’s credit report, even if it is income based.  If the loan payments are deferred, Freddie Mac will allow lenders to consider the payment the borrower will be paying, provided it can be adequately documented.  What this means is that conventional loans may now be an option for borrowers that previously did not qualify for a FHA loan.

With all of these changes, it is more critical than ever to work with a LOCAL LOAN ORIGINATOR!  In this rapidly changing market, you want a person to set down with and review the options and what is best for you.  While the internet offers may seem enticing, take it from a working Realtor, many of those loans do not close or they do not close on time.

Before you start your home search, contact an experienced and educated member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors.  They will offer suggestions of local lenders to compare so you can determine the type of loan you will be using and amount you are comfortable paying.

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July 26, 2017

Do Buyers Need a Home Warranty?

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

In the home purchase process, the question of a home warranty and what is covered often comes up. Today we will examine key points to consider.

Even when you purchase a new construction home, things can go wrong; therefore, a builder’s warranty often is requested. A builder may back the warranty themselves, or they may purchase a warranty from a third-party company, which assumes responsibility for specific types of claims as they arise. Depending on your loan type and local county ordinances, a lender may require builders to purchase a third-party warranty to protect buyers of newly built homes. So investigate this with your lender at the beginning of your home search process.

For existing homes, there are a variety of third-party companies that provide home warranties. Such contracts generally are for one year with the option to renew annually. Items typically covered include built-in kitchen appliances, hot water heaters, heating/air systems, and plumbing/electrical systems. There may be opportunities to upgrade and add pool/spa equipment, refrigerators, septic tanks and limited roof repair. Understanding what is covered and any related deductible as part of a claim are key to avoid disappointments and misunderstandings at the time of a claim.

At times, sellers will offer a home warranty as an incentive to potential buyers. These offers are effective, especially if some of the covered systems are approaching the end of their normal lifespan. Such offers can put a buyer at ease when is they can avoid a major replacement/repair expenses early on.

Whether it’s a builder’s warranty or a traditional home warranty, there are key questions to ask. What is and is not covered? What is the process and timeline for filing a claim? How are claim disputes handled? What, if any, liability is on the home owner, should a claim arise. In addition to these questions, you may also ask to see the seller’s past claims and/or check on line for home warranty vendor ratings.

An experienced and educated member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors can be an excellent resource to help you navigate the  home warranty selection and claims process.

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July 23, 2017

Do You Need A Home Warranty When Purchasing?

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

In the home purchase process, the question of a home warranty and what is covered often comes up.  Today we will examine key points you may want to consider.

Even when you purchase a new construction home, things can go wrong and therefore a builder’s warranty is often requested.  A builder may back the warranty themselves or they may purchase a warranty from a third-party company that assumes responsibility for specific types of claims as they arise. Depending on your loan type and local county ordinances, a lender may require builders to purchase a third-party warranty to protect buyers of newly built homes, so investigate this with your lender at the beginning of t the process.

There are a variety of third party companies that provide home warranties on resell homes as well.  They are generally 1 year in duration and can be renewed annually after this period.  Typical items which are covered might include: built in kitchen appliances, hot water heaters, heating/air systems and plumbing/electrical systems.  There may be opportunities to upgrade and add: pool equipment, refrigerators, septic tanks and limited roof repair.  Here again understanding what is covered and any related deductible as part of a claim are key to avoid disappointments and misunderstandings.

In some cases, home sellers will offer a home warranty as part of the original listing for sale.  This warranty offer can act as an incentive to home buyers and are particularly effective if some of the covered systems are older and approaching the end of their functional life span.  It’s may be easier to accept a home when the buyer feels they are protected from major replacement/repair expenses for the first year.

Regardless of new construction or a resell home warranty, the key questions to ask should include: what is and is not covered, what is the process and timelines for filing a claim, how to handle any claim disputes, what is the extend (if any) of the home owners liability should a claim arise.  You may also want to ask to see previous home owner’s reviews or check on line portals for ratings vendors have received from other home owners.

An experienced and educated member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors can be an excellent resource to help you navigate home warranty selection and claims process.

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July 16, 2017

Employer Assisted Housing Program Now Available

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

A new Employer Assistance Housing program is now available in our market thanks to a partnership recently formed by the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors (GCAR) and Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprises (CNE).

There are numerous statistics which support the relationship between work force stability and home ownership and that is the driving force behind this program.  Attracting, training and retain employees can be costly, so retaining your existing workforce is a win for employers. 

Since 2008, home owners have been staying in their homes longer than pre-recession trends, in fact 8-9 years is now the norm in many communities.  In contrast, renters move on average every 18-24 months, according to David Butler, Executive Director for Chattanooga Habitat for Humanity.  Stability at homes contributes to increase stability at work and improved grades for children. 

Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) programs take a variety of paths and can be customized based on the employer’s resources. Some examples of EAH programs include: employer contributing the entire down payment which then is a forgivable second mortgage, employer contributing all or part of a down payment which is then repaid by the employee over a number of years, employer matching savings by employee with fund use being restricted to home down payment.  

Members of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors were trained earlier this year on the specific options and benefits surrounding the program and are now prepared to begin making presentations for local employers and institutions.  A GCAR member and CNE representative would work with employer to construct the frame work of the plan and gain buy in from business principals.  Once the plan is complete and budgeted, a roll out and training program would be designed working with the employer. 

Although new to the Greater Chattanooga region, EAH programs have been in existence and proven to be successful around country for over 10 years.  If you are interested in learning more, contact the GCAR office at 423-698-8001 to set up your personal company consultation.

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July 11, 2017

Home Sales Edge Down in the Month of May

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

May was the third month this year that residential home sales ended in the negative column, when compared to the same period last year.

There were a total of 925 closed units in May, compared with 945 in 2016 for a -2.1% decrease.  This modest monthly decrease in home sales leaves the region up +1.2% Year to Date, which is good news for home sellers. After declining for 3 straight months, pending units (those properties which have a contract to purchase written, but not yet closed) increased by +6.8%.  This positive number is a good sign as we enter the critical summer selling season.

While there may have been fewer homes close in May than last year, the homes that closed went under contract quickly!  The average Days On Market (DOM) for the month of May came in at 56 days, which is a -17.6% decrease compared to last year's average.  The two year progression came down from 68 DOM  in 2016 and and 77 DOM in 2015. 

To give some additional perspective to DOM, let's break it down and look at some different price ranges of homes sold in Hamilton County in May. If we look at homes which sold between $150,000 and $200,000 the average DOM was a rapid 36 days.  Step up to $250,000-$300,000 and the DOM jumps to 65 days on average.  Pushing into the luxury price range of homes which closed over $500,000 and the average home closed in 76 days.   

Prices increased over last year, but not at the record setting levels the market has been experiencing.  The median home price finished the month at $177,000 for a +6.6% increase and the average price came in at $206,383 for a +4.5% increase over May 2016.  Compare these monthly averages  to the YTD increases of +10.4% and +10.0% respectively.  A slow down in the rate of price increases is actually a good thing for the market.  When prices out pace wage growth for an extended period of time, affordability declines and buyers begin to be eliminated from segments of the market.

On the inventory side of the equation, there were 1,281 new properties come to market in May verses 1,318 in 2016.  This level of production represents the strongest month we have seen this year.  The new inventory coming to market did not make a dent in the overall inventory of homes available for sale, which came in at 2,960 and represents a -24.7% decrease to last year. The Months of Supply, based on the current rate of sale was once again at 3.6 months, for what is considered a Sellers market.

With a shifting real estate market like we are currently working in, both home buyers and sellers need the insight of an experienced and well trained member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors.

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July 9, 2017

Mid Year Home Sales Recap

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

June represented the third month in a row that the number of homes which sold in the Greater Chattanooga area declined when compared to the same month last year.

While no one likes to see sales decline for consecutive months, the Chattanooga Real Estate outlook is not one of doom and gloom.  The YTD numbers reflect a positive .8% increase and the trailing 12 months show a 4.9% increase when compared to previous year.  The other factor to keep in mind is that the sales we are against are records for real estate sales in our community.  In June 2017, we saw 950 closed residential units, which compares to 980 in 2016 and 912 in 2015.

At the root of the softening sales trend is the reduced level of inventory available for sale.  In June we saw an average of 3,087 homes available for sale which is in stark comparison to 2016 with 4,020 and 2015 with an average of 4,651. While there is still ample inventory for home buyers to choose from, the supply is diminished when compared to recent years.

Homes that sold, did so quickly as the average days on the market (DOM) dipped to 60 days in June and the Year to date DOM stands at 63 vs. 70 days last year at this time.  Home buyers continued to pay closer to the asking price as average sale was only 3.7% off the original list price.  This indicates continued buyer confidence as YTD the percent of negotiation stands at -4.4% vs. last years -5.0%
Home buyers continued to pay more for homes they chose, as the median price increased 5.9% and the average home price increased by 8.4% to $228,402.  To give this some perspective, the average home price in June 2015 was $192.159.  This represents an increase of 18.8% in just 2 years.  As we reflect on this price growth, one must keep in mind that wages are not growing at this rate, so at some point affordability will begin to put a strain on home sales.  Low interest rates continue to facilitate affordability across the board, so this is a key metric to track in coming months.

The second half of 2017 continues to be a great time to buy or sell real estate in the Greater Chattanooga area.  Realtors need homes to sell, so now is an excellent time to find out what your home may be worth and how long homes are on the market in your neighborhood.  The overall economy remains positive and while interest rates have crept up, it has not been a significant change, so affordability is still good.

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July 6, 2017

Vacation Home Options Abound

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

During Summer vacation months, many families toy with the idea of a beach front property. If you are considering a second home or vacation rental this year, there are a number of within a short drive of Chattanooga.

If you live in a more rural part of our market and like to get away to the city on the weekends, a downtown condo or house may just be the ticket for you. There are numerous options that allow you to walk or bike to all of the Scenic City’s festivals and numerous restaurants. If you are thinking about an incoming producing option such as a short-term vacation rental, be sure to research the rules currently being put into place. A REALTOR® can help you identify properties eligible for this option.

Have you always dreamed of waterfront living and boating until sunset? If the costs of homes near your work are out of your price range, then consider these options. A short drive to Watts Bar Lake or Nickajack Lake can provide numerous choices. You might be surprised at how affordable the options are on these quiet TVA lakes. Venture a little farther across Northern Alabama and the opportunities abound.

A mountain retreat may just be your idea of a perfect get-a-way, so why not consider the numerous cabins and homes surrounding the Scenic City. Options are as close as the nearby Georgia Mountains or stretch out to two hours away and pick up an income-producing chalet in Gatlinburg. While prices have appreciated in recent years, there is still a supply to fit any budget.

As you consider properties outside the primary service area of the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®, do not forgo quality representation. Many of our members are licensed in neighboring states or can refer you to someone who is. A REALTOR® can help you buy with confidence and knowledgeable representation.

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June 30, 2017

Notice of Proposed Bylaws Amendments

Click here for a PDF detailing each proposed amendment.

In the Fall 2016, the Bylaws Committee began a thorough review of our Bylaws for any housekeeping changes, as well as any opportunities to improve any operational or governance matters. In June 2017, the Bylaws Committee presented their recommendations to the Board of Directors. After thorough consideration and vetting, the Board of Directors puts forth the 2017 Proposed Amendments to the GCAR Bylaws.

We are now ready to proceed with voting, which will take place electronically on July 7-13. On Friday, July 7, each REALTOR® member eligible to vote will receive an email with their unique voting credentials link to the online voting platform. Voting will remain open until 5 pm on Thursday, July 13.

The 2017 Proposed Amendments are organized into three categories – Housekeeping, Operational and Governance – as outlined below.


  • Correct the Association name where “Greater” is missing before “Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®
  • Update the name of Tennessee Association of REALTORS®, which now goes by “Tennessee REALTORS®.”
  • Clean up the language referring to the one-year Directors, who serve by virtue of their position as the Immediate Past President, President of the Northwest Georgia Council and President of the Commercial Council.
  • Clarify that the dues are pro-rated for new members based on the date of application


  • Add language that already applies to Designated REALTORS® so that the same qualification criteria is utilized for everyone who applies for REALTOR® membership.
  • Update the list of our Standing Committees.
  • Change the name of the Equal Opportunity/Cultural Diversity Committee to the Diversity Inclusion Committee.
  • Implement attendance requirements for committees and task forces that mirrors the attendance requirement for the Board of Directors.
  • Implement term limits for Officers, Directors, and Committee/Task Force Chairmen.


  • Provide the Board of the Directors the ability and authority to hold each other accountable, and if necessary, remove an Officer or Director, who has breached their duties and obligations.
  • Expand the makeup and define the role of the Nominating Committee for reviewing applicants for Officer and Director positions.
  • Reduce the size of the Board from 18 to 15 Directors by 2019.

The Bylaws Committee* and Board of Directors** encourage your support of these proposed changes, which seek to improve and enhance the leadership experience for future leaders and how they serve all members now and into the future.

*The 2017 Bylaws Committee is comprised of: Co-Chairs Travis Close and Pam Duffy, Mark Blazek, Randy Durham, Jennifer Grayson,  Steven Sharpe,  Vicki Trapp and Kathy Tucker.

**The 2017 Board of Directors is comprised of: President Mark Hite, President-Elect Geoff Ramsey, Secretary-Treasurer Kim Bass, MLS Chair Vicki Trapp, Immediate Past President Nathan Walldorf, Robert Backer, Myra Cochran, Jennifer Cooper, Becky Cope English, Robert Fisher, Dan Griess, Jon Hughes, Paula Palmer, Brenda Pargeon, John Payne, Robyn Ring, Brandi Pearl Thompson and Kevin Wamack.

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June 25, 2017

Are you upgrading your home or simply performing required maintenance?

Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Many home owners make investments in their homes, thinking they are upgrading the property, when in reality they are just completing required maintenance. 

Much like replacing worn tires or a broken fan on your automobile, there are many such items in residential real estate.  At the foundation of this topic are basic routine maintenance items, examples would include: cleaning gutters, having the Heat/air unit serviced and trimming shrubs away from the structure to prevent rotten wood.   Performing these activities help to extend the life of structure/utilities but are not considered upgrades.

The second level of maintenance to consider are when items have worn out or broken.  A leaking roof, a heat/air unit that is not in working condition or a broken dishwasher would be such examples.   Unless otherwise stated in a real estate listing, it is assumed that working appliances and functional heating/air units would be included with any home.  Addressing any of these nonfunctional or functionally obsolete items would again be considered maintenance.  While a new roof or heat/air unit may help your home seller faster or for more money than a home with older features, they are still not considered an upgrade.

To consider these maintenance investments as upgrades, it is my opinion that they would need to be superior to what is expected in a similar house in the neighborhood/area.  On the roof example, if the standard roof in the neighborhood is a basic “3 tab” and a home owner installs  a 30-year architectural shingle, then this would considered an upgraded roof.  If other homes have laminated countertops in the kitchen and the home owner installs solid surface countertops, then these would be superior to other homes and thus  considered upgraded.

As you prepare to make investments in your home, whether   required maintenance or contemplating an actual upgrade, be careful not to over improve for your neighborhood.  To gain insight into what the norm is for your area and learn what the return may be on choosing to upgrade, consult an experienced member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors.  They can help you make informed investment choices, based on what has been selling around you and the prices returned.  Unless you are planning to enjoy the upgraded feature for a number of years, then generally it is best to invest to the neighborhood norm.

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June 18, 2017

Health Care Options Affect Real Estate Values

There are numerous factors which affect quality of life and thus home values in a community and one of those is the availability of quality health care.

Consider for a moment, you are a retiree who is evaluating different areas to spend your “golden years”, would available health care options be important to you?  What if you are a principal in a company, evaluating different locations to open a branch, would a breath of health care options be a part of your vetting process?  The answer to both of these would be, YES and therefore this is an important factor to keep in mind as we look at our overall community appeal.

The Greater Chattanooga Area’s health care needs are primarily served by 3 major health care entities: CHI Memorial, Parkridge Health System and Erlanger Health System.  In an effort to educate Realtor members on the breath of services being offered, the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors (GCAR) invited executives from Erlanger to a morning meeting on June 7th at its Amnicola office.

Jed Mescon, Vice President of Public Relations, Marketing and Development kicked off the meeting with a number of little known facts about the system.  He advised the group that Erlanger represents the 7th  largest public health system in the nation and yet, despite its size, he continued that it also represents the #1 underfunded system in the nation.   Erlanger will provide $100 million in unreimbursed care this year, “No one is turned away at Erlanger” Mescon commented and recent studies revealed that Erlanger’s emergency room is the 7th busiest in the nation.

Next up was Steven Wagner, Executive Director of Development.   Wagner discussed a number of current and planned investments the system is making in the fields of heart and lung care.  He highlighted physician recruitment, including Dr. Larry Shears who is ranked #2 in the world in robotic Cardiothoracic Surgery procedures.   Erlanger is now ranked as the #2 Stroke Center in the US continued Wagner, with a door to tPA time of just 19 minutes, a critical measure in stroke care.

The final focus of the meeting was from Bruce Komiske, Vice President, New Hospital Design and Construction. Komiske presented the thought process and unique features of the new Children’s hospital, which had just broken ground the day before.  He explained that 32 of the needed 40 million dollars had been raised for first phase of the hospital, so construction was beginning.   The new facility will provide state of the art care in modern day surroundings vs. the decades old building they are currently functioning in.  He concluded that this represents the first of several major facility investments on the campus and presented drawings of what the community could expect in coming years.

Realtor members left with these and many more talking points about the availability of health care in the region, so they can properly “sell” the advantages of relocating to our community.  Erlanger is still accepting donations for the Children’s Hospital at

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June 4, 2017

Consumer Confidence is Positive Relative to Residential Real Estate

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

There are a number of factors that influence residential home sales, both in a positive and negative manner.  Today we will take a look at some of these key factors.

While the overall underlying influence is consumer confidence, the first factor to affect this measure is unemployment.  As has been well reported, both locally and nationally, the unemployment rate is low in comparison to 30 year averages.  Additional reports have interjected that employers are experiencing  a shortage of skilled workers in specific job categories.  So, it can be assumed this area is applying positive pressure on consumer confidence.

The second item to consider are interest rates and availability of money to borrow.  While much has been reported about the FED raising the short-term rate that banks use, it has had little effect on 30 year fixed mortgages.  A quick review of the mortgage industry and you will find a variety of loan types with interest rates falling in the low 4% range.  Again, comparing these rates to the 30 year average and the credit scores required to achieve these attractive rates, one can discern that this is a positive influence on consumer confidence and the residential real estate market.

Another category to consider is the perceived health of the economy and the stock market.  If one examines the S&P 500 over the last 16 months you will see a consistent increase in values since February 2016 and a marked improvement since the Presidential elections of November 2016.  Wealth has been accumulated and those who are invested in this area find themselves in a better position than 12 months ago.

Home prices are the fourth area to affect the residential real estate market and related consumer confidence.  The Greater Chattanooga region experienced a 9.9% increase in the average home price in 2016 and has continued this trend with an 11.4% increase for 2017 YTD.  These consistent increases in the average price of a home are in sharp contrast to wage growth in the region.  At some point in the future, affordability will become a concern and become a drag on consumer confidence and place pressure on home sales.

When you survey these factors, the overall impression seems positive for our region at this point in time.   However, with the rapidly changing real estate like we are experiencing today, you need an experienced member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors to guide you through the selling and buying process.

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May 3, 2017

Is Selling by Owner An Option for You?

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

So, you are thinking about selling your home yourself. Before you put that sign in the yard, here are a few points to consider.

If you are looking at the “numbers” and want to avoid hiring a REALTOR® to represent you and avoid paying a commission, there is another number you may want to consider. According to National Association of REALTORS®2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, only 5 percent of home purchases were made directly from previous owner. Of those purchase, only 2 percent knew the seller. So, if you are looking to sell it yourself, the “numbers” are stacked against you with only a 5 percent chance of success.

A second number you may want to consider is where those same buyers found the home they purchased. For 2016, a record 50 percent found their next home searching online. A REALTOR® member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® has the opportunity to advertise your home to more than 80 sites and provide maximum exposure to potential buyers. While there are several online place to list a home for sale, the list pales in comparison to the exposure and marketing of your home a REALTOR® can bring to the table.

Still considering going it alone? There is one more number you may want to take into account. Of the 5.45 million homes sold nationally in 2016, 88 percent pf those transactions were processed through a real estate agent. If you are avoiding hiring a REALTOR® to cut costs, you also are eliminating the greatest source of qualified buyer leads.

The last item for your consideration is harder to measure and is the value you place on your personal safety. Do you really desire to open you door to strangers and provide them a tour of your home? What about hiding a key or leaving the door unlocked for them to enter your home unaccompanied? Real estate licensees must attend required education classes and pass a state examination, as well as pass a background check. In addition, licensees must obtain insurance and affiliate with a brokerage firm. When subscribing to the Association’s Multiple Listing Service, a REALTOR® can install a keybox on your home. This keybox is only accessible by those who meet the Association’s criteria for holding a key, and all access to the keybox can be tracked to the minute it was opened.

So, before you stick a sign in the yard, call a REALTOR® to give you their expert opinion of what your home may bring and how long it will take to sell. My experience tells me that you will find that you can get more money in a faster timeframe by working with a REALTOR® and not leave yourself, your family or your property at risk.

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April 27, 2017

What Does “Months Supply of Inventory” Really Mean?

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Each industry has its own set of acronyms and abbreviations and real estate is no exception. Today, let’s take a moment to explore the term “Months Supply of Inventory.”

The simplest way to explain this term is that at our current rate of home sales, if no new properties came on the market, we would be out of inventory in X # of months. This number is a constantly moving gauge of the health of a real estate market and one that all consumers need to understand.

The Greater Chattanooga region is currently standing at 3.6 Months of Supply, down 28 percent from March of 2016’s 5 Months of Supply. Looking back two years is even more dramatic – 6.3 Months of Supply in March 2015. And it was as far back as mid-2009, when our market peaked at 14 Months of Supply.

To interpret how this score relates to the average home buyer/seller in Chattanooga, consider the following. A balanced market, where there is considered to be an equal number of buyers and sellers traditionally has 5 to 7 months of supply. If a market exceeds this level then it is considered a “Buyer’s Market,” meaning there is excess supply and the buyer has the advantage. When the months of supply is lower than 5 months, it is considered a “Seller’s Market,” meaning home sellers have the advantage. Thus, we currently have a seller’s market in Greater Chattanooga.

What does this mean for potential home sellers? Typically in such a market, sellers can obtain top dollar and agree to limited concessions. Thus, buyers in a such a market should be prepared to pay a premium price with limited room for negotiations.

Reiterating these points, let’s look at March’s related market statistics when the average seller achieved 95.2 percent of their original list price. In 2015, this same figure was only 93.9 percent. Going back even further to January 2012 and a Buyer’s Market, sellers only received 89 percent of original list price and there was a generous 10.2 Months of Supply.

With the number of closed sales continuing to push ahead of last year and the number of new listings declining to the previous period, there is no indication that we will shift out of a Seller’s Market at any point in the near future.

If you are considering selling your house at any point in the next 2 years, now is the time to consult with an experienced member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®. With positive price appreciation and low interest rates, now is a great time to sell and lock in a low rate on your next mortgage.

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April 20, 2017

Open Houses Aren’t Just for Buyers

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

The Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® (GCAR) is hosting Open House Weekend on April 22-23, during which you’ll notice lots of signs and balloons throughout the region.

Years ago, this annual event was designed to jump start the Spring home selling season and encourage buyers to get out and look around. While the internet is a key tool in searching for homes, most purchasers still find value in getting inside homes to preview the finishes and layouts.

The National Association of REALTORS®2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that 8 percent of buyers first learned about the home they purchased from a yard sign or open house. This statistic underscores the value that prospective buyers see in visiting an open house. So, for this reason GCAR is once again leading this regional marketing effort.

A more recent twist in open houses is the increased number of prospective sellers who are visiting open houses this Spring. While sellers can also look online at available homes in their neighborhood, they are finding an in person viewing helps them compare the fit and finishes in other homes to theirs. What may seem dark and cramped in a photo might be open and airy in person. Or a laminate countertop could be mistaken for solid surface, which affects the appeal and value of a property.

With online automatic home valuations, many home owners are left scratching their heads as to the basis for these values. A computer program cannot compare updates, outdoor living space environments or upscale appliances, that’s why home owners are visiting more open houses this Spring.

Once a home owner gets a feel for what the competition looks like, they can better gauge what they may need to do if they are considering selling their home. It may be as simple as decluttering. Or major repairs or updates may be required to command top price. Like all home pricing/staging investments, a REALTOR® should be relied upon to provide professional guidance at this point.

Don’t let weather concerns this weekend prevent you from participating in Greater Chattanooga Open house Weekend (April 22-23). If you are thinking about selling your home in the next few months or years, take this opportunity to get out and see what’s going on in nearby homes. 

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April 13, 2017

First Quarter Home Sales Announced

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

First Quarter of 2017 is in the books and it’s been a record-setting start to the year. Home sales continued on an upward pace in March, after taking a step backwards in the first month of the year. There were a total of 860 closed sales for the month of March, which moved the first quarter ahead of last year by 4.8 percent.

The second area to continue its record setting pace is home prices. For March the median price jumped 19.2 percent to last year, and the average home price moved up a whopping 14.2 percent when compared to March of 2016. In dollars this equates to an average price of 206,837for Marc, which moved the average for the first quarter of 2017 to $201,129 – that’s an 11.3 percent increase over last year.

Everything was not on the positive side for home sales statistics. For starters, there were fewer homes coming to market in March. A total of 1,248 new units entered the market, which represents a 6.5 percent decrease compared to the same month last year. This decrease moved the first quarter down by 8.6 percent in comparison to the same period in 2016.

With inventory shrinking and sales increasing, it should not come as any surprise that the average available inventory of homes for sale would also decrease for the month. In March, the region had 2,988 homes for sale, which is a 23.1 percent decrease to the 3,884 homes sale this time last year.

One of the negative numbers that relates to a positive is Days on the Market. For March the average home that sold took 70 days to go under contract, which is down 4.1 percent from last year’s 73 days. This move closes out the first quarter with the average falling by 5.5%, or an average 69 days on market.

With the diverse results for March and first quarter, one may be wondering what to make of these numbers. If you are considering selling your home at any time in the next two to three years, NOW is the time to consult a REALTOR® and see what price at which you your home might sell. With limited inventory, a top price should be garnered for your home this Spring.

If you are a home buyer and waiting for inventory to improve, that does not appear to be in the cards, at least in the near future. The other item working against you in this appreciating market, with increasing interest rates, is a reduction in home affordability. Revisit your list of “must haves” and lock in your rate for 30 years, before they increase again. 

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April 5, 2017

What’s Going on with the Schools?

By Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

There are a variety of factors that affect home values and one of the largest influencers are schools.

The list of factor’s that impact a school’s rating is extensive and constantly growing – test scores, graduation rates, age of facilities, breath of advanced placement classes, attendance rates, parental involvement and athletics, to name a few. Our society has become increasingly transparent, and these items are easier to see today than ever before.

Homes zoned for schools that fair more favorably in the above-mentioned areas demand a higher sales price and tend to sell faster than comparable homes located in other areas. There are examples across our market where this discrepancy, including homes located on opposite sides of the same street. It is clear that different school zones mean differences in price.

Buyers without school-aged children may not automatically considser school in their decision making. I would advise all buyers inquire about the school zoning for any home of interest. While it may not impact the potential buyer now, that same buyer may be a future seller, who would be affected with it comes time to sell.

It should come as no surprise when the topic of redistricting surfaces, home owners and parents take notice. In recent years when leaders considered redrawing the boundary lines on the Eastern side of the Hamilton county, there was public outcry. The concerns came both from parents whose children were being affected and home owners who feared their property values would be diminished.

In this week’s column, I focus on this topic, not to cast blame or point a negative finger at any of our local school board members, central office leadership or educators. Rather, my objective is just the opposite – to underscore the need for quality schools throughout our market area. The matter is in all of our best interests.

Currently in Hamilton County, a search committee is at work to find the next Superintendent. And the County Commission is working with the School Board to tackle a reported $200 million dollars in deferred building maintenance. These are two big issues, both with short-term and long-term impacts on our market.

In order to keep Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® informed on current and future plans for Hamilton County Schools, Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly spoke to our membership on April 5th. Kelly’s presentation was through and covered the current status of the system – it’s challenges, successes and future plans. One of the highlights was the vocational programming that has been developed, without spending millions on a new facility. If you are interested in the details contact one of our members for a personal update.

School quality affects all property owners. Contact a REALTOR® to guide you through all phases of the home ownership process, including pointing you in the right direction to learn all about the schools in your area.

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March 29, 2017

GCAR Members Service Both Tennessee and Georgia

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

This past week, the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® a(GCAR) demonstrated their involvement in North Georgia goes deeper than selling homes and land. On March 26, GCAR’s Northwest Georgia Council hosted a luncheon with the heads of Catoosa, Walker and Dade Counties. REALTORS® packed the room at The Colonnade Center for the lunch meeting, prepared to learn about all of the activities and developments in these three counties that make up more than 20 percent of sales in the Greater Chattanooga market.

Steven Henry, Chairman of Catoosa County’s Board of Commissioners covered a variety of infrastructure investments in progress and planned throughout the county. Henry also covered jobs and new businesses coming into his county in the near future, and acknowledged the need for additional land to develop for similar business relocations. As county leader, Henry actively is looking for land to develop into a business park, and stressed it would have to be purchased at fair market value to make good business sense.

Ted Rumley, Board Chairman and County Executive for Dade County focused on new job creation and business development. Leading with the discussion of two announced employers coming into Dade County, Rumley stated that each business will create 300 to 400 new jobs. He added that the County currently is working with another manufacturer that seeks 300 acres to develop and would bring 1000+ new jobs. Rumley commented that 1000 new jobs would make a major impact in a county with 16,500 residents.

Newly elected Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield presented a recap of accomplishments his team has made in the first 75 days in office. His first priority was to clean up the county so residents and REALTORS® alike could enjoy improved property values. To demonstrate his progress with clean-up efforts, Whitfield compared code violations in January and February of this year to the previous two years. He emphasized that his team is focusing on dilapidated houses, garbage, junk and junk cars to make an immediate impact in the community. In one example, fifteen dilapidated houses have been cited year-to-date versus only seven in 2016 and only one in 2015. Whitfield’s future plans include a “tire amnesty” day to encourage residents to bring in old tires in lieu dumping and a close examination of waste haulers to ensure their loads are property secured while on the road in Walker County.

REALTORS® often act as ambassadors to relocating families and this meeting provided attendees with a wealth of information to share with current and future clients. When considering buying or selling property in North Georgia, always work with an experienced, licensed agent and member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®.

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March 8, 2017

Yard Work Returns Dividends

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Spring has sprung early and since curb appeal is key in residential real estate, it’s time to get to work on the yard.

A good first impression means everything. Prospective buyers are looking at both the appeal and how hard it may be to keep up once they are the owners. A neglected or overgrown landscape may give the impression that it’s more work than a novice can handle. Thus, buyers rule the home out of consideration.

Curb appeal actually starts at the “curb.” Consider pressure washing and edging the sidewalks and driveway. And if it’s been a while since you painted the mailbox, and post, it may be time to give them a fresh coat and make sure the house numbers are crisp.

Now on to the grass. Is it healthy and free of weeds? Outside upkeep, including the grass sets the buyer’s expectation for how well-maintained the interior may be. If you’re re not paying attention to the lawn, are you neglecting interior items, too? Regardless, consider whether it’s time to over seed and build a thicker lawn.

After evaluating the lawn, move on to the shrubs and trees. Are they appropriately trimmed and shaped? If some pruning is needed, keep in mind that trimming significantly overgrown shrubs may expose unsightly bare spots. If this the case, consider trimming early so they have time to fill in before placing your home on the market. Alternatively, consider replacing them versus trimming them back. Also, a new layer of mulch always refreshes a home, so apply this, too, before placing on the market even if you’re lawn and landscaping is in good shape already. Not listing until the Fall or even next year? It still may be time to address these issues now and gives plants – new or trimmed – time to mature.

While you still have the pressure washer out, consider the exterior cleanliness of the home itself. A clean house is a prettier house – pressure washing will go a long way to renew a home’s appeal. Gutters often need the most attention, particularly if they are clogged and overflowing. During pressure washing, some paint may flake off. If so, them you may need to apply a coat of paint to get maximum impact.

Lastly, take an objective look at your front door – the last first impression a buyer will have before stepping inside. Replacing a front door always gave a positive return on investment, and this proved to be true even during the worst of the last recession. Perhaps you need a new coat of paint, new hardware or even a new storm door to give an immediate return on investment.

The details start in the front yard. Consider these tips to help you demand top price today’s market.

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March 1, 2017

No Room for “Fake News” in Real Estate

Mark Hite, President

Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

The term “fake news” is now used almost daily in our society after coming of age during the 2016 Presidential campaign. There are several safe guards in place to ensure “fake news” doesn’t come into play when working with a licensed real estate professional.

Starting with the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, there are numerous points directed at accuracy of information. REALTORS® are cautioned to “not deliberately mislead the owner as to market value” and “shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to the property”.

Article 12 of the Code has various points regarding advertising and marketing of properties. REALTORS® are advised to present a “true picture” and to “ensure that their status as real estate professionals is readily apparent in their advertising, marketing and other representations.”

In order to practice real estate sales or leasing as a vocation, one must hold a license in the state where they wish to practice. In the Greater Chattanooga region, the states of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama govern these licensees. While there are variances by state, there are rules which apply to signage, display of brokerage information, telephone numbers to contact both the supervising broker as well as the agent, and these requirements apply for all forms of advertising.

The Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® operates a multiple listing service (MLS) for both its residential and commercial agents to use in sharing of information of properties for sale or lease. Consumers may search these listings at These MLS’s have extensive rules that apply to the types and depth of data displayed as well as how and where this data can be shared. A committee of real estate brokers and agents are elected annually to supervise the activities and operations of both MLS’s and the related data feeds.

Even the most casual observer can see the time and effort that goes into ensuring accurate information is presented by REALTORS®. The largest real estate arena where this high level of control is outside the hands of this group is the online public portals. Various “for profit” sites such as Zillow, Trulia and are not under the jurisdiction of the National Association of REALTORS® nor are they governed by states for licensure. Thus, the accuracy of information displayed may not be of the same high quality as that shared by REALTORS®. While I am not suggesting that these sites would create or contribute to “fake news”, I would always encourage vetting information with a REALTOR® before making any major real estate related decision.

Anyone found violating these standards should immediately be reported to the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® for investigation and discipline, as necessary. If the error is found to be under the jurisdiction of a state body, GCAR can direct you to the appropriate office. If the incorrect information is found on one of the public portals referenced above, it can be much more challenging to correct the wrong.

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February 22, 2017

Inventory Shortage Drives Prices To Record Highs

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

The relative shortage of available residential homes for sale has driven home prices to record highs in the Greater Chattanooga region. 

As was reported in this space last week, the average home sold for $202,894 in January of 2017, which is an all-time record high. This price represented an 11.2% increase over January 2016 and was a sharp contrast to December 2016 when the average price of a home closed at $189,067.

To give perspective to the amount of change in home prices over the last few years, one should go back to when the Great Recession dropped the average home price to $154,065 in 2010. The rebounding of home prices began in 2011 with a modest increase of 1.5% and 2012 saw the average price up to $164,967 a 5.5% increase. The average price grew to $168,753 in 2013 and then to $177,555 in 2014. The year of 2015 saw the average price grow 8.4% and hit $182,149 and then 2016 another 6.5% to close out the yearly average price at $193,752.

The magnitude of the change can best be gauged when one compares this January high price of $202,894 to the low point of $154,065 in 2010. This increase represents a 31.7% increase in the average price of a home sold in the region. Wage growth during this period has not matched this increase, so at some point in the future, affordability will become a negative influence on home sales.

The rise in home prices is the direct result of 5 years of increasing sales and consistently declining inventory of homes available for sale. Again, the contrast is sharp if one compares 2010 to January 2017. There was a total of 6,214 homes available for sale in 2010, compared to 3,072 available in 2017, a 50% decrease in available inventory.

While all of this information is music to the ears of home owners, the question looms, how long can this trend continue? If you are considering selling a property in the next few years, NOW is the time to contact a REALTOR®. Take advantage of these record prices while interest rates are still relatively low and buyer confidence/demand remains strong.

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February 16, 2017

REALTOR® Party Supported Candidates for March 7 2017 Election

On March 7, 2017, the City of Chattanooga will hold a General Election. Early voting for this election runs February 15 through March 2. 

Following GCAR's January 11th Candidate Forums and candidate vetting by the RPAC Trustees, GCAR is pleased support the below-listed candidates, who maintain philosophies consistent with the goals of the REALTOR® Party and are supportive of the concepts of private property rights and the free enterprise system. The REALTOR® Party is bi-partisan and does not consider political party affiliation in determining which candidates to support.

City of Chattanooga Mayor: Larry Grohn

City Council, District 1: Chip Henderson

City Council, District 2: Jerry Mitchell

City Council, District 3: Ken Smith

City Council, District 4: Darrin Ledford

City Council, District 5: Jeffery Evans

City Council, District 6: Carol Berz

City Council, District 7: Erskine Oglesby, Jr.

City Council, District 8: Anthony Byrd

City Council, District 9: John Kerns

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February 15, 2017

Home Sales in Greater Chattanooga Region Declined in January 2017 and End Multiyear Trend of Positiv

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Area REALTORS® closed 566 residential units compared to 596 in the previous year for a 5% decline in sales. This decline in month over month sales follows a record setting year when area home sales increased by 9.9 percent. Area leaders are closely monitoring the “pending sale” category (i.e., number of units under contract but not yet closed) to see whether this is a one-time blip or the beginning of an overall shift.

The root of the decline in home sales can be found in continuing low available inventory. For the month of January, the number of for sale units declined by 21.4% when compared to last year. There were 3,072 homes for sale in 2017 compared to 3,906 for the same period in 2016.

One other indicator of supply and demand is Months of Supply (MOS). The area saw a decrease in this category, which would be expected given steep decline in available units, paired with modest decline in sales. For the month, this shrank to 3.7 Months, a 28% decrease to January 2016.

Prices continued to march upward, despite the decline in sales and inventory. The market hit a new high with an average sales price of $202,894, which reflects a 11.2 percent increase over the previous year. This increase in price along with slightly higher interest rates contributed to a 13 percent decline in overall affordability in the region.

It took the average home 63 days to sell in January, down from 69 days in 2017, which is an 8.7 percent decline. Buyers were quickly reacting to homes which came to market and were priced accurately for the condition.

Given the lack of available inventory, if you are considering selling at any time in the future, now would be a great time to talk to a REALTOR®. They can offer insight into the value of your property to take advantage of this sellers’ market.

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February 8, 2017

Don’t Wait Till Spring to Put Your House on the Market

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

The age-old logic has been that a home owner should wait until spring to put their home on the market for sale, in preparation for summer selling season. Recent shifts in buying patterns and climate change have proven this logic to be flawed.

The first issue to consider are tax refunds and the first-time buyer. With the advent of electronic filing in recent years, the first-time buyer now has more money in their pocket at the end of February than any other point in the year. This refund money is a prime candidate for the down payment on a new home. This practice starts the buying season earlier than past years when the postal service delivered refunds in March and April.

As a result of the Buyers starting earlier, we are also seeing homes sales peak earlier in the summer than has been the tradition. Home sales peaked at 977 units in June of 2016, closely followed by May at 944 units. July represented a distant fifth place with 843 homes sold. Thus, the earlier listings are closing earlier in the year.

Another issue to consider is the amount of competition on the market. The inventory of homes available for sale is at its lowest during the winter months. Using 2016 as an indicator, our market saw between 1,318 and 1,363 homes entering the for-sale market from March-June.

While there is not an oversupply of properties for sale, there certainly is increased competition as we head into summer. This would be in contrast to January 2016, when we saw 596 new listings enter the market. The flow of buyers, began searching for homes online immediately after the holidays, so they have less to choose from in the first 1/3 of the year.

A final factor to consider, this year in particular, are the looming rise in interest rates and decreased affordability. While there is not a crystal ball to forecast how much mortgage rates will rise this year, they have certainly been on a slow march upward. Now is the time to get your home on the market and sold, so that you can lock in a low interest rate on your next home.

While it may be cold outside and the natural inclination is to wait until Spring, get off the couch and call a REALTOR® today. There is no better time to get your home on the market than now.

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January 29, 2017

Washington Announcements Affect Local Home Buyers

By Mark Hite
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

The housing market and ultimately home buyers have not been left untouched from the unfolding announcements taking place in Washington DC since inauguration day.

On January 20th, shortly after President Trump was installed, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that they were suspending indefinitely a planned reduction in the FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) rate.  Mortgage Insurance is required when a buyer is borrowing more than 80% of the purchase price of home.

In this case for FHA loan’s the MIP annual premium would have dropped from 0.85 percent to 0.6 percent.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimated the reduced premium would save the average FHA borrower $500 a year in insurance costs.

NAR President William E Brown released a response to the announcement:” According to our estimates, roughly 750,000 to 850,000 homebuyers will face higher costs, and 30,000 to 40,000 new homebuyers will be left on the sidelines in 2017 without the cut in the months ahead.” 

To give a local perspective to these national numbers, let’s consider the homes which closed the first week of January in Hamilton County.  There was a total of 60 homes which closed during this week and of those, 39 offered FHA financing as an option.   A total of 6 of these homes closed using FHA as their loan type. In the case of the first week of 2017, 10% of Chattanooga  home buyers would have experienced savings if the reduction were in place at that time.

The affordability of an average home has been declining in the Greater Chattanooga area and across the nation in recent months.  The “Housing Affordability Index” takes into account the average home price in conjunction with interest rates to create a measure of affordability (A higher number means greater affordability).  With home prices increasing +6.5% in 2016 and interest rates on the rise, the index decreased by -4.9% for the year and experienced a -7.6% decline for the month of December. 

The decrease in FHA MIP rate was seen as a means to combat the affordability challenge that have been brought about by a robust home sales market and increasing interest rates.  NAR President Brown’s statement continued” We’re disappointed in the decision but will continue making the case to reinstate the cut in the months ahead.”

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January 22, 2017

Months Supply of Inventory

Months Supply of Inventory
By Mark Hite, President
Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

One of the statistics often cited in real sales reports is “Months Supply of Inventory” or “Months of Supply” (MOS). Today we will take a moment to explore and explain this term.

Months of supply is one of the easiest real estate statistics to understand.  Simply put; at our current rate of sale, if no new properties came to market, when would we run out of homes to sell.  While this may seem overly simplistic, it is the heart of the number.

Most real estate sales statistics are reported on a monthly basis.  In the case of MOS, the current number of homes available for sale are divided by the past month’s total sales quantity.  The same statistic can be reported annually as well.  Simply consider, if we have 50 homes for sale currently and we sold 10 homes last month then we would have 5 MOS.

The Greater Chattanooga market ended 2016 with 3.9 Months of Supply.  This is in sharp contrast to 2015 when our market was standing at 5.2 MOS and 2012 when we were double the current rate at 8.3 MOS as the attached graph reflects.

To put this statistic into perspective, when a market has 0-4 MOS then it is considered a “Sellers’ Market”, 4-6 MOS is considered a “Balanced Market” and 7 Months + is termed a “Buyers’ Market”.  In each case one is gauging the number of homes available for sale relative to the number of buyers.  Given these descriptions, our market moved from a more “Balanced Market” to a “Sellers’ Market” this past year.

As you drill down to specific neighborhoods and communities, you will find that some parts of our market have been in a Sellers’ Market for more than a year and others  are still in a balanced situation.  
One of the reasons MOS is important to watch is its direct relation to home prices.  When we have declining MOS we see prices moving up and conversely when MOS is increasing then we will see price increases stall and ultimately decline.

While online platforms can be helpful in gauging price trends, nothing is more accurate than an experienced REALTOR who studies the local market statistics.  If you are interested in the current supply in your neighborhood, call on a member of GCAR today.

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January 16, 2017

Real Estate Market Hits Record Highs

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

The Greater Chattanooga Real Estate market just closed out its fourth consecutive year of home sales increases. The overall market posted a 9.9% increase in the number of homes sold in 2016 when compared to 2015. With 9,623 homes closing in 2016, the market has eclipsed the prerecession high sales points.

Demand for residential housing did not diminish despite a 19.8% decrease in the number of units available for sale. To give some perspective to this number, GCAR ended 2016 with 3,165 homes listed for sale which is in sharp contrast to 2013 when the year-end total stood at 5,148. The last time inventory levels hit this low point was in January 2005.

When we look at prices, we see the consistent march upward, as has been the trend over the last several years. The average price of a home sold in the Greater Chattanooga Market ended the year at $193,752. This price represents a 6.5% increase over the 2015 average home price. The market has recovered all of the losses incurred from 2009-2011 and this average price far exceeds the peak prices of 2007 and 2008.

It took just 65 days for the average home to sell in 2016. This shortened Days on Market (DOM) represents a 18.8% decrease when compared to 2015 and again a sharp contrast to 2012 when we saw the yearly average stand at 114 days and a peak in the spring of 2011 at 140 DOM.

A statistic that directly corresponds to DOM is the Months of Supply (MOS). Our market ended 2016 with a 3.9 Months of inventory on hand, again a sharp contrast to 2012 when we saw 8.3 MOS. Be sure to return to this space next week for a more in depth explanation of this term and why it is important.

Finally, the amount of negotiation taking place in the market decreased for 2016, as would be expected given the high demand and reduced inventory levels. For 2016 the overall market achieved 95% of the original list price, which is an improvement of .8% over 2015 and a dramatic improvement from 2012 when the average stood at 91.2% of original list price.

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January 12, 2017

REALTORS® Engage in Chattanooga City Elections

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

The Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® (GCAR) hosted the first forum for the Chattanooga Mayoral and City Council candidates on Wednesday January 11th for its members and the local media.

GCAR and its RPAC (REALTOR® Political Action Committee) hosted the event at its Amincola Highway office. The Morning Session was for the four Mayoral Candidates and the afternoon session for all of the City Council candidates. Both sessions were moderated by Becky Cope-English who is the 2017 Chair of the RPAC Trustees.

As English guided the meetings, questions were posed for each candidate and ranged from: crime/violence, job creation/economic development and education/job training. At the end of each session, members of the audience were invited to ask questions. You can watch both sessions and get all the details at LIVESTREAM.COM/GCARONLINE .

You may ask yourself, why are REALTORS® engaged in local political elections? The answer is quite simple and important, REALTORS® are advocates for personal property rights and items/issues which can affect real estate values.

All members of GCAR were encouraged to attend, even if they do not currently reside inside the Chattanooga City limits and therefore more than a hundred members came to one or both of the sessions. The general consensus was that if a member planned to list or sell property within Chattanooga in the next 4 years, then they needed to be up to date on issues and opportunities in every corridor.

GCAR’s involvement in local issues is not a new practice. Over the last year GCAR and its RPAC have been engaged in the Hamilton County School Board elections, Assessor of Property elections, Form Based Code policy creation, PILOT program and Thrive2055, to name a few. In addition to the spring Chattanooga City elections, GCAR will be engaged in the evolving storm water solution and short term vacation rentals policies in 2017.

Once you have viewed the above referenced video and know who you want to cast your vote in support of, you can begin early voting on February 15th and election day is March 7th.

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January 2, 2017

What does DOM mean and why is it important to know?

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

It seems that each industry has their own set of abbreviations and acronyms which become part of the lingo for the members, yet are a foreign language to nonmembers.  The Real Estate Industry is no different, so today I wanted to take moment to demystify Days on Market

The abbreviation DOM is often used to represent the “Days on Market”, “Time on Market” or simply “how long a property was for sale”.  This is a vital statistic used to measure the health of any real estate market, area or region.

In general terms, DOM is a measurement of how long a property was for sale before it received an acceptable offer/agreement to purchase.  Another use of DOM is the length of time a property was offered for sale before its listing agreement with a broker expired and it was removed from the market.

One may then ask, why is this statistic important to know for a street, neighborhood or town when you are looking at home values?   Very simply, the smaller the days on the market are and their trend up or down, are a reflection of the supply vs. the demand in a given area and where prices are moving.

When a member of the buying public looks at a property that has relatively high DOM vs. the neighborhood average, then they are inclined to assume the property is overpriced for its condition.  If they perceive it to be overpriced, then they are more likely to only offer a discounted price or disregard the property all together from consideration.

As technology has advanced and transparency has increased in real estate, the public can even see when a property has expired with one broker  and relisted with another.  This combined total is generally called Cumulative Days on Market and again affects the perception of value by the buying public.

So the lesson is to consult with an REALTOR® with experience on pricing your property correctly, taking into account the average DOM for your neighborhood and sell it at the list price in a shorter time frame.

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January 1, 2017

2017 Brings Changes and Challenges to Real Estate

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Welcome to 2017, a year that promises to hold many changes and challenges for everyone in the housing industry.

The first change you will note is that there is a new face and author of this article. Each year, the members of the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® elect a new President to lead the organization and I will be serving as President for 2017. I would like to thank Nathan Walldorf for his hard work and leadership of our organization in 2016!

The second change you will notice is that interest rates for 30 year fixed mortgages have been on the rise and all predictions are that this trend will continue. If you are looking for fixed rates under 4% then most likely you need to look in the rear-view mirror, because that time has passed. With the economy growing, unemployment at long term lows and housing prices on the rise, many experts predict that the market can support higher interest rates and not damage the ongoing housing recovery.

A third shifting item to keep in mind in 2017 is that our local market should continue to be a “seller’s market”, throughout most of the year. Inventory of homes available for sale has been declining for the past 24 months, while year over year home sales have increased consistently. This trend has moved home prices up and pushed available inventory down, thus creating an advantage for home sellers in the short term. 

The last major change to watch in 2017 is the coming of age of the Millennials, as home buyers. This age group, now 19-35 have passed the Baby Boomers as the largest living generation and they are predicted to be the largest home purchasing group this year.  As a buying segment, they will increasingly exert their “must haves” on the housing market as their desires will shape the look of real estate for years to come.

We will follow these trends and many more as they evolve throughout the year and please remember that you cannot replace the knowledge and experience of a local REALTOR® when you are considering buying, selling or investing in real estate!

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December 12, 2016

GCAR’s Year in Review

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Time flies when you’re having fun! As I reflect on 2016, I am in awe at how much the Association’s volunteer leaders took on and accomplished and in such a short amount of time.

In April we held the first of a biennial fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity called Tee Up & Wine Down for Habitat. The event was a tremendous success raising more than $73,000. In Spring 2017, our momentum will continue as we participate in building a Habitat house. And plans already are underway for the 2018 Tee Up & Wine Down event.

GCAR’s community efforts continued in other areas and included an annual $5,000 contribution to the National Association’s REALTOR® Relief Foundation, which was first launched in 2001 within hours of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Foundation raised more than $8.4 million to help surviving family members remain in their homes following the attack. Since then, more than $25 million have been raised for victims of disasters, providing housing-related and other needed assistance. GCAR is committed to being a part of this ongoing effort to raise awareness and monies for the Foundation.

GCAR became involved with the Snack Pack program, which provides weekend meals for students in Hamilton County schools. Through an initial $20,000 contribution and a commitment to an ongoing annual contribution of $10,000, GCAR is a key player in this growing initiative, which currently serves 1,000 students in 12 schools.

We began a REALTOR® Safety Certified Office Program which is a multi-faceted approach to promoting safety in the marketplace. We incorporated a safety talk into out monthly orientation and continue to offer safety-related classes, including the popular self-defense class. In addition, there is an ongoing push for every REALTOR® to become a Safety Ambassador and for every REALTOR® firm to become certified as a REALTOR® Safety Certified Office.

We continue to work with local employers to bring Employer-Assisted Housing to Greater Chattanooga. Across the country much of our workforce, including those who provide vital services to a community such as firefighters, police officers, teachers, health workers, cannot afford to live in the communities where they work or serve. Employer-Assisted Housing is one tool that can be implemented to address this challenge by providing assistance, including education, counseling and financial assistance, to employees in obtaining affordable housing.

At the local, state and national levels, REALTORS® continue to advocate on behalf of consumers to protect and promote private property rights. In addition to advocacy efforts REALTORS® invest in the REALTOR® Political Action Campaign (RPAC) to support political candidates whose philosophies are consistent with and supportive of the concepts of private property rights and the free enterprise system. GCAR members rose to the challenge this year by investing more than $44,000, which was 198% of our annual goal. While real estate is our career, politics is our business. Look for GCAR to be engaged in 2017 with the elections for Chattanooga Mayor and City Council.

After a full revamp, in September we graduated 19 REALTORS® from the GCAR Leadership Academy. This program provides a knowledge-based foundation to motivate and empower them for serving in a local leadership position, whether at GCAR or in the community.

Some of my goals as GCAR President were to unify the profession, improve member engagement and provide member value. With all that we have accomplished and new program we’ve begun, I feel it was a successful year. It truly has been a team effort, and I am grateful for all REALTORS® who got engaged this year. Thank you for helping making GCAR better and stronger and strengthening our profession to better serve all property owners.

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November 28, 2016

Thinking of Selling? Ask Yourself These Questions

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

With so many television shows and social media features of dream homes and the latest housing trends, it’s hard to ignore the itch for a new home. When the urge to sell strikes, it’s important for sellers to consider their reasons for selling. REALTOR® Magazine offers the following questions to aide sellers in determining whether they’re ready to move.

Have you built substantial equity in your current home? Check your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out how much you’ve paid down. Usually you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest. But if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.

Has your income or financial situation changed? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving. If your income has decreased, you may want to consider downsizing.

Have you outgrown your neighborhood? The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same one in which you want to settle down for good. You may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district. 

Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on? Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.

Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market? If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy will also be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home. Ask your real estate professional what they see happening locally.

Are interest rates attractive? Low rates help you buy “more” home, and also make it easier to find a buyer for your current place.

Is the effort and cost of maintaining your current home becoming difficult to manage? A REALTOR® can help you decide whether a smaller house, condo, or rental would be appropriate.

Think you’re ready to enter the housing market? Contact a REALTOR® today.

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November 21, 2016

Breathe A Little Easier This Winter

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors®

As the temperatures drop, you’ll be spending more time indoors. So why not get a jump start on spring cleaning? Taking steps not only will get you ahead of the game but will help rid your home of dust and dirt. Below is a checklist from the National Association of Realtors® , to help you breathe easy all winter long.

Wash and Disinfect Garbage Cans, Wastebaskets and Toilet Brush Holders. You’re going to be shut in all winter with these germ havens, so now’s a good time to clean them thoroughly. 

Turn Over Furniture and Vacuum the Bottoms. You might shift furniture around so you can vacuum the floor, but there’s another side to the story — the underside. Tilt upholstered chairs and couches all the way back to expose the bottoms. The dustcovers tacked underneath furniture can catch dreck and dust bunnies, so vacuum them off, being careful not to press too hard on the fabric.

Clean the Tops of Doors, Trim, and Artwork. Tables and countertops aren’t the only household items with horizontal surfaces. In fact, just about everything in your house except Rover’s tennis ball has a horizontal surface where dust and dirt will nestle. You’ll want to clean the top horizontal edges of interior doors; trim, baseboards and chair rails; artwork and mirrors; electrical wall plates; wall-mounted smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and thermostats; upper kitchen cabinets; light bulbs and light fixtures; computer monitors; and books on shelves.

Vacuum Behind the Fridge. Your fridge needs to be cleaned periodically so that it operates at peak efficiency. Tackling this chore can avoid an increase in monthly utility costs. Or worse – a necessary visit from an appliance repair professional. For starters, unplug the fridge while you work on it. Put down a piece of cardboard so that grit under the wheels doesn’t scratch your flooring.

If the condenser coils are on the back of the refrigerator, pull the unit out completely. Brush or vacuum the coils to clean them, and clean up any dirt and dust on the floor. Also, check to make sure your freezer vents are clear. Freezers circulate air to reduce frost, but piling up too much stuff in front of the little grill-like vents inside your freezer blocks their business.

If the condenser coils are on the bottom of the fridge, then you’ll need to clean them from the front of the unit. Take off the bottom faceplate to expose the coils. Clean dust using a condenser-cleaning brush or a long, thin vacuum attachment made for cleaning under refrigerators.

You should still pull your refrigerator all the way out and vacuum up dirt and dust that accumulates behind the unit.

Winterize Your Entry. Keep winter’s slush and gunk at bay by making your entryway a dirt guardian. Get a boot scraper. Add a chair or bench for taking off boots, and have a boot rack for wet footwear. Put down a tough coir outdoor doormat for cleaning footwear.

Clean Windows. By some estimates, dirty window glass cuts daylight by 20 percent. That’s a lot less light coming in at a time of year when you really need it to help chase away winter blues.

Clean Ceiling Fan Blades. Those big blades on your ceiling fan are great at moving air, but when they’re idle they’re big dust magnets — dust settles on the top surfaces where you can’t see it. Out of sight maybe, but not out of mind.

Change Furnace Filters. Yeah, this is a no-brainer, which is why it’s last on this list. But everything else you do could be moot if you’re not changing your filters at least once every 60 days (more if you’re sensitive to allergies).

Happy cleaning (and breathing!) this winter.

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November 14, 2016

October Home Sales Report

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

As we enter the final quarter of 2016, not much has changed since the year began. Market predictions have been, in a word, predictable. A relatively comfortable pace of activity has been maintained thanks to continuing low unemployment and mortgage rates. The one basic drag on market acceleration has been inventory decline. There is little to indicate that the low inventory situation will resolve anytime soon.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region were up slightly from September and year-to-date decreased 1.4 percent to 1,085. Pending Sales were down slightly from September and year-to-date up 2.0 percent to 709.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 14.0 percent to $171,000. Average Sales price increased 14.3 percent to $200,374.

Days on Market was down 15.1 percent to 62 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 25.4 percent to 4.4 months. Inventory levels shrank 19.5 percent to 3,571 units.

Builder confidence is as high as it has been in more than a decade, yet the pace of economic growth has been slow enough to cause pause. A low number of first-time buyer purchases and a looming demographic shift also seem to be curbing the desire to start new single-family construction projects. As older Americans retire and downsize, single-family listings are expected to rise. The waiting is the hardest part.

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November 8, 2016

Greater Chattanooga Joins Industry Leaders to Bring Attention to Real Estate Issues

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Greater Chattanooga Realtors joined nearly 20,000 colleagues, industry leaders and real estate experts from the U.S. and abroad at the 2016 Realtors Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida from November 4–7. This year’s conference theme, “Educate, Innovate, Celebrate,” encouraged Realtors to educate themselves on market trends and key real estate issues, learn about the latest technologies and innovations affecting the industry, and celebrate another year of positive growth.

The conference gave local Realtor the opportunity to make professional contacts from across the globe, as well as attend educational and informational sessions featuring nationally recognized presenters, trainers and industry experts. Among the panelists and speakers were Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, who shared the latest outlook for residential and commercial real estate markets; Dennis Lockhart, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Jim Parrott, former economic adviser to President Obama and senior fellow at the Urban Institute; Brian Montgomery, former Federal Housing Administration Commissioner and vice chairman of the Collingwood Group; Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at; Howard Fineman, global editorial director at the Huffington Post; Alex Perriello, president and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group; and senior staff from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Flood Insurance Program. 

Realtors are the competitive advantage for buyers and sellers because we are constantly educating ourselves about the latest developments and issues affecting the real estate market and industry. This year’s conference was an incredible opportunity for GCAR leaders to immerse ourselves in the newest trends and strategize solutions to the problems facing the housing market across the country and in our own communities. I am pleased that Realtors from Greater Chattanooga participated in addressing the following issues impacting private property rights:

PROFESSIONALISM. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) approved the framework of a Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) program, an initiative to develop and enhance qualities that reflect the commitment of a Realtor to ethics, advocacy, technology, data privacy, and customer service. NAR will develop a self-assessment designed to measure a Realtor’s proficiency in the C2EX competencies and position him or her for improvement.

FAIR HOUSING. Since 2014, the Realtor Code of Ethics has included sexual orientation and gender identity as bases on which Realtors shall not deny equal professional services or be party to a plan or agreement to discriminate on such bases. NAR against people seeking to procure housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Federal Fair Housing Act protects equal housing opportunity on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status and national origin, but not on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

APPRAISALS. NAR voted to urge the Federal Housing Authority to void its requirement that an appraisal stays with the property for 120 days. The requirement to keep an appraisal with a property for four months can negatively affect property values in markets where prices are rising.

Throughout the week Realtors participated in 100-plus conference sessions, workshops, forums and classes on a broad range of real estate issues to help prepare themselves and their businesses for 2017. This is one of the many ways Realtors raise their professionalism and skills through specialized knowledge and expertise.

During the conference, Bill Brown, a second generation Realtor from Oakland, California, was installed as 2017 NAR President. “In 2017, Realtors will work to keep the issues affecting homeownership – whether it be defending the mortgage interest deduction or fighting for more affordable financing – a priority on our nation’s public policy agenda,” said Brown. “Realtors are here to encourage our leaders to put forward policies that put the American dream of homeownership within reach for every American whose goal is to own their own home.”  

Greater Chattanooga Realtors also had the opportunity to try out and learn about the latest state-of-the-art products and services for real estate professionals. More than 400 exhibitors showcased their offerings during the trade expo, the largest in real estate, exposing Realtors to fresh ways to better serve clients and grow their business. 

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November 1, 2016

Housing Then and Now: Trends in Home Buyer and Sellers Across 35 Years

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Thirty-five years ago, the National Association of Realtors introduced the first Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. The year was 1981 and mortgage rates were over four times higher than they are today, and first-time buyers made up a much larger share of overall sales. While many home buyer and seller behaviors and preferences have changed, some have remained constant over the last 35 years.

When the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers made its debut 35 years ago, consumers and Realtors navigated a much different real estate landscape. The internet hadn’t been invented and the average monthly mortgage rate was 15.12 percent. One important constant during this time has been Realtors®’ role as the leading advocate for homeownership and a trusted expert in helping buyers and sellers close the deal.

With the recent release of the 2016 survey, it’s a great time to look at some of the data and trends in this year’s edition and how they stack up to the last three-and-a-half decades.

The quickening pace of home sales over the past year included a small rebound from two key segments of buyers who have been missing in action in recent years: first-time buyers and single women.

After slipping for three straight years, the share of sales to first-time home buyers in the 2016 survey ticked up to 35 percent, which is the highest since 2013 – when it was 38 percent – and a revival from the near 30-year low of 32 percent in 2015. In the 35-year history of NAR’s survey, the long-term average of first-time buyer transactions is 40 percent. 

Married couples once again made up the largest share of buyers (at 66 percent) and had the highest income of $99,200. However, the survey revealed that single women made up more of the buyer share than in recent years, based on household composition. After falling to 15 percent of buyers a year ago, which tied the lowest share since 2002, single females represented 17 percent of total purchases, the highest since 2011 at 18 percent. This is compared to 35 years ago when single females represented 11 percent of purchases.

Despite the internet’s growing popularity over the past 20 years, buyers and sellers continue to seek a real estate agent to buy or sell a home. In NAR’s 2016 survey, nearly 90 percent of respondents worked with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home. This has brought for-sale-by-owner transactions down to 8 percent, their lowest share ever for the second year in a row.

Since NAR’s inaugural survey, consumer preferences have evolved and housing costs have gotten more expensive. In 1981, the typical buyer purchased a 1,700-square-foot home costing $70,000 ($201,376 in inflation-adjusted dollars). In the 2016 survey, purchased homes were typically 1,650 square feet and cost $182,500.

In 1989, when NAR started collecting buyer data on down payments, first-time homebuyers financed their purchase with a 10 percent down payment and repeat buyers financed a loan with a 23 percent down payment. As low-down-payment mortgage programs entered the marketplace and credit standards eased, the typical amount of money put down fell to as low as 2 percent for first-time buyers both in 2005 and 2006. For repeat buyers, the smallest median down payment was 13 percent both in 2012 and 2014, which is likely due to reduced equity in the home that was sold.

In recent years, down payment amounts have remained mostly unchanged, coming in at 6 percent for first-time buyers the last two surveys and either 13 percent or 14 percent for repeat buyers in the past four surveys.

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October 25, 2016

Hauntings, Murders & Other Colorful Histories

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

The closer we get to Halloween, the more often I am asked about haunted houses and other topics that may be part of a property’s colorful history. Whether the site of alleged ghost hauntings, notorious affairs, a felony or death (natural, murder or suicide), each property’s marketing opportunities are varied and unique.

While many past acts in a property have no impact on its physical integrity, sellers speculate as to the best approach. After all, only buyers can determine to what extent, if any, such emotional factors would impact their purchasing decision.

When faced with “skeletons” in the closet, Sellers should consult with their REALTOR® to determine which disclosures are required. Some prior acts may cause the house to be categorized as a stigmatized property. Depending on state law, you might be required to inform buyers of any problems, real or perceived.

For our market area, it’s important to note that both Tennessee and Georgia law provide that a property owner or real estate licensee cannot be held liable for failure to disclose whether a property was site of a homicide or other felony, suicide or death of any kind. Required disclosures include facts related to a property’s physical structure and condition. Yet, REALTORS® are obligated by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics to “treat all parties honestly” and should answer truthfully when they have factual knowledge.

The initial burden of disclosure is on the seller regarding all aspects of the property. REALTORS® should advise their client of the benefits to proactive disclosure, which could prevent future issues, including contract recension. Not only does disclosure on the front-end reduce possible negative impacts of a buyer’s reaction to a property, being proactive can establish goodwill and build confidence for all parties to the transaction. After all, when it comes to real estate transactions, it’s more than a property’s physical integrity on the line.

If there is such thing as a haunted house, the paranormal occupants eventually will make their presence known to new occupants. And it’s been my experience that a buyer’s new neighbors are highly likely to make reference to the former occupants, who are now deceased from natural or other causes. Despite any legally required disclosure it’s still a good idea togive buyers a heads up. Being proactive about what you know can establish transparency with potential buyers about all aspects of a property, real or perceived.

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October 19, 2016

Six Areas for Potential Real Estate Growth

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Over the last several months, the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors (GCAR) has collaborated with the Regional Planning Agency (RPA), the Homebuilder's Association of Greater Chattanooga, the Association of General Contractors, and the American Institute of Architects Chattanooga Chapter on a study of Chattanooga and the surrounding area. The goal of the study was to see where growth is happening and expected to continue.

National studies show that people want to live in walkable communities near the town center. Developments that are mixed-use, meaning they are comprised of both commercial and residential use, allow for such communities. The RPA study highlighted six areas that have the most potential for mixed-use development in Greater Chattanooga.

Downtown Chattanooga around UTC, the Tennessee Aquarium, and spreading toward South Chickamauga Street, off South Broad Street: The recent growth in these areas is easy to see. The prospect of growth and development moving down South Broad Street is exciting. That is a probable reality with the new Riverwalk terminating next to the South Chickamauga Creek.

North Shore: Growth and development has been taking place in North Chattanooga for several years, so this is no surprise to me. The North Shore is limited by the amount of available land left to develop. The commercial properties going up Cherokee Blvd are likely to continue to be developed more and more.

South Chattanooga, spreading up Main Street, McCallie, and Baily Avenues toward the base of Missionary Ridge and into St. Elmo: To quote the RPA study, "Pockets of neighborhood areas have grown especially for home buyers looking for authentic historic homes and proximity to downtown." That trend should continue in the South Chattanooga areas. The growth of UTC is another factor that has pushed people into these areas.

Collegedale/Ooltewah: This is the brightest area for growth. In 2015, Ooltewah had a 15 percent rise in closed home sales for the year according GCAR's Multiple Listing Service. The RPA predicts growth to take place on Apison Pike from Interstate 75 and into Collegedale. Also, growth is expected on Ooltewah Ringgold Road from Collegedale into Ooltewah, as on Gunbarrel Road by Hamilton Place Mall. It is anticipated that Ooltewah will continue to be the area of the greatest suburban growth, as it has been for the past ten years.

Highway 153 around Northgate Mall and on Highway 153, close to where State Highway 27 meets Highway 153: Stores like Academy Sports have popped up on the northern end of Highway 153, and development does seem to keep pushing toward Highway 27. For the past several years, we've also witnessed development around Northgate Mall, especially as CBL is now making improvements to the mall.

Brainerd along Brainerd Road from the tunnels to Belvoir Avenue: I hope this area really takes off – it would be great for Brainerd to have a revival along Brainerd Road.

Realtors see areas with good schools and/or walkability as the two most popular factors when choosing where to live. And affordability always plays a role. For example, buyers have to choose whether to live in the Ooltewah suburbs or the walkable Southside. Soddy Daisy also had booming sales in 2015 that are linked to the affordability and the beauty of the area. Harrison also was mentioned as a growth area by the RPA for its proximity to VW and other manufacturing growth. With the affordability of the nearby North Georgia counties, it's likely that home sales will continue to be strong, like they were in 2015.

I hope this overview of the RPA study helps paint an exciting picture of how Chattanooga is growing in many different directions. Contact a Realtor today to find out what area of town might be best for you.

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October 11, 2016

September 2016 Home Sales Report

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

As anticipated at the outset of the year, demand has remained high through the first three quarters of 2016, propping up sales and prices despite heavy reductions in inventory and months of supply across the country. With rental prices and employment opportunities in a consistent climb, year-over-year increases in home buying are probable for the rest of the year but not guaranteed.

Pending Sales were up 12.3 percent to 839 and is above the 12-month average of 811. Closed Sales were up 5.8 percent to 833, and this is in line with what our market has seen all year. Overall, the 12-month average for Closed Sales is up 8.5 percent.

Inventory levels shrank 21.2 percent to 3,543 units, which is the lowest number we’ve seen all year. However, New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 5.0 percent to 1,068, which is slightly under the 12-month average of 1,157.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 12.3 percent to $169,550. The Average Sales Price increased 8.7 percent to $95,486.

In looking at Median and Average Sales Price, it is important also to consider the Housing Affordability Index. For September, the local market’s Index is down by 4.3 percent. Yet, the Index’s12-month average is up .8 percent. And seller’s list prices are in line with buyer expectations, as September saw a 1.1 percent increase to 95.1 percent of Original List Price Received.

Days on Market was down 14.9 percent to 57 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 26.7 percent to 4.4 months.

In general, today’s demand is driven by three factors: Millennials are reaching prime home-buying age, growing families are looking for larger homes and empty nesters are downsizing. However, intriguingly low interest rates often prompt refinancing instead of listing, contributing to lower inventory. Recent studies have also shown that short-term rentals are keeping a collection of homes off the market.

If you’re ready to enter the market as a first-time buyer, expanding family in need of more space, or looking to downsize, contact a Realtor today.

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October 5, 2016

Safety Protocols To Expect When Working with a Realtor

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

In September, the National Association of Realtors released the 2016 Member Safety Report, which surveyed more than 3,000 Realtors about how safe they feel while on the job, their personal safety experiences, and the safety procedures and materials provided by their real estate brokerage. This report is timely with September designated as Realtor Safety Month. Yet, safety is a focus for the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors (GCAR) all year long.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported they experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information. Realtors understand better than anyone the safety risks associated with real estate transactions, so it is imperative to create and share safety protocols with home buyers so they can learn about what they may encounter when working with a Realtor. GCAR is committed to protecting home buyers and sellers and their personal items by making sure they have the resources and education to stay safe and secure.

Here are some safety protocols and guidelines from GCAR you should expect and keep in mind when working with a Realtor and to ensure a safe experience for all parties involved.

Meet your agent at their office. Instead of meeting for the first time at a property, a Realtor may set-up the initial meeting at their office. Most people agree that meeting at a real estate professional’s office is much more comfortable and appropriate for the first meeting. Generally speaking, meeting a stranger at an unknown location can be an uneasy notion, and this is no different for that initial real estate transaction.

Secure your personal information. Your agent may make copies of your driver’s license and mortgage preapproval letter for their records. This allows the agent to keep a record of your information at their office to be stored in a secure place.  So be sure to have these items on hand for your initial meeting. According to the 2016 Member Safety Report, 69 percent of real estate offices have standard procedures for safeguarding client data and information. Keeping this information safe and secure is a crucial step in maintaining a safe agent and client relationship.

Stay away from carpooling. When viewing a property, your agent may ask you to drive separately. This is a safety precaution for you and your agent – so do not feel offended. Most people don’t pick up hitchhikers so you can understand the importance of not transporting strangers to a property showing. Driving separately is also important, as many times, you or the agent will have an appointment to go to afterward.

Your agent might walk behind you. Agents typically let potential buyers take the lead when exploring a home. This is a common safety protocol and also allows you to view each room on the property first and make your own impressions.

View a vacant property by day. Your agent may only show vacant properties by day, so you can see what safety hazards exist, such as loose floorboards or any other defects. So when viewing a vacant, or even an occupied property, expect to view it during daylight hours.

For more information on Realtor® and consumer safety, visit And if you are interested in selling or buying a home, search for a Realtor by their name or firm name, or even find one that speaks a specific foreign language

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September 27, 2016

5 Household Expenses On Which You May Be Wasting Money

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Hindsight is 20/20, even when it comes to household expenses. Consider the following and scenario from the National Association of Realtors’s You’ll quickly start reconsidering which of your household expenses to eliminate.

The washer/dryer combo was perfect! Such a delightful way to brighten laundry day — with a cheerfully colored front-loader set. They could actually make laundry fun! “They were this gorgeous, greenish-teal, and they looked great in my laundry room,” says Eliesa Prettelt, avid DIYer and author of “A Pinterest Addict” blog. But after barreling through three sets in four years, she knew she’d made a mistake. “They looked so pretty, but I had nothing but problems with them,” she says. She eventually gave up and got nondescript, white, commercial-grade top-loaders she scored for less than half the cost of her original machines. They may be plain, she says, but “I’ve had no problems since.”

Lesson learned. The hard way. Now for learning the easy way. Here are some common money mistakes homeowners make — and now you won’t.

Extended Warranties. It’s tempting to insure your new, big purchase, but according to Consumer Reports, you’re probably already as covered as you need to be. How’s that? Most major appliances come with at least a 90-day manufacturer’s warranty. Buy with a major credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express) and it will likely double that standard warranty.

Combine that with the fact that Consumer Reports found most products won’t break during the standard two- or three-year service contract period. When they do, the repair cost is usually just a few dollars more than the cost of the warranty. Instead of paying for an extended warranty, stash the cash in a savings account earmarked for home repairs. When you need it, it’ll be there.

Flashy Feature Appliances. The newest appliances come with super fun features. Who wouldn’t want an oven that talks, remote access to your A/C, or bottle jets in the dishwasher? Still, it may not be financially wise to replace a fully functioning older model just to gain modern perks. So says Arthur Teel, owner and operator of The Handyman Plan in Asheville, N.C. “Circuit boards break,” says Teel.

Budget Bulbs. Incandescents may be easy on your everyday household budget, but they’re tough on your energy bill. Start replacing them now with LEDs. To help swallow the initial costs, just replace them as they die out. A typical LED bulb can recuperate its cost in a little over a year (at least according to manufacturers, so in reality it’s probably a bit longer, but not enough to quibble about). Even better, since LEDs can last a decade or more, you won’t have to buy bulbs as often, and your energy costs will be lower!

A Storage Unit. If it doesn’t fit in your home, is it really worth keeping? Ditch nostalgia and think with your bank account: At a cost of between $50 and $300 per month, it may be time to purge the junk. If you can’t bear to part with something you don’t use regularly — say, great-grandma’s heirloom china — rethink your home’s organizational storage. Clean out the closet, craft shelves beneath the stairs, or build window seats with drawer storage. You’ll be investing in your home instead of giving money to a storage vendor.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Bought your house with less than 20% down? You’re probably paying for PMI (a type of insurance that guarantees your mortgage lender will be covered if you default). It costs between $600 and $1,200 per year for a typical home. But once your loan-to-value ratio drops to 80%, you’re not required to pay it. But the lender isn’t required to drop it until it reaches 78%.

That 2% difference could cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars, depending on your home’s mortgage balance. So, keep an eye on your statement and whip out that calculator when you’re getting close. Then, if you’re feeling really savvy, keep paying that amount every month — but apply it to your mortgage principal instead. Do that, and you could recoup your PMI fees. Because as you pay down your principal, you’ll pay less in interest, potentially saving thousands. Now how savvy is that?

You work hard for your money. Spend it wisely by carefully these tips and reevaluate your current household expenses.

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September 20, 2016

Long Term Housing Growth Anticipated

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Last week more than 30 Tennessee Realtors travelled to Charleston, SC for the annual state convention. While enjoying the coastal climate, collectively we implemented policy changes and examined the political future of Tennessee. Also, we had ample opportunities for professional development and prepared our business and the association for serving our members and clients in 2017. And we installed the new state officers and showed our appreciation to Chattanooga Realtor Randy Durham, who is serving this year as President of the Tennessee Realtors. During the convention, several Chattanooga Realtors stepped into state leadership roles, including Kathy Tucker as 2017 Secretary/Treasurer and Travis Close who continues as 2016-2017 Regional Vice President. Also, Jennifer Grayson was installed as 2017 President of Tennessee’s Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR) and Susan Barnette as the 2017 President-Elect of WCR.

One of the conference highlights was hearing from’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, who highlighted many great fundamentals to Tennessee’s strong real estate market. Tennessee has higher employment rates than the national average. People are moving to Tennessee, which leads to higher incomes in the state. The affordability of homes in Tennessee and specifically in Chattanooga is a strength of our area. You can still buy a home in Chattanooga and be in a good financial situation compared to the median household income. Tennessee has some the best interest rates in the country. Just like gas costs more in some areas of the country, interest rates cost more, too. By the end of 2016, Smoke predicts that Tennessee will be back to 2006 levels of home sales after having the fastest home sales market in history.

Some people start to cry “bubble” when they hear such statistics, but the fundamentals for a long-term investment in real estate shows huge potential for continued growing home prices. There will be years when the market corrects itself and prices level off or drop a bit. That is to be expected. Smoke anticipates that household growth will be good in Tennessee and in the Chattanooga area over the next 5 years. As Tennessee keeps growing in population, the existing home stock will not be able to keep up with demand. This dynamic will continue to push Chattanooga house prices up.

Currently the rental market has the highest rental rate in years. Despite the enormous amount of newly constructed apartments, there are still more rental households than supply of rental units. As rental rates keep rising, it becomes less expensive to buy homes than rent homes.

Some have tried to claim that America’s largest generation of home buyers – Millennials ages 25-35 – do not want to buy homes. Studies from the National Association of Realtors determined quite the opposite. Millennials want the American Dream just like anyone else, and about 45 percent of them are buying homes. This percent is consistent with other generations, of which about 45 percent also purchased homes when they, too, were ages 25-35.  Also, Smoke reported that 71% of adult Millennials looked at houses on-line in July, which shows their interest in entering into home ownership and a strong player in driving the real estate market.

Across Tennessee and here Chattanooga, the fundamentals of supply and demand over the long haul will lead to continued growth in home values. Smoke anticipates that consumer confidence will not be shaken by whomever ends up in the White House after the November elections. Regardless of which candidates prevails as President, people need a place to live. Currently, we do not have enough units to accommodate every buyer, and this shortage will continue to drive housing prices upwards and the demand for construction. If you’re on the fence about entering the real estate market, the time is now to invest in your future. Call a Realtor today to help you navigate that investment.

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September 12, 2016

August Home Sales Report

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Closed sales began to cool for much of the country last month, and conventional wisdom indicates that year-over-year declines are going to be present for the remainder of the year, given the low inventory situation in most markets, including Greater Chattanooga. Demand is certainly present and has created competitive situations that have kept prices up. Rental prices are also up, which may lure more toward homeownership.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 2.3 percent to 1,271. Pending Sales were up 15.7 percent to 949. Inventory levels shrank 19.8 percent to 3,732 units.

Prices were fairly stable. The Median Sales Price increased 6.1 percent to $167,000. The Average Sales Price increased 9 percent to $201,001.

Days on Market was down 21.3 percent to 59 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 27.0 percent to 4.6 months.

As inventory continues to drop, the contradictions of today's market are evident. Sellers should feel confident enough to list homes at fair prices and receive meaningful offers in a healthy residential real estate and overall economic environment. However, there may be lingering worry over the availability of move-in ready homes to replace what was sold. On a brighter note, building permits are trending upward. That news should be weighed against the fact that the highest level of activity is in multifamily rentals.

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September 7, 2016

Moving with Kids: Families Rely on Realtors

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Most people can relate to the complications and complexities involved with moving.  Whether you’re relocating to a recently purchased apartment or a starter home, resettling takes time, effort and planning.

Moving with kids requires even more planning and research. Finding a home with the appropriate amount of space, in your preferred school district, and convenient to a job or school location are often priorities for buyers with families.

According to the National Association of Realtors Profile on Home Buyers and Sellers, eight in 10 home buyers worked with an agent to purchase a home in 2015. Agent use is even higher among buyers ages 36 to 50 (87 percent) and 35 and younger (89 percent) - the demographics most likely to have school-aged children.

Fifty-three percent of families with children under the age of 18 reported that the hardest task in the home search process was finding the right property in the right location. Families find themselves needing a real estate professional with a wealth of local market knowledge, hands on attention and a broad range of resources to help find the right home.

Families with children under the age of 18 often times have a greater urgency to sell their home too. Twenty-four percent of sellers had to sell their home urgently while 46 percent had to sell their home in a somewhat urgent or reasonable timeframe. This is mainly due to a fast moving market and the fact that most families prefer to get settled in before the new school season starts.

In many cases, families are looking to move because their home is too small. Twenty-nine percent of families with children under the age of 18 cited upsizing as the main reason for selling. Neighborhood choice is another factor: 50 percent of families cited the quality of the school district as a reason for buying their home, and 43 percent decided upon their home because of its convenience to schools.

The type of home purchased by families tends to differ from those without kids at home as well. The typical home of families with children under the age of 18 is a 2,100-square-foot, 4 bedroom and 2 full bathroom detached single-family house.

In citing the characteristics of families with children who are buying or selling a home, it is no surprise that they find themselves in need of a real estate professional to help with the buying and selling process.

If you are interested in selling or buying a home, visit to find a Realtor – GCAR even has a list of Realtors who speak a foreign language. Contact a Realtor today.

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August 30, 2016

Keeping Real Estate Safe

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Since September is Realtor Safety Month, it's the perfect time to remind consumers why Realtors do certain things for your and their protection. Unfortunately, you do not have to go far to hear about real estate scams, such as email phishing or bogus website listings. And each of us has heard a news story about a Realtor being attacked or robbed while showing a property.

For both commercial and residential practitioners, real estate is one of the few professions in which we're asked to meet complete strangers at a property that's vacant or located in a remote area. Thus, it's imperative that Realtors take certain precautions that might seem strange to buyers or sellers. While they might seem odd on the surface, these safety measures reduce the risks not only for Realtors but their clients and customers, too.

So what can you expect when looking to sell or buy property? Here are a few things a Realtor might do and why.

Requests the first meeting take place at the office: While it might seem like waste of time to a buyer not to meet at a property of interest, Realtors would rather meet you in a professional setting. Sure, it's familiar and safe to the Realtor, but it also provides the opportunity for you to see and be seen by other agents. Plus, by meeting at the office, the buyer can get a better feel for the firm's culture. This request is much more than a matter of convenience – it's a precaution to make sure you're a real prospect instead of a predator.

Asks to make a copy of your ID, car make and model, and/or license tag number: Don't be surprised if a Realtor asks you for some or all of these documents before showing you residential or commercial property. The Realtor needs to confirm that you're who you say you are and that the name you gave over the phone matches your identification. Also, many firms require their agents to get these documents so the office also will have some identifying information should the showing not be on the up and up.

Confirms your information: If you have nothing to hide, then it shouldn't be a big deal if you overhear your Realtors confirming you're who you say you are. Sadly, some people pretend to be someone else in order to see luxury homes or get a free meal. Don't be surprised if your Realtor confirms where you work or your address. Put yourself in the shoes of the property owner: Would you want a stranger walking through your home or business and browsing through your belongings when they have intentions other than purchasing your property?

Takes time to schedule a showing appointment: Even when viewing unoccupied properties, Realtors need to confirm the showing ahead of time. And just because there's a sign in the yard next door to the property, your viewing doesn't mean the Realtor can show that one, too. This extra time allows the Realtor time to gather relevant property information for the potential purchaser and to confirm who, if anyone, to expect when you arrive at the property. Not only can you avoid potential awkwardness of competing interested parties, it enables the Realtor to act quickly should an intruder or squatter be on the premises.

Insists on putting a lockbox on your home OR accesses the lockbox even when the previous lookers remain at the property: The use of an electronic lockbox system for residential properties provides modern-day convenience compared to the days of driving to the listing firm's office to obtain keys to the property. Yet the lockboxes also provide added layers of security and risk reduction for property owners. These electronic lockboxes keep a digital record of each Realtor who accesses the property. As a seller, you might not like the idea of a lockbox being on your home. Although the keybox gives Realtors in the local MLSs the ability to access your home, they are required to follow the MLS Rules for making showing appointments and are prohibited (or face hefty fines or revocation of key privileges) from loaning out their key to anyone. Welcome the use of a lockbox on your property so you can know who was (or wasn't) in your property and when.

Requests that you stick together during the showing appointment: A Realtor wants to leave each property as they found it and to keep their clients safe during the showing. Not only does a Realtor need to keep an eye on clients who might be accident prone or have sticky fingers, the Realtor also is looking out for the buyer. Consider the possible dangers of commercial space with no electricity or construction debris. Even a parcel of land could have ditches, tree stumps, or pesticides. Respectfully adhere to the Realtor's requests during the showing so the property and the people remain in one piece. 

One of my goals as GCAR president is to implement a Realtor Safety program for Chattanooga area Realtors. I'm pleased to share that our Realtor Safety Task Force is working in conjunction with the Chattanooga chapter of the Women's Council of Realtors to create a certification program for local real estate offices. As this program launches. I anticipate more and more Realtors to take these and other precautions. I urge consumers to help GCAR in this process by being willing to comply with safety requirements.

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August 24, 2016

Housing Opportunities & Market Experience

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently began a new initiative called the Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) report to monitor consumer sentiment about the housing market. On a quarterly basis, the HOME report will feature consumer sentiments on topics including views on housing as a good financial investment, whether homeownership is part of the American Dream, if now is a good time to buy or sell a home and perception of home price changes.

Highlights from the first HOME report include these themes:

Slight decrease yet strong belief that now is a good time to BUY a home. In the second quarter of 2016, 74 percent of people believe that now is a good time to buy a home. 42 percent believe that strongly, down from 44 percent in Q1 2016. Only 26 percent of people believe that now is not a good time to buy a home. Across all groups surveyed, the majority feel that now is a good time to buy a home. Not surprisingly, with rapid home price acceleration, those who are currently renting or living with someone else, those who are under 34 years of age, and those who live in urban areas are less confident that now is a good time to buy.

More people believe now is a good time to SELL a home. 61 percent of people believe that now is a good time to sell a home, up from 56 percent in Q1 2016. 32 percent believe that strongly, up from 28 percent in Q1 2016. 39 percent believe that now is not a good time to sell a home, down from 44 percent in Q1 2016. This confidence varies across US regions, with 60 percent of Southerners feeling now is a good time to sell a home.

Increased confidence in home prices. 53 percent of people believe that within their communities prices have gone up in the last 12 months, which increased from 50 percent in Q1 2016. 36 percent believe prices have stayed the same (down from 39 percent in Q1 2016) and 11 percent believe prices have gone down. Those aged 35 to 44 years are most likely to report that prices have increased in their communities. 57 percent of renters compared to 54 percent of owners (up from 48 percent in Q1 2016) believe prices have increased in the last year. So what’s the reality versus perception of home prices Greater Chattanooga? July numbers showed a slight decrease from June, our Median Price is up 1 percent to $164,500, and the Average Price is up .4 percent to $200,097.

Student loan debt remains an obstacle to home ownership. About 1 in 4 respondents reported having student loan debt across all income brackets. 47 percent of persons 34 years or younger have student loan debt. Respondents that rent or live with someone else more often reported that they have student loan debt than those that own their own home. Student loan debt impacts the consumer’s comfort level in taking on more debt and their likelihood of qualifying for a mortgage.

Among recent home buyers, one-quarter have student loan debt and the typical amount is $25,000. The share of those with student loan debt rises to 41 percent among first-time home buyers. Even among successful home buyers this amount of debt is cited as a difficulty in their home buying process. Thus, student loan debt continues to be a key legislative focus for the Realtor Party on behalf of current and future home owners.

Through NAR’s research, GCAR continues to monitor these and other trends impacting perceptions of and obstacles to home ownership.

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August 16, 2016

July Home Sales Report

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Even as prices rise in many communities, homes are selling faster now than they have in the past several years. This creates a situation where buyers need to move fast in order to secure homes, and they may have to pay more for them. While increasing prices generally coax more selling activity, there has been some hesitancy among potential sellers who worry that they will not be able to buy a desirable and reasonably priced home once they sell.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 15.4 percent to 1,158. This downward adjustment is typical for the summer months. Pending Sales were down slightly since June but year-to-date were up 4.2 percent to 862.

Inventory levels in Greater Chattanooga shrank 20.6 percent to 3,731 units, which is the same across the country. Low housing supply has already prevented an outright national boon in sales activity, despite a continuation of near record-low mortgage rates and an unemployment rate under 5.0 percent deep into 2016. The issue is not purchasing power. Many areas are falling behind last year’s closed sales totals simply because of lack of available inventory. As this continues, higher prices may put a deeper squeeze on the current buyer pool.

Thus, it is with hesitation that we report for another consecutive month that prices in our local market continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 1.0 percent to $164,500. The Average Sales Price increased 0.4 percent to $200,097. The Percent of Original List Price Received was relatively flat, with only a 0.2 percent increase to 95 percent year-to-date, and a 0.4 decrease from June’s report.

Days on Market was down 13.9 percent to 62 days, which is the lowest we’ve seen locally in more than 10 years. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 26.6 percent to 4.7 months.

Despite a shrinking Inventory and Days on Market, the Housing Affordability Index is encouraging with an 8.2 percent increase to 184. Low interest rates are key to this Index, which measures affordability for the region. For example, an index of 120 means the median household income is 120% of what is necessary to qualify for the median-priced home under prevailing interest rates. A high number means greater affordability. This Index for our region has dropped slightly for each month since March of this year but is on another upward path, which follows last year’s upward trend for the remainder of the year.

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August 10, 2016

Creative Ways to Save for a Down Payment

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the most difficult step in the home buying process is saving for a down payment. And with the cost of rent so high, renters are finding it more and more difficult to save. So what are some out of the box, but simple, ways that a renter can save for a down payment? To help get your creative financing juices flowing, consider these NAR-suggested options:

Crowdsource Your Dream Home. You may have heard of people using sites like Kickstarter to fund creative projects like short films and concert tours. Well, who says you can’t crowdsource your first home? Forget the traditional registry, the fine china, and the 16-speed blender. Use sites like Feather the Nest and Hatch My House to raise your down payment. Hatch My House says it’s helped Americans raise more than $2 million for down payments.

Ask the Seller to Help. Really! When sellers want to a get a deal done quickly, they might be willing to assist buyers with the closing costs. Fewer closing costs = more money you can apply toward your deposit. Ask your Realtor to help you negotiate for seller’s concessions, such as 2% of the overall sales price in concessions to help with the closing costs.

Keep in mind, however, if you ask a seller to pay for some of your closing costs, you are really presenting the seller your offer price minus the amount of money that you need for closing costs. In a seller’s market, like we currently are in, it is likely you’ll have to offer more than the seller’s asking price to make up for the amount you’re asking of the seller in closing costs.

Also, keep in mind that there are limits on concessions depending on the type of mortgage you get. For FHA mortgages, the cap is 6% of the sale price. For Fannie Mae-guaranteed loans, the caps vary between 3% and 9%, depending on the ratio between how much you put down and the amount you finance. Individual banks have varying caps on concessions. No matter where they net out, concessions must be part of the purchase contract.

Look into Government Options. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a number of homeownership programs, including assistance with down payment and closing costs. These are typically available for people who meet particular income or location requirements. HUD has a list of links by state that direct you to the appropriate page for information about your state.

HUD offers help based on profession as well. If you’re a law enforcement officer, firefighter, teacher, or EMT, you may be eligible under its Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program for a 50% discount on a house’s HUD-appraised value in “revitalization areas.” Those areas are designated by Congress for homeownership opportunities. And if you qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage under this program, the down payment is only $100; you can even finance the closing costs.

For veterans, the VA will guarantee part of a home loan through commercial lenders. Often, there’s no down payment or private mortgage insurance required, and the program helps borrowers secure a competitive interest rate.

Some cities, including Chattanooga, also offer homeownership help via organizations such as Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE). Through loan programs, counseling, education and down payment assistance, CNE is not only helping home buyers but also revitalizing neighborhoods.

Check with Your Employer. Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) programs help connect low- to moderate-income workers with down payment assistance through their employer. For example, in Pennsylvania participating EAH employers offer employees to apply for a loan of up to $8,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance. The loan is interest-free and borrowers have 10 years to pay it back. Earlier this year, GCAR began training Realtors on EAH programs and continues to explore ways to implement such a program in Greater Chattanooga. In the meantime, ask the human resources or benefits personnel at your employer if the company is part of an EAH program.

Take Advantage of Special Lender Programs. Many lenders offer programs to help people buy a home with a small down payment. A common misconception is that you need 20% for the downpayment. You may be surprised to learn there are several programs that only require as little as 3.5% downpayment. You’ll need to confirm with your lender the details and inquire about any upfront and monthly mortgage insurance payments required. Check with your lender and inquire about their first-time buyer programs.

The task of saving for a downpayment isn’t so daunting after all, is it? There’s actually a lot of help available to many first-time buyers who want to achieve their homeownership dreams. All you need to do is a little research — and start peeking at those home listings!

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August 1, 2016

Where Do Buyers Want to Live?

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

When someone buys a home they aren’t just buying the house - they are buying a neighborhood as well. But what exactly are potential home buyers looking for in a new community?

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2016 Home Buyers and Sellers Generation Trends report, the home buyer’s age impacts the type of neighborhood that they want to call home.

A person’s stage of life heavily influences the type of location he or she wants to live in and what is considered important. A young, childless couple is going to be looking in different neighborhoods compared to a family of four or a couple searching for their future retirement home.

Here are the features each generation said they considered important when choosing a potential neighborhood:

Millennial home buyers (35 years and younger). For younger buyers, being close to work is the most important factor when choosing a neighborhood to live in. Millennials want a short commute, even if it means living on a smaller lot. The price of the homes is also important; specifically, millennials are looking for affordable homes. Fifty percent of millennials said that the overall affordability of homes was an important factor in choosing a neighborhood.

Gen X home buyers (ages 36 to 50). When Gen-Xers look for a neighborhood, they are the most likely to concentrate on school districts. When children are in the picture they tend to become the driving force behind major decisions. Thirty-four percent of Gen-Xers said that convenience to schools was the deciding factor when choosing a neighborhood.

Young boomer home buyers (ages 51 to 60). Young boomers were the most likely to say that the look of a neighborhood was an important factor in deciding where to live. These buyers aren’t looking for a starter home, they are looking for a dream home and with that comes a beautiful neighborhood. Twenty-eight percent of young boomers said that neighborhood design was a significant factor in picking a place to live, more than any other generation.

Older boomer home buyers (ages 61 to 69). Twenty-four percent of older boomers say that they are looking for a neighborhood that is convenient to entertainment and leisure activities. These buyers tend to be considering retirement and are looking for a neighborhood where they can see themselves spending their extra free time. They want to move to a community with lots to do, and they do not want to have to go far to do it.

Silent generation home buyers (ages 70 to 90). Home buyers who are either near or in retirement care about being close to family. Fifty percent of the Silent Generation who participated in the survey said that convenience to friends and family was the factor most likely to influence where they want to live.

Want to know more about generational trends in real estate? Join Realtors and Home Builders on August 10 for their annual joint Economic Update Luncheon featuring Jessica Lautz, NAR’s Managing Director of Survey Research & Communications. Get additional details and ticket information here OR  or We will not be able to accommodate walk-ins. Advanced ticket purchase required. 

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July 28, 2016

Position Statement: Medal of Honor Heritage Center

The Board of Directors unanimously approved the following position statement at their July 28, 2016 meeting:

The Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® is in favor of the Medal of Honor Heritage Center being built on the 1/10th of an acre plot of the Coolidge Park land by the roundabout on Tremont Street. With the park being named after Charles H. Coolidge for having earned the medal of honor during World War II, it seems only fitting to have the Medal of Honor Heritage Center be located in the park.

Mr. Coolidge also supports the Heritage Center being in the park that was named in his honor. The parcel of land where the Heritage Center would be located is not as well used as the rest of the park and is the perfect spot for the Heritage Center. Without heroes like Charles Coolidge and other medal of honor recipients, we may not be enjoying the freedom of having great green spaces like we do in Chattanooga, TN and in Coolidge Park.

This Medal of Honor Heritage Center is a great use of our public land in order to celebrate the sacrifices that the military has made for our freedom.

REALTORS® are encouraged to attend the August 3rd public meeting from 6-8pm at Chattanooga Theatre Center in Coolidge Park. This meeting will provide the opportunity to learn about the Center and its mission.

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July 27, 2016

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Realtor

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

You’re ready to make an investment in real estate, or you have property to sell. With approximately 1,600 Realtors in the Greater Chattanooga market, how do you pick one that’s right for you? Even if you’re armed with recommendations from family, friends, or coworkers, we recommend interviewing Realtors to ensure they can best serve your unique real estate needs. To aide in the interview process, Realtor Magazine Online suggests asking these questions when interviewing potential Realtors:

How long have you been in residential or commercial real estate sales? Is it your full-time job? Like most professions, experience is no guarantee of skill. But much of real estate is learned on the job. If the Realtor is relatively new on the scene, ask them what type of support and supervision their brokerage firm provides. Having resources such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, or assistance with technology can help a transaction go more quickly and smoothly for all parties.

Do you hold any designations or certifications? In order to obtain these distinctions, real estate professionals have to take additional specialized training. Designations and certifications help define the special skills that an agent can apply to your particular real estate needs. Currently, only one quarter of real estate practitioners hold designations and certifications. So go ahead, ask about the “alphabet soup” listed after their name so they can expound upon their experience and expertise in various real estate sectors.

What’s your business philosophy? While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the real estate professional – fast sales, service, marketing – and determine how closely the agent’s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.

What’s the average variation between your initial offers and final sales prices? This is one indication of a Realtor’s pricing and negotiating skills. Also, be sure to discuss with the Realtor GCAR’s market reports, which contain trends related to percent of original list price received.

On average, how many days does it take for your listings to sell or lease? Compare their answer to GCAR’s current market report. While a Realtor is not of control market demands, they should have a good knowledge base for guiding your expectation in this regard. Also, they can help you weigh the options and strategies for getting close to list price versus a shorter or prolonged time on the market.

Will you represent me exclusively, or might you choose to represent the other side as well? While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, your Realtor should be able to explain his or her philosophy on client obligations and agency relationships. It’s important to understand where the Realtor’s obligations lie. A good practitioner will explain the agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party. Also, it’s possible to include in the agency agreement that the Realtor represents you exclusively.

Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and so on? Practitioners should be able to recommend more than one provider, and let you know if they have any special relationship with any of the providers. You’ll need assistance obtaining financing and making repairs on your next home or office space. In addition to recommending possible service providers, the Realtor should tell you if they receive any compensation from the provider.

What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my property? Look for someone who has aggressive, innovative approaches, not just someone who’s going to put a sign in the ground and hope for the best.

How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? The best answer here is a question. A real estate agent who pays close attention to the way you prefer to communicate and responds accordingly will make for the smoothest transaction. Convey to the Realtor your desires for how frequently and with what media you wish to communicate. Let the Realtor know if you want updates twice a week or don’t want to be bothered unless there’s a hot prospect. Let the Realtor know if you prefer to communicate via phone, text, email, or in person.

Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients? Ask their former customers if they would use the agent again in the future.

Realtors entered this profession out of a passion for guiding consumers through the complicated process of buying and selling property – commercial and residential. Find a Realtor today.

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July 20, 2016

How to Host a Sizzling Summer Open House

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 40 percent of all home sales last year occurred between the months of May and August. There are many reasons why summer might be the perfect time to put your home on the market – families are trying to settle into a new place before the school year starts and buyers have their tax refunds firmly in hand. But with so many others reaching the same conclusion, how do you make your home stand out?

A well-planned open house allows potential buyers to picture how life in this home would be, and in the summer, people tend to be more relaxed; it’s the time of vacations and lazy days. So making your home’s open house a haven from the heat is the best way to help them visualize that this is the house where they’ll want to spend their summers.

Here are a few tips to help your home's open house stand out this summer.

Pump up the A/C: It’s easy for a house to become stuffy and warm during the summer, especially with exterior doors frequently opening and closing, so make sure you have the air conditioning running whenever you're hosting potential buyers. Just make sure to keep the temperature cool and inviting, not set to a deep freeze!

Curb appeal: Your home’s curb appeal is its first impression, and the summer months can be harsh on your home's front lawn. Unlike in winter, where fresh snow in the front yard can appear romantic and enticing to buyers, there's nothing attractive about the dry, dead lawns of summer. Water frequently or update your home's landscaping to something grass-free.

Outdoor living: If your home has a pool, a large deck, or an outdoor kitchen, the summer months are the perfect time to highlight them. Put some lemonade out for buyers to enjoy on the patio, and keep the pool crystal clean. Remember, however, that summer means kids are out of school, and they may be joining their parents on open house tours, so make sure that pool gates are kept locked tight for safety.

Embrace the season: Potential buyers might be hot and thirsty when they arrive, so prepare for it. Have a cooler with ice-cold bottled water ready and waiting for them the moment they walk into the house, and have refreshing snacks, like watermelon or popsicles, available in the kitchen or on the patio. This will help home buyers picture your home as their oasis in the heat.

Following a few easy open house tips can help you quickly find the right buyer this summer. If you are interested in selling or buying a home this summer, click here to find a Realtor.

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July 14, 2016

REALTOR® Party Supported Candidates for August 4 2016 Election

On August 4, 2016, Hamilton County will hold the County General & State Primary Elections. Early voting for this election runs July 15-30.

The RPAC Trustees have interviewed candidates involved in the upcoming election. GCAR is pleased support the below-listed candidates, who maintain philosophies consistent with the goals of the REALTOR® Party and are supportive of the concepts of private property rights and the free enterprise system. The REALTOR® Party is bi-partisan and does not consider political party affiliation in determining which candidates to support. 

Hamilton County Board of Education

District 1 Dr. Patti Skates

District 2 Kathy Lennon

District 4 Tiffanie Robinson

District 7 Joe Wingate

Hamilton County Assessor of Property

Marty Haynes

Tennessee General Assembly

District 10  Senator Todd Gardenhire

District 26  Representative Gerald McCormick

District 27  Representative Patsy Hazlewood

District 28  Representative Joanne Favors

District 29  Representative Mike Carter

District 30  Representative Marc Gravitt

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July 13, 2016

June 2016 Home Sales Report

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Now that we’re halfway through 2016, we’ve witnessed residential real estate markets perform as predicted at the beginning of the year. Sales and prices have been going up in most areas, while the number of homes for sale and total months’ supply of inventory have been going down. Meanwhile, many sellers have been getting a higher percentage of their asking price, and supply continues to struggle to meet demand. Whether nationally or here in Greater Chattanooga, the message may be repetitive, but it is largely positive.

For June, New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 1.0 percent to 1,349. Despite the slight decrease, New Listings remain higher than the three-year average for this point in the Summer season.

Pending Sales were up 19.9 percent to 952. In recent months, we’ve seen Pending Sales the highest they’ve been in more than ten years. As Inventory levels continue to shrink – 19.8 percent to 3,703 units in June – home owners considering entering the market should take note. Months Supply of Inventory was down 28.1 percent to 4.6 months. Buyers are anxious for more options.

The last month’s closed transaction show that buyers are paying an average of 95% of List Price. Homes are being snapped up quickly. As a result, Days on Market for June was down 13.9 percent to 62 days.

Prices continued to gain traction and are the highest our market has seen in more than a decade. The Median Sales Price increased 11.0 percent to $172,000. The Average Sales Price increase 10.5 percent to $212,389.

Recently, the national unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent to 4.7 percent, but some states, including Tennessee, felt more of a pinch. The Bureau of Labor reports Tennessee’s unemployment is down 1.7 percent, which equates to 13,400 job losses. However, things are not as dire as those numbers might indicate. It’s important to consider both job loss and new jobs to see where we actually stand.

Dr. William Fox, director of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research, recently observed, “Tennessee’s economic growth, as measured by employment and sales tax collections, has really been extraordinary so far this year and continues to outpace the nation.” This positive perspective is due partially to nearly 61,000 new jobs created in Tennessee over the last 12 months.

The low inventory situation is showing signs of strain in markets where there are few homes for purchase. With an interest rate increase still in the cards this year, combined with the American political landscape and global economic events, a cooldown could occur by winter. Presently, however, summery growth prevails as many locales, including the Chattanooga region, are reaching near-record prices not seen in more than a decade.

As I’ve been stressing all year, now is the time for property owners to jump off the fence and enter the housing market. Doing so could be a win-win for both hesitant sellers and anxious buyers. Buyers are encouraged to make acceptable offers up front to avoid competing with another offer on the same house. Contact a Realtor today.

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July 7, 2016

Realtor® Party Supported Candidates for August 4 Elections

On August 4, 2016, Hamilton County will hold the County General & State Primary Elections. Early voting for this election runs July 15-30.

The RPAC Trustees have interviewed candidates involved in the upcoming election. GCAR is pleased support the below-listed candidates, who maintain philosophies consistent with the goals of the REALTOR® Party and are supportive of the concepts of private property rights and the free enterprise system. The REALTOR® Party is bi-partisan and does not consider political party affiliation in determining which candidates to support. 

Hamilton County Board of Education

District 1 Dr. Patti Skates

District 2 Kathy Lennon

District 4 Tiffanie Robinson

District 7 Joe Wingate

Hamilton County Assessor of Property

Marty Haynes

Tennessee General Assembly

District 10  Senator Todd Gardenhire

District 26  Representative Gerald McCormick

District 27  Representative Patsy Hazlewood

District 28  Representative Joanne Favors

District 29  Representative Mike Carter (Read Representative Carter's note of thanks.)

District 30  Representative Marc Gravitt

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July 5, 2016

It’s a Great Time to Own Rental Property

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

As I speak with investors who own rental property, they tell me they're receiving rental applications even before prospective tenants see their properties. Kent Property Management reports that, in some cases, properties have an executed lease prior to the current tenant vacating the property. Local media recently reported that Chattanooga's rental rates have risen by 21 percent since 1980. What's fueling that growth?

The Chattanooga economy has grown an enormous amount since 2008. Volkswagen (VW) moved its US plant to Chattanooga, which also triggered several VW suppliers to follow suit. Also, an Amazon Fulfillment Center moved to Chattanooga.

In addition to these international companies, several start-up businesses have grown to maturity in Chattanooga. Much of the credit for this growth is due to the "venture incubator" comprised of Lamp Post Group and the Hamilton County Business Development Center (HCBDC). Funded by the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, and the Economic Development Administration, the HCBDC boasts it is "the largest business incubator in the state of Tennessee, and the third largest in the United States."

Also, having the fastest Internet in the country – one gigabit per second – is attracting businesses to that previously would not have considered our region. As a result, Sperling's Best Places to Live predicts that over the next ten years, Chattanooga's job growth will be 33.2 percent. Such growth will have a positive impact on those who already call Chattanooga home, not to mention the people that will move here as a result of the new jobs.

In the meantime, Chattanooga continues to make itself a more attractive place to live. For example, the Riverwalk will eventually run more than 20 miles, connecting downtown to the Lookout Mountain Conservancy and the Federal Park's hundreds of miles of trails on Lookout Mountain. On the other end, the Riverwalk will extend to South Chickamauga Creek and East Ridge's Camp Jordan. What a tremendous amenity for visitors and residents alike. In downtown Chattanooga alone over the past 15 years, we've watched hotels, apartments, condos, and revitalized neighborhoods spring up seemingly overnight.

It's an exciting time to own property in Greater Chattanooga, including investment property. If you're considering investing in rental property, here are a few things to know:

Have enough money for a downpayment: You will need a 20 percent downpayment to get a loan for investment property.

Find the right loan option: Some banks love to finance income-producing property. Often, local banks are the best for these kinds of purchases, but shop around.

Consolidate your financial accounts: Chris Greggory of FSG Bank says it's best to build a good business relationship with one bank rather than having loans with multiple, different banks around town. Greggory adds that by consolidating to one institution, it's easier to keep track of all accounts and payments.

Get a handle on your expenses: Start with a good accountant and keep track of your expenses. You can not only write off the interest you pay on a rental property but also the money you spend on repairs. An accountant can keep you informed on your options and guide you on the best tax write-off for these expenses.

Get a Realtor: You need someone who get help you earn a good return on your investment by telling you what to expect – rent rates, future expenses, projected yearly vacancies, and percentage of return. You want to invest in property worth your time and money.

To find an investment property that could be your future retirement plan, call a Realtor today or find one here.

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June 29, 2016

Final Drone Rule Gives Clarity to Real Estate Professionals

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

The popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS), commonly known as drones, has grown significantly in recent years. And the real estate industry has been paying close attention. More than a year ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its proposed rules regarding how real estate professionals could use drones to aid clients in the marketing and selling of property.

The real estate applications for drones are varied and numerous. Property managers and home inspectors are interested in the use of drones for property inspections. Property owners and Realtors appreciate the uses of drones to capture videos and pictures that help visualize and market properties. These technologies can assist Realtors in marketing properties in a way that once was cost-prohibitive.

The FAA's final rule goes into effect Aug. 1, and encompasses much of what was contained in the rule proposed early last year. Specifically, the new rule includes:

Education provision: New certification for "remote pilot in command" authority is less burdensome than a pilot's license. The test is administered at FAA testing centers and is knowledge-based only. The cost is about $150, and will require around 20 hours of study time. The test itself is three hours long. Operators will also need to pass a background check performed by the TSA.

Flight operations permitted: Flights may be conducted during daylight hours, or during civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting. The pilot must have visual line of sight, and may not fly the drone directly over non-participants. Pilots may go as high as 400 feet and no faster than 100 mph. Provisions for flight over non-participants will be addressed in the next rulemaking, microUAS, which was the subject of the March 2016 Aviation rulemaking committee.

Waivers: Many of the operational requirements can be waived, which leaves room for innovation and experimentation with the technology.

Notice: No provisions for notice to bystanders. This could present problems for operations in denser areas, but Realtors can work with UAS service providers to find a solution.

The finale rule provides long-awaited guidance for the real estate industry. We feel the new rule will create a broader base of trained operators and service providers. Also, the rule will result in more predictability in the market for drone services and providers, as well as make this service more accessible to real estate professionals to use for the benefit of their clients.

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June 21, 2016

Commercial Real Estate Outlook

By Russ Elliott

President, GCAR’s Commercial Realtors Council

Most weeks, GCAR uses this space to discuss issues related to residential real estate. Yet a significant portion of our Association's membership is comprise of commercial practitioners. I thank President Nathan Walldorf for inviting me to provide this week’s column to share some insight into commercial real estate.

Nearly 20 percent of GCAR's membership is comprised commercial real estate professionals. We represent more than 110 firms, and currently maintain more than 1,200 active listings. Those listings include nearly 380 properties for lease with and approximately 820 for sale. While the four core commercial sectors are office, industrial, retail, and multifamily, GCAR Realtors drill down a bit more specific and offer shopping centers, vacant land, hospitality, farms and ranches, special purpose, and business opportunity.

The National Association of Realtors recently released the Commercial Real Estate Outlook for Quarter 2, 2016. The Outlook offers overall projections and analyzes quarterly data in the office, industrial, retail, and multifamily markets, including the following national highlights:

  • The pace of commercial transactions dropped in the first quarter of 2016 following an upbeat 2015.
  • The volume of commercial sales in large buildings totaled $111 billion, a 20 percent year-over-year decrease.
  • Continuing the trends from 2015, apartment transactions comprised the largest share of first quarter volume, with $38.6 billion in sales, followed by office properties, which accounted for $31.2 billion.
  • Retail and industrial sales totaled $17.9 billion and $12.6 billion, respectively.
  • In comparison, sales in small buildings rose 8.5 percent year-over-year during the first quarter, based on Realtors market data.

While this national quarterly report is a good starting point, let's examine the Greater Chattanooga market. The current commercial inventory represents 24.7 million square feet for sale and 14.5 million square feet for lease. This inventory also offers 28,118 acres of land and farm properties. What's it all worth? Current inventory would bring a $6.1 billion total sale price.

The commercial real estate sector in Greater Chattanooga is key to our community. Commercial space is everywhere you turn – local coffee shop, industrial park, downtown, the suburbs, and even the office where you work. If you're looking for commercial space, a good place to start is The "Search Commercial" button is your access to all commercial properties for sale or lease currently listing with a local Realtor. We look forwarding to assisting you with your commercial real estate needs.

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June 14, 2016

May 2016 Home Sales Report

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

We are in the thick of an exciting period of home buying and selling. This time of year often brings multiple offers that are near, at or even above asking price, depending on the factors of the home and submarket in question. And we are not surprised – nationally, it was widely predicted that we would see healthy sales activity during the second quarter of 2016. And in Greater Chattanooga, that certainly has rung true.

For the month of May, New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 6.0 percent to 1,313. Yet, Pending Sales were up 9.4 percent to 957. Inventory levels shrank 21.0 percent to 3,621 units.

Prices gained traction. The Median Sales Price increased 7.0 percent to $165,900. Days on Market was down 13.0 percent to 67 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 28.1 percent to 4.6 months.

Although inventory is still being stretched thin in many pockets of Greater Chattanooga, low mortgage rates coupled with higher wages have built a relatively sturdy housing marketplace. How long that can continue without fresh supply remains an important question. However, conditions are seemingly good enough for serious buyers. With the current slow state of new construction for non-rental households, the road ahead could be tricky if demand remains high.

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June 1, 2016

Quality Education a Key Concern for Realtors

By Nathan Walldorf, ABR, GREEN, GRI, SFR, e-Pro

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

“How are the schools?” is among the top questions asked of Realtors. And this question is not isolated to residential real estate. Commercial real estate also is impacted by the quality of schools. Businesses seek to grow where schools perform well, and they value the importance of educational offerings to their employees and their families.

In its official policy on public education, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) “recognize[s] the impact that quality education makes in every aspect of society. The future of business and industry, the real estate market and homeownership, our communities, and our nation depends on well-educated citizens and a well-educated workforce. To that end, we support programs and policies that promote quality education by efficiently financing capital construction, maintenance, and operations of our public school systems. We believe that public education is a state and local issue.”

Further, Realtors believe “community, family, and parental involvement in schools support such quality education. Thus we encourage all members of the Realtor family to actively involve themselves with local education issues and institutions, both individually and within their Realtor organizations. We further encourage state legislatures, local government, school systems and private enterprise to explore all avenues that will increase efficiency through better allocation of resources to the classroom by developing creative solutions, and promoting community and corporate involvement, rather than looking predominantly to the overburdened taxpayer.”

In light of the many correlations between quality education and real estate, GCAR is engaged in the conversation. Last Wednesday, we held a forum for Realtors to hear from and ask questions of those candidates seeking a position on the Hamilton County School Board. The discussion topics ranged from budgets and proposed tax increases to the qualities sought in the next superintendent. Additionally, the candidates shared their perspectives on the board’s working relationship with the superintendent, where the focus should be in the classroom and whether cellphones should be allowed in the classroom. It was a lively and important discussion not only for Realtors but also for the Greater Chattanooga community.

There’s no question that schools are a key factor in the quality of life in Greater Chattanooga. We encourage all consumers to join in the conversation, get involved and help improve Hamilton County Schools. To aide in that regard, GCAR recorded our candidate forum, which is available for viewing at By familiarizing ourselves with issues that affect public education, we all can be better prepared to make a difference in their schools and communities.


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