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September 13, 2018

August 2018 Home Sales

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

Rising home prices, higher interest rates, and increased building material costs have pressured housing affordability to a ten-year low, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Keen market observers have been watching this situation take shape for quite some time. Nationally, median household income has risen 2.6% in the last 12 months, while home prices are up 6.0%. That kind of gap will eventually create fewer sales due to affordability concerns, which is happening in several markets, especially in the middle to high-middle price ranges.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 11.7 percent to 1,291. Pending Sales were up 8.7 percent to 938. Inventory levels shrank 13.2 percent to 2,906 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 6.2 percent to $188,000. Days on Market was down 18.0 percent to 41 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 14 .6 percent to 3.5 months.

While some are starting to look for recessionary signs like fewer sales, dropping prices and even foreclosures, others are taking a more cautious and research-based approached to their predictions. The fact remains that the trends do not yet support a dramatic shift away from what has been experienced over the last several years. Housing starts are performing admirably if not excitingly, prices are still inching upward, supply remains low and consumers are optimistic. The U.S. economy is under scrutiny but certainly not deteriorating.

Get a more detailed look at Home Sales numbers and connect with a Realtor on www.gcar.net. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or simply stay in-the-know with what’s happening in Greater Chattanooga real estate, you can count on us to keep you in the loop.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.


For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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September 6, 2018

REALTOR® Safety Tips for Home Buyers and Sellers

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI

President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

 

This month, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) released its 2018 Member Safety Report, which surveyed over 3,000 Realtors®, members of NAR about how safe they feel while on the job, their personal safety experiences and the safety procedures they follow.

The report found that nearly a third of Realtors experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information, and 43 percent of Realtors choose to carry self-defense weapons.  

Realtors understand better than anyone the safety risks associated with real estate transactions. Because of that, it is imperative for members to share safety protocols with home buyers so they can learn about what they may encounter during the home buying process.

The most common circumstances that resulted in fearful situations were open houses, showing vacant and model homes, working with properties that were unlocked or unsecured and showing homes in remote areas. Here are some safety protocols and guidelines from Greater Chattanooga Realtors you should expect and keep in mind when working with a Realtor in order to help ensure a safe experience for all parties involved.

Meet at your agent’s office. Instead of meeting for the first time at a property, a Realtor may set-up an initial meeting at his or her respective office. Most people would tell you that meeting at a real estate professional’s office for the first time is much more comfortable, appropriate and makes both parties feel safe.

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 report, nearly 70 percent of real estate offices have standard procedures for safeguarding client data and information. Keeping this information safe and secure is an important step that ensures a safe agent and client relationship.

Don’t view vacant properties at night. Your agent may choose to show vacant properties during the day in order to be more aware of potential safety hazards that may exist, including loose floorboards or any other defects. So when viewing a vacant property, expect to view it during daylight hours.

For more information on Realtor and consumer safety, visit www.realtor.org/safety.

Connect with a Realtor to get off on the right foot in your home search. They will provide more tips on how to safely navigate our housing market and go from a potential buyer to new homeowner. Visit www.gcar.net to find a Realtor today.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.


For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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September 5, 2018

Revised Fines Policy for Violations of MLS Rules & Regulations

The MLS is moving away from the courtesy notifications and towards automatic fines for specific violations of the MLS Rules. Enforcement of fines will begin on October 1, 2018.

To educate all MLS users on the revised policy for assessing fines, our MLS Staff is auditing listings related to various violations included in the automatic fines. In general, these MLS Rules are not new, and the revised policy provides for automatic fines (in lieu of courtesy notifications).

The amendments to the MLS Rules have been approved by the MLS Committee and Board of Directors and accomplish the following:

1. Replace the former practice of courtesy notifications with automatic fines for:

  • Failing to file a listing within 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays)
  • Failing to provide legitimate directions to the listed property.
  • Including personal information for company or listing subscriber in public remarks and public fields.
  • Branding of images, virtual tours and/or framing for images or virtual tours with any information or additional images.
  • Failing to update status, including reporting sales and leases within 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays)

2. Incorporate the former remaining MLS Policies into the MLS Rules;

3. Provide clarification for appropriate use of the Active status; and

4. Provide a definition for appropriate use of the Closed status.

Click to review an Overview of MLS Fines.

Click to review the verbatim amendments to the MLS Rules & Regulations.

Questions? Contact MLS Director, Tonya Bell: 423.698.8001 / tonya@gcar.net

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August 30, 2018

To Buy or Not to Buy? That is the Question Non-Homeowners Are Asking

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

Despite weakening optimism from non-homeowners at the end of last year that now is a good time to buy, an overwhelming majority said they do want to own a home in the future and believe homeownership is part of their American Dream.

That is according to new consumer survey data from the National Association of Realtors®(NAR), which additionally found that non-homeowners’ lifestyle changes and improvements in their financial situation outweigh seeing their rent increase as the main motivators for deciding to buy a home.

NAR’s Aspiring Home Buyers Profile analyzed 2017 quarterly consumer insights from its Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey to capture the housing expectations and sentiment of non-homeowners – both renters and those living with a family member.

When asked for the primary reason non-homeowners currently do not own, an increasing share of them over the past year said it was because they are unable to afford it. 56 percent of non-owners indicated they could not afford to buy a home each quarter, with the share feeling this way reaching its highest in the last three months of the year.

The swift price growth and painfully low supply levels in much of the country in 2017 also appeared to have dealt a blow to the confidence among non-owners that now is a good time to buy. After reaching a high of 62 percent in the third quarter, the share of non-owners who believed now is a good time to buy slipped to 58 percent at the end of the year.

Even with the dip in morale about buying over the past year, respondents’ views about homeownership are still overwhelmingly positive. Roughly three-quarters of non-owners each quarter said that they eventually want to own a home and also believe that owning a home is part of their American Dream.

As for the main reasons non-owners would buy a home in the future, a change in lifestyle such as getting married, starting a family or retiring was the top choice (24 to 32 percent each quarter), followed by an improvement in their financial situation (26 to 30 percent each quarter) and the desire to settle down in one location (12 to 16 percent each quarter).

According to the survey, roughly half of current renters expect their rent to increase this year (51 percent). If in fact their rent does increase, most indicated that they would resign their lease (42 percent) or move to a cheaper rental (25 percent). Only 15 percent of renters said they would consider purchasing a home.

Housing demand in 2018 has been fueled by more millennials deciding to marry and have kids and the expectations that solid job growth and the strengthening economy will push incomes higher. However, increasing prices and mortgage rates also have caused affordability pressures to persist. That is why it is critical to see an increase in new and existing housing supply. Otherwise, many would-be first-time buyers will be forced to continue renting and not reach their dream of being a homeowner.

Buying a home can be a challenging, overwhelming process, but with a little work and a Realtor in your corner now just might be the time to start looking for your next, or first, dream home. Connect with a Realtor to get off on the right foot in your home search. They will provide more tips on how to navigate our housing market and go from a potential buyer to a new homeowner.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.


For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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August 23, 2018

REALTOR® Code of Ethics Protecting Homeowners for More Than 100 Years

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

Working with a Realtor® gives buyers, sellers, and investors many advantages they need to succeed in today’s real estate market. One of those advantages is the assurance that Realtors subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics which provides clients with the highest degree of professionalism, ethics, and service. Adopted by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) in 1913, NAR was only the second trade or business group in the U.S. to adopt mandatory ethical standards for its members.   

Not all real estate licensees are Realtors. Only those who are a member of NAR can use the term “Realtor®” and subscribe to the Code of Ethics as a condition of NAR membership. Realtors are the most trusted resource for real estate information and have access to advanced educational opportunities and training in real estate specialties, bringing value to buyers, sellers and investors.

The Code is a comprehensive document spelling out professional responsibilities owed to clients, other Realtors, and the general public. All Realtors must take comprehensive training on NAR’s Code of Ethics at least once every two years to retain their membership with the current 2-year cycle ending December 31, 2018.

Real estate is a business based on trust and working ethically is a way to build trustworthy relationships.  Buying and selling property is a major, life-altering decision, and buyers and sellers need to be able to depend on their Realtor to guide them through the process with their best interests in mind. The Code helps provide an added layer of security to help Realtors do just that.

Consisting of 17 articles organized into duties to clients and customers, the public and Realtors, the Code outlines numerous professional responsibilities. For instance, Realtors must be honest with all parties in the real estate transaction, including their client, other Realtors, or real estate agents and their clients. Realtors should also be forthcoming with all parties by disclosing all pertinent facts regarding the property and the transaction. If something seems questionable about a property, the Realtor is obligated to investigate and make recommendations that buyers consult their own expert and inspectors. In addition, Realtors must be truthful in advertising and communications with the public. When distributing newsletters, creating websites, or placing advertisements, Realtors must represent only their work and not take credit for the work of another real estate professional.    

Consumers can read more about the Code of Ethics and can find a summary of the Code that explains how it benefits them at www.nar.realtor/codeofethics.

If you’re a Realtor and needing to take a Code of Ethics class or check to see if you still need to take the class, visit www.gcar.net to register for a class or email info@gcar.net.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.


For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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August 16, 2018

July 2018 Home Sales

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

Housing price bubble chatter has increased this summer, as market observers attempt to predict the next residential real estate shift. At Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Economic Outlook Luncheon on August 15, keynote speaker Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for National Association of Realtors® spoke to Greater Chattanooga’s economy as strong because of low unemployment rates, new jobs for the past 8 years, and low interest rates.

It is too early to predict a change from higher prices and lower inventory, but the common markers that caused the last housing cooldown are present. Wages are up but not at the same pace as home prices, leading to the kind of affordability concerns that can cause fewer sales at lower prices. At the same time, demand is still outpacing what is available for sale in many markets.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 7.1 percent to 1,256. Pending Sales were up 7.9 percent to 956. Inventory levels shrank 16.0 percent to 2,830 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 1.9 percent to $186,500. Days on Market was down 25.9 percent to 40 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 17.1 percent to 3.4 months.

Consumer spending on home goods and renovations are up, and more people are entering the workforce. Employed people spending money is good for the housing market. Meanwhile, GDP growth was 4.1% in the second quarter, the strongest showing since 2014. Housing starts are down, but that is more reflective of low supply than anything else. With a growing economy, solid lending practices and the potential for improved inventory from new listing and building activity, market balance is more likely than a bubble.

Get a more detailed look at Home Sales numbers. Lawrence Yun’s presentation, and connect with a Realtor on www.gcar.net. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or simply stay in-the-know with what’s happening in Greater Chattanooga real estate, you can count on us to keep you in the loop.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.


For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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August 9, 2018

REALTORS® Help Buyers Navigate Tight Market

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

Schools are back in session which means we are inching a little closer to the end of what is typically the busiest time of year in real estate. However, the market in Greater Chattanooga continues to remain competitive and shows no signs of slowing down. Housing inventories are near decade lows which directly puts pressure on home prices.

Recent data shows there is more demand than supply in the Greater Chattanooga market, which means conditions broadly favor sellers. Meanwhile, buyers are out there looking to purchase homes. Buyer traffic is 25 percent above a year ago and sellers are often receiving multiple bids. The large millennial population is expected to continue entering the market as buyers, causing home prices to increase.

The good news for potential buyers is home construction is rising which helps keep housing affordable and a there is “no housing recession over the horizon” according to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of REALTORS®.

Despite a competitive market, homeownership remains desirable to many renters who are all feeling the pain of a reported 13.2 percent increase in rental rates in Chattanooga. The benefits of homeownership are still very evident and opportunities for buyers exist. Just because the current market tends to favor sellers doesn’t mean buyers can’t still find their dream home.

Here are a few tips for potential buyers in today’s market.

Know Your Budget Before Window Shopping. Knowing your budget before falling in love with homes out of your price range will help guide a realistic road to homeownership. Lenders will evaluate your income, savings and credit history to qualify and approve you for a mortgage.

Identifying Neighborhoods of Interest. Whether you’re a millennial wanting to live in thriving downtown Chattanooga, looking to move into a more desirable school district, or wanting to downsize choosing a few options for where you would like to live is important in aiding a home search. Once you have a good idea about what you’re looking for, it’s easier to know it when you see it.

Work with a REALTOR®. Most importantly, work with a Realtor. Realtors understand the local markets and can negotiate on your behalf - helping save you time and money. Buying and selling a home is one of life’s biggest decisions and a Realtor can guide you through the process.

Connect with a Realtor to get off on the right foot in your home search. They will provide more tips on how to navigate our housing market and go from a potential buyer to new homeowner. Visit www.gcar.net to find a Realtor today.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.


For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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August 8, 2018

Greater Chattanooga Realtors is Signature Sponsor for Habitat’s Raise The Roof Fundraiser October 3

Over the past 31 years, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga has built 276 homes providing more than 1,000 women, men, and children with stability and the joy and security of Habitat homeownership.

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is proud to be the Signature Sponsor for Habitat or Humanity's annual Raise the Roof fundraiser on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 11:30 a.m. at the Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center. Associate Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Founder of Fresh Raise for Life Ministries, and Associate General Counsel of Habitat for Humanity International, Natosha Reid Rice, will deliver the keynote address.

Tickets are $65 and tables (seating eight) are $500. To purchase tickets or tables, visit eventbrite.com or call 756-0507.

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August 2, 2018

Consumers Continue Interest in Sustainable Home Features

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

Sustainable home features and environmentally friendly neighborhoods are becoming an even more important factor for homebuyers when choosing a home.

According to the 2018 Realtors® and Sustainability Report, 61 percent of surveyed members of the National Association of Realtors® reported that consumers have an interest in sustainability when it comes to buying a home. The report surveyed Realtors about sustainability issues facing consumers in the real estate market and ways Realtors are setting their own goals to reduce energy usage.

As consumer demand trends toward green and sustainable home features, Realtors continue to work to promote environmentally responsible features and better business practices. For the second year in a row, data has shown that more Realtors are marketing energy efficiency in property listings to homebuyers, with more information fields in the listing to identify a property’s green features.

To keep up with the growth in consumer interest in green features, four in 10 Realtors stated that sustainability and green data fields are included in their Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Among those that have green data fields, almost 40 percent use them to promote green features, 27 percent to promote energy information and 16 percent to promote their green education certifications.

Consumers look hard at the transportation and commuting option in a community as important environmental considerations when purchasing a home. Realtors find that consumers want easy access to highways (82 percent), short commute times and distance to work (81 percent), and walkability (51 percent).

Realtors are growing their expertise in home performance and efficiency, as 39 percent are comfortable or extremely comfortable in the subject. Nearly half of Realtors say they are confident or extremely confident in their ability to connect clients with green home lenders.  

Realtors are also beginning to have a more in-depth dialogue about sustainability and commercial real estate properties with their clients. Seventy percent of agents and brokers indicated that promoting energy efficiency in their commercial listings was very or somewhat valuable. The top building features that clients specified as very or somewhat important are utility/operation costs (80 percent), efficient use of lighting (64 percent), and indoor air quality (62 percent).

Realtors with commercial and residential expertise alike are building their understanding of sustainability as a greater wave of green properties and sustainable home features are hitting the market. Realtors® are leading the way to promote sustainable practices to better influence potential homebuyers and communities across the country. 

NAR initiated the Realtors Sustainability Program as a platform for dialogue on sustainability for Realtors, brokers, allied trade associations and consumers. The program’s efforts focus on coordination and articulation of NAR’s existing sustainability resources, while also supporting a growing area of interest for consumers, helping Realtors® to assist home buyers and sellers.

Visit www.gcar.net to see available residential and commercial properties or to connect with a Realtor and to learn more about buying or selling a green or sustainable home.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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July 26, 2018

Smart Home Technology in Gig City

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

Many of us grew up with the idea that one day we would all be living like the Jetsons’, the 1960s cartoon about a family living in the future – in 2062 to be exact. While we must wait a little longer before closets button our shirts and showers comb our hair, living in Gig City allows residents to truly enjoy available smart home features because of affordable access to the fastest internet in the United States.

Technology has forever changed the way we live in and interact with our homes. Want to save money and time? We all do. Smart technology in homes can do that and help ease anxiety. No more stressing about whether you closed the garage door and if the iron is unplugged – there’s an app for that! 

Here are a few ways smart home technology can be utilized:

Security. New products allow homeowners to monitor their homes from a distance – even internationally. Owners can lock doors and turn lights off and on from their mobile app or simply by speaking to a smart device that has voice recognition. It’s not just about keeping the property safe, it’s about keeping homeowners, families, and pets safe. Fire, carbon monoxide, and gas leak alarms that connect to your smartphone provide peace of mind that everything is safe and sound.

Energy Savings. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to program their home’s temperature and adjust it even after they’ve left – avoiding any needless heating or cooling of an empty house. Automated lighting programs allow owners to turn the lights on and off from anywhere in the world. Smart green features have been in high demand for years now. These products not only help the environment but also bring electricity and water bills down, saving you money. Looking to buy? See what’s available using our new “Green Features” filter.

Convenience. One of the main appeals of smart homes is that they can make the homeowner’s life easier. A garage door opener connected to your smartphone and a sprinkler system that syncs with the weather forecast so the lawn is never watered when it’s raining are all features that simplify life. Instead of checking the refrigerator to see if anything is running low, a homeowner can receive a text message from their smart kitchen reminding them to buy eggs.

Although technology provides many benefits, it is important not to lose sight of the risks smart homes can pose to privacy. As smart technology becomes more common, it becomes even more important that the necessary precautions are taken to protect data and privacy. Ask your Realtor for guidance on a smart home checklist so you can stay in control of the privacy and security of your smart home.

Join us August 14 for the Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon, co-hosted with Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga. We will look at how the Chattanooga region has thrived and changed in the past year and what’s to come. Tickets go quickly so purchase yours today: 423.698.8001 or email info@gcar.net.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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July 19, 2018

Realtors Offer Guidance for Foreign Buyers

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

Foreign buyers continue to see the U.S. real estate market as a secure and safe investment as Realtors® are experiencing an increase in the number of international clients over the past five years, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

NAR’s 2018 Commercial Real Estate International Business Trends report analyzed cross-border commercial real estate transactions made by Realtors during 2017.

Of the 59 percent of Realtors who indicated they completed a commercial real estate transaction last year, 18 percent reported closing a deal for an international client. Realtors have the expertise and knowledge of working with clients from different countries and real estate practices, so international buyers using a Realtor are at a true advantage and can rely on their global market perspective.

The study found that most Realtors who specialize in commercial real estate reside in smaller commercial markets where the typical deal is less than $2.5 million. Foreign investors are attracted to smaller-sized properties in secondary and tertiary markets, helping the profile of smaller commercial markets grow. 

Realtors’ international clients found U.S. commercial real estate markets to be a good value last year. NAR’s report shows 70 percent of Realtors reported that international clients view U.S. prices to be about the same or less expensive than prices in their home country.   

The top countries of origin for buyers were China (20 percent), Mexico (11 percent), Canada (8 percent) and the United Kingdom (6 percent). While sellers were typically from Mexico (20 percent), China (15 percent), and Brazil and Israel (both at 10 percent).

Florida and Texas were the top two states where foreigners purchased and sold commercial property last year, with California being the third most popular buyer and seller destination.

Foreign buyers of commercial property typically bring more cash to the table than those purchasing residential real estate. Seventy percent of international transactions were closed with cash, while NAR's 2017 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate found that half of buyers paid in cash.

NAR’s commercial community includes commercial members, real estate boards, committees, advisory boards and forums; and NAR commercial affiliate organizations – CCIM Institute, Institute of Real Estate Management, Realtors® Land Institute, Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, and Counselors of Real Estate.

Approximately 80,000 NAR members specialize in commercial real estate brokerage and related services including property management, land counseling and appraisal. In addition, more than 200,000 members are involved in commercial transactions as a secondary business.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors are the most trusted resource for real estate information in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia and maintains a list on www.gcar.net of Realtors who are fluent in languages other than English. Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or just want to make sure you are prepared when that time comes, connect with a Realtor to have the advantage needed in today’s market.

On August 14, join us for the Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon, co-hosted with Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga. We will look at how the Chattanooga region has thrived and changed in the past year and what’s to come. Tickets go quickly so purchase yours today on www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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July 16, 2018

Flexmls Launches Guided Help Feature

Whether you’ve been using Flexmls for a few years OR are new Flexmls user, chances are you’d like to learn more about certain features. You’re in luck! Launching July 16 in Flexmls is the Guided Help function, which:

  • Provides interactive walkthroughs to help you learn how to use different features in Flexmls
  • Gives you quick access to new feature announcements, webinars, and more!

Learning all that Flexmls offers has never been easier! The Guided Help feature launches JULY 16, and will be available to all users. Click here for a 2-page PDF overview of the Guided Help feature.

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July 12, 2018

June 2018 Home Sales

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

Housing markets across the nation are most assuredly active this summer, and buyer competition is manifesting itself into several quick sales above asking price. While the strength of the U.S. economy has helped purchase offers pile up, the Fed recently increased the federal funds rate by 0.25 percent, marking the second rate hike this year and seventh since late 2015. Although the 30-year mortgage rate did not increase, buyers often react by locking in at the current rate ahead of assumed higher rates later. When this happens, accelerated price increases are possible, causing further strain on affordability.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 8.7 percent to 1,388. Pending Sales were up 9 percent to 932. Inventory levels shrank 17.7 percent to 2,756 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased to 11.7 percent to $201,000. Days on Market was down 27.9 percent to 44 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 19.5 percent to 3.3 months.

Inventory may be persistently lower in year-over-year comparisons, and home prices are still more likely to rise than not, but new listings may finish the summer on the upswing. The housing supply outlook in several markets is beginning to show an increase in new construction and a move by builders away from overstocked rental units to new developments for sale. These are encouraging signs of an already healthy marketplace.

On August 14, join us for the Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon, co-hosted with Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga. We will look at how the Chattanooga region has thrived and changed in the past year and what’s to come. Tickets go quickly so purchase yours today on www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.


For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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July 9, 2018

Office Renovations Begin at Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

We're excited to announce that renovations are officially underway at Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®' office! In a few months, the office will include a spacious member lounge area, modern technology throughout the office, and a more convenient layout to better serve members.

Renovations are expected to wrap up in late-2018 and we promise to update you every step of the way with photos and even a video here and there. Here's a rendering of the finished layout.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter plus make sure your Flexmls/Catylist dashboard include the message boards so you can be aware of the latest announcements.

Here's what you need to know

  • The Association's office will be open per the usual, Monday-Friday at 8:30 am-5 pm. While we do not anticipate the office needing to close much, if at all, during construction, we will notify all members as soon as possible. In short: have no fear, Association staff is here.
  • Building Entry & Parking: Park furthest away from construction and use the temporary entrance on the left side of the building. Phase I of the renovations include the main entrance and entire right side of the building (where most staff offices are). By the end of this week, Association staff will relocate to a temporary space and cozied up on the other side of the building. The temporary entrance will be marked with signs.
  • Member Services: When submitting a membership application, TREC form, address/info change request, etc. please email to info@gcar.net.
  • We strongly encourage calling or emailing before unplanned office visits. As you know, construction comes with its fair share of surprises and that will allow Association staff to best serve all 2,000+ members. We would love to try and have office visits scheduled whenever possible. 423.698.8001 / info@gcar.net
  • Continuing education class locations: Throughout renovations, all classes will be held at Chattanooga State. More details to follow.
  • Contact gold mine: info@gcar.net. That email address forwards directly to staff and we will make sure it goes to the right person for a timely response. Stopping by in a couple hours, but not exactly sure when? Email info@gcar.net. Can't remember if you need to take XYZ class? Email info@gcar.net. Need to pick up a new eKey or having problems with one? Email info@gcar.net.
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July 5, 2018

Don’t Let Flood Insurance Program Expire

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

Did you know that unless members of Congress take action, authority for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire July 31?

If that happens it would be detrimental for our community. For families living along streams, lakes, rivers, oceans, or just about anywhere snow melts or rain falls, floods are an ever-present threat. In fact, over the past century, floods have claimed more lives and caused more property damage than any other natural disaster.

As the leading advocate for private property rights and housing issues in the Chattanooga region, Greater Chattanooga Realtors® strongly believes that affordable insurance is critical to economic growth and development. It’s time to get serious about mitigating the flood risk that homeowners face around the country while keeping insurance rates on a gradual glide path to market rates; reducing rates through risk mitigation is a “win-win” for taxpayers and property owners alike.

Congress created the NFIP in 1968 to address the failure of the private market to provide affordable flood insurance. While there is a small but growing private market today, the NFIP ensures access for more than 5 million American home and business owners across 22,000 communities where flood insurance is required for a mortgage.

The NFIP also works to discourage Americans from living in the highest risk flood areas, enabling homeowners to assume the risk and full cost of flooding. This means property owners no longer must rely on expensive taxpayer-funded disaster assistance and instead can make their own, informed decisions about rebuilding and relocating.

Given the widespread devastation that floods cause in areas where there is still not a private insurance market, the federal government ends up involved in these efforts one way or another, either through billion-dollar post-disaster rebuilding programs, or through a federally backed flood insurance program with premiums attached.

One thing that is indisputable is that without the NFIP, millions of properties would be uninsured. And by the increasing number of self-insured properties and reducing the cost of post-disaster government assistance, the NFIP saves taxpayers money.

Along with my fellow Realtors in Greater Chattanooga and across our great nation, I will continue following NFIP reauthorization. I believe that American home and business owners deserve a flood insurance program that is solvent, effective, and able to continue providing protections for decades to come.

Tell Congress to Reauthorize NFIP: Visit www.realtorparty.realtor/renewnfip to send a message directly to Congress.

On August 14, join us for the Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon, co-hosted with Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga. We will look at how the Chattanooga region has thrived and changed in the past year and what’s to come. Tickets go quickly so purchase yours today on www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.


For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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June 25, 2018

The City Made Their Budget, Time to Update Yours

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

On Tuesday, June 26 Chattanooga City Council members passed the first reading of Chattanooga’s 2019 budget which includes a controversial increase in water quality fees for the next five years. Residents will notice an increase on their tax bill beginning this October. Administration promised to look at the water quality fee structure to see if it can be made fairer to people with lower incomes and low-income seniors participating in the City’s tax relief program will be exempt from quality fees.

As the leading advocate for private property rights and housing issues in the Chattanooga region, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is committed to protecting current and future home and business owners. Part of that responsibility is protecting the dream of homeownership and paying close attention to one of today’s hottest topics: housing affordability.

Chattanooga’s continued growth can positively impact our city and its residents. But only if growth is handled responsibly and with integrity. For Chattanooga to continue thriving, it’s vital that there is cooperation and proper communication between local stakeholders and the City of Chattanooga.

The 2019 budget for the City of Chattanooga includes stormwater/land development fees that many believe could be devastating for housing affordability in our community. Pending any surprise in next Tuesday’s final vote by the City Council, Chattanooga will have the highest water quality fees in Tennessee. Not only are the proposed fee increases extreme, stakeholders were not made aware of or included in conversations regarding potential increases.

I understand fees have not increased in some time, so it may be necessary to support Chattanooga’s growth. However, proper communication needs to happen first so that the City and stakeholders can do our due diligence to make sure fee increases is the best decision for our city as well as it’s current and future residents.

It is likely that developers will seek opportunities outside Chattanooga and once again the City of Chattanooga will be left searching for new revenue streams.

There is no doubt that higher stormwater/land development fees will impact the citizens of Chattanooga. Although the City continues to say that the development community will be assessed the increased development fees. Fair enough. But let’s call a spade a spade. Ultimately, those fees will fall to those purchasing homes, goods, and services.

Let’s say a business owner with a property including storage units with 36 Equivalent Residential Units (ERUs) currently pays $4,147.20 in water quality fees. Under the City of Chattanooga’s proposed increase, that business owner will see that fee skyrocket to $6,607.44 in 2023.

To recoup the added costs, the owner will need to increase the cost of renting the units.

On Tuesday, June 19, at the City Council’s meeting, I shared the following request on behalf of Greater Chattanooga Realtors: “Vote against a budget with this fee increase included or remove the fee increase from the budget to allow the issue to be addressed separately from the City’s 2019 budget.”

We welcome the opportunity to work with the City of Chattanooga and other stakeholders regarding issues that impact development and homeownership. Issues such as an increase in stormwater and land development fees should be a conversation we have today, not four or five years from now when it will likely be too late to recover from the damage these increase fees may cause. As home prices continue to rise in the City of Chattanooga, the dream of homeownership will continue to dim for many.

The National Association of REALTORS’® tagline is The Voice for Real Estate®. As The Voice for Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga, I and my fellow Realtors promise you – our families, friends, neighbors – to continue to fight to protect the American dream of homeownership and housing affordability in our region.

It is my hope that the City of Chattanooga will be more transparent in their budgeting and decision-making process so proper due diligence can be done by stakeholders and residents can be fiscally prepared. Transparency will lead to trust and confidence in the City’s decisions and leadership.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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June 21, 2018

Win for Internet Sales Tax Fairness

In a win for commercial real estate, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a ruling today that states should be able to require online sellers to collect and remit sales tax on purchases. The National Association of REALTORS® submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of this position because it helps create an even playing field between brick-and-mortar retailers and online businesses. In the case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., the Court ruled that the “physical presence” requirement which previously controlled is out of date in an e-commerce era.

NAR’s position is that online retailers today have an advantage over brick-and-mortar stores. Brick-and-mortar stores must charge sales tax on purchases while the obligation to collect taxes in online purchases does not fall on the retailer.

Access the decision.

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June 21, 2018

Realtors Take a Stance Against Extreme Water Quality Fee Increase

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

As the leading advocate for private property rights and housing issues in the Chattanooga region, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is committed to protecting current and future home and business owners. Part of that responsibility is protecting the dream of homeownership and paying close attention to one of today’s hottest topics: housing affordability.

Chattanooga’s continued growth can positively impact our city and its residents. But only if growth is handled responsibly and with integrity. For Chattanooga to continue thriving, it’s vital that there is cooperation and proper communication between local stakeholders and the City of Chattanooga.

The 2019 proposed budget for the City of Chattanooga includes stormwater/land development fees that could be devastating for housing affordability in our community. If approved as is, Chattanooga will have the highest water quality fees in Tennessee. Not only are the proposed fee increases extreme, stakeholders were not made aware of or included in conversations regarding potential increases.

I understand fees have not increased in some time so it may be necessary to support Chattanooga’s growth. However, proper communication needs to happen first so that the City and stakeholders can do our due diligence to make sure fee increases is the best decision for our city as well as it’s current and future residents.

Should these drastic increases pass, it is very likely that developers will seek opportunities outside Chattanooga and once again the City of Chattanooga will be left searching for new revenue streams.

There is no doubt that the proposed stormwater/land development fees will impact the citizens of Chattanooga. Although the City continues to say that the development community will be assessed the increased development fees. Fair enough. But let’s call a spade a spade. Ultimately, those fees will fall to those purchasing homes, goods, and services.

Let’s say a business owner with a property including storage units with 36 Equivalent Residential Units (ERUs) currently pays $4,147.20 in water quality fees. Under the City of Chattanooga’s proposed increase, that business owner will see that fee skyrocket to $6,607.44 in 2023.

To recoup the added costs, the owner will need to increase the cost of renting the units.

On Tuesday, June 19, at the City Council’s meeting, I shared the following request on behalf of Greater Chattanooga Realtors: “Vote against a budget with this fee increase included or remove the fee increase from the budget to allow the issue to be addressed separate from the City’s 2019 budget.”

We welcome the opportunity to work with the City of Chattanooga and other stakeholders regarding issues that impact development and homeownership. Issues such as an increase in stormwater and land development fees should be a conversation we have today, not four or five years from now when it will likely be too late to recover from the damage these increase fees may cause. As home prices continue to rise in the City of Chattanooga, the dream of homeownership will continue to dim for many.

The National Association of REALTORS’® tagline is The Voice for Real Estate®. As The Voice for Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga, I and my fellow Realtors promise you – our families, friends, neighbors – to continue to fight to protect the American dream of homeownership and housing affordability in our region.

So, City of Chattanooga, can we please take the proper time to discuss the potential need for stormwater/land development fee increases?

I respectfully request stakeholders be allowed time to do our due diligence in assessing this potential need of a fee increase. We owe it to our fellow citizens – we owe it to Chattanooga. Oh, and happy National Homeownership Month.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
Economic Outlook Luncheon 2018
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June 20, 2018

Greater Chattanooga Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon on August 14

2018 Keynote: Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist & Senior Vice President of Research of the National Association of REALTORS®

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (June 20, 2018) – Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® and The Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga will co-host the annual Economic Outlook Luncheon on Tuesday, August 14 at the Chattanooga Marriott Downtown and Trade Center for its members, local businesses, and community leaders.

The event, which will begin at 11:30 am, will feature the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research, Lawrence Yun, Ph.D. as this year’s keynote speaker.

Dr. Yun will discuss recent developments in the national and local housing market and how those developments will impact the Chattanooga region’s economy. Dr. Yun will provide insight for Chattanooga’s real estate market and the direction of home prices in the next 12 to 24 months. In addition, Dr. Yun will review past housing cycles and low oil/strong dollar impact to forecast Chattanooga’s economy and housing market.

Dr. Yun oversees and is responsible for a wide range of research activity for the association including NAR’s Existing Home Sales statistics, Affordability Index, and Home Buyers and Sellers Profile Report. Dr. Yun creates NAR’s forecasts and participates in many economic forecasting panels, among them the Blue Chip Council and the Harvard University Industrial Economist Council. He appears regularly on financial news outlets, is a frequent speaker at real estate conferences throughout the United States, and has testified before Congress. Dr. Yun appears often as a guest on CSPAN’s Washington Journal and is a regular guest columnist on the Forbes website.

A capacity crowd is expected. Advanced tickets are required and available for purchase through Greater Chattanooga Realtors by calling 423.698.8001 or email info@gcar.net.

###

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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

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June 18, 2018

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS Teams Up With Nationally Recognized Speaker for National Ethics Day

Leigh Brown to Moderate National Ethics Event

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (June 18, 2018) – Leigh Brown, CEO of RE/MAX Executive, Leigh Brown & Associates, is spearheading a nationwide fundraiser and training event on June 27. Brown will teach the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Code of Ethics class to participating associations across the United States. Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is proud to sponsor this event which is a nationwide fundraiser for the REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF).

The RRF was launched by NAR, within hours of the devastating September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks—raising more than $8.4 million to provide assistance so that surviving family members could stay in their homes. Since then, more than $25 million has been raised for victims of disasters, including wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes.

“Born out of my passion for the REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF), this National Ethics Day fundraising event is going to knock the ball out of the park! I wholeheartedly believe that the Code of Ethics should be incorporated into your business every day and this class is the first step,” said Brown. “My classes are never dull and never boring, so let’s talk professionalism and ethics! And if I can host this national event with Greater Chattanooga Realtors, all while benefiting the amazing REALTOR Relief Foundation, then I consider that a win-win!”

The National Code of Ethics class will be live streamed Wednesday, June 27, from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST and Greater Chattanooga REALTORS will be hosting this class at Chattanooga State Community College (HSC Building, Room 1085) to accommodate for more attendees. More information about the event can be found on Facebook. Register to attend through the calendar on gcar.net, email info@gcar.net, or call 423.698.8001.

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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
RSS Feed

June 12, 2018

May 2018 Home Sales Review

May 2018 Home Sales InfographicBy Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

Just like last year at this time, prospective home buyers should expect a competitive housing market for the next several months. With payrolls trending upward and unemployment trending downward month after month in an extensive string of positive economic news, demand remains quite strong. Given the fact that gradually rising mortgage rates often infuse urgency to get into a new home before it costs more later, buyers need to remain watchful of new listings and make their offers quickly.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 3.0 percent to 1,323. Pending Sales were up 8.4 percent to 1,019. Inventory levels shrank 23.3 percent to 2,467 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 5.1 percent to $186,000. Days on Market was down 12.5 percent to 49 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 25.0 percent to 3.0 months.

Although home sales may drop in year-over-year comparisons over the next few months, that has more to do with love inventory than lack of buyer interest. As lower days on market and higher prices persist year after year, one might rationally expect a change in the outlook for residential real estate, yet the current situation has proven to be remarkably sustainable likely due to stronger fundamentals in home loan approvals that were in place a decade ago.

Get a more detailed look at May 2018’s Home Sales numbers and connect with a Realtor. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or simply stay in-the-know with what’s happening in Greater Chattanooga real estate, you can count on us to keep you in the loop.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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June 7, 2018

National Homeownership Month: Why Homeownership Matters

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

June marks National Homeownership Month, which recognizes the value of homeownership and its positive impact on families, communities, and the nation’s economy. This month allows a time to celebrate and promote the American Dream of homeownership and identify the many benefits of owning that roof over your head.

Most consumers know that homeownership is among the soundest investments an individual can make to begin building their personal wealth. However, owning a home is not just the best interest of the homeowner. Homeownership provides social stability, builds communities, and is a driving force for the national economy. Realtors care about our communities and are dedicated to advocating for the protection of private-property rights and making a difference by volunteering and securing grants for improvement.

Below are some of the benefits of reaching the American Dream:

Brings families together: Along with being more involved in their communities, homeowners are often active and connected to their own families. Family dinners and game nights at home could mean a more-connected, happier family.

Social stability: Improved educational performance, lower crime rates, and improved health are a few social benefits linked to homeownership. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth, which opens doors to more engagement in communities through volunteer work, involvement in social activities, and electoral participation.

Strong communities: Homeowners tend to stay in their homes longer than renters, dedicate more money to improve their home, and are more engaged in enhancing their community. Homeowners are often more invested in their home and their surroundings which leads to stronger neighborhoods and communities and increased interaction between neighbors.

Economic force: Being a homeowner also has a positive local and national economic impact. That is because homeownership creates jobs through remodeling, landscaping, lawn service, furniture and appliances, home improvement, and real estate services. When a home is sold in the United States, the income generated from real estate-related industries is over $20,000 and additional expenditures on consumer items is about $4,500 – a boom to the economy.

Home is where people make memories and feel comfortable and secure. Homeownership Month is an opportunity to reiterate that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream and enjoy the many benefits that come along with it. As your voice for real estate in The Gig City, Greater Chattanooga Realtors will continue advocating for our communities by working closely with public officials and doing our part to protect the private-property rights of homeowners.

Join the celebration on social media with #HomeownerHero and you could be featured by the National Association of REALTORS®. Learn more about National Homeownership Month and keep up with house-related tips, news, stories, and policy issues through Homeownership Matters (homeownershipmatters.realtor) and HouseLogic (houselogic.com).

For more information about buying or selling a home, contact Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® to speak with a REALTOR®.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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June 1, 2018

Rental Rates Rise Five Times Faster Than Wages

Apartment rental rates rose nearly five times faster than worker wages in Chattanooga last year as demand for rental housing continued to grow, even as more properties were...Keep Reading

Source: Article by Dave Flessner with Times Free Press
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May 31, 2018

Dreaming of a Vacation Home?

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

With the onset of summer and vacation travels, you may be dreaming of buying a vacation home. The beauty of a second home is that it’s a great get-away, as well as a good long-term investment.

To begin the process of finding just the right vacation home, look where you’ve vacationed before. Or if you are considering a new geographic region, rent a home for a season to make sure it suits you.

Think about what sort of vacation home you want – perhaps a cabin, a house, or a condo.  Condos come with homeowners’ associations, which have certain rules and fees but also offer many benefits that are often attractive for owners who are not always on the premises.

According to NAR’s 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, the typical vacation property is located 200 miles from the buyers’ primary residence. Investors typically purchase a second home within 20 miles of their primary residence. Despite inventory challenges in recent years, vacation home buyers have been active.

In listing the reasons for purchasing a vacation home, forty-two percent of vacation home buyers plan to use their property for vacations or as a family retreat, 18 percent plan to convert their vacation home into their primary residence in the future for retirement, and 12 percent because of low real estate prices and the buyer found a good deal.

For investors, thirty-seven percent purchased the home to generate income through renting the property, 16 percent purchased for potential price appreciation, and 15 percent because of low real estate prices.

Once you have a general idea of the area and type of vacation home you want, contact a Realtor locally to learn whether they also list in other markets. Or perhaps they can refer you to a peer in your desired market. Once you settle on a Realtor, ask how many vacation home listings they have, how many years they’ve worked in the business and about any particular specialties.

A Realtor can help you determine how much you can afford and will coach you through the personal and financial data you will need to apply for a loan. Additionally, a Realtor will be familiar with current real estate values, taxes, utility costs, municipal services, and facilities and zoning laws that may affect your property.

Ask your Realtor about renting your vacation home to others – he or she can advise you on potential restrictions, advantages and disadvantages, and tips for making your vacation home a premium investment, as well as fun get-away.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
REALTOR® Party VOTE. ACT. INVEST.
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May 24, 2018

President Trump Signs Dodd-Frank Reform Into Law

On Tuesday, May 23, 2018, The House of Representatives passed S. 2155, also known as the Economic Growth Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. Two days later, President Trump signed the bill info law. The bill rolls back reforms from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and promises to provide regulatory relief to credit unions and community banks. All signs point to a signature of the legislature by President Trump and passage into law. 

Key Points
• Additional tailoring provisions both via this legislation and through the regulatory process
• Tailoring that matches regulation to the risks in the system while promoting economic growth
• This bipartisan legislation is the product of years of work by Senators seeking common-sense solutions to help regular people access capital

What does S.2155 do?
• Increases access to online banking (MOBILE Act)
• Provides greater protection for senior citizens against fraud
• Enhances community leaders’ ability to increase mortgage credit access
• Promotes investment in local and state building projects
• Tailor's regulatory requirements to allow a greater focus on lending

Learn More

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May 24, 2018

The New York Times Spends 36 Hours in Chattanooga

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May 24, 2018

Greater Chattanooga Realtors in Nation’s Capital to Advocate Policy Issues Affecting Homeownership,

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

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® recently joined more than 9,000 Realtors® in Washington, D.C. for the 2018 Realtor Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo to discuss and advocate for crucial real estate issues on behalf of current and future home and property owners across the country. We also met with regulatory agency staff and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss and advocate real estate issues affecting the Chattanooga region’s real estate industry, businesses, and communities. 

The main areas of focus included several significant issues including fair housing, flood insurance, and internet neutrality. 

Realtors are the leading advocates for homeownership and commercial real estate, which is why it is so critical that we connect with lawmakers and ensure they understand the issues facing the real estate industry and their constituents – of which many are home and property owners. Supporting home and property owners through smart legislation and regulatory initiatives is essential to advancing our nation’s economy, as well as our communities, so Realtors are continuing the fight to keep Congress’s attention on the issues that impact real estate most.

While in Washington, Greater Chattanooga Realtors met with Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Representative Chuck Fleischmann on Capitol Hill to discuss and advocate for public policy decisions affecting Americans’ ability to own, buy, rent, and sell residential and commercial real estate.

When speaking with elected officials, we acknowledged the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and urged Congress to adopt sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, bringing it in line with the National Association of REALTORS’ strict Code of Ethics. Additionally, Realtors advocated for strong net neutrality protections; fought to extend and reform the National Flood Insurance Program; and urged Congress to index homeownership deductions for future inflation and permanently extend the tax exclusion on mortgage debt forgiveness.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors are proud to lead the way toward greater equality in housing opportunities and are committed to furthering policies that support sustainable and inclusive communities without discrimination.

During the meetings. we also heard from industry experts and leaders, including Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Mick Mulvaney, who spoke about the latest initiatives out of the CFPB, plans for improved efficiency of agency operations, as well as his perspectives on issues shaping the real estate industry. 

In addition, attendees heard from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, who discussed the nation’s commitment to fair housing during the conference’s General Session; U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri), who shared a personal story with attendees about the importance of safe and affordable housing for all Americans; realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale, who provided an overview of current conditions in the residential and commercial markets; Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator William “Brock” Long, who addressed a broad range of disaster and emergency management topics, such as National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization and federal disaster relief; and NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who shared residential and commercial real estate market updates and forecasts for the remainder of 2018.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors also had the opportunity to explore the latest industry innovations and receive the most recent information on the products and services from more nearly 100 industry-leading companies that participated in the trade expo.

Want to be the first to know when a Call-for-Action arises? Sign up for Realtor Party mobile alerts by texting the word REALTORS to 30644 (click here to sign up online). Learn more about the key issues in real estate and what Greater Chattanooga Realtors is doing to advocate for our community, www.gcar.net.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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May 17, 2018

April 2018 Home Sales Review

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

Many sellers and builders are in a good position for financial gains, as the economy continues to favor putting existing homes on the market and building new homes for sale. We are finally beginning to see some upward movement in new listings after at least two years of a positive outlook. There may not be massive increases in inventory from week to week, but a longer-term trend toward more new listings would be a good sign. Low inventory should continue to create a competitive situation for buyers, causing price increases over the next several months.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 6.1 percent to 1,202. Pending Sales were up 6.4 percent to 970. Inventory levels shrank 27.6 percent to 2,331 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 3.5 percent to $179,000. Days on Market was down 5.0 percent to 57 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply was down 30.0 percent to 2.8 months.

This winter and spring exhibited unseasonal weather patterns in much of the country. As the season change to something more palatable, wages and consumer spending are both up, on average, which should translate positively for the housing market. Being quick with an offer is still the rule of the day as the number of days a home stays on the market drops lower. If that wasn’t enough for buyers to mull over with each potential offer, being aware of pending mortgage rate increases is once again in fashion.

Get a more detailed look at April 2018’s Home Sales numbers and connect with a Realtor. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or simply stay in-the-know with what’s happening in Greater Chattanooga real estate, you can count on us to keep you in the loop.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432
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May 14, 2018

Tennessee Legislative Wrap-Up

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May 10, 2018

5 Must-Know Tips for Buying a Home in a Competitive Market

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

The 2018 housing market in the Chattanooga region is going to continue to be challenging for buyers as the market remains strong and there simply isn’t enough inventory. Fact: it’s a seller’s market. There’s no point in sugar-coating it. Homes are selling on average within three weeks and often staying on the market less than 48 hours. However, that’s doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to buy.

The reality of the high cost to rent and the prospect of mortgage rates increasing has buyers continuing to flock to the market. It’s important for buyers to be a little flexible when assessing their must have’s and have not’s so to power through the competition and find a buy a home they’ll love. Follow these tips to be closer to owning the home you want.

Get a Realtor. The resources, experience, and skills of a Realtor are priceless when it comes to buying in a seller’s market. Every detail matters, especially in a hot, fast-moving market. Working with a Realtor can make all the difference and save buyers lots of time and stress. Using a Realtor can make all the difference and get your name at the top of the list because listing agents are often more apt to go with a buyer working with a Realtor that is reputable and can get the deal done efficiently, especially if their seller needs to turn around and purchase a home quickly after the sale.

Get preapproved. Even with a competitive market, some homeowners begin visiting homes without a mortgage approval letter from their lender. Fact: in this market, preapproval letters are key to a smooth homebuying process. Anyone can make an offer, but a true bonafide offer has either a preapproval letter or proof of funds documentation. A preapproval means a lender has examined your credit and other expenses to determine how much mortgage you could afford given their underwriting guidelines. Submitting an offer with only a prequalification letter could sink your bid in a hurry because prequalification only shows how much a house you could afford based on income. Submitting an offer with a preapproval shows you’re a serious buyer, ready and financially able to close the deal.

Be prepared to make strong, flexible offers. Have your Realtor ask for the seller’s preferred closing date. Your contract may very well be accepted simply because of your flexibility on timing. In a competitive seller’s market, your offer not only needs to be complete, it needs to be clean. And clean means no contingencies. Try your best to overlook cosmetic changes a home needs that you can fix after moving in. In addition, if everyone else is offering 10-day due-diligence periods, and you and your Realtor are confident it’s a great home, make your due-diligence just 5-days. Little things can make a big difference.

Gather your best down payment. Present an offer with the highest down payment that you could reasonable manage. Sellers are more likely to accept an offer from a buyer with a larger down payment for a variety of reasons, including the belief that a buyer with a larger down payment is going to more smoothly quality for a mortgage.

Be prepared to make a quick decision. Possibly the most difficult part of a seller’s market is having to make rush decisions. Buying a home is typically the largest investment you’ll ever make but moving quickly can mean the difference in whether you get that dream home. Most buyers are only able to view a home once before decision whether to make an offer. One way to make those decision easier is to determine your priorities ahead of time and share them with your Realtor.

Connect with a Realtor to get off on the right foot in your home search. They will provide more tips for how to navigate our housing market and go from potential buyer to new homeowner. 

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.
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May 3, 2018

It’s National Home Remodeling Month

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

May is National Home Remodeling Month, a time of the year when many homeowners may daydream about sprucing up their homes to gain equity, resale value, or simply find more enjoyment from their property.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, many homeowners find the idea of a remodeling project too overwhelming to take on. In fact, 35 percent of homeowners in the U.S. said they would rather move than remodel their current home.

Yet, after completing a remodeling project, 75 percent of homeowners said they have a greater desire to be in their home; 65 percent say they have increased enjoyment in their home; and 77 percent feel a major sense of accomplishment when thinking of their completed project, according to NAR’s 2017 Remodeling Impact Report.

Realtors understand how remodeling a home can benefit the homeowner looking to sell, whether by impressing potential future buyers, increasing the number of offers or growing equity in the home. Interior projects, such as kitchen renovations, hardwood floor refinishing and insulation upgrades, often yield the largest financial returns for homeowners.

Realtors also understand that some homeowners undertake these projects to get more enjoyment from spending time at home. Here are four remodeling projects that scored a perfect Joy Score from consumers, indicating the greatest happiness from a completed project: 

Added bathroom: The desire to improve livability, especially as a family grows, often leads to home renovation projects. According to the survey, 6 out of 10 homeowners said they have a greater desire to be home since adding a new bathroom, and nearly 80 percent of owners feel a major sense of accomplishment when they think of their project.

Complete kitchen renovation: One of the most used rooms in the home, consumers oftentimes draw up their plans for renovating their kitchen first. Ninety percent of consumers have a greater desire to be home since renovating their kitchen, and the top reason for the renovation was to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials.

Closet renovation: A dream renovation for many consumers, renovating a closet to improve organization and storage was the top reason for 50 percent of homeowners who flipped their closet. Seventy-one percent of homeowners have a greater desire to be home since completing their closet project and 65 percent have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are home.

New fiberglass front door: Consumers have energy efficiency in mind for many renovation projects, with over 40 percent choosing to install a new fiberglass front door in their home. Consumers find that the most important benefit of a new fiberglass door is better functionality and livability, as well as durable and long-lasting results, materials, and appliances.

The 2017 Remodeling Impact Report surveyed Realtors and consumers who have completed remodeling projects. The report explored homeowners reasons for remodeling, the success of certain remodeling projects and the increased happiness found in the home once a project is completed. See the full report. 

Set yourself up for remodeling success by visiting www.gcar.net to connect with a Realtor who can help you make an well-informed decision on which remodeling option is best.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.
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April 30, 2018

Fewer Commercial Deals Will Need Appraisals

A new federal rule is expected to exempt nearly one-third of commercial sales from needing an appraisal. Under the new rule, commercial property sales of $500,000 or less are exempt from appraisal requirement...Keep Reading

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April 26, 2018

Local Resources for Spring Cleaning and Decluttering

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

It is finally beginning to feel like spring, but before going outside it might be time for some spring cleaning – especially if you’re planning to move to a new home. Decluttering makes staging, selling, and moving much easier – and less costly. The Chattanooga region has many resources locals can use.

The Habitat ReStore. In addition to building affordable housing in our community, Habitat also has ReStores located in downtown Chattanooga and Ooltewah. The ReStores recycle and repurpose new and used cabinets, appliances, lighting, hardware and other household items donated by local individuals and businesses. In short, they accept just about everything except clothes and mattresses. Items can be dropped off at the ReStores or schedule a time for items to be picked up. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that! Do you really need that waffle iron you received for Christmas five years ago that’s still in a box?

Area Food Banks/Pantries. Clean out your pantry while helping provide groceries to families in need. A quick internet search will show numerous neighborhood organizations and churches in our community that accept pantry item donations they distribute to those in need. For example, The Chattanooga Area Food Bank depends on donations to be able to continue providing hunger relief to over 20 counties in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia. From pasta and canned vegetables to instant oatmeal and powdered milk, help stock the pantries of others while decluttering your own. Also, if you have a green thumb and your garden produces more than you need, fresh produce is accepted too!

Brush, Plants, and Bulky Trash Collection. Whether spring cleaning, updating your home’s curb appeal before selling, or making updates to your new home, figuring out what to do with brush, plants, and old carpet and appliances can be daunting. Don’t stress! There are many resources available to help dispose of large items that can no longer be used. City of Chattanooga residents can call 311 or visit chattanooga.gov to find a complete list of items accepted for curbside pickup and directions on how to schedule a special pickup if you have a lot of items. Non-city residents can find many, free alternatives for drop-off locations that are most likely just around the corner with a quick internet search.

Recycle. City of Chattanooga residents can call 311 to schedule curbside pickup for cardboard, newspapers, plastic, and aluminum, steel cans and even some batteries. Materials must be placed in blue bags, clear bags, or covered bins marked “Recycle” and do not need to be sorted. Not a city resident? No problem! A quick search on the internet will provide many recycling centers throughout the Chattanooga region that will either pick up items or provide drop-off locations.

Whether you’re moving out, moving in, both, or spring cleaning, remember that there are many local resources available to help make things a little easier.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.
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April 19, 2018

Cybercrime in Real Estate

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

I have been working with buyers and sellers in the Chattanooga region for almost two decades. In real estate, every transaction involves multiple persons and companies – buyers, sellers, Realtors, title companies, and lenders to name a few – making it an ideal target for cybercriminals. Opening a bad link, sending personal or financial information in an email that’s not encrypted, and installing malware posing as antivirus software can quickly cause a real estate deal to fall through.

A few years ago I requested and received a new debit card from my bank. The same day, I received what appeared to be an email from the bank asking me to reset my password. You guessed it! I took the bait. Within five minutes of clicking a link to reset my password, my personal account was drained to 73 cents. The cybercriminals withdrew all they could without closing the account, so I wouldn’t be notified. I felt helpless. Fortunately, my bank replaced the money which took about two weeks. 

Here are a few tips and practical strategies to help you not become the next cybercrime victim.

Tip #1: Update Firewalls, Usernames, and Passwords. Regularly check that you’re using the most up-to-date firewall and anti-virus technology. Updating passwords often is a standard line of defense against cybercrime, but when is the last time you updated a username? When updating one, make it a habit to update the other. Word to the wise, if your password is “password” or “123456” it might as well be your bank account number as these are the most commonly used passwords.

Tip #2: Do Not Open Suspicious Emails. While this is a tip you’ve likely heard before, I included it because we can all can be tempted by a sly, well-written subject line. If you do not know the sender or notice misspelled words and odd characters in the sender’s name or subject line, don’t let curiosity get the best of you. Before opening, contact the sender via phone to confirm the email’s authenticity. Remember, it’s important to reach out to them via phone because their email could be hacked.

Tip #3: Do Not Send Bank Info Via Email. This includes banking details, routing numbers, and PINS. Regarding a real estate transaction, Realtors (and financial institutions) will almost never request or send sensitive information like this via email. If a circumstance arises in which such information must be sent via email, make sure the email is encrypted.

Tip #4: Damage Control. If your email or any other account has been hacked, immediately change the compromised usernames and passwords that are now vulnerable. Then, report fraudulent activity to the Federal Bureau of Investigation via their Crime Complaint Center: www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams. Contact friends, family, clients and others that may have been exposed to the attack. Realtors, report fraudulent activity to your state and local associations so they can take appropriate action.

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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.
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April 12, 2018

March 2018 Home Sales Review

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

The Greater Chattanooga housing market continues to show strength as we edge into what is arguably the busiest time of year for buyers and sellers. New residential real estate has been relatively slow in the first quarter of 2018, yet housing is resilient in a consistently improving economy. Much of the nation, Greater Chattanooga included, continues to experience lower inventory of homes for sale. With inventory decreasing, it’s increasingly important to have a Realtor by your side as your real estate expert. Realtors have an expanded search power with access to homes not listed on home search sites. Have your first decision of the home buying or selling process be the correct one: contact a Realtor.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 5.4 percent to 1,184. Pending sales were up 13.3 percent to 2,282 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 8.9 percent to $188,150. Days on Market was down 22.9 percent to 54 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 30.0 percent to 2.8 months.

The Federal Reserve raised its key short-term interest rate by .25 percent in March, citing concerns about inflation. It is the sixth rate increase by the Fed since December 2015, and at least two more rate increases are expected this year. Borrowing money will be more expensive, particularly for home equity loans, credit cards and adjustable rate mortgages, but rising wages and a low national unemployment rate that has been at 4.1 percent for five months is a row would seem to indicate that we are prepared for this. And although mortgage rates have risen to their highest point in four years, they have been quite low for several years.

If you’re considering buying or selling, I encourage you to contact a Realtor today. Greater Chattanooga Open House Weekend (April 21-22) is just around the corner and buyers are anxious for more inventory in the local market. Stay in-the-know with what’s happening in Greater Chattanooga real estate, visit www.gcar.net 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
ashley@gcar.net
423.702.7432

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April 5, 2018

You Purchased a Home-Now What?

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

Congratulations! With the help of a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, you purchased your first home, signed all the necessary paperwork and are about to walk up to your front door, keys in hand.

You are probably thinking, Now what? This is a common question new homeowners ask themselves when the time comes to settle into a new home. With all the excitement and work involved in finding a home, buyers may not have a transition plan or a checklist for the first few days in their new abode.

Some checklist items are as simple as steam cleaning the carpet while others involve familiarizing yourself with your home’s circuit breakers and water valves. Having a game plan for your new home will give you peace of mind and allow you to settle in quickly and stress free.

Here are important items to focus on during the transition into your new home.

Change the locks. You never know who else has keys to your home, so it is a good idea to change the locks on all doors. This will help you sleep at night knowing that you are the only person who has access to your home. Install new deadbolts yourself for less or call a locksmith to ensure proper installation.

Set-up service. This may not sound like a top priority, but it is important to contact local utilities and service providers, like trash pick-up to set-up a new account and avoid disruption. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the pick-up schedule for trash and recyclables to avoid garbage stacking up during the first week in your new home.

Know the circuit breaker. It is a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your home and label them accordingly. Consider calling a friend or family member to help: one person monitoring the power as it goes on and off and the other tripping the fuse in order to test the breakers.

Buy the right tools. It is likely you own the basic tools, such as a drill, screwdriver, hammer, level and tape measure. Yet, homeownership may require a few new ones you might not have needed before, such as a pry bar for removing nails, trim or tiles and a ratchet set for adjusting nuts and bolts in hard to reach places. When hanging pictures or shelving on the walls, be sure to have a stud sensor handy to detect studs, cables and ducts.

When you are a new to homeownership, the list of responsibilities can feel overwhelming at first, but with the help of a Realtor, you can be sure to transition into a new home in a smooth and hassle-free fashion.

If you’re considering buying or selling, I encourage you to contact a Realtor today. Greater Chattanooga Open House Weekend (April 21-22) is just around the corner and buyers are anxious for more inventory in the local 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.
Fair Housing Make U.S. Stronger
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April 2, 2018

Gov. Haslam Declares April as Fair Housing Month in Tennessee

April 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, and throughout the month we, along with Realtors across the United States, are commemorating this special milestone. Gov. Bill Haslam has named April 'Fair Housing Month" in Tennessee. We greatly appreciate Gov. Haslam's willingness to shine light on fair housing.

View the Proclamation

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March 29, 2018

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI

President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors®

For decades, Realtors - members of the National Association of Realtors - have supported a free, open market that embraces fairness and equal opportunity for all buyers and sellers. Greater Chattanooga Realtors strongly support the Fair Housing Act, legislation first passed in 1968 and now prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, and national origin.

This year, Greater Chattanooga Realtors join fellow Realtors across the country to embark on a yearlong commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act to raise awareness for fair housing issues. Our focus for 2018 will be on three key elements: acknowledging the organization’s changing role in the fight for fair housing, understanding how we as a nation are constantly improving our commitment to fair housing, and ways Realtors strive to lead efforts to address fair housing policy issues.  

While April is the month we make a special effort to highlight fair housing, it’s an ongoing effort for our members. Our Diversity Inclusion Committee is a standing committee. Their purpose is to promote equal opportunity and cultural diversity within the real estate industry and to foster an Association culture that embraces and celebrates our differences.

On April 3, we offer “At Home With Diversity,” which is a course that educates participants how to work successfully with and within a rapidly changing multicultural market. In addition, the course teaches about diversity sensitivity, how to apply fair housing laws in the real estate business, and ways to develop professional guidelines for working with people in an increasingly multicultural real estate market. Non-members are welcome to register by calling the Association office at 423.698.8001.

As your Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga, we continue to recognize the significance of the Fair Housing Act and reconfirm our commitment to upholding fair housing law, as well as our commitment to offering equal professional service to all in their search for a home or property. Realtors work hard to build strong communities and neighborhoods where all people can live and prosper.

Over the years, NAR has developed educational information on diversity and fair housing laws, programs and resources that have helped educate RealtorsÒ across the country on the importance of inclusive housing practices and the promotion of diverse homeownership. During the yearlong commemoration, NAR will further examine community fair housing issues and advocate for changes to the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fair housing protects the American Dream of homeownership for all citizens, and Greater Chattanooga Realtors look forward to commemorating the anniversary and supporting the development of healthy and diverse communities.  

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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

Update April 2, 2018 at 9:15 am: Gov. Haslam Proclaims April "Fair Housing Month" in Tennessee. 

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March 22, 2018

What Pet Owners Should Know When Selling a Home

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

Recently, I adopted a dog from a local shelter and began thinking of challenges pet owners face when selling a home. We all love our pets whether they be dogs, cats, hamsters, or rabbits – but that doesn’t mean potential buyers want to be greeted by them when viewing a home or see evidence of them when considering what home to put an offer on. Likewise, pets are our furry children and there are essential steps pet owners can take to ensure the process of buying or selling is smooth without disrupting routine too much.

Check your insurance. While the best option is to take pets on a little car ride during showings or have a neighbor watch them during an open house, it’s not always possible. And while you might be confident your pet would never hurt anyone, know that you could be held liable for any harm your pet causes. Make sure homeowners insurance covers incidents like these.

Prepare your yard. Potential buyers will likely take a stroll around your yard. Be sure to clean up scattered toys and dispose of any waste Fido decorated the yard with.

Repair any damage. If there are scuffs on the arm of a chair from where your cat likes to rub, strategically drape a blanket over it. Address any hair or stains on carpet and rugs throughout the home. That will not only help with odors, but will help potential buyers focus on the home rather than wondering what that odd stain is on the dining room rug.

Remove the odors. Along with regular vacuuming, scatter reed diffusers throughout the home to help mask any scents that will distract from the home. Keep fish tanks clean, litter boxes fresh (and hidden during showings), and wash all blankets your pet uses to lounge on.

Pets often determine which neighborhoods and homes buyers consider-whether that be the walkability of the neighborhood or a fenced in backyard. However, taking these steps as a seller, will help potential buyers picture themselves in the home rather than your pets.

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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

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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 www.gcar.net 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 www.gcar.net 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 www.gcar.net 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 www.gcar.net.

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 www.gcar.net 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 sfASK@thda.org.

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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 www.gcar.net/member-services/leadership-academy.

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

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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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

Contact: Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director
423.698.8001
ashley@gcar.net

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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 cdesanctis@realtors.org.

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 christy@gcar.net.

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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 www.gcar.net or email info@gcar.net.

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 www.gcar.net/about/community-partnerships.

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 www.gcar.net 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 www.gcar.net 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 www.gcar.net 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 www.gcar.net 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 www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.

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February 1, 2018

BECKY COPE ENGLISH NAMED 2017 REALTOR OF THE YEAR BY GREATER CHATTANOOGA REALTORS®

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

RON TUCKER NAMED 2017 GEORGE KANGLES COMMUNITY CITIZENSHIP AWARD WINNER

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

Description

  • 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

Exterior

  • 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)

Foundation

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

Pool

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

Lease Terms

  • Delete since there is now a Rental Property Type

Furnished/Unfurnished

  • Delete since there is now a Rental Property Type

Garage/Parking

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

Water/Sewer

  • Add STEP

Cooling

  • Delete Zoned Cooling
  • Add Geothermal

Heating

  • Delete Zoned Heating
  • Add Geothermal

Interior

  • 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”

Bed/Bath

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

Equipment

  • 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

Windows

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

Floors

  • 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

Fireplace

  • 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

Showing

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

Owner Pays

  • Add HOA Initiation Fee

Possession

  • 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

Documents

  • 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

Miscellaneous

  • 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 www.gcar.net 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® ANNOUNCES 2018 LEADERSHIP TEAM

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. 

PHOTO BY ERIN O. SMITH

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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…..at 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 www.nar.realtor/tax/reform .

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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 dbrandt@habichatt.org.

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 announcement@associationvoting.com 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.

HOUSEKEEPING

  • 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

OPERATIONAL

  • 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.

GOVERNANCE

  • 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 www.believe.build

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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 www.GCAR.net. 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 Homes.com 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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