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April 4, 2020

A Guide to Virtual Open Houses in Flexmls

What is a Virtual Open House? A Virtual Open House is a live walk-through and should not be confused with pre-recorded, virtual tours uploaded to the MLS.

How do I schedule a Virtual Open House? Virtual Open Houses are scheduled just as you scheduled an in-person open house before. Add the open house, choose “virtual,” and then place in the video link for the public or cooperating brokers to join in.

The following live web conferencing services are allowed by Flexmls:

  • Facebook Live
  • Zoom
  • Google Meet
  • Microsoft Teams
  • YouTube Live
  • GoToMeeting
  • GoToWebinar
  • GoToMeet.Me
  • Skype
  • WebEx
  • join.me
  • Whereby
  • BlueJeans
  • Zoho Meeting
  • NOTE: If you have a live web conferencing service that is not on the list, please reach out to tonya@gcar.net or rheta@gcar.net so we can talk with Flex about adding it.

Why can't I find a Virtual Open House in Flexmls that I schedule ot saw a few days ago? Any URL previously entered in the Virtual Open House field that was not a link to a live event was removed by Flexmls. 

How do I view a list of Virtual Open Houses? Upcoming Virtual Open Houses can be viewed in the same places where you are used to seeing open houses. When you’re viewing listings on the search results page, click the Detail tab, and then click the Open House link. For virtual open houses, a clickable link will be displayed in the new Link field. To search for upcoming tours or open houses, under Daily Functions on the menu, click Open Houses and enter search parameters. The link to a virtual event will be available in the event details.

How does the temporary Virtual Open House feature impact IDX? Any listing broker who does not wish to have Virtual Open Houses in their IDX feed should email tonya@gcar.net or rheta@gcar.net with that request and provide the names of our IDX vendor(s). In response, our MLS Staff will provide your vendor with a new feed that does not contain Virtual Open Houses, including those of the listing broker making the request.

How does the temporary Virtual Open House feature impact Syndication to the Portals (i.e., ListHub, Realtor.com, Times Free Press & Zillow)? Open Houses previously were in these feeds, so Virtual Open Houses will continue to populate on those portals, pending any programming required on their end to display this slight adjustment on our end.

Virtual Open Houses & Client Portals: Client portals are self-directed by the listing agent, so it’s up to the listing agent to determine what they send to clients they have set-up on portals.

What about branding? It remains a violation of the MLS Rules to include personal contact information in any public fields, so users cannot try to trick the system by entering a URL in public fields other than the Virtual Open House field, which only allows links to scheduled live events.

See additional resources at www.gcar.net/covid-19.

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April 3, 2020

RPA’s Temporary Plat Signature Process in Response to Shelter in Place Order

From the Regional Planning Agency (RPA):

In response to Governor Lee and Mayor Berke’s Shelter in Place order, the RPA will be temporarily amending the plat signature process for both Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga. In consultation with staff, the following processes have been developed. We will be batching plats together that need to be signed so that the staff can come in one day a week and sign the plats.

On Monday by 2pm, please send an email to lthompson@chattanooga.gov with a PDF copy of the plat that you will need signed. This includes staff approved plats and major final plats. This also includes any plats that are not typically signed by RPA, but might need signatures from one of our County departments. Please note that major plats may need additional time for review. For major final plats, Lisa Thompson, RPA Subdivision Coordinator, will notify you once the plat has been reviewed and approved by staff and is scheduled for signatures and recording.

Lisa Thompson, RPA Subdivision Coordinator, will create a log of the plats that will need to be signed that week and send notices to the review team of the plats that will require their signatures. You will need to have the plats delivered to the DRC lobby by the COB Tuesday to ensure it is ready for the staff to sign on Wednesday. You will not need to take the plats to the GIS office; they will be delivered to the GIS office for you.

The staff will come to the DRC to sign plats on Wednesday. They will only be signing plats that have been submitted to me for review. It is important that you send an email to Lisa Thompson, RPA Subdivision Coordinator, on Monday with the PDF copy so it can be added to the appointment log. Plats that are not ready to be signed will be sent an email from me with the reason the plat was not signed. It will be moved to the next week’s batch. Please make sure that you are double checking your plats for quality control issues.

On Thursday, RPA will retrieve the plats from the signing box and sign the plats. Once the plats are signed, the RPA staff member will take the plats to the GIS office for signing and recording.

A GIS staff member will call you to coordinate payment of the recording fee. You can proactively call the Register’s office and make your payment. Please keep a copy of your receipt and have it on hand so the staff member can get any needed reference numbers from you. Lisa Thompson, RPA Subdivision Coordinator, will call to collect the RPA review fee by credit card over the phone at a later date. Continue to work with City staff on paying the City review fee.

Once the plat has been recorded, you will be notified and the copies for the surveyor will be placed in a box located in the DRC lobby for pickup. This process will continue until the Shelter in Place order is lifted.

See additional resources at www.gcar.net/covid-19.

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April 2, 2020

Coronavirus: SBA CARES Act FAQs

From NAR: NAR’s Federal Advocacy team has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure the interests of REALTORS® and their clients are protected in any federal action in response to COVID-19. Many REALTORS® are small businesses, or work with them as clients. In the most recent relief package passed into law, the "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act" or CARES Act, there were significant provisions aimed at assisting small businesses during this difficult time. The CARES Act appropriates more than $360 billion total for new Small Business Administration (SBA) programs - the 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program loans and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) advance grants program.

Provided here are a number of Q&As to address frequent questions about who is eligible and how to apply for these brand new programs created by the Administration. We continue to learn more about these relief measures daily and will update this document as events warrant.

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March 31, 2020

The 2020 Census and How it Affects Our Community

Real estate is still happening, and the government is still happening too. Even though we are in these unprecedented times, we can still do our part to make sure that our community is represented by completing the 2020 U.S Census.

Most people know about the U.S. Census, but did you know that the Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution to occur every 10 years? The founders of this country thought it was important, and for good reason. The Census counts everyone in our country, and it determines how resources are allocated. An accurate Census is very important!

By now you should have received your 2020 Census invitation in the mail. If you have completed the 2020 Census, thank you!  If not, we encourage you to complete the Census immediately.

Our community benefits the most when the census counts everyone. When you respond to the census, you help the community get its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.

Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, and this creates jobs. Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.

Today more than ever we are witnessing the importance of counting everyone in our community to ensure we receive our fair share of federal funds.  It is important during this difficult time that we continue to support our community now and in the future.  The information collected from the 2020 Census will impact Hamilton County for the next ten years.

The deadline for completing the Census has been extended from July 31st to August 15. That’s the deadline to fill out the Census, but they have already started hitting mailboxes!  But, did you know that if you buy a new house but aren’t moving in until April 15th, then your old address is where you are living for census purposes? That means you need to check your mailbox and make sure that you’re counted!

The Census can also be completed at my2020census.gov. Regardless of how you choose to complete the Census, please take time to complete it today to make a positive impact in our community tomorrow.
Realtors are looking to make sure that our area is counted. That’s Who We R.

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March 31, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses

From the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship: To help small business owners and entrepreneurs better understand the new programs that will soon be available to them, we have created a comprehensive guide to many of the small business provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress. These programs and initiatives are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now.

When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain non-profits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

Interested in learning more about these loans? Download the FAQ here.

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March 27, 2020

2020 U.S. Census Invitation

By now you should have received your 2020 Census invitation in the mail. If you have completed the 2020 Census, thank you!  If not, we encourage you to complete the Census immediately. 

Our community benefits the most when the census counts everyone. When you respond to the census, you help the community get its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.

Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, and this creates jobs. Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.

Today more than ever we are witnessing the importance of counting everyone in our community to ensure we receive our fair share of federal funds.  It is important during this difficult time that we continue to support our community now and in the future.  The information collected from the 2020 Census will impact Hamilton County for the next ten years. 

The Census can also be completed at https://my2020census.gov/. 

Regardless of how you choose to complete the Census, please take time to complete it today to make a positive impact in our community tomorrow.

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March 27, 2020

Virtual Open House Turned “On” Temporarily & In-Person Open House Remains “Off” Through April 16

After further consideration of the March 26 decision to “turn off” the ability to schedule Open Houses through April 16, the Executive Committee has agreed to “turn on” temporarily the ability to schedule a Virtual Open House in Flexmls. Initially, this new feature was not enabled due to syndication concerns that the Virtual Open House links would appear on gcar.net, third party portals, and competing broker’s websites via IDX & VOW.

While the Executive Committee acknowledges the syndication concerns, they have determined that not enabling the Virtual Open House tool would be withholding a useful tool for serving your seller and buyer clients during COVID-19. For any managing broker or agent, who does not desire their IDX/VOW feed to include the Virtual Open Houses, please submit that request in writing to rheta@gcar.net and tonya@gcar.net.

As always REALTORS® should be mindful of the Code of Ethics and “not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS® have with clients.” As with in-person interactions and other communications, Virtual Open Houses are not an opportunity to solicit another REALTORS®’s client.

Real estate IS happening, yet in alternative ways. Discuss with your clients other methods and technologies to market properties and precautions to help keep our local market, as well as you and your clients, healthy. The Executive Committee continues to strongly discourage in-person open houses during COVID-19 and refer our members to NAR’s Open House Guidance During COVID-19.

As stated by NAR, “Consider how you may continue providing first-class services to clients, while also exemplifying REALTORS® as community leaders by demonstrating care for the health and well-being of clients, colleagues and the greater public welfare in reducing the risk of exposure to, and spread of, COVID-19.”

Additional COVID-19 Updates & Resources are available at gcar.net/COVID-19.

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March 27, 2020

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act: Provisions for REALTORS® and Their Consumers

The U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package on March 25, 2020 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The measure includes $349 billion for the Small Business Administration 7(a) loan program. Under the terms, businesses can get up to $10 million toward mortgage interest, rents, utilities, and payroll costs. A portion of these loans would be forgivable. Get more details here.

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March 26, 2020

Open Houses & Home Tours Disabled in Flexmls Through April 16

On March 20, the Executive and MLS Committees agreed to discourage in-person open houses during this time of social distancing. To bolster the message to members and consumers that REALTORS® are doing our part to prevent the spreading and contracting COVID-19, both the Executive and MLS Committees also decided today, March 26, to “turn off” in Flexmls the ability to schedule Open Houses through April 16.

Open house information will not be available for display on gcar.net or member public websites (IDX and VOW sites). Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is not banning our members’ ability to host open houses, whether you choose with your seller to host them in-person or virtually. Yet, the mechanism to schedule them in Flexmls (and have them appear on competing broker’s website) has been disabled, as leaving it “on” is contradictory to Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®’ position in this regard.

If you and your seller determine to hold an in-person Open House, you are encouraged to follow NAR’s Open House Guidance During COVID-19.

Real estate IS happening, yet in alternative ways. Discuss with your clients other methods and technologies to market properties and precautions to help keep our local market, as well as you and your clients, healthy.

As stated by NAR, “Consider how you may continue providing first-class services to clients, while also exemplifying REALTORS® as community leaders by demonstrating care for the health and well-being of clients, colleagues and the greater public welfare in reducing the risk of exposure to, and spread of, COVID-19.”

Additional COVID-19 Updates & Resources are available at gcar.net/COVID-19.

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March 24, 2020

Letter to Elected Officials Regarding Real Estate As An Essential Business

Date: March 23, 2020

To: Elected Officials Representing Hamilton & Sequatchie Counties in Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade & Walker Counties in Georgia

Re: Request to Declare Real Estate Services as Essential Businesses to the Economy

On behalf of the nearly 2,500 Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®, we commend you for your leadership and the incredible diligence during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We also thank your Administration for their hard work and dedication during this unprecedented time.

The timeline of this pandemic and all the potential repercussions are unknown. Our priority, like yours, is the long-term health and safety of our communities, our friends, and our neighbors.  In addition to health and safety concerns, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is concerned about the potential impacts this pandemic will have on homeowners and other property owners in the process of buying and selling property, and therefore on the overall economy of our service area. 

According to the latest research from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), each home sale in Tennessee generates $61,665 in economic impact while a home sale in Georgia generates $72,310 in economic impact.  The expenditures that result from a single home sale includes home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending, and title insurance.  In addition, NAR estimates that one (1) job is generated for every two (2) home sales.  Using that ratio, 1,000 home sales generate 500 jobs.  Obviously, a single home sale impacts more than just the individual(s) buying and selling that particular property.  Real Estate impacts the economy in ways that most people do not even realize. 

Similarly, industries assisting families seeking the shelter and security of a home be it for purchase or lease, must be considered “essential businesses” and all activity to acquire that necessity must be considered an “essential activity” to ensure the health, safety, and security of all our citizens seeking the shelter of a home.  There are residents in our area that have leases ending that unless their homes close, will essentially be without a home. 

With the possibility of shutdowns of local and state government services to come, we respectfully request that you minimize the potential interruptions to the real estate industry by declaring real estate services as “essential businesses” to the economy. These services, as previously mentioned, include, but are not limited to, title searches, permitting, inspections, construction, and especially the transfer and recordation of ownership.

The ability to close real estate transactions includes certain requirements and deadlines. The impact, both on the lives and finances of property owners, is substantial and can be avoided if essential services are allowed to continue. There will be enough economic harm from this pandemic without adding the shutdown of real estate transactions.  We are not asking for in-person open houses or to allow large groups to gather, we are asking that real estate services be included as an important and essential part of our local workforce and that Buyers and Sellers who have made all of the logistical and financial preparations to move into their new homes, be allowed to do so.

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® continues to closely monitor the situation and are providing guidance to our members to limit public exposure during the home buying process and providing tools to conduct business while practicing social distancing.  We are also willing to assist local governments in their efforts to keep real estate functions proceeding. However, if shutdowns are required, they may not be able to do so. Thus, we implore you to include real estate services provided by the public and private sector as essential services in any local mandates. We also ask that all services you deem essential be exempt from additional or stricter local restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We understand this pandemic will have an impact on the real estate industry and the economy, but a complete shutdown of real estate services would be detrimental to our economy.  If we can keep the processes running as smoothly as possible, we can work together to limit the negative effects on our community, its citizens, and the local economy.

Again, thank you for your service to our community and for your leadership during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Brandi Pearl Thompson
2020 President

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March 23, 2020

Beginning March 23 Staff Working Remotely To Serve Members

Beginning March 23, our Staff are working remotely until further notice. While our physical office is closed, our service to current and future members continues. We are available M-F, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and are equipped to work remotely to provide essential membership needs. Here’s how to contact us:

     Direct Lines/Emails: See gcar.net/about/leadership-staff/staff

     General Inquiries: Phone: 423.698.8001 | Email info@gcar.net | Fax: 423.698.8004

     Night Drop Psst! It’s the vertical slit w/in the left front door. NOTE: Mail and night drop items will be checked weekly.

These adjustments are inconvenient, yet necessary, as we do our part during this unprecedented time to limit social interactions to assist in “flattening the curve.” We love our members and are prepared to assist you, just not in-person. For Association/Industry Updates & Additional resources, visit gcar.net/covid-19.

FAQ

Is Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® closed? No. The building is closed, and our Staff are working remotely during our normal business hours (M-F, 8:30am-5pm).

What are my options for taking CE classes to renew my license? Our members rely on our classes to further their professional development, as well as ensure timely renewal of their real estate license. You are encouraged to consider our online education partners (see gcar.net/education), including The CE Shop, which is offering all our members a 40% discount when using promo code SUPPORT40 at checkout through April 15thNOTE: Any updates or extensions to this discount will be announced through other communication channels, along with any extensions from the real estate commission related to license renewal.

How do I apply for membership, lease an eKey, and/or make changes to my existing membership and related services? Our Staff can accommodate all the usual requests via phone, Email, fax, and our night drop.

How can I purchase items from the REALTOR® Store? First, please consider whether your need is essential. If you feel you must have the item before we re-open, contact our Staff, who will confer with our CEO to determine when a Staff member can go to the office to prepare your order and contact you when available for pick-up.

What action do I need to take if I am registered for a classes? Nothing. You will not be charged a no-show fee, and we will send additional information related to rescheduling with the option to keep the reservation on the new date or issue a refund, if applicable.

How will any necessary governance meetings be conducted? All governance meetings through March 31st were cancelled. Any meetings scheduled for April and beyond will be coordinated by the Staff in consultation with the Chair and Director Liaison to determine the necessity of the meeting, and if necessary, the alternate method for conducting the meeting. Please direct any questions about your assigned committees to your Staff liaison.

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March 20, 2020

Discouraging In-Person Open Houses During COVID-19

Our Board of Directors and MLS Committee strongly discourage in-person open houses during this time of social distancing. Real estate IS happening, yet in alternative ways. Discuss with your clients other methods and technologies to market properties and precautions to help keep our local market, as well as you and your clients, healthy.

We couldn’t say it better than NAR, “Consider how you may continue providing first-class services to clients, while also exemplifying REALTORS® as community leaders by demonstrating care for the health and well-being of clients, colleagues and the greater public welfare in reducing the risk of exposure to, and spread of, COVID-19.”

More details at NAR's Open House Guidance During COVID-19.

For related posts and resources provided by the local, state, and national associations visit www.gcar.net/covid-19 and check back often for updates. 

 
 
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March 17, 2020

February Housing Statistics & Real Estate Amidst COVID-19

As we progressed through February, the actual and expected impacts of COVID- 19 continued to grow, with concerns of economic impact reaching the stock market in the last week of the month. As the stock market declined, so did mortgage rates, offering a bad news-good news situation for those looking to buy a home, and perhaps refinance. While short term declines in the stock market can sting, borrowers who lock in today’s low rates look to benefit significantly in the long term.

The recently released Market Statistics saw a 20.2 percent year-over-year increase in showing traffic nationwide. All regions of the country were up double digits from the year before, with the Midwest Region up 15.7 percent and the West Region up 34.1 percent. With showing activity a leading indicator for future home sales, the 2020 housing market is off to a strong start, though it will be important to watch the spread of COVID-19 and its potential impacts to the overall economy in the coming months.

Locally, New Listings in the greater Chattanooga region increased 2.3 percent to 1,033. Pending Sales were up 12.1 percent to 938. Inventory levels shrank 21.6 percent to 2,175 units. Prices also continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 18.7 percent to $216,000. Days on Market was up 5.3 percent to 60 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 30.3 percent to 2.3 months.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Our fiduciary duty goes beyond serving clients – it’s also to serve the community. In light of the rapidly evolving situation due to COVID-19 we can do our part and embrace alternate ways to conduct business. And it’s imperative we discuss the current environment with our clients and look out for everyone’s best interest.

If riding together in the same vehicle for showings, frequently sanitize surfaces such as door handles and seat belt latches, and to ask clients to use hand sanitizer when getting in and out of the car. Discuss with the client alternate methods for viewing properties, including recorded virtual tours and Facetime showings.

Ultimately, it’s up to a seller whether they will allow in-person showings and if so, what additional measure should be taken at their property – sanitizing door handles and other surfaces, removing shoes or wearing booties, maintaining a safe person-to-person distance.

We must discuss with the pros and cons of open houses and assess the risk based on local and state health authorities. Just like with one-on-one showing appointments, there are alternative technologies for marketing opportunities. Some markets have eliminated open houses for now. If it’s determined to continue with an open house, it’s suggested to require all visitors disinfect their hands upon entering the property, limiting the number of people in the home at one time, and providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway and disposable towels in bathrooms after handwashing. After an open house, it’s a good idea for seller to clean and disinfect their home, especially doorknobs and faucet handles and other commonly touched areas.

These times are unchartered for the real estate industry, and we call can do our part to embrace alternate methods for doing business to help prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19.  Navigating a market that can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R.

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March 13, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Classes & Events Cancelled Through April 17 & Building Access Limited to Staff

In light of increasing concerns about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is taking these additional precautions to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus:

- Canceling or postponing previously scheduled classes, membership meetings, and events through April 17th

- Beginning Monday, March 16th, access inside the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®’ office will be limited to Staff and any necessary service providers related to building maintenance. While members will not have access inside the building, our Staff can accommodate members (and new members) via:

   Phone: 423.698.8001 OR Email: info@gcar.net OR click here for a staff directory

   Fax: 423.698.8004

   Night Drop is accessible 24/7. Look for the black, vertical slit within the left front door.

- Facilitating any necessary governance meetings by alternate technologies.

Our CEO and President made these decisions with an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our REALTOR® community. Our actions are in line with similar decisions made by NAR and other organizations and businesses across Tennessee, Georgia, and the nation.

Is Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® closed? No. Our Staff are on-site and working during our normal business hours (M-F, 8:30am-5pm). You will see the lights on and our cars in the parking lot, but access to the building is limited to our Staff and any necessary service providers related to building maintenance. We must be consistent in this regard to limit social interactions. Please respect this protocol and know that it is not personal, regardless of your familiarity with our Staff and/or your membership longevity.

What are my options for taking CE classes to renew my license? Our members rely on our classes to further their professional development, as well as ensure timely renewal of their real estate license. If your license renews in the not-too-distant future, you are encouraged to consider these online education partners, including The CE Shop, which is offering all our members a 40% discount when using promo code SUPPORT40 at checkout now through April 15th.

How do I apply for membership, lease an eKey, and/or make changes to my existing membership and related services? Our Staff can accommodate all the usual requests via phone, Email, fax, and our night drop.

How can I purchase items from the REALTOR® Store? Contact our Staff to place your order and pay securely over the phone with a credit card. When you are ready to pick-up those items, call us at 423.698.8001, provide your name and make/model/color of your vehicle, and we will leave your prepaid items outside the front door when we see your vehicle in the parking lot.

What action do I need to take if I am registered for a class between now and April 17th? Nothing. If you are currently registered for a class between now and April 17th, you will not be charged a no-show fee. Also, you will receive additional information related to any rescheduling and options for keeping the reservation on the new date. If there was a class fee and you do not wish to attend on the new date, your monies will be refunded.

How will any necessary governance meetings be conducted? All governance meetings through March 31st were cancelled. Any meetings scheduled between April 1st through April 17th will be coordinated by the Staff in consultation with the Chair and Director Liaison to determine the necessity of the meeting, and if necessary, the alternate method for conducting the meeting. Please direct any questions about your assigned committees to your Staff liaison.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact us by calling 423.698.8001 or sending an email to info@gcar.net. Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® will continue to monitor and reevaluate and work to ensure that members’ needs are met. Information about the virus is changing rapidly. Please review the additional information and relevant links provided in our March 12th post.

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March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Classes, Meetings & Events Cancelled through March 31st

With the growing concern across the U.S. related to the coronavirus, our leadership is keeping a close eye on developments that may affect our members and community. The safety of our members is a top priority, and at this time, the Association office remains open for business, M-F, 8:30am-5pm. However, we are taking steps to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus, which includes the decision to cancel classes, meetings, and events through the end of March.

Any monies remitted to take a class between now and March 31st will be refunded. Our members rely on our classes offering to further their professional development, as well as ensure timely renewal of their real estate license. If your license renews in the not-too-distant future, you are encouraged to consider these online education partners.

We will continue to monitor and reevaluate, as needed, and we will work to ensure that members’ needs are met. Information about the virus is changing rapidly, and we recommend that you stay up to date by visiting the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website. All of us should take proactive actions to help prevent the spread of illnesses, including coronavirus and the seasonal flu, including these precautions in your daily interactions:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has also released “A Guide for REALTORS®” with useful information regarding how this may be impacting the real estate industry:

What unique issues does coronavirus present to the real estate industry? When an infectious disease, such as coronavirus, is associated with a specific population or nationality, fear and anxiety may lead to social stigma and potential discrimination. REALTORS® must be mindful of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, and be sure not to discriminate against any particular segment of the population. While the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, that does not provide a basis for treating Chinese persons or persons of Asian descent differently.

May I ask clients or others I interact with in my real estate business if they have traveled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness? Yes, you may ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. To avoid potential fair housing issues, be sure to ask all clients the same screening questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities.

I typically drive my clients to showings. May I refuse to drive potential clients to see homes? Yes. However, be sure that any change to your business practices is applied equally to all clients. You may refuse to drive clients who show signs of illness or reveal recent travel to areas of increased risk of coronavirus, or you may instead decide to stop driving clients in your car altogether, and simply arrange to meet clients at a property. If you do continue to drive clients in your car, it is a good idea to frequently clean and disinfect surfaces like door handles and seat belt latches, and to ask clients to use hand sanitizer when getting in and out of the car.

Should I still conduct open houses on my listed properties? Speak openly and honestly with your seller about the pros and cons of holding an open house. Assess the risk based on your specific location, and direct your clients to local and state health authorities for specific information about the severity of the risk in your area. You could also propose alternative marketing opportunities for your seller’s consideration, such as video tours and other methods to virtually tour a property. If you do hold an open house, consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway, as well as soap and disposable towels in bathrooms. If you decide to do any cleaning at your client’s home, be sure to check with your client in advance about any products you plan to use. After the open house, recommend that your client clean and disinfect their home, especially commonly touched areas like doorknobs and faucet handles.

What precautions should brokers consider taking in their offices? Brokers should use their best judgment when formulating a plan. First, brokers should implement a mandatory “stay-home” policy for any staff member or agent exhibiting any sign of illness, and depending on where the broker is geographically located, a broker may want to consider imposing a mandatory remote work policy for employees and instructing agents to stay out of the office.  In addition, taking measures such as holding virtual meetings or potentially postponing or canceling in-person meetings or events may be good measures to take to limit close contact between individuals. Be sure to monitor updates from the CDC, as well as your state and local health authorities for additional information and guidance on holding meetings or events. For travel considerations, review NAR’s “Coronavirus:  A Guide for REALTOR® Associations”.

Finally, stay informed, and use your best judgment. The situation is rapidly changing. Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® will continue to update our members as new information becomes available.

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March 4, 2020

What The Dropping Rates Can Mean For Prospective Homeowners

This past week we had the stock market tumble and the fed cut the rates again. Many economists have theorized we would have a market correction in 2020, and with the election this year there is a lot of
unknown.

One thing we know for sure is that rates have dropped to some of the lowest we have seen in the last five years. While the supply of homes is very tight, interest rates dropping to under 3.5% allows purchasers more purchasing power. Observing the market, we can see that the median home price has increased $25,000 compared to Jan 2019 180,000 to $205,000. While prices have increased, this cut in rates can help propel the market and allow buyers to buy in a slightly higher price point and have almost the same payment.

If you have considered selling and are concerned that you cannot find a home, now is the time to contact a Realtor. Realtors network with agents, past clients, builders and could have someone that would sell if they could find the right home. The right home could be your home that isn’t currently on the market for sale.

We’re always looking for new ways to serve our clients and community. That’s Who We R®.

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March 2, 2020

Flexmls Help—You’ve Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers!

Have you ever been working in Flexmls and needed to know how to do something now but were unsure where to turn for the answer? Whether you’re new to Flexmls or a Flexmls veteran, Flexmls Help allows you to simply search for anything you want to know and answers will instantly appear before your eyes! Watch this quick video to get a preview of Flexmls Help and learn why you want to start using it today. Find it in Flexmls under Guided Help > Flexmls Help or access it from any browser by visiting help.flexmls.com.

OR

If video isn't your thing and you just prefer to read about some key features of Flexmls Help, continue reading below.

Get Your Questions Answered In A Snap

The homepage is packed with commonly asked questions to give you quick access to answers. If you don’t see what you are looking for, just type some keywords into the search bar.

Searching Made Easy

Easily search for what you want to know or browse through the help categories (categorized by page in Flexmls) to drill down and find your answer. You’ll instantly find relevant topics, accompanied by visuals, related videos, and even links to guided help tours in Flexmls.

Pro Tip: You can search directly from the sidebar in Flexmls Help. No need to switch back and forth to the homepage to run your next search.

Everything At Your Fingertips

They say knowledge is power. Become a Flexmls expert or easily learn something new on your own time, anywhere you have internet access.

Now what are you waiting for? Visit help.flexmls.com today and get all your questions answered.

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February 25, 2020

Having a Plan in a Fast Market

Wow! It seems to me and my fellow Realtors that the spring selling and buying season has started earlier than usual this year! With a historically low housing inventory, it’s more important than ever to have all your ducks in a row when it comes to buying or selling property. Here are a few thoughts if you’re looking at buying a home that will help you stay competitive and achieve your goal.

Whether buying an investment property or your first home, prospective homeowners should ask themselves what their long-term goal is, and how does this property help me achieve the goal? This is a great time to involve your local Realtor because of their market knowledge. Take the time to talk through these goals and see how they can help.

As you continue through this process, continue to ask more questions, such as, what is my goal in buying property? People may think they need to buy, but maybe the timing is off. Once you get through that process continue to ask more questions. Does buying this property move me forward, or is it a lateral move? Does this property stay in my budget? Does it help me financially, mentally and physically? Does it have a positive effect on my well-being?

Now that you have established your goal, you should ask more questions about paying for the property. Are you paying cash, or getting a loan? What is the best program out there? Many Realtors can recommend different financial institutions that can help in the homebuying process.

You have done the leg work up front to be prepared. You’ve found the property you want; now it’s time to place the offer. This market is one of the most competitive markets I have seen in my fifteen years as a Realtor. It is common for homes that are priced right to receive multiple offers very quickly. In Tennessee, it is not required for an agent to call for highest and best in multiple offers unless the seller has instructed. When your agent makes the offer you will want to instruct the agent to ask if there are other offers on the table. This would allow you to make the highest and best offer from the start. Another item to consider is the terms in your offer. Your Realtor can help navigate all the terms that could potentially appeal to the seller and can help you win the home. In this seller’s market, using these tactics can mean the difference between and accepted offer and disappointment.

Remember this market is moving fast. When in the market to buy a home, you will want to have your plan together so you can move quickly when you find your dream home. As Realtors, we are always there to be your trusted resource when buying or selling property. That’s Who We R®.

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February 20, 2020

Recent Amendments to MLS Rules

The MLS Committee and Board of Directors recently approved the following amendments to the MLS Rules and are effective immediately. For questions, please call 423.698.8001 and ask to speak with Tonya or Rheta in our MLS Department. Strikethroughs indicate deletions; underlines indicate additions.

1. Adopt NAR’s mandated “Clear Cooperation” policy requiring listings to be entered in the MLS within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) of marketing a listing.

Rationale: To address the growing use of off-MLS listings (i.e., pocket listings, withheld listings, delayed entry of listings), as such listings exclude consumers and undermine the REALTORS®’ commitment to provide equal opportunity to all.

Section 1.1 Clear Cooperation. Within one (1) business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public. 

Note: Exclusive listing information for required property types must be filed and distributed to other MLS Participants for cooperation under the Clear Cooperation Policy. This applies to listings filed under Section 1 and listings exempt from distribution under Section 1.3 of the NAR model MLS rules, and any other situation where the listing broker is publicly marketing an exclusive listing that is required to be filed with the service and is not currently available to other MLS Participants.

2. Shorten the timeframe for entering a listing from 48 to 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) of the effective date of the listing agreement.

Rationale: To be consistent with the timeframe required under “Clear Cooperation,” which requires a listing to be entered within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) of marketing a listing.

Section 1. Listing Procedures. Listings of real or personal property of the following types, which are listed subject to a real estate broker’s license, and are located within the service area of the MLS of Chattanooga, Inc., and are taken by Participants on an “exclusive right to sell” or “exclusive agency” listing form, shall be entered into the MLS within forty-eight (48) twenty-four (24) hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, of the effective date of the listing agreement. For failure to file a listing(s) within the required timeframe, the listing agent shall be assessed a fifty dollar ($50) fine plus ten dollars ($10) per day that the listing was not entered.

 3. No longer require a photo for a Coming Soon listing.

Rationale: Requiring a photo for Coming Soon listings is contradictory to the intent of using this status, as Coming Soon listings are not Active, are not available for showings by anyone, and are not included in syndication feeds. Thus, a photo is not required until the Coming Soon listing is changed to some other status.

Section 1.2.5. Photos. One primary image (i.e., photo, drawing, plat, survey or similar media) is required for each listing filed with the MLS (except Coming Soon) including COMP sales, unless written documentation requesting an image not be submitted is signed by the seller and submitted to the MLS. Said image shall be filed with the MLS within forty-eight (48) hours of the listing date. For failure to include a photo, the listing agent shall be assessed a fifty dollar ($50) fine plus ten dollars ($10) per day that a photo is not included.

4. Require the listing agent of a Coming Soon listing to upload to the MLS the required Pre-Marketing Addendum, which shall be a private document and only viewable by the listing firm and Staff. NOTE: The Pre-Marketing Addendum (available at Member Services > Forms & Contractshas been revised due to Item 2 above.

Rationale: To provide a more efficient way for the listing agent and Staff to confirm a listing is eligible for the Coming Soon status and to confirm the seller is aware of all the requirements and limitations of a Coming Soon listing.

Section 1.2.6 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:

a.  do appear when searching for Active listings;

b.  are not included in syndication feeds;

c.  are not included in prospecting matches;

d.  may not be shown to anyone, including but not limited to other MLS Participants/Subscribers, other real estate licensees, unlicensed assistants, clients and customers of the listing brokers or other licensees, and/or members of the public**;

e.  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 (see Exhibit A of these Rules) to confirm the Seller’s written acknowledgment and agreement that the above-stated provisions apply. Said Addendum shall be uploaded to the MLS as a private document, which only is viewable by the listing firm and Staff.

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).

 5. Require the listing agent of an Office Exclusive listing to upload to the MLS an Office Exclusive Addendum, which shall be a private document and only viewable by the listing firm and Staff.

 Rationale: To provide a more efficient way for the listing agent and Staff to confirm a listing is eligible for Office Exclusive status, and to confirm the seller is aware the listing will be filed with the MLS but not disseminated to anyone outside the listing agent’s firm.

Section 1.3. Office Exclusive. If the seller refuses to permit the listing to be disseminated by the service, the Participant shall take the listing as an Office Exclusive and such listing shall be filed with the MLS but not disseminated to the Participants. Filing of the listing should be accompanied by certification signed by the seller that he does not desire the listing to be disseminated by the service. Said certification shall be uploaded to the MLS as a private document viewable, which only is viewable by the listing firm and Staff.

 6. Clarify the original intent of who qualifies as Support Staffs and their eligibility to lease a Supra key; Allow photographers and home stagers to lease a Supra key, provided they join as an Affiliate member and maintain business liability insurance.

Rational: (1) Being designated as Support Staff originally was intended for those persons, who do not hold a real estate or appraisal license, are employed by a Participant or Subscriber, and are not eligible to apply for Affiliate membership. (2) To provide a route for photographers and home stagers to lease a Supra key and be the responsible party for use of said key, rather than “signing up” as a support person for more than one Participant or Subscriber.

Section 18.8. Eligibility to Lease a Key. The leasing of keys shall be limited to

a. Participants and b. Subscribers

c. b. Association Affiliate members, who are licensed home inspectors or licensed pest controllers, and

c. Association Affiliate members, who are photographers or home stagers, either of whom must submit proof of business liability insurance at the time of application and agree to keep said insurance current throughout the duration of their membership

d. d. Apprentice Appraisers

e. e. Support Staff, who are designated as such within the Association’s membership database and whose use of said key is restricted to keyboxes assigned to the Subscriber with whom he/she is affiliated, provided that the (i) the Support Staff is no less than eighteen (18) years of age; and (ii) Participant and Subscriber acknowledge in writing that a background check has been conducted on the Support Staff and all parties agree in writing to hold harmless the Association and MLS as related to the Support Staff’s use of his/her leased Key. For failure to notify the MLS within twenty-four (24) hours, excluding Saturdays, Sunday and holidays, of the termination or resignation of a Support Staff, the Participant and Subscriber (if applicable) shall be assessed a one-hundred dollar ($100) fine. Being designated as Support Staff is limited to those persons, who do not hold a real estate or appraisal license, are employed by a Participant or Subscriber, and are not eligible to apply for Affiliate membership as outlined in this Section 18.8 or in the Association's Bylaws.

A Keyholder shall sign a Key Lease Agreement prior to issuance of a Key by the MLS. Participants are prohibited from designating as Support Staff persons otherwise eligible to lease a key.

 7. Adopt NAR's mandated amendment to provide an “as soon as practical” timeframe for a listing broker (in response to a written request from the cooperating broker) to provide written affirmation that an offer has been submitted.

 Rationale: To be consistent with a recent change to the Code of Ethics, Article 1, Standard of practice 1-7.

Section 2.3. Right of Cooperating Broker in Presentation of Offer. The cooperating broker (subagent or buyer agent) or his representative has the right to participate in the presentation to the seller or lessor of any offer he secures to purchase or lease. He does not have the right to be present at any discussion or evaluation of that offer by the seller or lessor and the listing broker. However, if the seller or lessor gives written instructions to the listing broker that the cooperating broker not be present when an offer the cooperating broker has secured is presented, the cooperating broker has the right to a copy of the seller’s or lessor’s written instructions. None of the foregoing diminishes the listing broker’s right to control the establishment of appointments for such presentations. Where the cooperating broker is not present during the presentation of the offer, the cooperating broker can request in writing, and the listing broker must provide, as soon as practical, written affirmation stating that the offer has been submitted to the seller, or written notification that the seller has waived the obligation to have the offer presented.

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February 18, 2020

Advocates For Our Community

As a Realtor, my job isn’t just putting “For Sale” and “Sold” signs in the ground. You might be surprised to know that as the 2020 President of Greater Chattanooga Realtors, much of my time is spent being an advocate. In fact, I would say that Realtors in our area are not just advocates for homebuyers; we serve as advocates for our entire community.

Being an advocate takes many forms. For example, last week I was on a bus with other Greater Chattanooga Realtors, and we travelled to the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville. We joined an around 500 Realtors from all over the state to discuss crucial real estate issues on behalf of current and future home and property owners across Tennessee. These issues includes infrastructure, licensing, and unnecessary fees for homeowners.

Of course talking with legislators is one way to advocate for our community, but there’s another person who takes her advocacy to another level. Janice Robertson, a fellow Realtor, is an advocate for hungry school children in our area. She showed me a picture of a young boy searching for food in a dumpster at a local school, and I immediately understood why she does all the she does. Janice told me that she learned that one in four children are food insecure, and she wanted to help.

Janice and her husband started Snack Packs food ministry in their living room. Snack packs now feeds over 7,000 children at 19 schools. Janice saw a need, and she stepped up.

Last week our state association, Tennessee Realtors®, awarded Janice with the first ever Good Neighbor Award. This award recognizes the Realtors from all over state who make a difference in their communities. In honor of Janice’s work, our state association awarded Snack Packs $5,000. That will certainly help feed some children in need!

Janice is just one of our Realtor members who tirelessly advocates for our community. We have so many members who give their time and efforts; everything from Habitat for Humanity Builds to raising money to cure diseases.

Last year, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said that Realtors serve as ambassadors for our area; that Realtors are often the first face that people see when they are moving to the greater Chattanooga area. I believe this as well, and I’m so proud to be the president of an association that serves this community in such a meaningful way.

Realtors are the leading advocates for homeownership as well as commercial real estate, which is why it is so critical that we connect with others to 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 to engage lawmakers on the issues that impact real estate.

We’re always looking for new ways to serve property owners and for private property rights. That’s Who We R®.

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February 12, 2020

January Housing Market Statistics

We started off the year with continued low interest rates, low unemployment, and rising rents across the country. These factors should encourage healthy buyer demand and sets us up for a strong start to the 2020 housing market and a lot of optimism for the coming spring market.

For the rest of 2020, The National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun sees good news for home prices. “National median home price growth is in no danger of falling due to inventory shortages and will rise by 4%,” Yun predicts. He is also expecting the new-home construction market sales to increase 10%. Yun and others would like to see home builders bring more affordable units to market to help ease shortages and slow price gains in that segment.

In Chattanooga, New Listings decreased 5.6 percent to 1,022. Pending Sales were up 19.5 percent to 890. Inventory levels shrank 21.0 percent to 2,257 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 13.9 percent to $205,000. Days on Market was down 8.1 percent to 57 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 29.4 percent to 2.4 months.

It’s worth noting that Closed Sales (number of homes sold) in January 2020 was 26.7% more than January 2019. That’s a difference between 555 and 703 homes. The weather might be cool (depending on Tennessee weather), but the housing market certainly is not.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Navigating a market that
can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on
trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R®.

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February 6, 2020

Hamilton County Early Voting

Early voting for Hamilton County is from February 12-25. 

For location specific information: 

·         Brainerd Rec Center: M-F, 10a-6p & Sat, 10a-4p

·         Collegedale City Hall: M-F, 10a-6p & Sat, 10a-4p

·         Election Commission: M-F, 8a-7p & Sat, 9a-4p

·         Hixson Community Center: M-F, 10a-6p & Sat, 10a-4p

For additional information, visit the Hamilton County Election Commission.

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February 4, 2020

The Importance of an Address

This month marks my fifteenth year in the real estate business. While that may seem like a long time, I feel like I’m just getting started. I say that because this is my ninth year in truly doing what I love. Let me provide a little background into what I mean.

The first six years of my real estate career were spent figuring out the business and understanding all I could about real estate. Then, about nine years ago, my sister and niece moved back to Chattanooga. At the time, my niece was three and so excited to move into a house with stairs. She loved climbing up the stairs, never thinking about them and just racing up to get to her room and her space.

What I loved since that time is that I feel like I now truly get the chance to help my clients establish roots. These roots can help set their family on solid ground for many years to come. Now I see the impact that the stability of a home has for my clients and community.

Recently reflecting over that time got me thinking about the importance of having an address. Sure, an address means you have a home, but it is so much more than that. It is a sense of belonging to a community. It means you are part of the fabric and being of people – knowing where they come from and playing a role in where they are going.

An address is used every day, and most of the time we don’t even think about it. Yet, have you ever stopped to think of all that you cannot do unless you have an address? An address is needed to open a bank account and to register to vote. And address is needed to get a driver’s license and to register kids for school. An address is needed to get a passport and to have a safe place that you call home.

As we move into a new decade, we as a community face the challenge of ensuring the dream of a home to all. This home and this address are more important than we can realize, as it ensures the security of the future.

As Realtors engage with other community players to think about zoning codes, building codes, and land usage, let us keep it in the framework that all people want to have an address. As a community, we need to come together to ensure that the future makes available for everyone who desires to have a home – an address – to which they belong.

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January 29, 2020

A Look at National Housing Markets

In real estate, we hear and often repeat the familiar phrase, “Location is everything.” We all eat, live, and think locally. As a Realtor, I tend to focus on our immediate area. However, to get some perspective, I believe that from time to time we need to step back and take a look at housing from a national perspective.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported Wednesday that existing-home sales—which includes completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—rose 3.6% in December compared to the previous month. Nationally, existing-home sales ended 2019 with an increase in December, as a selling market remained strong and housing shortages continued at the start of 2020. Sales are up nearly 11% from a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, expects home buyer demand to remain strong in the new year. “We saw [2019] come to a close with the economy churning out 2.3 million jobs, mortgage rates below 4%, and housing starts ramp up to 1.6 million on an annual basis,” Yun says. “If these factors are sustained in 2020, we will see a notable pick up in home sales in 2020.”

“Home sellers are positioned well, but prospective buyers aren’t as fortunate,” Yun continued. “Low inventory remains a problem, with first-time buyers affected most.” Here’s a closer look at other key indicators from NAR’s latest national home sales report:

Home prices: Existing-home prices for all housing types was $274,500 in December, up 7.8% compared to a year ago. “Price appreciation has rapidly accelerated, and areas that are relatively unaffordable or declining in affordability are starting to experience slower job growth,” said Yun. “The hope is for price appreciation to slow in line with wage growth, which is about 3%.”

Inventories: Unsold inventory is at a 3-month supply at the current sales pace. Unsold inventory has dropped for seven consecutive months annually. At the end of December, total housing inventory was at 1.4 million units, down 8.5% from a year ago.

Days on the market: Forty-three percent of homes sold in December 2019 were on the market for less than a month. On average, properties remained on the market for 41 days in December, down from 46 days a year ago.

First-time buyers: First-time buyers comprised 31% of sales in December, down slightly from 32% a year ago.

Investors: Individual investors and second-home buyers accounted for 17% of sales in December, up from 15% a year ago. Investors make up the biggest bulk of cash sales, which comprised 20% of transactions in December.

Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales represented just 2% of sales in December, unchanged from a year ago.

So what does all this data mean for us locally? This data shows that as other markets experience appreciation and gains, Chattanooga continues to have notoriety for our job growth and affordability. Our housing market looks to remain strong and in some cases perform better than similar major metro markets.

As Realtors, we love serving our community. We help our clients and our community navigate a market that is ever changing. That’s Who We R®.

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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January 28, 2020

Ron Tucker named 2019 Realtor of the Year

Ron Tucker has been named 2019 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. Mr. Tucker 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.

Ron Tucker has been a Realtor® for 13 years, and has served on many local Association committees. These include the Budget & Finance, MLS, Community Partnerships, and Bylaws. He has served as Governmental Affairs Chair, and an RPAC Major Investor. He participated in the Tennessee Realtors® Spring Conference and Annual Convention as well as the National Association of Realtors® Legislative Conference.

Ron and his wife, Kathy, have been married 32 years, They have three adult children, and two grandchildren. Kathy, also a Realtor, was 2004 Realtor of the Year and 2019 Tennessee Realtors’ President.

Mr. Tucker was named the George Kangles Community Citizenship Award winner for 2017 in recognition for community citizenship with respect to active involvement in governmental and political affairs.

Ron and Kathy have been very active in animal rescue over the years.  They have helped transport animals across the country in efforts to rehome them. They have volunteered in numerous spay and neuter events, and Ron was able to secure grants from Bob Barker Foundation for their efforts. Ron also coached fast pitch softball for many years.

Geoff Ramsey, 2019 Chair of the REALTOR® of the Year Committee said, “Ron is engaged in advocacy at all levels of the REALTOR® association.” “He never has the first thought of receiving any type of recognition,” Ramsey said.

Upon being announced as 2019’s Realtor of the Year, a surprised and grateful Ron stepped away from the podium to hug his family who were an additional surprise to the award. “I’m usually not a man of few words, but I am now,” Mr. Tucker began. “I appreciate all your support, and I’m not done yet.”

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January 22, 2020

2019 Annual Housing Market Report

The Greater Chattanooga Realtors recently released their 2019 Annual Report on the local housing market, and 2019 was a very busy year.

The average sales price was just over $238,000, which is a 6.9% increase over 2018 ($222,852).
This increase might reflect a decreased housing inventory. 10,714 homes were sold in the Greater Chattanooga area in 2018, which was a 6.8% increase over 2018 (10,034 homes).

Inventory dropped slightly from 2018. In 2018, there were approximately 3.4 months of inventory, while that amount dropped to 2.6 months in 2019. Maintaining a consistent housing inventory is critical, which is why Realtors continue to work with our elected officials to make sure homeownership remains attainable and affordable for those in every income bracket.

The Days on Market (the average amount of time a property takes to sale) was 48 days. That is a slight decrease from 2018, which was 50 days. Just to give some perspective, the average Days on Market for 2015 was 80 days. In other words, in 2015 houses took 40% longer to sell than in 2018. That’s a fast market!

As for 2020, Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research at NAR, said the nation’s economic outlook is promising. “I do not foresee a recession in 2020,” he said, citing healthy consumer activity and job creation in every state.

Yun added that because the country has gone more than 10 years without one, some analysts believe the country is “due for a recession.” But Yun counters that theory, saying that current conditions are better than they were before other recessions.

“The U.S. is in need of more new housing,” he said. “Historically, anytime that we have needed to build, there was never a recession. This is an incentive for builders to start more construction. If they do, I think we will have at least 12 consecutive years of economic expansion.”

2019 was a busy market, but the Greater Chattanooga Realtors worked tirelessly for their clients in a competitive market. No one can be sure what 2020 will mean for real estate, but the Greater Chattanooga Realtors will be prepared to assist their clients; no matter what how the market behaves. That’s Who We R®.

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January 15, 2020

December Market Statistics

Nationally, 2019 was a hot market with home prices up in most areas. Buyer demand continues to be strong but with less seller activity in many locations. Total sales are lower than they would normally be in a more balanced market. New construction has been on the rise in 2019 and is expected to continue into 2020, but experts note that the country is still not building enough new units to meet the demand. It remains to be seen whether existing homeowners will be enticed to sell by higher home prices, which could finally bring the overall housing market into greater balance.

While up from their recent lows a few months ago, mortgage rates end the year close to threequarters of a percent lower than a year ago, helping to improve affordability and offset rising home prices. With these low mortgage rates, low unemployment, and continued wage growth, home buyer activity is expected to remain healthy into the new year.

In Chattanooga, New Listings increased 2.8 percent to 709 compared to December 2018. Year-to-date, New Listings were up 5.5 percent to 14,052. These figures are on track with local and national trends during the holidays, as December is when we see the lowest increase in New Listings.

Pending Sales were up 11.6 percent to 682. Year-to-date, Pending Sales were up 9.8 percent to 10,957.

Inventory levels shrank 17.7 percent to 2,340 units. Sellers saw decreased competition as Months Supply of Inventory was down 23.5 percent to 2.6 months. For comparison, in 2010 the Months Supply of Inventory was 11.1. 

Prices continued their upward trend. The Median Sales Price increased 10.3 percent to $215,000. The Average Sales Price increased 12.8 percent to $252,502.

Days on Market remained flat at 50 days.

Sellers saw decreased competition as Months Supply of Inventory was down 23.5 percent to 2.6 months.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Navigating a market that
can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on
trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R®.

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January 14, 2020

Election Information

Is Your Voter Registration Up-to-Date?
You must register to vote by February 3 in order to vote in the Presidential Primary and Tennessee/Hamilton County Primary on March 3. Please exercise your right to vote!

Register to Vote/Change Your Address

Not sure? Find out in a few seconds with Voter Registration Info Lookup

Need an Absentee Ballot for the March 3 Primary?

Deadline for absentee ballot applications: February 25, 2020

The Hamilton County Election Commission has begun accepting applications for the Presidential Primary and Tennessee/Hamilton County Primary on March 3. Ballots must received by the HCEC on or before Election Day in order to be counted. Request your absentee ballot.

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January 13, 2020

Texting & Email Scam

 Below are posts we distributed about a texting/email scam "from" people you know. 

 

January 13, 2020 - E-Newsletter

This scam has hit our market again in recent weeks. You receive an email or text from someone you know (i.e., managing broker, office manager) saying they are in a meeting and need you to purchase gift cards. They ask you to keep it confidential b/c they want to surprise the gift card recipients (i.e., fellow employees). If you fall for it and buy the gift cards, you’re then asked to provide the numbers on the gift cards, which the criminal can then use to buy whatever they want. In short, go with your gut and double-check before making such purchases. Otherwise, you’re out the money, and authorities say tracing from where these messages are coming is very difficult.

October 26, 2018 - Flexmls Login Screen

This scam first popped up in our market about a year ago and in recent weeks has targeted several of our members. . . You receive an email or text from someone you know (i.e., managing broker, office manager) saying they are in a meeting and need you to purchase gift cards. They ask you to keep it confidential b/c they want to surprise the gift card recipients (i.e., fellow employees). If you fall for it and buy the gift cards, you’re then asked to provide the numbers on the gift cards, which the criminal can then use to buy whatever they want. In short, go with your gut and double-check before making such purchases. Otherwise, you’re out the money, and authorities say tracing from where these messages are coming is very difficult.

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January 10, 2020

How Long Does It Take to Buy a House?

How long does it take to buy a house? A lot depends on how much time you spend shopping for one. But once you have a contract, nationally it takes an average of 50 days to close on a house (locally is sooner). There are a lot of steps to buying a house, and any of them could drag out the timeline, especially if you're not prepared. Houselogic, part of the National Association of Realtors has a handy home-buying timeline, broken down step-by-step, so you can be in control:

1. Do Your Homework. 1-14 days. Dreaming about owning your own home is one thing; making it happen is another. To get beyond the dream stage, you need to do some critical research to help you figure out what you do and don't want — along with how much can you afford.

It's mighty disappointing to fall in love with a house only to find out you can't afford it. A quick chat with your bank can help you avoid that heartbreak — it's called pre-qualifying. But it's no guarantee you'll get a mortgage (that comes later), only an indication of how much you can afford.

2. Find a REALTOR®. 1-7 days. Finding a Realtor who suits you is key to the home buying process. They should be your most trusted adviser. Look for one with intimate knowledge of your desired community. If they know the inside scoop, they'll know a great deal when they see it.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Loan. 5-8 business days. Getting pre-approved for a loan signals you're a serious buyer. Most Realtors recommend you have a pre-approval in hand before you make an offer, and they can offer recommendations for lenders. But pre-approval goes deeper than pre-qualification. It needs a ton of documents from you. Some tips to help make this a speedier process is to have all your documents for mortgage pre-approval organized and ready to go. You should also compare rates from lenders within a 14-day window. Credit bureaus will count all their checks as just one, which is good news for your credit score.

4. Shop. A few days to a few months. Here's where things really vary. There are so many variables. If you're set on a particular neighborhood where the inventory is low, it could take longer, or you could discover "the one" on day one. It all depends on what you're seeking and what's available.

5. Make an Offer, Negotiate, and Sign a Contract. 1-7 days. Work with your Realtor on price, contingencies, and other terms of the deal. To help make this step proceed smoothly you should include the pre-approval letter from your lender in the offer, and put down earnest money. (Commit 3% to 4% of the sale price instead of the standard 1% to 3%, and you might really put a fire under them. If you receive a counteroffer, respond ASAP. You don't want to give another buyer time to jump in with a better offer.

6. Get Final Mortgage Approval. A few days to 3 weeks. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage doesn't automatically mean you get a loan on the home you have under contract. The lender has a few other requirements once the home is chosen, such as an inspection and appraisal. And they'll want to see even more current copies of your financial documents. From this point on, the steps to buying a house will often overlap, so you'll have several wheels in motion.

7. Get a Home Inspection. 3-7 days to schedule; 2-3 hours to inspect. As soon as your contract is accepted, contact an inspector to get on their books. The inspection itself will only take two or three hours, and typically they can get the report to you quickly. Many inspectors take pictures and fill out the report as they go, then send it to your inbox within hours of completion. But it can take up to a couple of days if they're backed up.

If the inspection turns up issues, it can cause some delays. This can range from a day or two to renegotiate, or longer if, for example, you have an FHA loan that requires certain safety standards. A home with peeling lead paint may need to be repainted, which can take weeks.

8. Get a Home Appraisal. Up to 5 days to schedule; a few hours to do the appraisal; up to 5 business days to get the report to the lender. The appraisal is key to getting a mortgage. If the home fails to appraise for the mortgage amount, you may have to put more down or renegotiate the contract. That's why you want to line up an appraiser as soon as you have a house under contract. And unlike the home inspection, this report goes to the lender instead of you and takes longer because the appraiser has to do additional research on what homes are selling for in the area.

9. Get Title Insurance. 1-3 business days for title check; 2 weeks for insurance policy. Your title company will perform the check, which means they'll look at deeds and other documents to make sure you will own the home free and clear of any liens or former claims to the property.

10. Get Homeowners Insurance. Up to 2 weeks. Your insurance company may send someone out to assess the property for potential risks, which can take several days. And your mortgage lender may require other types of coverage, such as flood insurance.

11. Arrange for Closing Funds. A few minutes to a few days. Find out from your Realtor whether you need to bring a cashier's or certified check or transfer funds digitally. Transfer the funds to the right account, and get your money ready to release. If you ever receive wiring instructions by email, call your agent or lender to confirm one of them sent it. Call the phone number you have on record for your agent, not the one listed in the suspect email.

12. Conduct a Final Walk-Through. 1 hour, the day of or day before closing. This is your chance to make sure the sellers made any agreed-upon repairs and left the property in as good (or better!) condition than the last time you saw it.

13. Close on the House. 50 days on average; 1-2 hours to actually sign the paperwork. Each step after you've got a contract on a home is part of the closing process. And that process, which includes getting the loan, inspection, appraisal, title, insurance, etc., takes the average home buyer about six weeks.

When it's time for the main event, bring your photo ID, and stretch your hand muscles; you've got a lot of signing to do! But getting the keys takes hardly any time at all.

Buying a home can be a complicated process, but Realtors serve our clients and community to make the process as seamless as possible. That’s Who We R®.

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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January 1, 2020

Looking to 2020

With each new year comes a time of reflection and planning, both personally and professionally. As I take over the reins from 2019 President Kim Bass, I am grateful for her leadership and excited to be part of the ever-evolving role that Realtors play nationally and in our local communities.

As Greater Chattanooga Realtors looks towards to what the future holds for real estate, I am reminded of recent comments by the Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors®, Lawrence Yun, who gave his 2020 projections during Commercial Economic Issues & Trends Forum in November.

“I do not foresee a recession in 2020,” said Yun, citing healthy consumer activity and job creation. Yun added that because the country has gone more than 10 years without one, some analysts believe the country is “due for a recession.” But Yun counters that theory, saying that current conditions are better than they were before other recessions.

“The U.S. is in need of more new housing,” he said. “Historically, anytime that we have needed to build, there was never a recession. This is an incentive for builders to start more construction. If they do, I think we will have at least 12 consecutive years of economic expansion.”

Kenneth T. Rosen, chairman of the Rosen Consulting Group, slightly disagreed with Yun’s outlook. “I think there is a rising risk of recession. If some things go wrong, we could get a recession,” he said. Rosen said failing to form a truce with China over tariffs, combined with political ramifications in the 2020 presidential election, could spur a decline of some sort.

After the year-end numbers come in for 2019, we will be able to analyze better what we might expect nationally and locally for the housing market. In addition to national efforts, Greater Chattanooga Realtors will continue to work with local decision-makers on issues that impact housing affordability and inventory.

I’m very thrilled to lead the Greater Chattanooga Realtors® in 2020, and I’m excited about serving our members and our community. That’s Who We R®.

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December 23, 2019

Delightful Ways to Make Your House Brighter in Winter

Fall and winter start cozy — who hasn't used the colder temperatures as an excuse to binge-watch Netflix while swaddled in a couch blanket? But come January, staying indoors can feel less like a treat and more like you're living in a cave. Houselogic.com, a helpful site from the National Association of Realtors®, has some tips to make your house lighter, brighter, and cheerier with more natural light indoors.

Take the Screens Off Your Windows. Here's the best part: Sunlight warms your room and saves you money on your heating bill. It's solar power — for you! Be sure to store your screens in your garage or basement where they won't get damaged. In the spring you'll want to put them back on so you can keep that 30% of the sun out and run your cooling system less.

Hang Outdoor String Lights Indoors. Drape them around a window or a mantel, or hang a string of LED glimmer lights in a tall potted plant. They'll add a layer of soft light to your room and remind you of fireflies, flip-flops, and patio parties.

Steal a Little Swedish Chic. Scandinavians excel at making a home light and airy because they've got places where the sun doesn't rise at all from November to January. And you thought you had it bad.
To adapt to weeks and weeks of polar night, Swedes keep interiors pale to reflect and amplify light.
Think white walls, light woods for furniture and floors, and light upholstery. To get the look without getting rid of your dark furniture and floors, put white or light gray slipcovers on your sofa and chairs, and put down light-colored rugs. The fastest way to bring a little Sweden into your room is to paint it. Try creamy white, pale blue, or dove gray.

Change Your Bulbs. Replace those incandescent bulbs and their yellowy light with LEDs, which produce a brighter, whiter light. But to get your bright right, take note that the higher the K rating on the bulb, the cooler and whiter its light. For cool, white light, opt for a bulb rated 3,500K to 4,100K, and for blue-white light that's closest to natural daylight, use a bulb between 5,000K and 6,500K.
You may want to leave the uber-high K bulbs for grow rooms and seasonal affective disorder therapy clinics — because they're as bright as real sunlight on a hot summer day at noon. You'll need sunglasses to read.

Hang Mirrors. Make the most of that weak winter light by bouncing it around the room with mirrors.
If you don't want the distraction of seeing your reflection all the time, use a large, convex one — also known as a fish-eye mirror. It will amplify light better than a flat one. Another option: Hang a gallery wall of small mirrors.

Replace Heavy Curtains With Blinds or Roman Shades. Fabric curtains, while quite insulating, block light and make a room feel smaller and more cramped, especially if they're a dark color or have a large print. Try Roman shades or a simple valance paired with blinds to let in the maximum amount of natural light.

Trim Branches and Bushes That Block Light. If you look out your windows and see the tops of your bushes, grab your pruning shears and get whacking. You don't want anything blocking that precious natural light. Same for tree limbs that may be arching down and blocking windows. Cut them off.

Clean Your Windows. Dirty windows block a lot of natural light. Admit it. Yours are kind of cruddy because who remembers to block out an afternoon to clean the windows? So get it on your list. Clean the glass inside at least once a month and the glass outside once a year. Your serotonin level will thank you.

Swap Your Solid Front Door for One With Glass Inserts. A solid front door can make your house look and feel as dark as a dungeon. Get rid of it and install a half-light or full-light door that lets the natural light stream in. For even more natural light, add glass sidelights and a glass transom.

The median cost of a new door is $2,000 for steel and $2,500 for fiberglass, before any extras, but a new door will add curb appeal. Curb appeal equals higher resale value. And coming home in the evening to the warm glow of light radiating out the glass panels in your front door is an instant mood lifter.

Add a Skylight. It's the ultimate way to bring more natural light into your house. A window only catches sun for a couple of hours a day, but a skylight lets in the sun all day. An indoor view of the sky makes deepest January more tolerable. And feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, light streaming from above, is liberating. A skylight, installed, can cost as much as $3,000. A cheaper alternative is a tubular skylight, which costs around $1,000. If you're really good with tools, you can install a tubular skylight yourself.

Add Plants. Putting pots of plants around your room will remind you that spring and green will return. Match plants to the amount of light you have, because dead and dying plants are depressing. Tropicals that thrive in indirect light are usually the best choice. If you have a sunny window you've got more plant options. Bonus points for adding a plant that blooms in the winter, like a kaffir lily or anthurium.

Realtors are glad to help our clients and community get the most enjoyment out of their property investment. That’s Who We R®.

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December 17, 2019

November 2019 Market Statistics

In November, the Federal Reserve reduced its benchmark rate for the third time this year. This action was widely anticipated by the market. Mortgage rates have remained steady this month but still are down more than 1 percent from last year at this time. Residential new construction activity continues to rise nationally. The U.S. Commerce Department reports that new housing permits rose 5% in October to a new 12-year high of 1.46 million units.

While many economic signs are quite strong, total household debt has been rising for twenty-one consecutive quarters and is now $1.3 trillion higher than the previous peak of $12.68 trillion in 2008. While delinquency rates remain low across most debt types (including mortgages), higher consumer debt loads can limit future household spending capability and increase risk if the economy
slows down.

Locally, New Listings in our area increased 8.7 percent to 926, compared to November 2018. For year-to-date, that puts New Listings at 5.7 percent increase to 13,341.

Pending Sales were up 30.2 percent to 846 for November, with a year-to-date increase of 9.7 percent with 10,283 Pending Sales.

Inventory levels shrank 15.5 percent to 2,656 units. Inventory concerns are looking to persist into 2020, which is a sentiment echoed by NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Real estate is on firm ground with little chance of price declines,” said. “However, in order for the market to be healthier, more supply is needed to assure home prices as well as rents do not consistently outgrow income gains.”

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 13.2 percent to $215,000. Days on Market was up 2.0 percent to 50 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 23.7 percent to 2.9 months.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Navigating a market that
can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on
trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R®.

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December 10, 2019

2019 In Review

As the end of the year approaches, I wanted to take a few lines to reflect on my year as the 2019 President of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors®.  Time flies, and I think it’s important to look back at all the work that has been done.

In February, I was honored to address the Hamilton County Commission to recognize two of our members -- Robert Backer and Becky Cope English -- for their outstanding leadership. These two REALTORS® are very engaged in the association, as well as our community and advocacy efforts. I’ve seen firsthand that this type of engagement makes a positive impact homebuyers in our community.

Educating our members has been a particular area of focus for me this year. Our association embraced a new program from the National Association of Realtors called the Commitment to Excellence (C2Ex) certification. This program allows our members to show that we’re dedicated to highest levels of expertise, service, and professionalism. C2Ex is just one of the many ways the Greater Chattanooga Realtors® are constantly improving our skills for our clients.

As Realtors, we think the Realtor® Code of Ethics is a pretty big deal. It is 17 articles that go in depth as to how exactly we serve consumers and how we conduct our business. The Code sets us apart. We are bound to our Code of Ethics. In June, our association was pleased to participate in National Code of Ethics day along with other associations across the country.

As we kept up to date with Ethics training, we also held the first ever Education Blitz. This was an all day event that featured nationally renowned speakers and instructors. Our members developed new skills to help bring their service to another level.

Helping others is important to me, and it is for the Greater Chattanooga Realtors as well. Working with an organization like Habitat for Humanity was really special. Our Realtor members worked on four houses over two weekends to help Habitat provide homes for those in need. It was great to see my fellow Realtors working together to make our community stronger.

Helping our local schoolchildren has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my tenure. Through the partnership that the Greater Chattanooga Realtors® has with Snack Packs, we have been able to touch a lot of lives. Snack Packs provides this much needed assistance to 19 area schools. Snack Packs provides food for area school children who are food insecure. We continued our commitment to Snack Packs by donating $10,000. To further help Snack Packs, we held a trivia fundraiser that raised an additional $53,000. Talk about making a difference!

As President, I’ve had many, many full days, night, and weekends. I am so thankful for my loving family for understanding how much of a commitment it is to be an association president.

As I pass the gavel to Brandi Pearl Thompson in 2020, I can think of no other person better suited to guide our association. She will be a great leader of a great association, and I look forward to all her fresh ideas.

Serving as president of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors this past year has been such an honor and privilege. I am grateful to serve this association and this community. Realtors serve and lead every day.  That’s Who We R®.

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December 3, 2019

Checklist For Getting Your House Guest-Ready

It feels great to have a clean, organized, well-functioning home when you’ve got guests coming, especially around the holidays. It’s like your gift to you. Use this checklist from the National Association of REALTORS® to get that satisfying feeling, no matter how much time you have.

Three (or More) Weeks to Go. Think big picture. Get anything that requires a pro or installation out of the way now. No one wants calamity to strike when guests are pulling into the driveway.
• Get your HVAC maintained if it’s overdue.
• If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it now. An oven is most likely to break down during the cleaning cycle, so don’t save this task for last.
• Replace any appliance on its last legs. You don’t want your hot water to go out or fridge on the fritz with a houseful of guests.
• Steam-clean upholstery. (Or hire a pro. It’s a big job)
• Hire a handyman for those repairs you’ve been putting off.
• Check outdoor lighting. Replace old bulbs and call an electrician to address any bigger issues.

Two Weeks to Go. It’s not panic time yet. Focus on decluttering and a few deep-cleaning tasks now, and you’ll have a more manageable to-do list when the clock really starts ticking down.
• Do a deep declutter. It’ll make things easier to keep clean.
• Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, and high-up shelves.
• Wipe down baseboards.
• Clean out and organize the fridge.
• Wash windows to make the entire house feel brighter and cleaner.
• Toss washable shower curtains and drapes in the washing machine and re-hang. Easy.

One Week to Go. It’s strategic cleaning time. Here’s what to tackle now — things your family won’t easily undo before your guests arrive.
• Declutter again.
• Vacuum and dust guest rooms. If they’re low-traffic, the cleanliness should hold with just a quick wipe-down right before they arrive.
• Wipe down walls.
• Wipe down kitchen and dining room chairs and tables, including the legs. You’d be surprised how grimy they get.
• Deep clean the entryway — and make room for your guests’ stuff.

72 Hours to Go. The final cleaning stretch is on the horizon.
• Do another declutter.
• In the kitchen, toss stove burners, drip pans, and knobs into the dishwasher for an easy deep clean.
• Wash kitchen cabinet fronts.
• Scrub the kitchen floor.
• Clean and shine appliances.


48 Hours to Go. Now it’s time to get serious.
• Clean and sanitize garbage cans to banish mystery smells.
• Wipe down doorknobs, faceplates, and light switches. They’re germ magnets.
• Clean the front door.
• Deep clean the bathroom your guests will use, and close it off if possible.
• Wash guest towels and linens.

24 Hours to Go. Your guests’ bags are packed. Time for final touches.
• Do a final declutter - by now it shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
• Give one final wipe-down to toilets, tubs, and bathroom sinks.
• And another final wipe-down in the kitchen.
• Do all the floors: mop, vacuum, sweep, etc.
• Make guest beds and set out clean towels.
• Plug in nightlights in guest baths.
• Put out guest toiletries so they’re easy to find.
• Add a coffee or tea station in the guest room or kitchen.
• Get your favorite smell going, whether it’s a scented candle, spices in water on the stove, or essential oils.
• Use rubber gloves to wipe off pet hair and dust from furniture. It works.
• Do the full red carpet: Sweep or shovel porch, steps, and outdoor walkways.

With this countdown roadmap, you’ll have a perfectly clean guest-ready home, no matter how much (or little) time you have. We work with our clients and communities all throughout the year. That’s Who We R®.

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December 2, 2019

2020-21 MLS Committee Candidates Announced

The MLS Nominating Committee is pleased to present the following ballot for the 2020-2021 MLS Committee:

Participants (3 open positions)

  • Becky Cope English (Scout Realtor Group)
  • Tim Haralson (Haralson & Associates)
  • Diane Burke (Real Estate Partners)
  • John Martin (Fletcher Bright Realty)
  • Skip Williams (Tri-State Appraisal Service)

Subscribers (1 open position)

  • Bev Boss (RE/MAX Renaissance)
  • Erik Palmer (Crye-Leike)
  • Nathan Walldorf (The Group Real Estate Brokerage)

Online voting (among the MLS Participants AKA  Managing Brokers) will begin December 17 and run through December 23. On December 17, all MLS Participants will receive an email from Announcement@AssociationVoting.com. The email will contain your unique, secure voting credentials and a link to the online voting for the 2020-2021 MLS Committee.

Those elected will serve alongside the following persons, who have been appointed and/or are returning to complete the second year of their two-year term:

  • 2020 Chair Jennifer Grayson
  • 2020 Vice Chair Barry Hamilton
  • Participants: Robert Backer, Jennie Brockman, Gil Milton, and Shel Thomas
  • Subscriber: Brian Erwin
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November 26, 2019

Hosting For the Holidays: Home Features for Entertaining

Do you dream of hosting the perfect family Christmas celebration? Is it your fantasy to throw a New Year’s party that all of your friends remember? If you are currently house hunting, these are things you should let your Realtor® know.

Realtors work every day to help their clients find the ideal house that feels like home. If to you, home is where you invite your friends and family to celebrate the holidays, then your Realtor will help find you the perfect home in which to make those memories.

But what exactly is the perfect home for hosting holiday parties? You need to ask yourself, “What kind of parties do I want to host?” and “How do I plan on entertaining my guests?” Once you have a vision, your Realtor can help identify homes to help make it a reality. Here are a few things to consider when looking for your perfect holiday-hosting home.

Size of Parties: When you throw a party does your invitation list usually consist of three or four people or 10 or more people?  If your get-togethers tend to have guests numbering in the double digits, you will want to look for a home with larger living and dining rooms or outdoor space. Otherwise, be prepared to move some furniture around to make more space.

Open or Closed Kitchen: Do you like the idea of interacting with your guests while you prepare the party food, or do you prefer to keep the cooking behind closed doors? An open kitchen layout means your living room or dining room will flow directly into the kitchen, so you can still be a part of your party while you prep and cook.  If you tend to make a mess when you cook and would rather keep it hidden then a closed kitchen is for you.

Kitchen Island: If you enjoy making food preparation an aspect of the gathering, an island is a must-have for your dream party house. An island is not only an excellent way to add more prep space to your kitchen. It’s a place to sit and chat with your guests, decorate cookies or mix drinks.

Dining Room: If you envision a sit-down dinner being the main draw of your holiday party then a formal dining room should be on your list of must-haves. Consider how large a dining room and table you will need to seat your desired number of guests. It’s always a good idea to bring a measuring tape with you to a showing, that way you can know for sure the table that fits your guests will actually fit the room.

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. Realtors work with their clients to make their homebuying dreams a reality. That’s Who We R®.

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November 22, 2019

NAR Approves Clear Cooperation Policy

At this month's national convention, the NAR Board of Directors approved MLS Statement 8.0, known as the Clear Cooperation Policy and requires submission of a listing to the MLS within one business day of marketing the property to the public. This policy is intended to address the growing use of off-MLS listings, which NAR feels excludes consumers and undermines REALTORS®’ commitment to provide equal opportunity to all, and reads:

Within one (1) business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public-facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public.

The policy does not prohibit brokers from taking office-exclusive listings, nor does it impede brokers’ ability to meet their clients’ privacy needs. The policy does not prohibit the use of the Coming Soon status in our local MLS.

With MLSs having until May 1, 2020, to adopt the policy, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® currently is reviewing our MLS Rules to determine what changes need to be made in light of the Clear Cooperation Policy. Stay tuned, as ample notice will be provided to all MLS Participants/Subscribers once the MLS Rules are revised in light of this new policy and prior to any policy changes taking effect locally.

In the meantime, watch this informational webinar to understand the policy and the rationale.

QUESTIONS? Comment below so we can consider and answer your questions as we review our local policies.

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November 19, 2019

Do This Now: 5 Timely Home Tips for November

With guest season and the holidays coming fast and furious, you want to be sure your home is cozy.
Here are some tips from Realtor Magazine on how to make that happen, along with a few other timely tips:

#1 Wash Bed Pillows. You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what's also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Not very welcoming! With fall being the height of guest season, you'll want your guest pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. But be sure to check the manufacturer’s advice, too. Some pillows shouldn't be washed – replace them instead.

#2 Clean the Mattress. Sleeping soundly gets even better when you know you're lying on a clean and fresh mattress. Over time, skin cells and sweat get into the mattress, then dust mites show up for a dinner party featuring those tasty skin cell morsels.

You'll want your guest mattress to be at its freshest. It's easy to do: Vacuum it and then wipe it down with a cloth dampened with an upholstery shampoo. But be sure to let it dry; otherwise, you're inviting mold. Also, be sure to rotate it 180 degrees to help keep it lump-free. If you've got a flippable mattress, go ahead and flip it. That, too, can help kill the yucky mites.

#3 Insulate Windows. Bone-chilling drafts seriously detract from the cozy vibe you want. Keep it cozy by hanging drapes as close to your windows as possible to help you keep the heat inside. You can even add clear Velcro strips or dots to the back of the drape and attach to fasteners on the wall to help insulate. Be sure to cross one drape over the other when you close up for the night. Insulating shades can do the trick, too.

#4 Trim Tree Branches. The last thing you need is a winter storm knocking down a mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Long limbs invite pests to explore your roof for excess water to seep into cracks in the roof or siding. Homeowners should keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from the house. Plus, it's easier to trim branches after leaves have fallen. And if it’s an evergreen, you'll have greenery for the holidays!

#5 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace. It's time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. Also, if you don't already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and into your house.

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November 12, 2019

October 2019 Market Statistics

As we begin the slower time of year for home sales, historically low mortgage rates will continue to support buyer demand and may create additional lift to home prices as excellent affordability gives buyers the ability to offer more to secure their dream home. Throughout much of the country, the continued low level of housing inventory also continues to constrain sales activity from where it would likely be in a balanced market.

In October, mortgage rates increased slightly from the three-year lows seen in September. While the Federal Reserve reduced the federal-funds target rate by .25%, this decline was widely expected and largely factored into mortgage rates already, which are still approximately 1% lower than this time last year. Fannie Mae is predicting that continued low rates, and possibly lower rates, are expected in 2020.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 4.0 percent to 1,130. Pending Sales were up 9.1 percent to 874. Inventory levels shrank 12.6 percent to 2,805 units. Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 14.1 percent to $210,000. Days on Market was down 12.2 percent to 43 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 20.5 percent to 3.1 months.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Navigating a market that
can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on
trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R®.

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November 6, 2019

HUD/FHA Change Policy Re: Commission Offered to Agent Buying For Self

News from NAR's Advocacy Team . . .

HUD/FHA Guidance on MLS treatment of REO Commissions

BIG WIN!! NAR expressed concerns to the FHA about HUD's policies regarding commissions and the conflict with NAR MLS policy. Changes are coming effective December 1. For the details, see the FHA's response below:

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) policies concerning broker commissions for HUD's real estate owned (REO) homes. The following information is from HUD's Office of Housing.

In your correspondence, you shared your concerns that HUD's platform for REO/HUD Homes (www.hudhomestore.com) prevents brokers with an ownership interest from receiving a commission, which you believe conflicts with Multiple Listing Service (MLS) policy regarding the payment of commissions.

FHA policies are developed and regularly revised to best serve our mission and the millions of homeowners we serve across the country, and with consideration of potential abuse. FHA regulations provide flexibility regarding payment of broker commissions, which HUD has utilized to prevent conflicts of interest, abuses of government funds, and practices that could remove homeownership opportunities from our mission-targeted owner-occupant and low to moderate income homeowners. HUD has undertaken further research on the impacts of restricting broker commissions. As a result, HUD is currently working to update our system, to allow brokers to be paid commissions on all competitive sales irrespective of the individual/entity purchasing the HUD REO property.

The system will retain the existing question about the Selling Broker/Agent and their ownership interest, to ensure that we can continue to gather and analyze this data; however, entering zero in the Selling Broker Commission field will no longer be required. In addition, the following warning notice will be removed: "HUD will not pay a sales commission if the selling broker or agent submitting the bid is also a purchaser or has an ownership interest in an entity identified as a purchaser. In such cases the selling broker must enter zero in the Selling Broker Commission field (6a) of the Bid Submission Screen." These system changes will be effectuated no later than December 1, 2019.

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November 6, 2019

Should you sell your home this holiday season?

The holidays are around the corner, and many home sellers are wondering whether they should keep their properties on the market or take them off. Or if owners haven’t listed their home yet, they may be asking themselves if they should wait until spring or brave the winter real estate market?

Trying to sell your home during the holidays can be daunting to many homeowners. The season can be extremely busy for families, and the idea of taking on the additional stress of selling a house could be a turnoff to some people.

Many people consider the holiday season the worst time to sell your home; it’s the time of year when homeowners are hosting family members, putting up favorite decorations and planning vacations. However, listing a home during the holidays can be extremely advantageous to homeowners, and it doesn’t have to ruin any holiday cheer.

The National Association of Realtors® has a few reasons why homeowners should consider listing their homes this winter:

Less Inventory. For many homeowners, selling their home during the winter holidays seems like too much of a hassle, and they will either take their home off the market or wait until the warmer months to list.  This creates an inventory shortage, which is good news for a seller, and since there are limited choices for buyers, the homeowner could have a higher asking price.

Control Your Showings. Homeowners do not need to let their homes be constantly available for showing. Let your Realtor know if there are certain days and times that won’t work for your schedule. You can have blackout dates where there are absolutely no showings, or create a daily schedule outlining when exactly potential buyers can come through the home. Your Realtor is there to help make the process go smoothly.

Staging. Staging your home during winter can be as easy as decorating for the holidays. Just be careful not to overdo it, as décor that is too large or over the top can distract buyers. Sellers can also avoid offending potential buyers by using general fall and winter decorations rather than using religious themes.

Motivated Buyers. People hunting for homes during the holidays often have a reason for doing so, meaning that they are more motivated buyers. Most buyers who aren’t incredibly motivated will put off a home search during the holidays and pick things up again in the spring. If someone is touring homes instead of celebrating the season with friends and family they likely need to buy a home quickly and could be willing to pay more.

And of course, the most important thing that you can do to give yourself an advantage is to hire a Realtor, a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Realtors have real insights and unparalleled knowledge of your local market and can help you sell your home this winter so that you and your family can get back to celebrating the holidays. That’s Who We R®.

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November 6, 2019

Position Statement on RPA’s Report & Recommendations Re: Chattanooga’s Steep Slopes & Low-Lying Area

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® presented the following statement at the November 5th meeting of the Chattanooga City Council.

After reviewing the Natural Resources Assessment issued by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency (RPA) on October 15, 2019, the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® provide the following statement:

Enforcement of Current Regulations

Although additional regulations may be needed and, in many cases, may be necessary, our concerns are that current regulations have not been properly enforced to determine if additional, more stringent regulations, are necessary. Many of the complaints previously voiced by residents could have potentially been avoided had the current regulations been followed. For example, erosion control measures are required to be in place to reduce and/or prevent sediment runoff from development sites. Also, had proper impervious construction methods been implemented on construction sites, stormwater runoff could have been properly controlled possibly preventing the flooding of residents during heavy rain events. Based on information provided, current regulations were not being adhered to or enforced, which resulted in the City Council’s request that RPA conduct their Natural Resources Assessment. We believe that the implementation and enforcement of proper construction methods that already exist could lessen the need for more stringent regulations.

In addition, we recognize that with increased development comes the need for increased oversight by the City of Chattanooga. This increased oversight may place additional burdens on City staff that had not been previously required. The Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® would be willing to assist the City in finding alternative oversight methods that might assist with some of these issues and be more cost effective than implementing more stringent regulations.

Lots of Record

We appreciate the RPA considering the importance of “Lots of Record” and how they should be handled should the City implement a Natural Resources Ordinance. However, there is concern that no clear consensus has been reached on how these lots should be handled and the recommendation seemed to suggest that it be based on a case by case basis. This is an extremely important property rights issue that should be addressed on the frontend and not left as an afterthought. We respectfully request that “Lots of Record” be evaluated prior to any recommendation in order to further ensure the property rights of these owners are protected.

Exploring Additional Options

The Natural Resources Assessment outlined numerous additional amendments and/or tools that could be explored further to potentially implement in the future. Examples of these tools are Tree Canopy Protection Standards; Site Plan Review or Geo-Technical Report for Critical Lots; Timing of Retaining Wall Construction; and, Stormwater Requirements, just to name a few.

First, we believe the willingness to explore additional amendments and/or tools could be beneficial to all parties involved in the steep slopes and floodplain discussion. This exploration ensures that responsible development continues in the City of Chattanooga and that we continue to protect property rights of those on both sides of these issues.

However, due to the significant number of additional amendments and/or tools that were recommended for exploration, we would request that if the City Council is in favor of exploring these other options, that you request these tools be explored prior to any ordinance, policy, etc. being proposed or implemented. This would ensure that all parties involved have an opportunity to review what is actually being proposed by the City since no clear direction was provided, would allow for feedback by the stakeholders involved, and would allow for educated discussion as to the overall impact to property owners for recommended changes.

Further, we want to ensure that all possible tools are reviewed as to how they will work in conjunction with one another. In other words, could some of the tools mentioned be contingent on the findings or results of other tools proposed? For example, is it possible that the geotechnical report proposed for critical lots could be used to determine if and when a retaining wall should be constructed and/or if tree canopy protection standards are necessary on the development site based on soil conditions? A “one size fits all” approach may not be the most effective approach for some of the proposed tools when it comes to restricting the development on a steep slope.

Again, we recognize that additional amendments and/or tools may place additional burdens on City staff. The Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® are willing to assist the City in finding the most cost-effective way of implementing additional amendments and/or tools without requiring more stringent regulations that could impede development.

Natural Resource Protection Overlay District

Based on the various options outlined in the Natural Resources Assessment, the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® would be in favor of a Natural Resource Protection Overlay District as opposed to an across the City resolution. We think being specific to the areas that would be the most impacted by this issue is necessary given steep slopes concerns. It is our belief that trying to implement such drastic regulations across the entire City of Chattanooga are not only unnecessary given the purpose of the Natural Resources Assessment, but also detrimental to overall development in the City of Chattanooga.

The areas the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® recommend be included in the overlay are as follows:

  • Missionary Ridge
  • North Chattanooga
  • St. Elmo

Tax Base Impacts

As Councilman Ledford stated at the public meeting on October 30, 2018, the “City relies on property tax for majority of its annual revenue.” Obviously, restrictions on development could greatly impact the tax base in the City of Chattanooga. Has the City considered not only the potential impact on property tax by restricting development but also, how the City of Chattanooga will make up for this loss of tax revenue in the future? Will implementing stringent regulations on development today put the burden for the loss of tax revenue back on all taxpayers in the City of Chattanooga in the future? These questions need to be discussed today to ensure we are making the best decisions possible for the City of Chattanooga’s future.

Affordable Housing

In addition, the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® are constantly being asked by elected officials how we can bring affordable housing to the City of Chattanooga. Unfortunately, stricter regulations cause the overall costs of development to increase making affordable housing nearly impossible.

In 2018, National Association of REALTORS®' Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research Lawrence Yun made a presentation at our annual Economic Luncheon on Chattanooga’s economic outlook. During his presentation he stated that there is a strong desire among young adults age 18-34 to own a home in the future rather than rent. The dream of homeownership will continue to become more difficult to achieve for young adults in Chattanooga as long as stringent regulations continue to be implemented. The Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® want these young adults to achieve the dream of homeownership and encourage you to consider this as you move forward with this Natural Resources Assessment.

Conclusion

As you know, the mission of the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is to “promote the highest ethical and professional standards and cooperation among its members; provide products, programs and services to meet the evolving needs of the real estate industry and consumers; and advocate for private property rights and community involvement.”

The Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® appreciate RPA’s work on this Natural Resources Assessment and allowing us the opportunity to be at the table during this process. Although we only touched on a few recommendations included in the Assessment, we are concerned that some of the regulations being suggested have only been analyzed as to the potential positive impacts to the City of Chattanooga. Our concern is that the potential consequences or additional costs associated with implementing some of these regulations have not been properly analyzed and the impact of implementing more stringent regulations on property owners in the City of Chattanooga could outweigh the positives.

It is the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®’ desire that we continue our discussions to resolve the concerns outlined today and respectfully request that the City Council delay this process until the overall impact on the City of Chattanooga could be fully studied. The regulations we implement today will have a long-lasting effect on the City of Chattanooga tomorrow.

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October 30, 2019

Tips for Home Wildfire Protection

Almost three years ago, wildfires destroyed close to a thousand acres of some of the most beautiful parts of our community. Parts of Lookout and Signal Mountains were devastated, and unfortunately, the wildfires that continue to rage in different parts of our country serve as a reminder that we must remain vigilant against this threat.
With that in mind, fortify your home like the castle it is with these 13 wildfire-repelling steps. But keep in mind that no product or technique is a failsafe against a raging fire. Here are a few suggestions from the National Association of Realtors®.
Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. If you don’t already have working smoke detectors or haven’t tested them recently, make that your first job.
Check Fire Extinguishers. And if you don’t have them, get them.
Get a Bucket, Shovel, and Hose Ready. Have an easily accessible bucket, shovel (to dig a trench to protect against encroaching ground fire), and connected garden hose to help you defend the area around your home.
Invest in Rain Barrels An extra source of water can’t hurt. And rain barrels save on your water bills, too.
Clear Yard of Debris. Keep gutters, porches, and the lawn free of debris, leaves, and fallen branches. If a fire threat is imminent, remove furniture and decorations from decks and porches, including welcome mats.
Plant Fire-Resistant Shrubs and Annuals. Like irises, rhododendrons, hostas, and lilacs, which have high- moisture content. Your local Cooperative Extension Office can advise you on appropriate species for your area.
Remove Tree Branches Lower Than 6 Feet. Fires tend to start low and rise. For that reason, don’t plant shrubs directly under trees; they can combust and cause the fire to rise up the tree. By the way, spacing out all plants and shrubs is a good practice, too.
Remove Tree Limbs Near Chimneys. Keep them at least 10 feet away. Embers from burning limbs could fall in.
Set Up a Protective Perimeter. Create a 100-foot perimeter around your home, free of dry leaves, grass, and shrubs that fuel wildfires. Keep petroleum tanks, cars, and woodpiles outside of this safe zone.
Use Rocks Instead of Mulch Next to the House. Lay a six-inch swath of decorative rocks closest to the home and then use mulch from there. This also helps repel insects, like termites, (bugs like wood) and facilitate rainwater drainage."

Use Non-Flammable Fencing. If you have wood fencing around your home, replace any three-foot sections that attach to the home with metal or other non-flammable fencing material. A metal gate or decorative fencing piece is stylish as well as fire-unfriendly.
Cover Chimneys and Vents With Flame-Retardant Mesh. And it’s cheap to do. They cost just a few dollars from hardware or home improvement stores.
Check Your Siding. Fire-resistant or non-combustible siding like stucco or brick provides the best protection against fire. Make sure your siding, whatever type, is in good repair, because if the plywood or insulation are exposed, the home is more vulnerable to flames.
Some experts recommend spraying homes with fire retardants, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the product, region, and size of the project. But some of the chemicals used to make flame-retardants have toxic properties. Although you might have less exposure to chemicals used on your home’s exterior than those inside, toxicity issues could still be a factor.
Most importantly, if a wildfire is on its way you should evacuate. Having an evacuation plan worked out with your family before a fire happens is a great way to be prepared for the unforeseen. As Realtors®, we   rge our clients and our community to do their best to prepare for natural disasters. That’s Who We R®."

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October 23, 2019

Home Improvement Projects Are Worth Cost and Time, Says Realtor® Survey

A collaborative project between the National Association of Realtors® and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry shows that homeowners who decide to undergo a home improvement project, whether it be interior or exterior modifications, often find that the task was worth the investment and time, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors®, with insights from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, an examination of 20 projects, surveyed Realtors®, consumers who have taken on home renovation projects, and members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The report examines a variety of remodeling projects, using responses to rank the appeal of a given project, rank the value of the project in terms of resale and determine its overall functionality. The findings also reveal the reasons for remodeling, the success of taking on the various projects and the increased happiness reported in the home upon completion of the job.

After completing a remodeling project, 74% of owners have a greater desire to be in their home, 65% say they experience increased enjoyment, and 77% feel a major sense of accomplishment, according to the survey. Additionally, 58% report a feeling of happiness when they see their completed projects, while 38% say they have a feeling of satisfaction.

“The NAR report shows us that people often remodel for resale purposes, but it also reminds us that homeowners remodel, too, with the desire to make a home their own,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Kitchen Renovation. Ninety-three percent of those polled said they have a greater desire to be at home since the completion of their kitchen, and 95% said they have an increased sense of enjoyment when at home.

The most important result of a kitchen renovation is improved functionality and livability, according to 46% of those polled. As to the reasons why they decided to take on the project, 24% say they wanted to upgrade worn-out surfaces and materials. Another 20% report they had recently moved into their home and had a desire to customize the kitchen to their particular tastes.

Closet Renovation. A disorganized closet is something a homeowner encounters daily, often at the start of their day. When a closet renovation is finished, the sense of achievement is immediate. Thusly, 68% of those surveyed say they feel a major sense of accomplishment when they think about the completed project. Nearly three-quarters, 72%, report having a greater desire to be at home since finishing the job.

With a closet redesign, 56% say the most important result is better functionality and livability. Fifty-four percent say the top reason for doing the job was the need to improve organization and storage. Fifteen percent answered that it was time for a change.

Full Interior Paint Job. A finished paint job is usually visible in every room in a home, which speaks to how important a task this is to respondents. A vast majority, 88%, say they have a greater desire to be home since having their home freshly painted. Eighty-six percent report feeling a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the project.

New Fiberglass Front Door. As mentioned, the installation of fiberglass front doors is a highly rated exterior project. Seventy-nine percent of polled homeowners say they have had a greater desire to be at home upon completion of the job. Sixty-seven percent say they have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home, and another 69% state that they feel a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the completed project.

New Vinyl Windows. 42% of those surveyed say the most important result of new vinyl windows is improved functionality and livability. As for the top reasons for doing the job, 47% say they had a desire to improve their home’s energy efficiency and 23% say they wanted to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials.

Cost Recovered. Remodelers often take on projects with resale in mind, rather than their own home preferences. The report found the top projects for recovering cost are new roofing, hardwood floor refinishing, and new hardwood floor installation. NARI Remodelers estimate that new roofing costs $7,500, and Realtors® estimate that new roofing helps sellers recover $8,000, on average. That equates to 107% of value recovered from the project.

Lastly, NARI Remodelers estimate that new wood flooring costs $4,700, with Realtors® estimating the project helps sellers recover $5,000, or a 106% value recovery. NARI Remodelers estimate that hardwood floor refinishing costs $2,600, and Realtors® estimate that the hardwood floor refinishing would help sellers recover $2,600.

Renovations, big and small, can help increase value. It also makes the property your own. Consulting a Realtor® might be a good place to get direction. We’re here for our clients and our community. That’s Who We R®.

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October 15, 2019

September 2019 Market Statistics

With the kids back in school and the weather cooling, the housing market begins its annual cooldown as well. Nationally, buyer and seller activity remained strong, buoyed by low mortgage rates and a strong economy. The market fundamentals suggest no significant changes from recent trends, other than the seasonally tempered pace we see this time of year. As we move into the final three months of 2019, buyers will find fewer homes coming on the market, but also less competition for those homes.

In Washington, there are discussions around a broad overhaul of the housing finance system, including the re-privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reforms to federal agencies involved with financing substantial portions of the mortgages made every year. Many of these policy conversations and eventual changes will take months or years to be implemented, and their impact is not yet clear. Halloween decorations are beginning to adorn homes around the country, but our real estate market this fall is looking far from scary.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 7.0 percent to 1,126. This increase is typical after the usual summer slowdown.

Pending Sales were up 8.9 percent to 879. With the increase in Pending Sales outpacing New Listings, inventory levels shrank 10.9 percent to 2,816 units. 

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 10.8 percent to $209,190.  Days on Market was up 19.0 percent to 50 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 15.8 percent to 3.2 months.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Navigating a market that
can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on
trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R®.

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October 8, 2019

6 Tasks That Every Smart Homeowner Does in October

The temperature has finally started to drop, and the smell of wood smoke is in the air. When temps start to dip, that it’s a good time to do these six things to avoid future homeowner headaches. Houselogic.com, a helpful site from the National Association of Realtors®, gives a few points to focus on before colder weather hits:

#1 Buy Appliances. Manufacturers bring out their latest models during the fall, and store owners offer big sales on appliances they want to move out — like last year's most popular dishwasher. So September, October, and November are great months to buy.

But October is right in the middle — when there's still plenty of selection, and retailers might be more willing to haggle. Refrigerators are the exception because new models don't usually come out until spring.

#2 Switch the Direction of Ceiling Fans. Most have a switch to allow the ceiling fan blades to rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise — one way pushes air down to create a nice breeze and the other sucks air up, helping to distribute the heat. Think counterclockwise when it's warm and clockwise when it's cool.

#3 Clean Windows. Daylight is about to dwindle so why not get as much of it as you can? Clean off all the bugs, dust, and grime from your windows while the weather is still warm enough to do so. If window cleaning isn't a DIY job at your home, schedule a professional window cleaner (who, unlike most of us, is able to do it even when temperatures plummet) before the end of the month. The closer it gets to the holidays, the busier they get. Bright sunshine on winter's darkest days makes it totally worthwhile.

#4 Schedule a Heating Unit Checkup. To ensure your family will be able to feel their toes all winter, schedule early in the month for your heating unit to be serviced. As temperatures drop, service companies get busier.

Whether you hire your heating company's technician or a contractor to do it, they'll clean soot and corrosion from the combustion chamber, replace filters, and check the whole system for leaks, clogs, or damage. Nothing pairs with a pending blizzard better than the assurance that you'll be weathering the storm with warm air piping through the vents and cocoa in hand.

#5 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace. It's time to dust off and sweep the chimney. Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. Also, if you don't already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it and into your house.

#6 Insulate Exposed Pipes. If you've ever dealt with a burst pipe, you know it's a sad, wet disaster worth preventing. To avoid the stressful (and expensive) ordeal, prep your home's exposed pipes with foam or heat tape — choosing which one will work best with your climate. This will help keep those pipes toasty in the cold weather. Remember: The most at-risk pipes are often those in unheated areas such as an attics, crawl spaces, and garages, so secure those first.

Realtors are glad to help our clients and community get the most out of their property investment. That’s Who We R®.

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October 1, 2019

Study: It Costs Sellers More to Work With iBuyers

Home sellers who choose to sell directly to an iBuyer, such as Zillow or Opendoor, often end up paying higher fees than if they sold the traditional way with a Realtor, according to a new study by Collateral Analytics, a real estate analytics firm. Recently Realtor Magazine examined some of consequences of sellers who utilize iBuyers.

iBuyers provide instant cash offers and quick closings, which are perks that are hard for sellers to ignore. Transactions involving iBuyers have been growing at a clip of more than 25% annually in recent years. But how profitable is it for sellers who choose this expedited route to a sale? The answer hasn't been clear since iBuyers first surfaced in 2014 with the launch of Opendoor.

As of this summer, most iBuyer transactions nationwide occur in Phoenix, but these companies also operate in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Denver, Charlotte and Houston. Yet it’s important for the Greater Chattanooga market to take note that Zillow has recently expanded its iBuyer service to Nashville.

Collateral Analytics, in a white paper, looks to quantify the costs to sellers of working with iBuyers versus taking the traditional route of working with a real estate professional. Researchers estimate that sellers end up paying between 13% to 15% more when working with iBuyers. The percentage reflects differences in traditional real estate agency fees, as well as an allowance iBuyers often request for repairs and an additional 3% to 5% to cover the iBuyer’s liquidity risks and carrying costs. “Most iBuyers will inspect the home, assess a generous home repair allowance, and negotiate (an additional) credit to handle such repairs,” the Collateral Analytics report notes.

However, some iBuyers take on other costs that most traditional buyers wouldn’t. For example, companies such as OfferPad offer to pay the costs of a seller's move up to 50 miles away. iBuyers may also allow a grace period after closing for the seller to vacate the property.

The report also notes that the iBuying model could make properties vulnerable to several financial risks, such as the use of automated valuation models that could inflate property values. Also, properties remain empty while in the possession of iBuyers, which could make the homes vulnerable to theft and other criminal activity.

Wall Street has been betting big on iBuyers in recent years. Opendoor has reportedly raised at least $1.3 billion and purchased more than 10,000 homes in 2018—three times that of its closest competitor, OfferPad. “For some sellers needing to move or requiring quick extraction of equity, this is certainly worthwhile,” according to the research paper. “But what percentage of the market will want this service remains to be seen.”

If you’re not using a Realtor, you’re missing out. Realtors are the experts in using smart tactics, refined strategies, and our negotiating chops will help you get the best value in your real estate transaction. That’s Who We R®.

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September 26, 2019

2020 Board of Directors

We're proud to announce the election results for our 2020 Board of Directors. Congratulations to:

  • 2020 President-Elect Robert Backer
  • 2020 Secretary-Treasurer Denise Murphy
  • 2020-21 Directors: Brian Erwin, Ryan May, and Rolanda Pullen

These newly-elected Realtors will serve alongside:

  • 2020 President Brandi Pearl Thompson
  • 2020 MLS Chair Jennifer Grayson
  • 2020 Immediate Past President Kim Bass
  • Directors Beverly Boss, Realtor, Derek English, Rachael Henderson, Steven Sharpe, and Kevin Wamack

Thanks for #LeaningIn to leadership by serving our Association!

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September 24, 2019

Electrical Safety in the Home

When someone says the word “safety,” we usually think of defending ourselves against someone who means us harm. But as September and Realtor Safety Month, comes to a close, I think it’s important to think of safety inside the home, specifically electrical safety. According to The Electrical Safety Foundation International, the leading cause of home fires is due to electrical mishaps. Certain habits of homeowners may be putting their homes and themselves at risk.

It’s impossible to think of all the ways electricity has made our lives easier, and it’s something I can easily take for granted. But there are still risks associated with electricity, no matter how familiar we are with it. A recent article from Apartment Therapy asked electricians to chime in with the most dangerous things they often see homeowners do that could be putting their home at risk, including:

Using adapters on two-prong outlets. “Three-prong outlets didn’t become standard in North American homes until the late 1960s, so while modern homes should be in good shape, there are plenty of homes out there with old two-prong outlets,” Mark Dawson, chief operating officer at Mister Sparky, told Apartment Therapy. Many new appliances use three prongs so owners may use an adapter to plug it in, but electricians warn against it. Instead, you should consider upgrading the outlet if you need to regularly use three-prong plugs.

Using loose electrical outlets. Electricians warn plugging in loose electrical outlets can lead to fires and be dangerous to others too. If the cord falls out easily, this means that the blades inside the outlet have become loose, and can now generate a lot of heat.

Using the wrong extension cords outside. Make sure the extension cord is rated for outdoor use. Otherwise, it could overheat and potentially cause a fire, electricians say. Check extension cords for letters on it. A “W” on it means it can be used outdoors; an “S” marked on the cord means its rated to be used only inside the home.

Overloading a circuit. Look for signs that you may be overloading the circuit, such as blinking or dimming lights, frequently tripped circuit breakers, discolored outlet covers, or even buzzing sounds near outlets. If you suspect an overloaded circuit, contact a licensed electrician to inquire about upgrading your panel.

Overlooking the importance of ground fault circuits. All outlets in the bathroom and kitchen should be equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters. These will shut off the power when they sense water near. That could be lifesaving in avoiding an electrical shock.

Safety should always a priority, but inside your own home is a great place to start. Realtors are focused on protecting our clients and their properties. That’s Who We R.

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September 17, 2019

August Housing Market Statistics

As the summer is drawing to a close, multiple opposing factors and trends are competing to define the direction of the real estate market. After the Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate on July 31, 30-year mortgage rates continued to decline, approaching all-time lows last seen in 2016. Yet most experts agree these reductions are unlikely to bring sufficient relief, at least in the short term, for first-time home buyers. The lack of affordable inventory and the persistence of historically high housing prices continue to affect the housing market, leading to lower-than-expected existing home sales at the national level.

New Listings in the greater Chattanooga area increased 1.5 percent to 1,316. Pending Sales were up 16 percent to 1,039. Inventory levels shrank 12 percent to 2,793 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 6.4 percent to $200,000. Days on Market was up 2.4 percent to 43 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 18.4 percent to 3.1 months.

As many homeowners refinanced their homes to take advantage of declining interest rates, consumer confidence in housing was reported to be at historically high levels. Even so, Realtors will need to monitor the market for signs of continued imbalances. Although the inventory of affordable homes at this point remains largely stable, it is stable at historically low levels, which may continue to push prices higher and affect potential buyers across the U.S.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Navigating a market that
can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on
trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R®.

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September 17, 2019

Important updates for EKEY

Supra Keyholders -

On Thursday, September 19, Apple will release iOS 13 for iPhones and iPads. BEFORE you update to iOS 13, UPDATE your eKEY app. Otherwise, you may not be able to access keyboxes if you use a previous version of the
eKEY app with iOS 13.


To update to the latest version of the eKEY app:

  1. Go to your iPhone or iPad home screen and tap the APP STORE icon.
  2. Tap the UPDATES icon in the bottom right of the screen.
  3. Scroll to locate the eKEY app and select UPDATE (or select Update All at the top of the screen to update all of your apps).

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September 11, 2019

2020-21 Officer & Director Candidates & Online Voting Info

Online voting begins Thursday, September 19, 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. Voting will remain open until 5 pm on Wednesday, September 25. Election results will be announced on September 26.

The Nominating Committee presents the following Candidates for the 2020 Board of Directors:

2020 PRESIDENT-ELECT

Robert Backer, ABR, CRRS, GRI, NHS, e-Pro (Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty)

I wish to continue to serve our local Board of Chattanooga. I understand and appreciate the importance of helping members and representing them well. I would like to be part of the continued good path created in recent years and take my 4 years serving as a Director to the next level of service. I think it’s important to be involved and give back to our industry to still be knowledgeable.

LOCAL: 2018 REALTOR® of the Year, Board of Directors (2015-2018); Community Involvement Committee (2017-2018); Grievance Committee (2000-09); Leadership Development Committee (2015-16 Director Liaison); MLS Committee (2019-20), Professional Standards Committee (2015-16, 2019 Chair)

STATE & NATIONAL: 2015-2016 State Director

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Principal Broker for Coldwell Banker; 2015-2016 Real Trend Top Agent; 2000-19, Coldwell Banker Top Agent Ranking

2020 SECRETARY-TREASURER

Denise Murphy, ABR, CRB, CRS (Keller Williams Realty)

I believe that it is essential as Officers and Directors to hold ourselves to a high standard both professionally and ethically. Our decisions and input should benefit all members, with no hidden agendas for ourselves or our companies. We need to be level-headed, good problem-solvers, and good examples to our fellow Realtors and members of the Community. I strive to achieve these qualities and hope to be given the opportunity to serve our members for another term on the Board. I hope to encourage more members to become involved and to see the importance of our local board and what can be achieved with a collective effort.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2015-16, 2018-19) Community Involvement Committee (2018 Director Liaison); Grievance Committee (4 years); Diversity Inclusion Committee (2016), Professional Development/Education Committee (4 years); Professional Development Committee (Chair, 2011); Professional Standards Committee (2016); RPAC Committee (2018 Director Liaison)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: BNI, 2004-13 (the following at least twice: President, Treasurer, Membership Committee, Education); CNC, 2013-present (President, Governance Committee; Membership Committee); CRS local events

COMMUNITY: Chambliss Children’s Home; Habitat for Humanity; Served food to homeless on many Thanksgiving & Christmas Days. Put on “Jump Rope for Heart” events 10+ years with American Heart Association; Snack Pack Volunteer

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Realty Center-Rising Star, 2004; Keller Williams-Agent Leadership Council, 3 years; Keller Williams Hixson Managing Broker; served on various committees at Keller Williams and occasionally teach classes.

2020-2021 DIRECTORS (Select 3)

Brian Erwin, ABR (Scout REALTOR® Group)

We have made great strides to expand member involvement and community outreach, yet there remains much to do. I want to work collaboratively with leadership to showcase our association’s value to its members and influence in our community. We have a platform and a duty to grow the REALTOR® brand and protect our industry.

LOCAL: Community Involvement Committee (2018 Chair, 2015-2018); Education Professional Development Committee (2019 Chair); Governmental Affairs Committee (2017); Leadership Academy Graduate (2017); MLS Committee (2019-2020); RPAC Committee (2018); Strategic Planning Task Force (2019)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: WCR Member (2017-18)

COMMUNITY: Chattanooga Preparatory School Mentor Program (2019-2026); Habitat for Humanity Volunteer (2016-present); Emerging Leaders United Way of Greater Chattanooga (2015-present 2019 Executive Committee)

STATE: Tennessee REALTORS® Fall Conference (2018)


Ryan May, ABR (Real Estate Partners)

I believe the best way to stay current regarding what is going on in our industry is to be involved with your local board. I hope to bring to the board my past experience from working in the corporate world. I also hope to bring representation of the non-franchise companies to the board.

LOCAL: Community Involvement Committee (2018); Education/Professional Development Committee (2019); Grievance Committee (2019)

STATE/NATIONAL: RPAC Major Investor

COMMUNITY: Clifton Hill School (Adopted School of Real Estate Partners); Snack Pack Ministry Volunteer


Rolanda Pullen, CMS, CNHS (Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty)

As a Director, I would have the opportunity to serve the REALTOR® Community. I want our Association to thrive and benefit, not only the members but also the community. I will help other REALTORS® in our Association to achieve goals that have been set for the committees on which they serve. I will contribute my time, energy, and willingness to work.

LOCAL: Community Involvement Committee (2017-18); Grievance Committee (2019); Leadership Academy Graduate (2016); Government Affairs Committee (2017); Leadership Development Committee (2017, 2018 Chairman); Strategic Planning Task Force (2019)

COMMUNITY: Member of Olivet Baptist Church (1998-present); Member of the PTA & Volunteer at Wallace A. Smith (2017-present); Order of the Eastern Star (2013-present, Secretary for 2 years)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Coldwell Banker International Diamond Society (2016-18); Coldwell Banker Circle of Excellence (2017-18); Coldwell Banker Office Top Listing Associate Runner-Up (2018); Coldwell Banker Honorable Mention (2018); Coldwell Banker Multi-Million Dollar Producer (2016); 2011 Featured in Hamilton County Herald


Robyn Ring (Choo Choo Realty)

I believe that I am a valuable member of the Board of Directors, given my property management background. Not being a “traditional” broker, I can bring a different perspective to the table.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2017-18); Community Involvement Committee (2018 Director Liaison); Governmental Affairs Committee (2015-18, 2017 Director Liaison); Grievance Committee (2009 Chair; 2006-2008 Member); Leadership Academy Graduate (2017); Professional Standards Committee (2010-2016); RPAC Committee (2018, 2019 Chair)

STATE: Governmental Affairs Committee (2015-18); State Director (2018)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: WCR Member (2015)

COMMUNITY: Habitat for Humanity (individually, as well as with the Community Involvement Committee); Mountain Education Foundation Board (2007-08)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Property Management Company of the Years (2007); Leadership Academy Graduate (2017)


Tyler Rogers, RENE (KW Commercial)

I am proud of the direction the Association is going, and I want to be part of the leadership responsibilities involved in shaping that path. To me, service is an important function of an Association.

LOCAL: Community Involvement Committee (2017-19); Diversity Inclusion Committee (2019); Education/Professional Development Committee (2019); Leadership Academy Graduate (2018); Leadership Development Committee (2019 Chair); RPAC Committee (2018)

COMMUNITY: North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy Board (2018-present); Snack Pack Ministry Volunteer (2017-present)

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September 10, 2019

Safety Protocols to Expect When Working With a Realtor

In a few days, the National Association of Realtors will release their 2019 Member Safety Report, which surveys Realtors around the nation about how safe they feel while on the job, their personal safety experiences, and the safety procedures and materials provided by their real estate brokerage. This report is released each September for Realtor Safety Month. Yet, safety is a focus for Greater Chattanooga Realtors® all year long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety is our priority year-round. Realtors are focused on protecting our clients and ourselves. That’s Who We R.

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September 3, 2019

Realtor® Safety Month: Cyber Safety

Every year, Realtors recognize September as Realtor® Safety Month. While threats of physical violence are usually the first thing that comes to mind when talking about safety, electronic crimes are becoming more and more common. These offenses can include identity theft, email hacking, and wire fraud.

Buying and selling property is stressful enough without having the threat of cyber crime looming over the transaction. Apart from digging a hole in your back yard, throwing your computer in, dousing it with gasoline, and lighting it on fire, there's no foolproof way to protect yourself from cybercrime. Since few if any Realtors would work without a computer or smartphone, industry pros are addressing the threat head-on to protect their clients.

“Cybercrime is a global problem, one that's becoming more prevalent and more urgent," said Jessica Edgerton, Associate Counsel with the National Association of REALTORS®. And it’s not just government agencies or large multinational corporations that are targets. Smaller and midsized real estate companies—where transactions involve multiple players and large sums of money—are an ideal target for criminals, Edgerton said. Among small businesses victimized by a successful cybersecurity breach, she said, 60 percent go out of business within six months.

Hackers can gain access to email accounts through simple schemes. Hacking can come in the form of an infected attachment or link that appears to come from a benign sender. “Clicking is something that’s deadly dangerous,” says Edgerton, whose motto is “Think before you click.”

Opening a bad link or attachment can trigger a key logger, which is malware that reads keystrokes to capture your passwords. It can also open ransomware that will encrypt everything on your system it can reach, including connected drives and networks.

Another way hackers gain entry is through brute force attack on your email password. If you use a simple password, hackers have software that can usually crack it in seconds. Hackers may also be stalking your online profiles and social media accounts, looking for names and dates that are meaningful to you that you may also be using in your passwords.

Once hackers capture your email password, they can search for messages related to real estate transactions. They can then send a spoof email to a buyer that looks virtually identical to an email from the Realtor’s account providing “new wiring instructions" that will divert funds to the hacker's account. If a buyer takes the bait, the funds are usually gone for good.

If you're hit with a ransomware attack, disconnect your computer immediately. Talk to your IT people, report the hack to the FBI, and decide if you want to pay the ransom. Also, consider these solutions to help minimize the risks of becoming a victim of cyber attacks.

Easy solutions include keeping your operating systems up to date and checking your social media privacy settings. Less obvious tips include using complex passwords, and changing your passwords on a regular basis. Perhaps even consider using a password manager.
Once your password is compromised, hackers can put a rule in your settings that will forward certain emails to their account. Realtors (and our clients) should try to avoid sending sensitive information via email when possible. Attaching forms, financials, and confidential files to an email is an efficient way to communicate, but criminals are looking to take advantage of that.

Educating our clients on these dangers is a top priority. We do our best to make sure the public Knows the prevalence of wire fraud and we advise clients to call and verify information before they wire funds. To ensure they're reaching the right person, buyers should contact their Realtor using numbers provided in advance.

Safety is our priority. Realtors are focused on protecting our clients as well as ourselves. That’s Who We R.

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August 27, 2019

Fail to Shop Around for Mortgage, It’s Your Loss

A piece of advice I often give to homebuyers is to shop around - not just for their property, but for their financing. It might seem that most buyers would do this, but new findings from Fannie Mae in their National Housing Survey showed that more than a third of home buyers did not shop around before selecting their mortgage lender. That means that many people potentially are missing out on thousands of dollars in savings.

In the survey, respondents say they received only one quote because they were more comfortable with the particular lender they chose. They also said they had less concern with competitive terms when selecting a lender and put more weight on other priorities like responsiveness and having an account with a lending institution.

As Realtors, we are often sources of advice in many areas, including lender selection. Because of this, Realtors have a key role in encouraging homeowners to seek multiple quotes when mortgage shopping says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist.

Comparison shopping for a mortgage can be time-consuming and complicated. “Simply evaluating the ‘price’ of a mortgage involves looking at several interrelated components—including rates, fees, and points—and making an assumption about how long a borrower will stay in that mortgage,” Duncan notes. “While it’s easy to find ‘teaser’ rates advertised online, a true mortgage quote is based on a handful of variables that are unique to each buyer and evaluated differently by each lender.”

In fact, another study from LendingTree shows that women are specifically missing out on deals on their mortgage. LendingTree’s study shows that first-time buyers and repeat borrowers who are women reported being less familiar with all aspects of the mortgage process. “It seems women are paying a higher price to access homeownership than they should,” researchers note in the study. Single women accounted for about 20% of the 7 million home sales in 2018, and researchers say they may have overpaid by more than $1 billion because of failure to shop around for a mortgage.

Credit history, down payment, and the ratio of monthly debt payments to income are usually given the most weight in determining a mortgage offer. But other factors besides rates can affect a loan. Fees and points can also impact the “cost” of a loan.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to obtaining a loan. A Realtor can guide you through the process to help you feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed. That’s Who We R.

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August 21, 2019

Respectfully Serving Our Community

We have all received them…the annoying telemarketing call or knock at the door, interrupting family dinner night. You thought they would eventually go away, especially after you registered your phone number on the do-not-call list. The reality is that that pesky telemarketers will risk almost anything to try to reach people, including breaking the law.

And it’s not only phone calls. Many people I know have had people knock on their doors and ask if they want to list their house for sale. These people haven’t asked for assistance and have not made any indication that they’re even considering moving.

Believe me, I understand that we are in a tight market. Finding that perfect house for a client in a certain price range can be a challenge. We are trying to help our clients with their housing needs, and lower inventory has many of us scrambling to find the right options.

Lately the targeting of consumers to list their home for sale is being done more and more aggressively through phone, mail, and in-person driving through neighborhoods and catching people in their yards. In this climate of low housing inventory, not only are expired listings being targeted but also those that have never been on the market.

I can say that Realtors® do not consider ourselves telemarketers. While we don’t employ the aggressive tactics typically associated with telemarketers – some of my colleagues might be surprised to learn that they too must comply with telemarketing laws, including compliance with the do-not-call registry.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, prohibits telemarketing calls to consumers who place their personal phone number on the national do-not-call registry. Operated by the Federal Trade Commission, the Do-not-call registry offers consumers protection against unwanted telemarketing calls.

Phone numbers listed on the do-not-call registry may not be called by persons or entities placing telemarketing calls, or more simply put, calls that solicit the purchase of goods or service. This includes calls seeking to list or buy a consumer’s property. There are a few important exceptions, however.

The registry only applies to personal phone numbers, not business lines or business to business calls. If you have a prior business relationship with a consumer, meaning you listed or sold a person’s house, you may call that person for up to 18 months after you last did business with them, even if their phone number is listed on the do-not-call registry. You may also call consumers for up to 3 months after the consumer makes an inquiry about services. Additionally, you may make calls to consumers otherwise listed on the registry if you obtain express written permission from the consumer to contact them by phone for marketing purposes.

Among Realtors®, two commonly misunderstood scenarios related to the do-not-call registry are For Sale By Owner listings and expired listings. First, agents often incorrectly believe they can call a For Sale By Owner listing under any circumstance. That is not the case. If the seller’s phone number is registered on the do-not-call registry, an agent is prohibited from calling the For Sale By Owner listing except where the agent has a client interested in the listed property. Also, it is prudent to cross-reference FSBO listings in the MLS, as those listings might be exclusively listed by a fellow REALTOR® for which the seller has instructed a real estate sign not be placed in the yard.

Second, there is an uptick in class action litigation involving calls made to consumers with recently expired MLS property listings. These class-action lawsuits are expensive to defend against and by statute hold violators liable for up to $1,500 for each violation.

Realtors should be mindful of the TCPA’s prior consent requirements before employing a marketing strategy that includes text message solicitations and autodialed calls. Check with the National Association of Realtors® for resources to assist you with your telemarketing compliance questions.

For those in the community who feel annoyed by solicitations to list your home – I get it. I know it can be an annoyance. Simply conveying that you are not interested will most times stop any further follow-up. Just know that all of us are fortunate to call this area our home, and that so many people are looking to make it their home as well.

To my fellow Realtors, be mindful that some people might feel targeted by aggressive marketing. Some groups, including the elderly and infirmed, find these methods off-putting. We all should try to not let our enthusiasm to help consumers come off as pushy or greedy. Realtors are bound to our Code of Ethics, and we see people in our community not as dollar signs, but as partners. We serve our clients and their ever-evolving needs in an ethical and transparent way. That’s Who We R®.

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August 15, 2019

HUD FHA Condo Rule Announcement

On Wednesday, HUD finalized new FHA condominium loan policies. The guidance affords property owners greater flexibility in the qualification process for loans insured by the FHA. Lenders will be able to issue FHA loans for single condo units, and buildings with a greater number of investor-owned units or greater percentage of commercial space can qualify for FHA financing, among other changes HUD released Wednesday.

NAR expects the new rules, which will go into effect Oct. 15, to revive a condo market that has been stifled since the Great Recession. For more on this, check out the REALTOR® magazine article.

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August 13, 2019

July Housing Market Statistics

In July, the U.S. economic expansion that began in June 2009 became the longest in the nation's history. That run marked 121 straight months of gross domestic product growth and surpassed the 120-month expansion from 1991 to 2001. The average rate of growth during this expansion has been a milder 2.3 percent per year compared to 3.6 percent during the 1990s. Although the economy should continue to perform well for the rest of 2019, some economists see a mild recession on the horizon.

During the record-setting 121-month economic expansion, the unemployment rate has dropped from 10.0 percent in 2009 to 3.7 percent. Yet, many consumers continue to struggle financially. Low mortgage interest rates have helped offset low housing affordability. However, high home prices are outpacing median household income growth. In a move to stoke continued economic prosperity, the Federal Reserve reduced the benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to about 2.25 percent, marking the first reduction in more than a decade.

The Greater Chattanooga area market remains hot, and the increase in inventory and the increase in homes sold reflect that.

For our area, New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 3.3 percent to 1,300. Pending Sales were up 15.2 percent to 1,068. Inventory levels shrank 8.4 percent to 2,770 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 12.7 percent to $210,250. Days on Market was up 5.0 percent to 42 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 13.9 percent to 3.1 months.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Navigating a market that
can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on
trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R®.

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August 7, 2019

Federal Interest Rates Cut Will Have Little Effect on Housing

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut interest rates for the first time since the Great Recession of 2008, but the National Association of Realtors® don’t think it will have a huge impact on residential purchases… at least in the short term.

In a recent discussion, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, said that the move is not likely to deliver significant juice to an already favorable borrowing environment for home buyers. The federal funds rate, which is what banks charge one another for short-term borrowing, will now hover between 2% and 2.25%, according to news reports.

The Fed made the decision to lower interest rates to stave off the threat of an economic downturn. But it's unlikely to translate into additional mortgage savings for many buyers. With the interest rate for a 30-year loan already hovering below 4%, the Fed’s move may be more meaningful for buyers with other types of financing, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. “Many borrowers will benefit, especially those with adjustable-rate mortgages and commercial real estate loans,” Yun says. “The longer-term 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will see little change in the near future because they had already declined in anticipation of this latest move by the Fed.

“These low interest rates will partly help with housing affordability over the short-term. Both rents and home prices have been consistently outpacing income growth. The only way to mitigate housing-cost challenges as a long-term solution is to bring more supply of both multifamily and single-family homes to the market," adds Yun.

The housing market and borrowing rates can move quickly. That’s why being pre-approved for a home loan and working with a Realtor® is the best way to make sure you’re purchasing at the best possible time. That’s Who We R.

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July 29, 2019

Schools’ Major Impact on Real Estate

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already back-to-school time. As a Realtor, every day I see how important schools are to families looking to buy a home. Luckily our area has many outstanding schools, which makes my job easier. It’s easy to show houses to people who are excited about the great schools that their kids will attend.

Buying and moving into a new home is stressful, but moving with school-aged children adds an entirely different set of requirements and stresses. The unique needs of homebuyers and sellers with children under 18 are explored by the National Association of Realtors® in a recently published study, the 2018 Moving With Kids Report.

Unsurprisingly, schools play a critical factor in the purchasing decisions of buyers with children. Fifty percent of buyers with children say the quality of a neighborhood’s school district is important, compared to 11 percent of buyers without children. Convenience and proximity to schools is also a crucial consideration to buyers with children, with 45 percent saying it is important factor. Just six percent of buyers without children agreed.

When choosing a home, buyers with children tend to purchase larger homes than their child-free counterparts. The average buyer with children under 18 purchases a 2,100-square-foot home with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, while the average buyer with no children chooses a 1,750-square-foot home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Both groups prefer a single-family, detached house.

More than a quarter of all buyers with children, 27 percent, said childcare expenses delayed the process of buying a home. Those expenses also have an impact on the buying process, forcing buyers with children to make compromises on the house they purchase. Thirty percent of these buyers compromised on the size of their home, 29 percent compromised on the price of the home and 22 percent on the condition of the home.

When it comes to selling a home, 24 percent of those with children choose to sell because their house is too small. Only 8 percent of people without children at home sold their house for the same reason. This is further demonstrated when sellers were asked what they want most from their agent. Sellers with children want their agents to sell their home within a specific timeframe (22 percent), more so than sellers without children (20 percent). However, sellers both with and without children expect their Realtor to provide a broad range of services and manage most aspects of their home sale, 80 and 79 percent respectively.

For sellers with children, urgent is the word that most often describes their selling situation: 26 percent of sellers with children qualified their need to sell as 'very urgently' and needed to sell their home as quickly as possible. Compare that to only 14 percent of sellers without children.

Buying a house is rarely just a financial transaction, especially when children are involved. Realtors® help buyers navigate every emotional and financial factor to ensure families find their dream home. That’s Who We R.

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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July 24, 2019

5 Sure-Fire Methods for Annihilating Bugs in Your House`

Summer brings out the creepy-crawlies. Ants march one-by-one toward your kitchen, fruit flies swarming your ripe farmers’ market peaches, and wasps sending you and your guests scrambling from the barbecue.

Don’t panic. You can kill bugs in your house naturally — without expending too much effort, as long as you follow these expert-approved do’s and don’ts from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Keep ants out by sealing up their entrance. These pesky crawlers seek out any “sugary, sweet substances, crumbs on your countertop, and food spillage on the floors,” says Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., a board-certified entomologist and director of technical education and training at Rentokil North America Pest Control.

Ants lay a trail of pheromones to food their family can follow. Cut off their food supply by keeping your space spotless — wipe up spills and clear the crumbs from the bottom of your trash bin. If you spot their tiny parade, Troyano says to grab a tube of sealant and follow the ants until you find their itty-bitty entrance. Combining sugar and borax is another DIY method that hurts more than helps. While borax will kill the ants, it’s also an irritant that can be toxic to pets. Plus, the sugar “may end up attracting ants that wouldn’t have been there in the first place,” Troyano says.

Ban roaches by super cleaning or calling a pro. These nasty crawlers are “nocturnal and secretive in nature,” says Troyano. What’s worse is that they travel in groups. “If you spot one, it’s searching for food because the other roaches are eating all the rest,” she says. “Roaches hide so well in such tiny cracks and crevices and niches,” Troyano says. “Unless you’re trained to think like the roach, it’s very difficult to be able to get them all.” While store-bought roach traps and bait can help, to truly kill an infestation, you must remove any food sources, and hire an exterminator.

Stop wasps by killing them and removing their home. Wasps can be the worst warm weather pests, and they’re difficult to prevent and a pain to kill, literally, as you might suffer a sting or two in the process. Our backyards are most commonly home to either yellow jackets or paper wasps. During winter, the queens tuck away in the yard, wood piles, or other small holes, and they emerge when the weather warms in search of a home for their next colony.

To kill a single wasp or an entire nest, Troyano recommends aerosol insecticide. If you’re concerned about toxicity — these sprays typically include pyrethrins, which can cause respiratory problems if used incorrectly — hire an exterminator. If you’re brave enough to tackle a nest yourself, only do it at night when all wasps are back and sleeping. Stand as far away as the spray allows (most work from 20-plus feet) and wear thick, full-coverage clothing. Plan your escape route before spraying.

Of course, hiring an exterminator is safer — and necessary in some cases. Yellow jacket wasps like to build nests underneath siding. Some homeowners might be tempted to starve them out by plugging the entrance, which is a terrible mistake. “Yellow jackets are chewers,” she says. They’ll chew through the other side of their nest to get inside your house. “Every year, we get calls from frantic people because they see a soft, wet hole in their drywall, and they’ll poke it, and yellow jackets come spilling out,” Troyano says.

Control mosquitoes by removing their breeding grounds. Check birdbaths, storm drains, potted plants, any place water can collect, then dump any you find. Mosquitoes only need one or two weeks to breed, so hurry! Can’t dump it out? Treat standing water with larvicides that kill bugs before they start biting. But look out for products containing Bti, not methoprene, which is toxic to fish, causes vomiting in some dogs, and can irritate your skin. To keep them from attacking you when you’re relaxing on your back porch, simply blow them away, literally. A simple fan will do the trick (but a ceiling fan would be way cooler!).

Trap fruit flies with vinegar. Summer brings these frequent fliers in droves, and nothing seems to keep them away. The best way to keep your home fly-free is by cleaning up your garbage disposal or trash can and putting all of your food in the refrigerator immediately. Cleaning the produce bowl daily and removing any food with broken skin can stave off flies, but Troyano says putting everything away is the only fail-safe. Even after a thorough scrubbing, you still might find a few little guys hovering in your kitchen. A homemade trap, created by placing a small amount of cider vinegar in a jar and covering it with plastic wrap punched with a few holes, can help eliminate the flies’ last stand.

If these tips don’t help control your pest problem, ask your Realtor. Realtors build relationships with exterminators and other service providers, who can help homeowners enjoy their investment. That’s Who We R.

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July 17, 2019

June Housing Market Statistics

The relationship between our nation’s economy and the housing market is complicated. On one hand, residential real estate markets across the country are performing well within an economic expansion that will become the longest in U.S. history in July. However, there are signs of a slowing economy.

The economy is still performing well due to factors such as low unemployment and solid retail sales, but uncertainty remains regarding trade tensions, slowed manufacturing and meek business investments.
The Federal Reserve considers 2.0 percent a healthy inflation rate, but the U.S. is expected to remain below that this year. The Fed has received pressure from the White House to cut rates in order to spur further economic activity, and the possibility of a rate reduction in 2019 is definitely in play following a string of increases over the last several years. When you put all of these factors together, you can see the delicate balance between the housing market and our economy.

Locally, in June New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 7.9 percent to 1,283. Pending Sales were up 11.1 percent to 982. Inventory levels shrank 6.3 percent to 2,794 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 7.5 percent to $214,900. Days on Market was up 4.7 percent to 45 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 11.1 percent to 3.2 months.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Navigating a market that can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R.

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July 9, 2019

Home Buyers Rank Commute Time Above Square Footage

Home Buyers Rank Commute Time Above Square Footage

I know a lot of people, but I don’t know anyone who loves sitting in traffic. Sitting still on the road keeps us from doing what we want to do, and I hate it. And I’m not alone. In fact, an interesting new study shows that commute time is extremely important to buyers when they're deciding on a home to purchase. Eighty-five percent of buyers say they would sacrifice other home features, such as lot size, square footage, and home style, in order to shorten their commute to work, according to a survey of more than 600 realtor.com® users. Forty percent say they are looking to reduce their commute time by up to 45 minutes.

Because of this survey, realtor.com® has announced a new tool that enables buyers to filter their home-search results according to rush-hour and off-peak commute times. “Our commute time filter gives buyers the ability to toggle between rush-hour and off-peak commute times,” says Chung Meng Cheong, chief procurement officer for realtor.com®. “With a more holistic view of their drive to and from work, people are able to make more informed decisions about where to live and, hopefully, reduce some unnecessary stress from their daily lives.”

Home buyers can enter basic search information, such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and location desired. They can then filter listings to match their preferred commute time. Commute times are offered in 10-minute increments up to 60 minutes or more. All of the available homes that match the search parameters and commuting distance will then be displayed.

Listening to our clients and their needs when they are searching for property is one of the most important roles of a Realtor. Realtors use the latest in technology to better serve our community. That’s Who We R.

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July 2, 2019

An App Runs on a Code. A REALTOR Stands By One

Friends often ask me, “What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®?” People often use the terms interchangeably, but there are differences between REALTORS® and real estate agents. Although both are licensed to sell real estate, the major difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR® is a that a REALTOR® must subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Our Code of Ethics is our way of policing ourselves to make sure that we are always working for the benefit of our clients and community. We believe in the Code of Ethics so strongly that we are required to attend training sessions to maintain our membership.

On June 27th, we participated in National Real Estate Ethics Day. This training event, hosted by best-selling author and Realtor Leigh Brown, was live-streamed to Realtor associations all over the country. Our association, the Greater Chattanooga Realtors®, was proud to participate in this event with Realtors from 160 other associations across 22 states.

And if that wasn’t enough, Realtors took this day as an opportunity to raise $23,000 for the REALTORS® Relief Foundation. This fund was established after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and over the past 17 years, the REALTORS® Relief Foundation has collected and distributed over $29 million in relief aid for more than 70 disasters in 37 states and territories.

So what does all of this mean? It means that Realtors do more than sell real estate. Realtors consistently set themselves apart by their focus on professionalism and ethics. We are advocates for homeownership, and that’s something that a website or an app can’t do. An app runs on a code.
A REALTOR® stands by one. In our Code of Ethics, we promise to put people first. That’s Who We R.

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June 28, 2019

Single Sign-On Issue & Resolution For Accessing Tax Data

Flexmls users access CRS via Single-Sign On (SSO) by clicking on the “CRS Tax Data” button on the Detail Tab of any listing in Flexmls. Typically, no additional sign-in should be needed.

Due to a recent programming change in Flexmls, a few MLS users are getting a CRS login page instead of being logged in automatically to CRS. Whether you are on a Mac or PC, you’ll need to make changes in your browser (Safari and/or Chrome). Our friends at CRS created these help sheets to walk you through it:

Need additional assistance accessing CRS Tax Data? Contact CRS at gethelp@crsdata.com OR 800-374-7488.

 

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June 26, 2019

We Love Where We Live

Let’s face it- we know how great Chattanooga is. Even if you haven’t lived in Chattanooga very long, it’s easy to see why we love our town so much. But sometimes it’s important to get an outside perspective to see how others view our town. Recently I read an article from Anthony Sanfilippo at the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) in which he discusses how great our city is, how far it’s come, and why so many people are moving here:

People have different reasons for wanting to buy a home in a certain city or town, or even as specific as a community or a neighborhood. Whatever the reason for moving might be, finding the right place to live is important for a would-be homeowner, but it’s also not the easiest task.

Home prices and mortgage rates are to rise this year and the available housing supply within a buyer’s parameters may shrink.

But some markets are better than others. Realtor.com recently released their hottest markets list for 2019, and coming in at No. 4 is Chattanooga, which had remade itself over the past decade or so into a vibrant city attracting a younger, hipper generation into its environs.

Economists for NAR continuously track home prices, availability and how quickly homes will sell. To make this list, they combine that data with markets that are hotbeds for job growth, are experiencing an influx of new construction and are flush with millennials – the generation making up a majority of buyers in the U.S.

Though Lakeland, Fla., Grand Rapids Mich. and El Paso, Texas ranked ahead of Chattanooga, this up and coming Tennessee city that has a lot of momentum.

Chattanooga continues to expand its downtown with new restaurants and amenities, such as the popular Chattanooga Film Festival. It has a lively nightlife scene, which is attractive to millennials – whether they are looking for a place to dance or a place to chill.

Although Chattanooga still maintains a small town feel in many places, it has also been reshaped by the tech boom. It houses the fastest internet broadband in the country and has attracted tech businesses both of the homegrown variety (like Bellhops) and outside companies (like Carbon Five) which are making Chattanooga their new home.

It has easy access to lakes and mountains for those that love the outdoors and still maintains weekly farmer’s markets and a wide assortment of small-town mom-and-pop shops that give it a traditional look and feel.

Chattanooga also offers a diverse cross-section of neighborhoods, with more than 40 unique and welcoming neighborhoods. It’s also an especially affordable city with an average median home price of $161,595, nearly $100,000 below the national average.

What makes Chattanooga’s affordable prices so attractive is that new construction can also be purchased for very reasonable prices.

Isn’t that great to read? As Realtors, we have pride in our community. We love where we live, and we are thrilled to help our community find the property that works for them; whether it’s for a business or for a home. That’s who we R®.

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June 21, 2019

NAR Legislative Updates

Flood Insurance Updates

Private Flood Insurance:

On February 20, 2019, five federal regulatory agencies - the Federal Reserve, FDIC, OCC, Farm Credit and National Credit Union Administrations - published final regulations (link is external) clarifying lender acceptance of private flood insurance. These rules will take effect on July 1.

The final regulations implement Section 239 of the Biggert-Waters Reform Act, which generally requires that lenders accept private flood insurance meeting a strict statutory definition. More specifically, the rules:

  • Adopt the same definition of private flood insurance as the statute; this definition has been an ongoing source of confusion, particularly for smaller lenders.
  • Provide compliance aid for lenders to determine whether a private policy meets the definition and thus must be accepted in satisfaction of federal flood insurance requirements.
  • Clarify that lenders have broad discretion to accept private policies that don’t meet the strict definition if the policy provides sufficient protection of the loan consistent with safety and soundness principles.

NAR has been working as part of a coalition to make it easier for lenders to accept private flood insurance, which often offers better coverage at lower cost than the NFIP. Read our latest regulatory comment letter (link is external). These rules do provide lenders with important clarifications, compliance aid and regulatory certainty. They do not change FEMA or FHA guidelines that generally fail to recognize private flood insurance policies for purposes of federal assistance.

NAR will continue working with Congress and the Administration to clarify any remaining issues of continuous private flood insurance coverage and address these issues as part of NFIP reauthorization and reform legislation.

House Committee Passes Flood Bill:

On June 12, 2019, by a unanimous vote of 59 to 0, the House Financial Services Committee approved HR 3167: the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Reauthorization Act, sending the bill to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

The NFIP Reauthorization Act would extend the program for five years and include significant reforms to strengthen flood mapping, enhance mitigation investments and remove several barriers to private flood insurance options. It easily cleared the first hurdle of the legislative process because it was the product of extensive, bipartisan negotiations between Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC).

NAR supported committee passage because the bill represents a long-term solution to NFIP and a breakthrough of the two-year deadlock that has resulted in 12 short-term extensions and two brief lapses so far.  The bill is not only a sensible, bipartisan pathway forward, but also includes numerous NAR-championed provisions and is consistent with long-standing NAR policy principles.

Next, the House of Representatives must vote on the measure but the timing is not yet clear. NAR will urge the House to take up the NFIP Reauthorization Act at the first available opportunity and move the bill to the United States Senate. Currently, NFIP’s flood-insurance-writing authority is next set to expire on September 30, 2019.

NAR’s Letter of Support (link is external)
HR 3167, The National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (link is external)
Section-by-Section Committee Summary (link is external)

Congress Passes VA Loan Bill

The President is expected to sign H.R. 299, the "Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act." This legislation includes language which will eliminate the cap on the VA home loan guarantee. Veterans, under this legislation, will be able to purchase any home they qualify for using the VA home loan (with zero down payment).

As introduced, the legislation would slightly increase some of the guarantee fees for all veterans using the VA loan program, in order to pay for the healthcare component. NAR opposed this language, and in conjunction with other groups, was able to mitigate the impact of these increases. NAR will continue to work with the VA on implementing the loan limit provision and assuring all veterans have access to the home loan benefit.

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June 21, 2019

The Importance of Pre-Approval

When looking to purchase a home, sometimes buyers can put the cart before the horse. It’s easy to get swept up in the idea of buying a new home. One piece of advice I give to anyone is to get a pre-approval for your home loan. If you don’t seek a loan pre-approval before you start looking, you might actually prevent yourself from finding and buying your dream home. Here’s why:

Streamlined Hunting With Pre-Approval
Most homeowners start out by browsing homes for sale online to get an idea of what neighborhoods and housing styles they like. If you don’t know what you can afford, you may be looking out of your price range and wasting your time. You may also be looking below what you would have qualified for and not getting the right home for you. If you start off by getting a pre-approval, you can search by price, identify the right neighborhoods, and find your dream home much faster.

Better Results From a REALTOR®
The bottom line is this: REALTORS® prefer to work with home buyers who have a pre-approval in hand for two reasons.

First, a REALTOR® knows the deal isn’t likely to fall through. Second, when they know what you want and what you can afford, so they are able to do a better job of finding your dream home. For example, you told a REALTOR® you want a historic home, but the asking price for these homes varies widely. If they don't know what you can afford, they can only do a general search across several price ranges and may miss hidden gems.

On the other hand, if you have pre-approval, a REALTOR® would know what exactly what to focus on and would be able to suggest different neighborhoods, sizes and conditions of homes to match your needs—making it easier to get you exactly what you want.

Higher Acceptance Rate for Buyers With Pre-Approval
Once you find the perfect home, the next step can go two different ways depending on a pre-approval.
If you’re not pre-approved and you find a home you want to make an offer on, you’re taking a gamble. REALTORS® and sellers are less willing to accept offers from a buyer without a pre-approval. Odds are, they’ll go on to the next offer—and you’ll miss out. However, if you are pre-approved, you have more room to haggle. Sellers may be more willing to lower the asking price, include appliances, cover closing costs or make other allowances to work with a pre-approved buyer.

Less Stress With Pre-Approval
Finally, skipping this step can wreak havoc on your stress level. If you aren’t pre-approved, you’ll spend longer looking for homes, and you may not feel like you’re getting great service from a REALTOR®. You may get turned down once you’re ready to make an offer. All of this adds more time and stress to what should be a very exciting time in your life.

On the other hand, if you’re pre-approved, you have less to worry about: you know you’re a qualified buyer, you know there are lenders willing to work with you, and you can feel pretty confident when you make an offer.

As Realtors, we are here to help guide people through this process, and getting pre-approval for a home loan will definitely make the process much smoother.  Realtors give expert guidance because That’s Who We R®.

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June 12, 2019

May Housing Market Statistics

At this point in the year, we are getting a good sense for how the housing market is likely to perform for the foreseeable future. Although it is not a particularly exciting forecast, it is a desirable one.  Markets across the country are regulating toward a middle ground between buyers and sellers. While it
remains true that sales prices are running higher and that inventory options are relatively low, buyers are beginning to find wiggle room at some price points and geographies.

An extended trend of low unemployment, higher wages, and favorable mortgage rates have been terrific drivers of housing stability in recent years. What is different about this year so far is that prices are not rising as quickly. Some of the hottest Western markets are even cooling slightly, while some Northeast markets are achieving a state of recovery after a decade of battling back from recession. As a whole, the selling season is looking fairly stable across the nation.

In the Greater Chattanooga area, New Listings increased 7.7 percent to 1,428. Pending Sales were up 18.8 percent to 1,156. Inventory levels shrank 0.7 percent to 2,680 units. Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 10.8 percent to $205,000. Days on Market was down 12.2 percent to 43 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 6.1 percent
to 3.1 months.

The housing market is always subject to change, so seeking the expertise of a Realtor will ensure homebuyers and sellers know all of the information available to them. That’s who we R®.

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June 3, 2019

4 Reasons Why Summer Is the Best Time to Move

On the fence about moving this summer? Realtor.com highlights these reasons that might make you want to take the plunge and jump into the hot housing market.

Long days with plenty of sun
The weather conditions in the winter can make moving difficult. But warm weather means you won't have to deal with snow or cold, which can make a move difficult or uncomfortable. Warmer weather means longer days and more daylight that gives you more time to move in and out of a home. This is especially helpful for those who are not hiring a moving company and will be doing the heavy lifting themselves.

Children are not in school
For those with families, moving in summer means no disruption of the school year or daily routine for the children. Plus, you won't have to plan your move around a school schedule, and you'll have extra hands on deck to help you out with the move. Disrupting the school year with a major move can be difficult, not only with all the school activities, but also with after-school activities and sports activities. This can be a great way to put all of their youthful energy to work.

Yard sales galore
Summer also brings more neighborhood yard sales, which can be beneficial to both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you can team up with neighbors and share the task of promoting the yard sale and bringing in foot traffic. As a buyer, you will have more yard sales to peruse for any items you need. Plus, yard sales can be a great way to reduce the amount of stuff you have to move—and who doesn’t like the extra cash?

The selling season peaks in summer
The summer housing market heats up for sellers, so if you're antsy to move, you'll probably have an easier time finding a new place and getting out of your current house. June tops the list as the best month to sell, based on seller premiums. And, in case you needed an added incentive, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate just fell below 4%. This is the first time this has happened since January 2018, so the time to buy might be right now.

When you partner with a Realtor®, what your circumstances might be, you can be sure that you’re working with an expert who will work tirelessly on your behalf. That’s who we R®.

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May 27, 2019

Baby Boomers: Why Should We Downsize?

I’ve noticed that millennials are often talked about in regard to housing, but baby boomers, mostly between the ages of 54 to 73, are making news as well. I read an article from USA Today which noted that a growing number of baby boomers are choosing not to downsize in retirement. Instead, they’re opting to remain in the homes where they raised their children. But their reluctance to move is contributing to low inventory across the country, says realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale.

Baby boomers are working longer and, therefore, putting retirement off longer than previous generations. Also, their millennial children increasingly are living at home with them and staying well into adulthood.

Baby boomers also may be struggling to find a smaller home to move into. Housing analysts have pointed to a dire housing shortage of less expensive entry-level homes—the type downsizing baby boomers could be seeking. The shortage has caused home prices to increase, and that may be erasing some of the incentive to downsize, housing analysts say. Locally, the median sales price for April 2019 was $199,000. This is a 11.5% increase just since April 2018 ($178,500).

Fifty-two percent of baby boomers say they’ll never move from their current home, according to a Chase Bank survey of 753 boomer homeowners conducted this year. Separately, 43% of 45- to 65-year-olds say they plan to remain in their current home through retirement, according to a 2017 Ipsos/USA Today poll.

And downsizing may be losing its appeal. For baby boomers who do plan to move, 43% say they want their next home to be the same size as their current one. Twenty-two percent say they want their next home to be even larger, according to a January survey of 50- and 60-year-olds by Del Webb.

Whatever your housing situation might be, working with a Realtor ensures that an expert is working on your behalf to make transaction as smooth as possible. That’s who we R®.

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May 22, 2019

Realtors Meet in D.C. For Hill Visits & Presidential Address

Last week members of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors, joined more than 10,000 Realtors from across the nation in Washington D.C. Our purpose was to further our work with Congress to advance policy initiatives that strengthen the ability of Americans to buy, invest, own and sell commercial and residential real estate.

This trip is so satisfying because we are able to see firsthand the importance and impact of advocacy on a state and national level. It reminds me personally that our business and the rights of propertyowners must never be taken for granted.

This year, we advocated for several legislative initiatives including equal protection for the LGBT community under the Fair Housing Act, housing finance reform, national flood insurance program reauthorization and housing affordability and accessibility.

We heard the latest market forecasts from National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Dr. Lawrence Yun, who was the keynote speaker for our 2018 Economic Update Luncheon co-hosted with the Home Builders of Greater Chattanooga. While in D.C., we even had the attention of the highest office in the land. Every year NAR invites the sitting President of the United States to speak to our group, should their schedule allow. The last President to address our conference was President George W. Bush in 2005. President Trump addressed Realtors saying, “Homeownership and what you do as Realtors is a part of Americana. You work hard, you love people, you love this country.”

So why do we take the time to make this visit? 2019 National Association of Realtors President John Smaby put it best. "The day-to-day business dealings of Realtors are directly impacted by the decisions made by our policymakers and regulators, making it vitally important for leaders on Capitol Hill to hear from our members.”

As a member of America's largest trade association, my fellow Realtors and I know the importance of making sure our voices and the voices of homeowners from across the nation are heard. An app doesn’t advocate for equal protection under the Fair Housing Act. A website doesn’t fight for access to flood insurance. Realtors do. Realtors fight for homeowners because that’s who we R®.

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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May 2, 2019

Buying a House – Step By Step

Buying a home is a big move, literally and figuratively. Buying a house requires a serious amount of money and time. The journey isn’t always easy. It isn’t always intuitive. But when you get the keys to your new home — that can be one of the most rewarding feelings pretty much ever.

The key to getting there is knowing the home-buying journey. Knowing what tools are at your disposal. And most importantly creating relationships with experts who can help you get the job done.

With so many people looking to purchase a home this spring, it’s important to know the entire process. I’ll show you some of the major steps you’ll take during the home-buying process, and explain the relationships and experts you’ll need along the way.

Ready to live the dream? Here we go.

Do Your Homework. Before you set foot into a foyer, you should identify your list of “musts” and “wants.” This list is an inventory of priorities for your search. And there’s so much to decide: Price, housing type, neighborhood, and school district — just to name a few. If you’re planning to buy a home with a partner you will certainly want to be on the same page. If you’re not, you’ll be less able to give Realtors or lenders the information they need to help you. And you risk wasting time viewing homes you can’t afford — or don’t even want in the first place.

Start Shopping. Once you know what you’re looking for, the next step is to start looking at listings and housing information online. (This part? You’re going to crush it.)

Find Your Realtor®. Your relationship with your Realtor is the foundation of the home-buying process. Your Realtor is the first expert you’ll meet on your journey, and the one you’ll rely on most. That’s why it’s important to interview Realtors and find the one who’s right for your specific needs.

Choose Your Lender. Once you’ve found your Realtor, ask them to recommend at least three mortgage lenders that meet your financial needs. This is another big step, as you’ll be working with your lender closely throughout the home-buying process.

Pick A Loan. Once you’ve decided on a lender (or mortgage broker), you’ll work with your loan agent to determine which mortgage is right for you. You’ll consider the percentage of your income you want to spend on your new house, and you’ll provide the lender with paperwork showing proof of income, employment status, and other important financials. If all goes well (fingers crossed) you’ll be pre-approved for a loan at a certain amount.
Look Around. Now that you have both a Realtor who knows your housing preferences and a budget — and a lender to finance a house within that budget — it’s time to get serious about viewing homes. Your Realtor will provide listings you may like based on your parameters (price range, ZIP codes, features), and will also help you determine the quality of listings you find online. Then comes the fun part: Open houses and private showings, which give you the unique opportunity to evaluate properties in a way you can’t online.

Make An Offer. Once you find the home you want to buy, you’ll work with your Realtor to craft an offer that not only specifies the price you’re willing to pay but also the proposed settlement date and contingencies — other conditions that must be agreed upon by both parties, such as giving you the ability to do a home inspection and request repairs.

Time To Negotiate. Making an offer can feel like an emotional precipice, almost like asking someone out on a date. Do they like me? Am I good enough? Will they say yes? It’s stressful! Some home sellers simply accept the best offer they receive, but many sellers make a counteroffer. If that happens, it’s up to you to decide whether you want your Realtor to negotiate with the seller or walk away. This is an area where your Realtor can provide real value by using their expert negotiating skills to haggle on your behalf and nab you the best deal.

Get the Place Inspected. If your offer is accepted, then you’ll sign a contract. Most sales contracts include a home inspection contingency, which means you’ll hire a licensed or certified home inspector to inspect the home for needed repairs, and then ask the seller to have those repairs made. This mitigates your risk of buying a house that has major issues lurking beneath the surface, like mold or cracks in the foundation. (No one wants that.)

Ace the Appraisal. When you offer to buy a home, your lender will need to have the home appraised to make sure the property value is enough to cover the mortgage. If the home appraises close to the agreed-upon purchase price, you’re one step closer to settlement — but a low appraisal can add a wrinkle.

Close the Deal. The last stage of the home-buying process is settlement, or closing. This is when you sign the final ownership and insurance paperwork and make this whole thing official.

When it’s all said and done, you’ll have the keys to your new home! As you can see, the home buying process can be challenging. That’s why it’s so crucial to have a Realtor by your side. Ethically serving our clients through their biggest investment- That’s Who We R®.

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May 1, 2019

MLS Rules Amended April 2019

At their February 2019 and April 2019 meetings, the Board of Directors approved recommendations from the MLS Committee to incorporate NAR-mandated language into our local MLS Rules, as well as a local clarification that the list price cannot be modified after an offer has been accepted. These amendments have now been incorporated into the MLS Rules and accomplish the following:

1. Clarify that the list price cannot be modified after an offer has been accepted. 

2. Incorporate NAR-mandated amendments to:

  • Upon request by the cooperating broker, require the listing broker to provide written affirmation that the offer has been submitted to the seller OR that the seller waived the listing's broker's obligation to present the offer.
  • Provide a dispute resolution mechanism for complaints alleging the unauthorized use of listing content (i.e., photos), including a prohibition of Participants taking legal action against another Participant for alleged MLS Rules violations unless the complainingParticipant first uses the remedies provided in the MLS Rules.
  • Clarify the representations and warranties Participants make when submitting listing content to the MLS, including the Participant's agreement to defend and hold harmless the MLS and other Participants from liabilities taken when submitting listing content to the MLS.

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

Click to access the MLS Rules in their entirety.

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

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April 24, 2019

Helpful Tips For Open Houses

I’m so excited that our Annual Greater Chattanooga Realtors® Open House Weekend is scheduled for this weekend, April 27-28. It allows the public an opportunity to preview more than 100 homes in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia - and a chance to win prizes!

Why hold an Open House? It’s a chance to throw open the doors and dazzle buyers. Whether you’re a part of Open House Weekend, or if you’re looking to list later in the year, these tips will help make your Open House a hit.

Let Your Realtor® Take the Lead. Your job is to make your house look like a million bucks. The job of your Realtor, an expert on your local real estate market and what makes buyers tick, is to take care of the rest. The Realtor® will take the lead on hosting the Open House, communicating with potential buyers' and their agents, and communicating any feedback to you following the Open House.

Try Some Simple Staging. You want your home to look its best while it’s on the market especially during the Open House. Many Realtors say the best way to primp your home for its big day is to stage it.

Depending on what your Realtor recommends, staging may involve renting new furniture or decor for certain rooms in your home. Consider displaying a bouquet of fresh flowers in the entryway, setting your dining room table to make it look inviting, or turning on your outdoor sprinklers shortly before visitors arrive to make your lawn sparkle.

Clean Like Crazy. When your home is on the market, you need to keep it in showing shape — not only for the Open House, but also for any scheduled showings with buyers. Even though you’ve already (hopefully) cleaned and organized your home for its listing photos, there’s a good chance you’ve let clutter or dust pile up again, especially if you have children or pets.

Make sure appliances, windows, and mirrors are fingerprint-free. Clean and organize your closets, cabinets, and under the sinks (during the Open House, buyers are allowed to be nosy). Clear every bit of clutter and get rid of it or put it in storage.

Don’t have the bandwidth to do a deep clean? Hire a house cleaning service to do the work for you. A professional cleaning service costs around $115 to $230 on average. If you’re not sure about which service to hire, ask your Realtor to recommend cleaners.

Do a Smell Check. If buyers get a whiff of something funky, they’re going to run — not walk — out of your Open House. Prior to the Open House, ask your Realtor or a neighbor to do an honest, no-holds-barred smell check. If your house has the aroma of your beloved pet(s), deep clean the carpets, relocate the litter box, and take steps to eliminate traces of Fluffy. If the basement is dank and musty, buy a dehumidifier to remove air moisture and run a fan to circulate the air. If the kitchen drain stinks, drop in a cup of baking soda, then two cups of white vinegar. Enjoy the bubbling, then let the mixture sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Finally run hot water for 15 to 30 seconds to flush the odor.

Put Your Pictures (and Valuables) Away. Personal belongings such as family photos, awards, and religious art can distract home buyers and make it harder for them to imagine themselves living in your home. You don’t have to go overboard — the idea isn’t to eliminate every trace of yourself — but consider temporarily hiding some pictures and personal effects out of sight during the Open House. Also, there’s a safety element to stowing your personal belongings. It’s important to remember that you’re inviting strangers into your home. Consider securely storing personal items (checkbooks, jewelry, prescription medications, etc.). Also be sure to lock windows and doors afterwards.

Let the Light In. Light doesn’t only (literally) brighten up your space. It also makes rooms look and feel larger. On Open House day, open all curtains and blinds to let natural light in. Replace every single burnt-out light bulb in and outside the home — buyers should see a working light every time they flip a switch.

Draw Attention to Your Home’s Best Features. Even though you won’t be there, you can still draw visitors’ attention to features in your home that you’d like to highlight. Prior to the Open House, post (friendly, aesthetically pleasing) signs around the house with calls to action such as, “look down, new hardwood floors,” or “gas fireplace, push this button.” Buyers will likely appreciate the help, and that they’re working with a conscientious seller.

After the Open House ends, your Realtor will share with you what questions buyers asked and any comments they overheard by visitors. The important thing is to stay open to buyers’ feedback, and to follow your Realtor’s advice about how to respond. Based on buyers’ reactions, your Realtor may recommend that you make certain repairs, do some painting, or invest in additional staging before your next Open House. Whatever they advise, it’s not personal — it’s just the business of selling your home.

Hopefully these tips will make your Open House a success. Potential buyers who visit during Open House Weekend can register for a chance to win one of five $150 gift cards. Get details and preview scheduled open houses at www.gcar.net.

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April 22, 2019

March Market Statistics

Nationally, increasing housing prices and housing affordability remained a concern in many markets, but locally sales prices and inventory levels remained steady. One big takeaway from March is the sharp increase in people listing their property for sale.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 8.2 percent to 1,282. Pending Sales were up 8 percent to 1,084. Inventory levels shrank 1.1 percent to 2,501 units. Prices were fairly stable. The Median Sales Price increased 0.7 percent to $190,000. Days on Market remained flat at 54 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 3.2 percent to 3 months.

The Federal Reserve recently announced that no further interest rate hikes are planned for 2019. Given the fact that the federal funds rate has increased nine times over the past three years, this was welcome news for U.S. consumers, which carry an approximate average of $6,000 in revolving credit card debt per household. Fed actions also tend to affect mortgage rates, so the pause in rate hikes was also welcome news to the residential real estate industry.

All of these factors are looking to make a hot spring buying and selling season. To prepare for this flurry of activity, the Greater Chattanooga Realtors will be hosting our annual Open House Weekend on April 27-28. This event will feature more than 100 Realtor-hosted Open Houses throughout southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia. Potential buyers who visit open houses this weekend can register for a chance to win one of five $150 gift cards. Get details and preview scheduled open houses at www.gcar.net.

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April 10, 2019

Homeowners More Likely to take on D.I.Y. Remodels, Says Realtor Survey

Homeowners looking to add personality and individuality to their home are more likely to undertake a do it yourself remodel than hire a professional, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Remodeling Impact Report: DIY. The report also shows that cash-strapped millennials are the most likely of any generation to take on a DIY project.

The report examines the differences between remodeling when hiring a professional compared to homeowners who pursue “do it yourself” projects. The report also differentiates between projects that were undertaken to benefit the homes of consumers and those that benefit consumers’ pets.

In fact, a recent study from the National Association of Realtors® showed that nearly half of all animal owners surveyed (52 percent) undertook home renovations to accommodate their animal. The most popular projects included building a fenced yard (23 percent), adding a dog door (12 percent), and installing laminate flooring (10 percent).

According to the report, homeowners reported a “Joy Score” of 9.9 for projects done themselves (Joy Scores range from 1 and 10, and higher figures indicate greater joy from the project). That is compared to a score of 9.6 for projects completed by professionals. DIYers also expressed a greater sense of accomplishment with a finished project, with 97 percent of respondents indicating a major or minor sense of accomplishment, compared to 93 percent of those who hired a professional.

Nearly three-fourths of Generation Y and Millennial consumers (73 percent,) over half of Generation X (51 percent) and 50 percent of Younger Boomers choose to DIY home projects. Seventy percent of the Silent Generation indicated that they hired a professional to complete their project – the highest of any generation.

Anyone taking on remodeling projects should speak to a REALTOR® to get guidance on getting the most bang for the buck on resale. REALTORS® have unique and instrumental insights into which projects and upgrades bring the most value to your home – That’s Who We R®.

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April 8, 2019

New Policy & Fee Schedule for IDX, VOW and Back-Office Data Feeds

In January 2019, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® modified its policy on how we will charge for IDX, VOW, and Confidential Back-Office system data feeds. This policy, as outlined below, ensures the MLS has an accurate accounting for MLS data transmitted to third-party vendors providing IDX, VOW, and Confidential Back-Office systems; provides a mechanism by which Participants and Subscribers are reminded to inform the MLS should a data feed no longer be required; and avoids an unreasonable cost to Participants and Subscribers for providing feeds to accommodate IDX, VOW and Confidential back-office systems. The policy is to:

1. No longer charge IDX/VOW vendors $400 per Participant with whom that vendor works to provide IDX/VOW services;

2. Charge a non-prorated fee of twenty-five dollars ($25) as outlined below to Participants and Subscribers, who would be billed initially at the time a data feed is provided and annually with the MLS subscription renewal; and

3. Provide data feeds required for IDX, VOW, and Confidential Back-Office systems, provided each Participant and/or Subscriber requesting the feed executes an IDX, VOW, or Broker Data Release agreement, whichever may apply:

  • $25 to each Subscriber, who (with their Participant’s approval), enters into an agreement with a vendor to provide a service to said Subscriber
  • $25 to a Participant, who enters into an agreement with a vendor to provide a service for the entire firm, partnership, corporation or limited liability company with which the Participant is affiliated.

Our MLS Staff is compiling a spreadsheet of IDX, VOW, and Confidential Back-Office feeds, which once completed will be provided to each Office, Participant, and/or Subscriber currently receiving a feed. Our intent is to provide this information ahead of the annual MLS subscription renewal so that we can terminate any feeds no longer in use. The next step will be to add the $25 fee to each account, so that this amount will be included with your MLS renewal invoice. For questions, please contact Rheta@gcar.net or Tonya@gcar.net.

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March 27, 2019

Eight Lawn Care Tasks You Need To Do Now

It might not be glamourous, but we can all agree that a lush, green lawn definitely adds to a property’s curb appeal. And if homeowners are looking to list their property for the coming spring buying season, it’s a good idea to get started on these tasks so that they can make their property look its best when it hits the market.

Here are some tips to help your property stand out to homebuyers this spring:

#1 Seed the Lawn
Before soil temps reach 65 degrees, spread grass seed over any bare or thin spots. The sooner the grass roots, the faster it can box out weeds. Or better yet, put down sod — it fights crabgrass and weeds better.

#2 Clean Out Debris
Your yard is waking up from a months-long slumber, and it’s lookin’ a little groggy with branches, leftover leaves, and clumps of yard debris scattered about. Clean that unsightly stuff from your lawn and gardens after the overnight air temps consistently rise above freezing. (Before that, it actually helps protect your grass, like a toasty blanket.)

#3 Apply Fertilizer with Pre-Emergent Herbicide
It sounds like an old gardener’s tale, but even master gardeners follow it: If the bright yellow forsythia bushes are beginning to bloom, it’s time to apply a slow-release fertilizer with pre-emergent herbicide to fight crabgrass. Apply before it germinates — when the soil warms to about 55 degrees, which is when forsythia hits peak bloom.

#4 Plant Bare-Root Plants
Once the soil in your garden is thawed and dry enough to crumble, rather than clump, in your hand — you can get your green thumb back into action outdoors. Cool-season growers like pansies, snapdragons, and bare-root trees and shrubs all get a boost from the cool, wet conditions.

#5 Wash Away Salt
Most plants don’t grow well if they’re feeling salty (unless they’re saline-tolerant, like daylilies). So once roadside soil has thawed, give your exposed plants a good watering to dilute any salt that sprayed up from slushy winter traffic.

#6 Prune and Fertilize
As long as your soil crumbles instead of clumping (revealing it’s sufficiently dry), now’s the time to prune fruit trees, shade trees, and summer-blooming shrubs, and remove old growth from perennials that didn’t receive a fall pruning. You’ll also want to fertilize trees and shrubs before they begin their spring growth.

#7 Preorder Perennials
Even if you can’t plant them just yet, take advantage of the 10-20% off deals offered by many nurseries in early spring. Bonus: Being an early bird means you’ll also get the best selection.
#8 Get Your Mower Ready
Once grass reaches 2.5 to 3.5 inches tall, it’s time for your mower’s annual maiden voyage. So prep now for a season of success, rather than stalling, wheezing, and cursing. Get an oil change, new spark plugs, and a clean air filter, and sharpen the blades to ensure a clean first cut.

Follow these handy tips and you’ll be sure to have your property ready for the annual Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Open House Weekend, which will be held on April 27-28. Stay tuned for details about this annual event to showcase the local inventory of available homes.

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March 21, 2019

Tax Time & Homeownership

The deadline to file taxes is less than a month away, and for some homeowners the new tax code has changed what to expect when filing their taxes. As with all financial matters, it’s recommended that you consult a certified professional.

The new tax code doesn’t automatically mean that your taxes are going up, but there are some significant changes that homeowners should be aware of.  The biggest change? Many homeowners who used to write off their property taxes and the interest they pay their mortgage will no longer be able to. The new law caps the mortgage interest you can write off at loan amounts of no more than $750,000. However, if your loan was in place by Dec. 14, 2017, the loan is grandfathered, and the old $1 million maximum amount still applies. Since most people don’t have a mortgage larger than $750,000, they won’t be affected by the cap.

Some other highlights of the new tax code are:
1. Single people may get more tax benefits from buying a house. Evan Liddiard, a CPA and director of federal tax policy for the National Association of REALTORS® says. “Single people can often reach [and potentially exceed] the standard deduction more quickly.”
2. Student loan debt is deductible. Now, up to $2,500 is deductible if you’re repaying, whether you itemize or not.
3. Charitable deductions and some medical expenses remain itemizable. If you’re generous or have had a big year for medical bills, these, added to your mortgage interest, may be enough to bump you over the standard deduction hump and into the write-off zone.
4. If your mortgage is over the $750,000 cap, pay it down faster.  Homeowners can add a little to the principal each month, or make a 13th payment each year.

Again, each person’s circumstances are different, so be sure to consult a tax professional to help navigate this new tax territory.

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March 13, 2019

February Market Statistics

I think most of us would agree that winter has lingered a bit longer than expected this year. I mention the weather because February has turned in some impressively cold and rainy days that have stalled some buying and selling activity for our area, and for large portions of the country. Nevertheless, housing markets have proven to be resilient despite predictions of a tougher year for the industry. It is still too early to say how the entire year will play out, but economic fundamentals remain positive.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 6.5 percent to 1,005. Pending Sales were up 13.7 percent to 869. Inventory levels shrank 1.9 percent to 2,537 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 3.7 percent to $182,000. Days on Market was down 12.3 percent to 57 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 6.3 percent to 3.0 months.

The National Association of REALTORS® recently reported that national existing-home sales were down slightly during January 2019 and that pending sales were up in year-over-year comparisons. It is worth noting that some softening of sales was anticipated, as was a positive sales bounce during January 2019 after a slow end to 2018. Weather-related events have hampered some activity during February 2019, yet buyers have shown determination toward achieving their homeownership goals.

The weather is starting to be a bit more favorable, which means spring will be in full bloom soon. Then things will really heat up. In fact, we’re already making plans for Greater Chattanooga Realtors Open House Weekend, which will be held on April 27-28. Stay tuned for details about this annual event to showcase the local inventory of available homes.

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March 11, 2019

Greater Chattanooga Realtors Lobby For Property Rights & Participate in Realtor Day on the Hill

On March 5th, forty-one Greater Chattanooga Realtors joined an estimated 400 other Tennessee Realtors in Nashville for their annual Realtor Day on the Hill on March 5th. Realtors from across the state met with elected officials to discuss issues pertinent to real estate and property owners.

“It was great to so many of our Realtors participate in Day on the Hill, and for many of them it, was their first experience with Realtor advocacy,” said Kim Bass, 2019 President of Greater Chattanooga Realtors.

This year, the state association, Tennessee Realtors® focused on maintaining affordable housing, protecting landlord rights, and repealing the Professional Privilege Tax.

“These issues not only impact Realtors, but also many of our clients. For example, affordable housing is crucial in areas experiencing increased growth such as ours and must continue to be a priority so that more people can attain homeownership,” said Bass.

“As a Realtor, I know the importance of building business relationships and today we built stronger relationships with our representatives. I know who to call when there’s a real estate issue,” said Jill Christy, 2019 Governmental Affairs Chair of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors.


Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Governmental Affairs Committee, of which many of the participants belong, examines policies that may impact the ability of REALTORS® to conduct their business successfully and ethically, and promotes the preservation of the right to own, use, and transfer real property. They work with elected officials on issues impacting property values and quality of life in Greater Chattanooga.

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March 5, 2019

Advocating for Homeowners: That’s Who We R®

As a Realtor, my job isn’t just putting “For Sale” and “Sold” signs in the ground. In fact, as the 2019 President of Greater Chattanooga Realtors, much of my job is advocating for the rights of property owners in our area.

As I write this, I’m on a bus with 40 other Greater Chattanooga Realtors. We’re on the way to the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville, where we’ll join with an estimated 400 Realtors from all over the state. Collectively, we will discuss crucial real estate issues on behalf of current and future home and property owners across Tennessee.

This year, the state association, Tennessee Realtors®, will focus on maintaining affordable housing, protecting landlord rights, and repealing the Professional Privilege Tax.

These issues not only impact Realtors, but also many of our clients. For example, affordable housing is crucial in areas experiencing increased growth such as ours and must continue to be a priority so that more people can attain homeownership.

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 to engage lawmakers on the issues that impact real estate.

We’re always fighting for property owners and for private property rights. That’s who we R®.

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 27, 2019

Serving Clients Better Every Day: That’s Who We R®

When it comes to buying or selling property, consumers want the best. The best price, the best property, the best location, the best process. What many don’t know is that they also have the right to the best real estate professional. Realtors are professionals, and that’s why we abide by our Code of Ethics, which was established in 1913.

The REALTOR® Code of Ethics isn’t just words on a page, but is a pledge of honesty, integrity, professionalism and community service. Partnering with a REALTOR® delivers the peace of mind that can only come from working with a real person. A real advocate. A real, trusted professional who is committed to their clients’ futures.

A Realtor friend of mine was working with a first time homebuyer who was going through a divorce and had to find a home for herself and her two daughters. At the time this single mom was paying an exorbitant amount on her monthly rent. The Realtor was able to get her client prequalified for a house that was significantly less than what she was paying in rent. My friend said that these types of interactions make her strive to serve her clients better every day.

Before becoming a Realtor, my friend was an elementary school teacher. She is a Chattanooga native, and deeply loves this town and all it has to offer.

That’s who my friend is. She is one of the more that 2,200 Greater Chattanooga Realtors, and the 1.3 million Realtors nationwide who serve our clients day in and day out.

Over the next few months, you’ll be hearing similar stories about who we are as Realtors. We want the community to know whether you’re looking to buy, sell, invest, or lease space, partnering with a Realtor is more than just a transaction.

Realtors are more than access to property and housing data. Realtors are not apps.  An app runs on code. A REALTOR® stands by one. In our Code of Ethics, we promise to put people first. Realtors are humans helping humans find dream homes, build dream communities, and turn business dreams into realities.

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February 22, 2019

Housing Scams Still Persist

Buying or selling a house can be an intense experience, and unfortunately there are scammers that hope to capitalize on the sometimes hectic real estate transaction process.

A fellow Realtor recently told me that he receives calls almost daily from people who are at risk of being scammed. One way these people try to fool the public is by taking images of properties that are for sale and posting these images online as a property available to be rented. When someone is interested in the “rental” property, the scammer asks to be sent money so that they can show the property.

Unfortunately, this is just one of the ways that dishonest people can prey upon people looking for housing. Properly handling client’s data and privacy against cons and scammers seems to be a constant issue in this digital age.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) takes the protection of our clients very seriously. When concerning data privacy and security, NAR “strongly supports efforts to protect consumers' sensitive personal information, and the REALTOR® code of Ethics and Standards of Practice explicitly acknowledges a REALTOR's® obligation to preserve the confidentiality of personal information provided by clients in the course of any agency or non-agency relationship—both during and after the termination of these business relationships.”

If you start to become suspicious of a business interaction, here are some steps to take:
• Be cautious when completing credit checks and rental applications.
• Contact the website owner(s) and ask to have the property removed.
• Keep paper trail of all your communications.
• Report the fraudulent activity to the authorities (local and federal).

Sellers and Listing Agents should also sign-up for Google Alerts and get an email anytime the property’s address is published on a website.

I urge the public to be aware of these types of scams, and to be vigilant. It’s always a good idea to check with your Realtor with questions about what is required for a transaction. Our expertise as Realtors can protect our clients and help prevent these potentially devastating mistakes.

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February 14, 2019

Security Cameras & Audio Recordings in Listings

Recently Tennessee Realtors® addressed a question about audio recordings through home security systems. Here'sd the question and response:
Q: Regarding security cameras with audio in listings, if we are the listing agent do we have to let the buyer know about this? If we are the buyer’s agent, are we required to ask the seller if they have cameras with audio?

A: Let’s look at applicable state law and recommended best practices.

In Tennessee, a person may record oral conversations where either the person is a party to the conversation or at least one of the participants has consented to the recording, per TCA §39-13-601(b)(5). A person may not photograph or record, for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, a person when the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy if the image would offend or embarrass an ordinary person, per TCA §39-13-605(a).

If you have a listing and the seller has recording devices in place, it is advisable to disclose this to each person looking at the house. You can disclose this in the MLS listing or in emails to buyer’s agents. Just be sure the disclosure is in written form.

Tennessee law re: audio recordings says that a person may record if they are a party to the conversation or if they have the consent of one of the participants. Under this, you would be wise to have a potential buyer sign a consent form to being recorded before entering a house with a recording device.

As a buyer’s agent, it is good practice to remind your clients this is a possibility before entering any house. If this is a concern to your client, you may want to ask each listing agent (via email) before entering a property whether or not there are recording devices. Then you will have written documentation that you asked and whether or not the agent disclosed.

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February 12, 2019

January Market Statistics

Despite a strong U.S. economy, historically low unemployment and steady wage growth, home sales began to slow across the nation late last year. What could be causing the slowdown? Economists point towards a combination of high prices and a steady stream of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. In a move described as a patient approach to further rate changes, the Fed did not increase rates during January 2019. The lack of increase seems to be the Fed’s response to the growing affordability conundrum.

Nationally, home affordability will continue to set the tone for the 2019 housing market. Early signs point to an improving inventory situation including in several markets that are beginning to show regular year-over-year percentage increases. In Greater Chattanooga for January, New Listings increased 15.6 percent to 1,082.

As motivated sellers attempt to get a jump on annual goals, many new listings enter the market immediately after the turn of a calendar year. This is true nationally and here in the Chattanooga region. If home price appreciation falls more in line with wage growth, and rates can hold firm, consumer confidence and affordability are likely to improve.

While New Listings were up for January, inventory levels did see a slight decrease of 1.2 percent top 2,635 units. Pending Sales were up 9.3 percent to 796, which is an increase of 9.3% over last year.

As expected when inventory is low, prices continued to gain traction for January. The Median Sales Price increased 1.1 percent to $180,000, and the Average Sales Price increased 2% to $216,752. Days on Market was down 8.8 percent to 62 days.

Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 6.1 percent to 3.1 months. As we move toward Spring and the typical time the market sees more activity, we anticipate the 3.1 Months Supply of Inventory to improve. This increased activity will make our annual Open House Weekend on April 27th and 28th that much more exciting!

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February 4, 2019

4 Things to Do in February to Avoid a Yucky Spring

This time of year, winter is a lot like that friend who can’t take a hint to leave. Help give winter a push with these four easy tasks from the National Association of Realtors® that will help usher in spring.

#1 Deep-Clean Your Entryway
Snow. Salt. Boots. Shovels. Your entryway floors, baseboards, rugs, and more have had a rough few months. Give that smallest of rooms some deep cleaning love now, before the salt crust becomes a permanent part of your entryway decor in spring.

#2 Make an Anti-Mud Plan
Mud may be the least of your frozen worries now, but it’s a-coming. Be prepared with a remediation plan. With your yard in its frozen-tundra state, you can easily see the troublesome spots.

Research potential ground cover, like gravel, a rain garden, decorative rocks, or the right grass that’ll soak it up. Then you’ll be ready to execute your anti-mud plan the moment it’s warm enough — and do it in time to keep the mud at bay.

#3 Organize Your Cleaning Closets and Laundry Room
Before the madness of spring cleaning begins, organize (or even renovate!) your laundry room and clean closets or cupboards. This will not only breathe a new life into these oft-ignored areas, but perfectly pampered cleaning stations can seriously rev up your spring cleaning motivation.

#4 Hire a Handyperson
Spring and summer are peak handyperson seasons. Skip the surge pricing and the agony of waiting for callbacks by hiring someone now. At least for the indoor chores. Plus, you may be surprised at what outdoor chores can be done. You’ll be spring-ready before the first flower buds.

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February 1, 2019

Supra eKEY App Update

Supra has informed us about an increase in calls to their call center about the new eKEY app due to a couple of issues, and they wanted us to pass along the following information:

AUTHORIZATION CODE: It has been reported some users are being asked to reauthorize their eKEY app and the app is not accepting the authorization code and giving an Authorization Invalid error. We are working on a fix for this issue but in the meantime the following steps can be done:

1. Delete the eKEY app
2. Re-install the eKEY app from the app store
3. Generate and enter a new authorization code

UPDATE CODE: Supra is seeing some instances of keys requiring update codes during the day when the keys are already updated. Supra has identified a fix for this and will be releasing new versions to the Android and Apple app stores this week. In the meantime, users can generate an update code by logging into SupraWEB at www.supraekey.com or navigating to supraweb.suprakim.com on their smartphone or by calling KIM voice at 1-888-968-4032.

LOCKED OUT MESSAGE: Supra is also seeing a few rare instances where a user whose keyholder record is deactivated due to the keyholder being inactive, on hold, or unpaid and their key is locking up. This is caused by repeatedly tapping the Update icon 10 times in a row and results in a Locked Out message. To fix this issue, the keyholder needs to resolve the reason for the key being in a disabled status, then either wait the 60 minutes for the key to unlock or they can reset the authorization by selecting More, About eKEY App, and Reset Authorization, and then enter a new authorization code.

ROSTER FOR EKEY PRO: In addition, a new version of the Android app was released to the app store yesterday that fixed an issue with searching on the roster for eKEY Professional users.

Supra apologizes for the inconvenience and appreciates your patience while they work through these issues. Supra can be reached at their support line at 1-877-699-6787, or by emailing suprasupport@fs.utc.com.

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January 29, 2019

2018 Housing Market Review


The Greater Chattanooga Realtors recently released their 2018 Annual Report on the local housing market, and 2018 was a very busy year.

The average sales price was nearly $223,000, which is a 5.5% increase over 2017 ($211,000).
This increase might reflect a decreased housing inventory. More than 10,000 homes were sold in the Greater Chattanooga area in 2018, which was a 1.9% increase over 2017 (9,826 homes).

Inventory dropped slightly from 2017. In 2017, there were approximately 3.3 months of inventory, while that amount dropped to 3.1 months in 2018. Maintaining a consistent housing inventory is critical, which is why Realtors continue to work with our elected officials to make sure homeownership remains attainable. and affordable for those in every income bracket.

The Days on Market (the average amount of time a property takes to sale) was 50 days. That is 15.3% faster than 2017, which was 59 days. Just to give some perspective, the average Days on Market for 2014 was 109 days. In other words, in 2014 houses took 54.1% longer to sell than in 2018. That’s a fast market!

For those who feel like they might’ve missed out on the chance to own a home, Lawrence Yun, the Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research for the National Association of Realtors® had some interesting insight in a recent interview. “The mortgage rate had been at 5%, and home sales in the latest month reflect those mortgage rates. The mortgage rate has dipped a bit to 4.5%, and it's giving a second chance opportunity for buyers, and some will take advantage,” said Yun.

When addressing predictions for 2019, Yun said that consumers should expect home sales to flatten and home prices to continue to increase, though at a slower pace. "The forecast for home sales will be very boring - meaning stable," said Yun.

2018 was a fast market, but the Greater Chattanooga Realtors worked tirelessly for their clients in a competitive market. No one can be sure what 2019 will mean for real estate, but the Greater Chattanooga Realtors will be prepared to assist their clients; no matter what how the market behaves.

For more information on the 2018 Annual Housing report, visit gcar.net/consumer-tools.

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January 25, 2019

Own Your Story


My family, friends, and clients hear me talk about “leaning in” a lot. When we lean in, we give everything we’ve got to something we’re passionate about. It becomes part of our story.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has chosen “Own Your Story” as their theme for 2019.
As our local Association’s President, this year I’m asking the Greater Chattanooga Realtors to lean in to their story, and so I’ll start with my mine:

I’ve held many different jobs over the years. I’ve worked as an X-Ray technician. I’ve sold advertising, worked in customer service, and was even a bookkeeper. As different as these jobs sound from one another, they had a common thread; these were positions where I dealt directly with the public. I wanted to serve those around me.

I worked with a young woman who had a wonderfully sweet five-year-old daughter who had special needs. This young mother was also a war widow. Her husband had been killed in Afghanistan while she was pregnant. Her daughter had learning difficulties and needed to be in a certain school that had the right programs to help her. It was difficult at times, but we worked together and found a place that met all of her needs. 

That was a number of years ago, and we still talk. Her daughter is thriving, and she thanks me for my help in her time of extraordinary need.

That is one chapter in my story. That’s why I am a proud Greater Chattanooga Realtor.

Every day more than 2,000 Realtors in Greater Chattanooga get the honor of serving our community’s property needs, whether it’s buying or listing a house or commercial property. We are here to help guide our clients through a major point in their life.

We’re proud of our story, where we’ve been and where we’re going. As you work with your Realtor, help him or her best serve you by sharing your story – what are your goals as related to buying, selling or investing? Contact a REALTOR® today to start writing your next chapter.

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January 16, 2019

December 2018 Home Sales

By Kim Bass, ABR, CNHS, GREEN, RCC

President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

 

Home prices were consistently up again in most markets in 2018 but at reduced levels compared to recent years. High demand for few homes for sale fueled price increases, but evidence is mounting that inventory will finally improve in 2019. This may apply some downward pressure on prices for beleaguered home buyers. A fourth interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in 2018 spooked the stock market to close out the year. The Fed has indicated that the number of rate increases in 2019 will be halved, which may be of little comfort to an already compressed consumer.

 

New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 4.2 percent to 689. Pending Sales were up 2.0 percent to 625. Inventory levels shrank 4.5 percent to 2,615 units.

 

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 8.9 percent to $195,000. Days on Market was down 16.9 percent to 49 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 6.1 percent to 3.1 months.

 

Unemployment rates remained remarkably low again in 2018, and wages continued to improve for many U.S. households. It is generally good for all parties involved in real estate transactions when wages grow, but the percentage of increase, on average, has not kept pace with home price increases. This created an affordability crux in the second half of 2018. Housing affordability will remain an important storyline in 2019.

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January 9, 2019

Realtors®, Real Estate Professionals, and Ethics

By Kim Bass, ABR, CNHS, GREEN, RCC

2019 President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors®

 

As I prepare to lead the Greater Chattanooga Realtors® into 2019 as their elected President, I’ve been reflecting on what is means to lead. I believe that leading is listening. I call it “leaning in.” I’ve been leaning in to learn from my clients, my colleagues, and my community.

One topic I’ve been “leaning in” to is what sets us, as Realtors, apart from other real estate professionals.

Did you know that not all real estate professionals are Realtors®? Yes, we both must be licensed in our state to participate in a real estate transactions, but there’s more. Realtors operate under a strict Code of Ethics that imposes duties above and beyond those imposed by law which apply only to real estate professionals who choose to become Realtors®.

Ethics and accountability matter when the public trusts us to handle something as financially significant as buying or selling real estate. In fact, The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) released a study that shows the massive impact that home sales have on our economy. In Tennessee alone nearly $58,000 affect our economy from just a single home sale.

NAR adopted their Code of Ethics in 1913, and ensures consumers are served by requiring Realtors to cooperate with each other in furthering clients' best interests. Article 1 of our Code of Ethics states that “...when serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, Realtors remain obligated to treat all parties honestly.”

NAR believes so strongly in abiding by the Code of Ethics that they require each of the 1.3 million members (which is also the largest trade organization) to complete Code of Ethics Training every two years. If a Realtor fails to comply with this requirement, they risk suspension and termination of membership.

And, in the event that there is a complaint, there is a formal process to have these issues addressed. The Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) registers and regulates all real estate brokers, affiliate brokers, and real estate firms, and also makes and enforces rules addressing the professional conduct and standards of practice for the profession.

So what does all of that mean to you?

That means that we, as Realtors, are your trusted source for any information regarding real estate. We have a multitude of resources to make sure we are well equipped to serve you and your family’s real estate needs.

We are experts in real estate locally and statewide, and the Greater Chattanooga Realtors® are the voice of real estate in the greater Chattanooga area.

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January 4, 2019

Year-End Flood Insurance Success and 2019 Market Indicators

By Kim Bass, ABR, CNHS, GREEN, RCC
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

With each new year comes a time of reflection and planning, both personally and professionally. As I take over the reins from 2018 President Geoff Ramsey, I am grateful for his leadership and excited to be part of the ever-evolving role that Realtors play nationally and in our local communities.

For example, amidst the federal government shutdown, Realtors were able to secure a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reversal on new flood policies. On December 21, Congress passed legislation extending the National Flood Insurance Program until May 2019. With the extension came an unexpected FEMA policy change, which prevented insurers from issuing and renewing policies during the government shutdown.

National research shows that 40,000 home sales are lost every month that flood insurance is not available. In late December, Realtors and other national groups urged policy makers to reevaluate the decision, which was reversed the last few days of December. We are relieved and grateful to have assisted in preventing a potential market disruption had there not been a continuation of flood insurance.

As Greater Chattanooga Realtors looks towards to what the future holds for real estate, I am reminded of recent comments by the Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors®, Lawrence Yun, who gave his 2019 projections during our national convention in November.

Yun anticipates we will see a continued, yet slower, rise in home prices and for home sales to flatten. "Ninety percent of markets are experiencing price gains while very few are experiencing consistent price declines," said Yun. He added, "2017 was the best year for home sales in ten years, and 2018 is only down 1.5 percent year to date. Statistically, it is a mild twinge in the data and a very mild adjustment compared to the long-term growth we've been experiencing over the past few years."

When asked about another housing bubble, Yun dispelled such speculation stating, “The current market conditions are fundamentally different than what we were experiencing before the recession 10 years ago.” He added, “Most states are reporting stable or strong market conditions, housing starts are under-producing instead of over-producing and we are seeing historically low foreclosure levels, indicating that people are living within their means and not purchasing homes they cannot afford. This is a stronger, more stable market compared to the loosely regulated market leading up to the bust.”

After the year-end numbers come in for 2018, we will be able to analyze better what we might expect nationally and locally for the housing market. In late December we saw an increase in new listings and pending sales. We continue to monitor the housing affordability index, which has decreased slowly in the local market. However, the local index remains strong at 135 percent, meaning the median household income is 135 percent of what is necessary to qualify for the median-priced home under prevailing interest rates. In addition to national efforts, Greater Chattanooga Realtors will continue to work with local decision-makers on issues that impact housing affordability and inventory.

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December 18, 2018

New Supra eKEY app Scheduled to Release December 19

A message from Supra to eKEY Users

Dear eKEY User:

We are excited to announce that an all-new Supra eKEY app is targeted for release on Wednesday, December 19.

How and when will the app be delivered? 

If you have automatic app updates turned on, the app stores will automatically deliver the app to your phone. The app stores stage rollouts over 7 days so it could be a week before it is downloaded to your phone.

If you do not have automatic updates turned on, you can download the new eKEY app as soon as it is available on the app stores. Launch the app store on your device and locate the Supra eKEY app to manually download it any time after December 19.

If you want to enable or disable automatic updates:

  • On an iPhone, tap Settings > iTunes & App Store and enable or disable the setting for Apps.
  • On an Android device, open the Google Play Store app and tap Menu > Settings. Tap Auto-update apps and choose the option.

Do the apps need a new authorization code?

The eKEY app does not require a new authorization as long as it is installed on a device that already has an authorized eKEY app.

Minimum Requirements for the new eKEY app: The minimum requirements for the new eKEY app are:

  • Apple iOS 10 or grater
  • Android OS 5 or greater

If you do not have either of these operating systems, the new eKEY app will not install. The old eKEY app will continue to work but it will no longer be updated.

Will all of the new features be available immediately? 

Some enhanced features in the eKEY app including the ability to see listing photos, Supra Home Tour, and upgrade to eKEY Pro within the app will be rolling out over the coming weeks.

For more information on the new eKEY app please go to www.supraekey.com and select Customer Support > eKEY Resources or visit this page.

If you have any questions, please contact our agent support team at 1-877-699-6787.

Regards,

Supra

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December 17, 2018

November Home Sales Report

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

The booming U.S. economy continues to prop up home sales and new listings in much of the nation, although housing affordability remains a concern. Historically, housing is still relatively affordable. Although Freddie Mac recently reported that the 30-year fixed rate is at its highest average in seven years, reaching 4.94 percent, average rates were 5.97 percent ten years ago, 6.78 percent 20 years ago and 10.39 percent 30 years ago. Nevertheless, affordability concerns are causing a slowdown in home price growth in some markets, while price reductions are becoming more common.

New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 6.3 percent to 849, and despite this drop in New Listings are up 3.1 percent year-to-date. Pending Sales were up 1.5 percent to 678. Inventory levels shrank 5.9 percent to 2,889 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 6.2 percent to $190,000. Days on Market was down 14.0 percent to 49 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 7.9 percent to 3.5 months.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the national unemployment rate was at 3.7 percent. Low unemployment has helped the housing industry during this extensive period of U.S. economic prosperity. Home buying and selling activity rely on gainful employment. It also relies on demand, and builders are showing caution by breaking ground on fewer single-family home construction projects in the face of rising mortgage rates and fewer showings.

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December 13, 2018

Position Statement on Hamilton County’s Proposed Wastewater Treatment Plant

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® presented the following statement at the December 12th meeting of the Hamilton County Commission.

In recent weeks there have been discussions regarding the proposed wastewater treatment plant in North Hamilton County. The Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® would like to start by thanking all parties involved for engaging in a healthy discussion about such an important issue regarding Hamilton County’s future. Our mission is to “promote the highest ethical and professional standards and cooperation among its members; provide products, programs, and services to meet the evolving needs of the real estate industry and consumers; and advocate for private property rights and community involvement.” Prior to making a formal statement, we felt it necessary to thoroughly research and evaluate all information in order to make an educated decision about the issue of a new wastewater treatment plant.

State Wastewater Report Card
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) periodically issues infrastructure report cards for each state. Included in those reports are individual grades for various infrastructure categories including wastewater. Unfortunately, the State of Tennessee received a “D+ Grade” in the category of wastewater due to aging infrastructure. A “D Grade or Poor Grade” is considered “At Risk” and is defined as “The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of significant concern with strong risk of failure” (“2016 Tennessee Infrastructure Report Card.” ASCE's 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2017, www.infrastructurereportcard.org/state-item/tennessee/.). This report card is not only a concern as it applies to the State of Tennessee but based on information released by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) is indicative of the situation in Hamilton County. 

Impact on Future Development 
WWTA has stated that new wastewater infrastructure is necessary in order to provide future services for the anticipated growth planned for the North Hamilton County area as well as provide some relief to ongoing wastewater issues in Hamilton County. We are in agreement with this assessment. As we all know, infrastructure is key to growth and development to any community and typically has a positive impact on a community through increased property values. We believe that new wastewater infrastructure is necessary to stimulate development in this desirable area of Hamilton County. As job opportunities grow so does the need for additional housing and based on assessments, North Hamilton County is the desirable area for future growth.

In addition, the moratorium implemented by TDEC in the Ooltewah region raises concerns of the negative impact that will continue to affect the future of development in this area if wastewater infrastructure is not updated to meet demand. If industries are looking to develop in Hamilton County, a moratorium could cause them to look elsewhere again resulting in a loss of job opportunities and tax revenue. If a new wastewater treatment plant could alleviate the issues that have caused a moratorium to be put in place, then it is important that we consider that to be a positive impact on Hamilton County. Once again, a new wastewater treatment plant appears to be an important key to satisfying these concerns.

Projections from the 2016 Regional Planning Agency Study shows that an increase of 1,521 homes in the area of Highway 58/Harrison and Northeast County Areas combined is expected through the year 2026 (“Hamilton County Real Estate Market Study.” CHCRPA, The Chattanooga Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency (RPA), Nov. 2016, chcrpa.org/index.php/project/hamilton-county-realestate-market-study/.). The WWTA has estimated that it will take approximately five (5) to seven (7) years to complete construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. In the past five (5) years, home inventory numbers in Hamilton County have decreased from 3,283 homes in October 2014 to 1,631 homes in October 2018. It is our fear that the longer Hamilton County delays this project the greater the risk of delaying and potentially losing future development opportunities in this area. This loss of development opportunities potentially means much-needed tax dollars going elsewhere, which Hamilton County cannot afford to have happen.

Murfreesboro Wastewater Treatment Plant
During our research, we discovered a wastewater treatment plant in the vicinity of a residential area in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We reached out to individuals in the Murfreesboro area regarding their wastewater treatment plant and whether they could provide information regarding surrounding properties. Although the treatment plant was built first, and the upscale homes were built later, it is our understanding that properties closer to the plant as well as downwind have appreciated significantly over time. Based on the information provided, the wastewater treatment plant no longer appears to be an issue of concern in the Murfreesboro area. 

Proposed Wastewater Treatment Plant
Regarding the proposed location of the wastewater treatment plant, information provided by WWTA outlines the extensive work performed over the past year to determine the best and most cost-effective site. According to WWTA other sites did not meet necessary pre-requisites and would increase project costs due to topography, archaeological, environmental, and geotechnical issues associated with those properties. It is important that the effect on all customers impacted is considered when analyzing this project. This includes the approximately 3,300 current WWTA customers (homes) that will benefit directly by the wastewater treatment plant as well as the other WWTA customers that reside outside this region. As costs increase, the burden would be placed on all WWTA customers and not just those living in the vicinity of the new wastewater treatment plant.

In addition, much has been discussed as to why WWTA has not provided specific information to the public regarding the design and technology for the proposed new wastewater treatment plant. After speaking to both WWTA and TDEC, we have been informed that it is very difficult to provide specific details regarding the proposed plant at this point. TDEC referred to the fact that WWTA is in “no man’s land” in the sense that they are limited on what details they know at this point especially since the property has not been formally purchased. According to TDEC once the property is purchased then WWTA and TDEC will work in conjunction to make all decisions necessary to finalize the details for the wastewater treatment plant.
 
It is important that we evaluate all the benefits from a new wastewater treatment plant. One positive impact that has not been discussed regarding the new wastewater treatment plant is the creation of new jobs. It is our understanding that approximately 20-25 new jobs will be created once the plant becomes operational and this does not include new jobs created during construction of the plant. The more jobs we create in Hamilton County the bigger economic impact we have on our community. 

As always, the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® are available to assist consumers, WWTA, and Hamilton County in any way possible regarding the future of the wastewater treatment plant. Again, the purpose of this statement is to reiterate that the need for a wastewater treatment plant is crucial to the continued development and success of Hamilton County. Our goal as stakeholders is to have a positive impact on our community and the citizens who reside within its boundaries, and not just today, but years to come. The dire nature of our current wastewater infrastructure and the knowledge that a new wastewater treatment plant is necessary for the future of North Hamilton County is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

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December 10, 2018

4 Easy-Peasy Must-Do’s for Homeowners in December

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

In the midst of decorating, entertaining, and holiday parties, December is also a month to save. Yes, really. As the close of another year approaches, tackle these suggested four tasks from the National Association of REALTORS® for a bright (and money-saving) new year.

1. Clean Light Bulbs and Fixtures. There are two great reasons to clean your light bulbs – you want as much light in your house as you can get as the days grow shorter, and, you’ll save money. Dirty bulbs apparently shed 30% less light than clean ones, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Wipe bulbs with a cloth dampened by a mix of 1 oz. dish soap, ¼ cup white vinegar, and 3 cups of water. Get to it December 1 so you’re ready for the curtain fall on the shortest day of this year – Thursday, December 21.

2. Evaluate Homeowner's Insurance. The holidays. You love them, but they do seem to eat up more cash than other times of year. Sure, you can scrounge around for change under your couch cushions, but that’s not going to offset much.

Why not get a home insurance checkup? Call your agent to go over the type of coverage you have, how much you really need, and how you can lower your premiums before your next monthly installment.

3. Pack a Home Emergency Kit. The last thing you want during the holidays is for an emergency to chill your family’s cheer. Prepare for power outages and weather-related emergencies with an easy-to-find emergency kit.

Some items to include are bottled water, a hand-crank radio, a flashlight, batteries, a portable charger for your phone, warm blankets, and of course, a first-aid kit to patch up any boo-boos. Singing carols ‘round the flashlight may not be ideal, but it’ll beat trying to celebrate in the dark.

4. Buy Holiday Lights (After December 25). It’s tough to think about next Christmas when you’re still stuffed from a holiday dinner with all the trimmings. But think you must if you want to save on next year’s holiday. From December 26 through year’s end, big-box stores try to clear the shelves of all that glitters.

See, that wasn’t so overwhelming, was it? Taking time for a few small tasks now will be worth in the long-run to save money and provide some peace of mind.

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December 3, 2018

Checklist for Getting Your House Guest-Ready

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

It feels great to have a clean, organized, well-functioning home when you’ve got guests coming, especially around the holidays. It’s like your gift to you. Use this checklist from the National Association of REALTORS® to get that satisfying feeling, no matter how much time you have.

Three (or More) Weeks to Go. Think big picture. Get anything that requires a pro or installation out of the way now. No one wants calamity to strike when guests are pulling into the driveway.

  • Get your HVAC maintained if it’s overdue.
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it now. An oven is most likely to break down during the cleaning cycle, so don’t save this task for last.
  • Replace any appliance on its last legs. You don’t want your hot water to go out or fridge on the fritz with a houseful of guests.
  • Steam-clean upholstery. (Or hire a pro. It’s a big job)
  • Hire a handyman for those repairs you’ve been putting off.
  • Check outdoor lighting. Replace old bulbs and call an electrician to address any bigger issues.

Two Weeks to Go. It’s not panic time yet. Focus on decluttering and a few deep-cleaning tasks now, and you’ll have a more manageable to-do list when the clock really starts ticking down.

  • Do a deep declutter. It’ll make things easier to keep clean.
  • Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, and high-up shelves.
  • Wipe down baseboards.
  • Clean out and organize the fridge.
  • Wash windows to make the entire house feel brighter and cleaner.
  • Toss washable shower curtains and drapes in the washing machine and re-hang. Easy.

One Week to Go. It’s strategic cleaning time. Here’s what to tackle now — things your family won’t easily undo before your guests arrive.

  • Declutter again.
  • Vacuum and dust guest rooms. If they’re low-traffic, the cleanliness should hold with just a quick wipe-down right before they arrive.
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Wipe down kitchen and dining room chairs and tables, including the legs. You’d be surprised how grimy they get.
  • Deep clean the entryway — and make room for your guests’ stuff.

72 Hours to Go. The final cleaning stretch is on the horizon.

  • Do another declutter.
  • In the kitchen, toss stove burners, drip pans, and knobs into the dishwasher for an easy deep clean.
  • Wash kitchen cabinet fronts.
  • Scrub the kitchen floor.
  • Clean and shine appliances.

48 Hours to Go. Now it’s time to get serious.

  • Clean and sanitize garbage cans to banish mystery smells.
  • Wipe down doorknobs, faceplates, and light switches. They’re germ magnets.
  • Clean the front door.
  • Deep clean the bathroom your guests will use, and close it off if possible.
  • Wash guest towels and linens.

24 Hours to Go. Your guests’ bags are packed. Time for final touches.

  • Do a final declutter - by now it shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
  • Give one final wipe-down to toilets, tubs, and bathroom sinks.
  • And another final wipe-down in the kitchen.
  • Do all the floors: mop, vacuum, sweep, etc.
  • Make guest beds and set out clean towels.
  • Plug in nightlights in guest baths.
  • Put out guest toiletries so they’re easy to find.
  • Add a coffee or tea station in the guest room or kitchen.
  • Get your favorite smell going, whether it’s a scented candle, spices in water on the stove, or essential oils.
  • Use rubber gloves to wipe off pet hair and dust from furniture. It works.
  • Do the full red carpet: Sweep or shovel porch, steps, and outdoor walkways.

With this countdown roadmap, you’ll have a perfectly clean guest-ready home, no matter how much (or little) time you have.