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November 28, 2022

Obituary: C.G. Griffith, Jr.

Former REALTOR® C.G. Griffith, Jr. (Crye-Leike) passed away on November 22. Services were held on November 27.

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November 17, 2022

2023 BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION RESULTS

Congratulations to:

     2023 President-Elect Kadi Brown

     2023 Secretary-Treasurer Bev Boss

     2023-24 Directors Connie Brewer, Jill Christy, Holly Harwell, and James Streeter

These newly-elected REALTORS® will serve alongside:

     2023 President Steven Sharpe

     2023 MLS Chair Jeff Nixon

     2023 Immediate Past President Derek English

     2022-23 Directors Brian Erwin, Robert Fisher, Ryan May, Rolanda Pullen, and Mike Purcell.

We invite all members to celebrate with these newly-elected Officers & Directors on January 19.

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November 16, 2022

October 2022 Local Housing Market Statistics

It’s no secret that the real estate market is experiencing a much-needed and expected correcting shift. While this “shift” needed to occur to help maintain a healthy real estate market, I believe it’s important to look at some national housing data to see where we are in the big picture. For instance, existing home sales declined nationwide for the eighth consecutive month, falling 1.5% as of last measure, according to the National Association of REALTORS® , with sales down nearly 24% from the same period in 2022. Pending home sales also declined, dropping 10.9% month-to-month, exceeding economists’ expectations. Stubbornly high inflation and soaring borrowing costs have eroded buyer purchasing power and have caused the market to cool rapidly this year.

But there might be some good news concerning inflation. A recent report showing that the rate of inflation declined in October is good news for the real estate industry and possibly a bellwether of declining mortgage rates in coming months. Experts will be keeping a close eye on these rates in the following weeks.

While inflation shows some hopeful signs of stabilizing, affordability continues to be an obstacle for buyers and sellers. Mortgage rates have doubled since March, and home prices remain elevated due to a limited supply of homes, although price gains are beginning to slow down. As a result, many homeowners are waiting until market conditions improve to sell, while other sellers are increasingly cutting prices and offering concessions to attract a greater number of buyers.

So how does this national housing data fit in with us locally? In October, New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 9.0% to 1,058. Pending Sales were down 30.9% to 808. Inventory levels grew 55.0% to 2,049 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 10.9% to $305,000. Days on Market was up 47.1% to 25 days. Buyers felt empowered as Months Supply of Inventory was up 75.0% to 2.1 months. These numbers are refreshing and in fact just show signs of normalcy and stability coming back after the wild ride and frantic growth to our local markets over the past two years.

I had conversations last week with a number of industry professionals while attending the National Association of Realtors NXT conference and will be providing a more detailed account of our time there in next week's article. In short and to not say too much too soon, the common theme in our industry is to get to work and to set our projections to where we were in 2020. The market was good then and the market is good now. The past two years have created an unrealistic expectation to the reality of what we are seeing in today’s market and the buzz in the news is just that, only a buzz. News outlets are continuing to talk of the up and the downs because the real estate market has become as popular to comment on and is monitored by consumers almost as much as the sports and the weather.

The housing market continues to shift every day, which is why it is so crucial to utilize the expertise of a Realtor®. Whether you’re buying or selling, or moving locally or across the country, Realtors have the knowledge and tools needed to make sure you are getting the most out of your investment. That’s Who We R®.

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November 11, 2022

Position Statement: Short Term Vacation Rentals

Following the July 28th position statement (below) regarding the City of Chattanooga’s moratorium (through January 2023) on new applications for non-owner-occupied short-term vacation rentals: 

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® asks that the City of Chattanooga would expedite their new policies for Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVRs). The city needs to enforce their current code, shut down illegal STVRs, raise the penalty for operating an unpermitted STVR, and hire necessary employees to enforce the STVR rules.

the Board of Directors, Governmental Affairs Committee, and Staff continued to monitor this issue. Upon review of the City of Chattanooga’s Draft STVR Ordinance, the Board issued the following statement to City Council:

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® have reviewed the proposed recommendations made by the City of Chattanooga to its Absentee Owner Short Term Vacation Rental (STVR) Ordinance. We believe there are many positives to what has been proposed including increasing fees, hiring additional staff for enforcement purposes, forming an administrative board, and having an administrative hearing officer oversee the  compliance process.

However, we are very concerned that the city is considering discontinuing Absentee Owner R-1 STVRs and potentially allowing them in R-2. Currently in Chattanooga R-2 is the only option most people have when it comes to affordable housing. By removing the option to have STVRs in R-1 and potentially allowing them in R-2, we will most definitely see an uptick of R-2 being purchased for the sole purpose of having STVRs. We believe this will be detrimental to affordable housing in Chattanooga and should not be included in the new ordinance.

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® recommends the City of Chattanooga cancel the moratorium and utilize the next year to analyze whether the new software system and additional enforcement staff resolves the issues that resulted in the moratorium. If after a year these changes did not have a significant impact in lessening the number of illegal STVRs in the city, then additional changes to the STVR ordinance could be considered. The fact that the city is trying to completely overhaul an ordinance that they never properly enforced to begin with is unfair to those property owners who were legal and followed the ordinance as required by the City of Chattanooga.

As always, we appreciate the City Council’s time and consideration to this issue. We hope you find our comments and recommendations helpful and are available anytime to discuss further.

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November 9, 2022

Realtors Meet To Discuss Important Industry Issues

Last week I wrote about how real estate is generally thought of as local. In fact, when most people think of real estate three words come to mind; location, location, and location. Realtors, for the most part, help property owners in the same communities they live and work in.

As I prepare to join other Realtors® from all over the country for NAR NXT, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Fall Conference in Orlando, Florida, I’m reminded of how important it is to have a network of fellow professionals. NAR is the country’s largest trade association, and an estimated 12,000 Realtors® and industry stakeholders from all 50 states, several U.S. territories and 60 countries will join. And while it’s great to catch up with fellow colleagues, it’s certainly not all fun in the sun. Participants can choose from more than 100 education sessions and interact with almost 400 exhibitors at the real estate industry's largest trade show.

2022 NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith has a great summary of our fall convention. "Realtors are ready and set to grow at the industry's preeminent gathering for real estate professionals. Realtors and real estate professionals worldwide will join one another to learn, share best practices, network, give back to the Orlando community, and focus on what's new and coming soon to our ever-changing industry."

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who has presented to our association numerous times, will share his latest outlook for the residential housing market on November 11, and present his commercial real estate and economic forecast on November 12. Dr. Yun’s expertise will certainly be met with excitement.

From the world of politics, Karl Rove, political strategist and former deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, and April Ryan, CNN political analyst and TheGrio White House correspondent, will discuss the impact of the 2022 elections and provide their 2023 outlook during the Federal Legislative and Political Forum on November 12.

The wide range of speakers at NAR NXT truly allows for Realtors to learn from the best in their respective fields. Jay Shetty, bestselling author of "Think Like a Monk" and media game-changer – with more than 50 million social media followers – will address attendees on November 12.

For sports fans like me, there’s an especially interesting speaker. Venus Williams – legendary tennis champion, seven-time Grand Slam winner, entrepreneur and philanthropist – will join 2022 NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith for a fireside chat on November 13. These sessions have been the highlight of many meetings in the past.


NAR NXT will also include forums about regulatory issues, emerging technology, and real property valuation. And finally, the association's Board of Directors will meet and deliberate issues that impact NAR members' daily business on November 14.

After 2020, I can almost certainly guarantee that none of us attending are taking for the granted the absolute joy of meeting together in the same place. In the coming weeks, I look forward to updating folks on the changing landscape of the real estate market/industry.

Realtors across the country (and world) work in their communities everyday to meet the property needs of those around them. That’s Who We R®.

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November 3, 2022

2023-24 OFFICER & DIRECTOR CANDIDATES & ONLINE VOTING INFO

The Nominating Committee presents the following Candidates for the 2023-24 Board of Directors:

2023 President-Elect (Choose 1): Kadi Brown

2023 Secretary-Treasurer (Choose 1): Bev Boss OR Ellis Gardner

2023-24 Directors (Choose 4): Connie Brewer, Jill Christy, Rich Downing, Holly Harwell, Matt McDonald, Karen Parris, James Streeter

Those elected will serve alongside the 2023 Officers & Directors: President Steven Sharpe, MLS Chair Jeff Nixon, Immediate Past President Derek English, and Directors Brian Erwin, Robert Fisher, Ryan May, Rolanda Pullen, Mike Purcell.

Online voting begins Thursday, November 10, when each REALTOR® member eligible to vote will receive an email from announcement@associationvoting.com containing the secure voting credentials unique to the email recipient. Voting will remain open until 5 pm on Wednesday, November 16. Election results will be announced on November 17.

2023 President-Elect

KADI BROWN, RCC/CNHS (The Group Real Estate Brokerage)

After serving a 2 year term on the board of directors I believe I have found my footing and I have a better understanding of the board’s importance within our local Association. I want to continue representing a voice for our Association and REALTOR® body. I want to contribute to our organization’s forever-evolving needs and to be the best steward to our local members and community. I feel confident I can bring a level of observation and, from my real estate and personal experience, an open mind to consider all options and thoughts before interjecting my opinion. And of course I always strive to have a little fun along the way.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2021-2022); Governmental Affairs Committee (2017); Placemaking Task Force Chair (2020)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: WCR Member (2015-17); 2016 Co-Chair of WCR’s Bras for the Cause

COMMUNITY: NNH Board Member (2015-18) and Co-Chair Not So Silent Auction (2015-16, 2020); Baylor School Alumni Board (2019-20); Unfoundation (2016-17); Wine Over Water (2017-18)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Co-founder/Co-owner of The Group Real Estate Brokerage, a small boutique real estate company that focuses on quality versus quantity and has ranked in the top 10 of local real estate brokerages.

2023 Secretary-Treasurer

BEV BOSS (Scout REALTOR® Group)

I genuinely enjoy being able to grow REALTOR® membership engagement and feel that there is more I can do to add value to the Association and mentor and encourage others to be involved. I would love to continue serving as Treasurer for a second term.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2019-21, 2022 Treasurer); Budget & Finance Committee (2021, 2022 Chair); Community Education & Scholarship Committee (2021 Director Liaison), Community Involvement Committee (2016-20, 2018 Co-Chair); Diversity Inclusion Committee (2017-2020, 2020 Director Liaison); Governmental Affairs Committee (2021-2022); Leadership Academy Graduate (2017); Leadership Development Committee (2018-2020, 2022); Placemaking Committee (2021-2022), Professional Development Committee (2018-2020); RPAC Committee (2022)

STATE & NATIONAL: Tennessee REALTORS® Board of Directors (2021-2022; Tennessee REALTORS® YPN Forum

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: Home Builders of Greater Chattanooga (2018-20); WCR Attendee

COMMUNITY: Habitat for Humanity (2016-22); Junior League (2018-22); Teacher Support (2005-22)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2008-09 Teacher of the Year; Agent of the Month; Multi-Million Dollar Producer


ELLIS GARDNER, ABR, AHWD, CRS, GRI, SRES, SRS, C2EX, e-PRO  (Keller Williams Realty)

My contribution to Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® in a word: Governance. As I progressed from local rep to state and national officer for CRS/Residential Real Estate Council, I learned and gained specific skills about motivating volunteers along a shared path. Likewise, as a leader in the national and state Young Professionals Networks, I enjoy mentoring the next generation of REALTOR® leaders just as my mentors guided me. Additionally, my NAR national exposure has forged lasting friendships with REALTORS®across the nation, and I can bring their experience/ perspectives back to Greater Chattanooga Realtors.

LOCAL: Budget & Finance Committee (2022); Community Partnerships Committee (2018-2022); Diversity Inclusion Committee (2008-2022); Education/Professional Development Committee (2019-2022); Grievance Committee (2009); Leadership Academy Graduate (2004); Member Services Committee (2006-7, 2007 Chair);

STATE/NATIONAL: Tennessee REALTORS® YPN Forum (2021, 2022 Chair); National Association of REALTORS® Federal Financing & Housing Policy Committee (2019-2020)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: 2018-19 CRS/RRC Regional VP (Region 9); 2020 CRS/RRC Regional VP (Region 4); 2017 CRS/RRC TN President; 2015-16 CRS/RRC TN Finance Chair; 2011-20 CRS/RRC TN Chattanooga Representative

COMMUNITY: Chattanooga Connected Diversity Committee (2014-20); The Ed Johnson Memorial Project Committee (2016-20); Mountain Art & Community Center Board (2018 – present)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2007 Crye-Leike Circle of Excellence; 2015 CRS of the Year for Tennessee; 2008-2018 RE/MAX Executive Club

Certifications: Digital Marketing, Inside Sales, Luxury Home, Residential Listing, RE Investing, Smart Home,

2023-2024 Directors

CONNIE BREWER, AHWD, GRI, MRP, PSA, C2EX (Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty)

As a REALTOR®, I want to continue to increase my involvement in our industry and community. The opportunity to serve on our board would give me a broader knowledge of our Association, expand my leadership skills, and allow me to represent our colleagues.

LOCAL: Grievance Committee (2020, 2021 Chair); Education/Professional Development Committee (2019-2020); Leadership Academy Graduate (2020); Leadership Development Committee (2022); RPAC Committee (2019-2021); RPAC Major Investor (2020-2022); RPAC Trustee (2022)

STATE: Tennessee REALTORS® Grievance Committee (2022); Women’s Council of REALTORS® (2015-present, 2021-2022 Liaison, 2021 Nominating Committee, 2015-2021 Social Media Committee)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: Women’s Council of REALTORS® (2015-present, past Membership Director, Project Teams, 2019 President-Elect, 2020-2021 President); CRS/RRC (2020-present); Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga

COMMUNITY: Hydrocephalus Walk Chattanooga; Life Group Leader (2020); Sleep in Heavenly Peace (2020-present); TN Dachshund Animal Rescue (2019-present); Make-A-Wish Foundation, Santas for Seniors

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2002 Presidential Award with major insurance company; 2019 Presidential Award Women’s Council of REALTORS® (Tennessee)


JILL CHRISTY, RENE, SRS, C2EX (Keller Williams)

I desire to develop further cohesiveness and community between the Association and its members. I plan to build engagement at the Association with its members by establishing both interpersonal rapport and secular value - for more than CE classes. The goal is to raise the standard of competency and professionalism among REALTORS®. It's important to me to engender confidence with the Chattanooga community in our roles as REALTORS® within local and state issues.

LOCAL: Budget & Finance Committee (2021); Community Involvement Committee (2016-2018); Diversity Inclusion Committee (2016-2018); Elev8 Tech Conference Committee (2022); Governmental Affairs Committee (2016-2018, 2019 Chair); Leadership Academy Graduate (2021); Placemaking Committee (2022); RPAC Committee (2018-2022): RPAC Major Investor; RPAC Trustee (2022)

STATE & NATIONAL: Tennessee REALTORS® Spring Conference & Hill Visits (2018-2019); Tennessee REALTORS® Fall Convention ( 2018-2019); NAR Legislative Meetings & Hill Visits (2019)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: Certified Residential Specialist, Women's Council of REALTORS®

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Clifton Hills Elementary (2013-2020): Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga; Medal of Honor Donor & Committee (2020-present); SnackPacks Donor & Volunteer (2017-present): Warm Coats for Kids (2017-present)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Top 20% at Keller Williams East (2018-present); Top 25 Individual Agents (2020-2022); KW Leadership Council (2019-2023); 


RICHARD DOWNING (TN Valley Homes and Land)

We will again go through serious challenges over the next 2-3 years where our industry will have to change, or good people and offices will fall by the wayside. In my many years of leadership, I have found that some people can build a vision and see their way toward the vision. Unfortunately, many people can’t see beyond today’s problems and need to be able to turn to someone who has climbed out of the hole before. From my military and business experiences, I offer that leadership, direction, and experience.

LOCAL: Obtained Principal Brokers License (2008)

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Dayton City Chamber of Commerce (2021-2022); United Way (1997-1998)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: United States Navy (1969-1975); Computer Industry (1978-2008), including VP ACER Computer, Senior VP for Seagate Tech managing $8,800,000,000 revenue, President of MCIS, and President & CEO of Financial Institute Technology; Current owner of DSD Insurance, Founder/owner TN Valley Homes and Land, and DSD Developers


HOLLY HARWELL (Real Estate Partners)

As a REALTOR® for 20 years now, I feel I have the experience that would greatly help our board. I have spent most of my adult life giving back to my community by being involved in many organizations and now have the time to give back to our Association. As Chattanooga continues to grow, it brings some housing challenges. Thus, we need experienced leaders who know the community and the real estate industry. I am excited about the opportunity to help.

COMMUNITY SERVICE: American Heart Association Board of Directors (1990s); Friends of the Festival Board of Directors (2001-2013, 2012-2013 President); Hosanna Community Board (2002-2006, 2005-2006 President); Arts & Education Council Board (2006-2010); North Chattanooga Chamber Board of Directors (2008-2012, 2012-2013 Chair); Memorial Hospital Foundation Board (2009-2015, 2013-2014 Chair); Girls Preparatory School Board of Directors (2013-2021, 2017-2019 Chair)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Leadership Chattanooga (1999); Women of Distinction (2013); Girls Preparatory School Margaret Rowlings Lupton Award of Excellence (2014) 


MATT MCDONALD (The Group Real Estate Brokerage)

I have been prepared for effective leadership on a Board of Directors by the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® Leadership Academy and by my position on the Historic Zoning Commission. I have had a wonderful career as a REALTOR® and want to give back to help lead.

LOCAL: Leadership Academy Graduate (2017)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Chattanooga Historic Zoning Commission (2018-2023)


KAREN PARRIS, AHWD, SHC, GREEN, C2EX (Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty)

I want to increase my overall scope and knowledge of the decisions made at the board level. The experience I have gained serving on other committees and 14 years as a REALTOR® has prepared me to serve as a Director alongside the other board members to accomplish our goals in the coming years.

LOCAL: Grievance Committee (2017-2019; Diversity Inclusion Committee (2021-2022); MLS Committee (2021-2022); Placemaking Committee (2021-2022); Professional Standards Committee (2020-2021)

STATE & NATIONAL: Professional Standards Committee (2020-2022)

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Participated with the Placemaking Committee to clear trailheads for Lookout Mountain Conservancy (2022); Ronald McDonald House Volunteer (2018-2020)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Certified Relocation Specialist (2010-present); Rising Star Award (2009); Multi-Million Dollar Producer (2013-present); International Sterling Society (2015)


JAMES STREETER (Keller Williams)

Through the Community Partnerships Committee, I have had the privilege of being directly involved with the 2021 Tee Up & Wine Down and the 2022 Trivia Night. I believe these events are important to the success of the charities they benefit and are good for the community we serve. Additionally, I believe the leadership academy is valuable to those who are interested in becoming involved with the Association and bridging the gap between the Association and the membership it serves. At this point, these are the areas I have had the most involvement and interaction. I have truly enjoyed this time and feel it has been well spent. I have learned a great deal and wish to have an opportunity to learn, grow and give back even more. I come with a servant’s heart and a willingness to contribute in any way that is helpful and beneficial. I consider myself to collaborate and work well with others while being thought-provoking and considerate of any possible outcomes.

LOCAL: Community Partnership Committee (2020-2022); Education/Professional Development Committee (2019-2020); Leadership Academy Graduate (2019); Leadership Development Committee (2020-2022)

COMMUNITY SERVICE: East Ridge Masonic Lodge (2010-present; Helf all appointed and elected positions); Chattanooga Scottish Rite (2011-present); Alhambra Shrine/Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals (2011-present); Ronald McDonald House; Snack Pack Ministries (2020-present)

 

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November 2, 2022

Want To Make An Impact? Look At The Big Picture

As Realtors®, we tend to think locally. So whether we’re urging the public to get involved in the election process or even recommending a new restaurant to clients, Realtors think about our own communities because that’s where we live and work. But sometimes we need to zoom out to get a bigger picture, and when I take a step back, I’m very encouraged with what our National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is doing on a grand scale.

You might not know it, but the National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. That’s a lot of Realtors, and with this many people, we can make a real impact across the country.

One example is a partnership just announced between NAR and the National Forest Foundation, which will result in 1.575 million trees being planted across the United States. The initiative, which will plant at least one tree for each Realtor® by the end of 2025, was spearheaded by NAR’s 2022 President Leslie Rouda Smith.

What led Realtors to be involved in such an effort? President Smith explains. “As part of our association’s comprehensive sustainability and resilience plan, NAR is leading by example, like we always do,” said Smith, who is a Realtor from Plano, Texas. “We’re helping to foster more vibrant communities by increasing the number of trees around us, delivering cleaner air, enhancing stormwater mitigation and encouraging biodiversity in ecosystems. We are thrilled to partner with the National Forest Foundation as part of our ongoing efforts to support the millions of consumers and communities that we, as Realtors, serve every day.”

Sure, all these trees will help beautify areas across the country, but what’s the environmental impact? According to EPA calculations, planting 1.575 million trees reduces 750,000 metric tons of carbon in the atmosphere. This is equivalent to 145,931 homes’ electricity use for one year or the annual operation of over 160,000 gas-powered passenger vehicles.

As to where these 1.575 million trees will be planted, the decision will be made based on repopulation needs in areas affected by events like wildfires, drought or deforestation. NFF only plants native, ecologically appropriate trees and targets support to areas that need the most help.

“We are excited to partner with NAR to expand our tree planting efforts,” said Mary Mitsos, President and CEO at the National Forest Foundation. “The future of our national forests depends on partnerships like this one to sustain natural ecosystems, foster resilient forests and promote healthy communities. Each contributing dollar means one more tree planted to help to mitigate wildfires, offset carbon footprint, combat climate change and maintain 193 million acres of National Forests. We’re grateful to NAR for engaging with us on this critical initiative and look forward to what we can accomplish by 2025.”

For me, looking at the big picture also causes a very interesting reaction; it causes me to examine my own area even closer. In fact, our association recently applied for a sustainability grant from NAR and aim in February 2023 to host a sustainability summit to highlight local organizations that have such programs. If the grant is approved, we will announce more details about a mini tradeshow and speakers featuring ways we each can take to protect natural community assets.

Seeing the big picture makes me work even harder for my community everyday to make it better, and this mindset is shared by more than 1.5 Realtors across our nation. Realtors live and serve their communities everyday. That’s Who We R®.

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October 27, 2022

Obituary: William “Bill” Keith Sewell

William “Bill” Keith Sewell (Century 21 Prestige) passed away on October 25, 2022. The family will have a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society benefit on Bill’s behalf on February 4th, 2023, with more details to follow.

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October 27, 2022

State Constitutional Amendments: Each Election is More Than Just a Vote for Candidates

For the past ten months I have written about real estate trends and local market reports. I have been encouraged and thanked by many who have shared how much they have enjoyed the content each week. This week I decided I would venture into the topic of our upcoming election. If you are a Tennessee voter like me, you may have just recently heard about a few unexpected topics that voters will be deciding on November 8 and because nothing is more important than being an informed voter, I wanted to draw your attention to these topics.

State and Federal Elections will take place on Tuesday, November 8, with Early Voting currently underway until Thursday, November 3. Tennessee voters can keep up to date with the most accurate polling locations and hours information on GoVoteTN.gov. Candidates are making their last push with events and mailers over the next week or so, but there is more on the ballot than candidates that you should be aware of.

There are four proposed Tennessee State Constitutional Amendments that voters will have the opportunity to vote up or down. Amending the State Constitution is a big deal and should not be taken lightly. The most important part of any Amendment is to understand its implications. If you don’t understand it, please get informed. If you don’t have time to get informed, then you should simply not vote for the Amendment – skip over it. If there is one thing we should approach carefully and cautiously it is making any changes to constitutional or historical doctrine. We should also ask ourselves what are we trying to correct and what are the unforeseen ramifications for the future. Herein are the four Tennessee Constitutional Amendments that I found via an online source, Ballotpedia. There are many others and I encourage you to seek as many as you need until you feel you fully understand the proposed changes.

1. Constitutional Amendment 1 – For 75 years “The Right to Work” has been law in our State Constitution. This amendment would add a new section to article XI of the Tennessee Constitution to make it illegal for any person, corporation, association, or the State of Tennessee or its political subdivisions to deny or attempt to deny employment to any person because of the person’s membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization

Not to be confused with the Employment-at-Will Act which outlines that Employers may legally terminate an employee at any time for any reason, or for no reason without incurring legal liability.  However, an employer may not discriminate against any employee on the basis of the employee's race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences. There are a few exceptions, but they mostly have to do with penalties related to service in jury duty, the military, or workman’s compensation claims.

2. Constitutional Amendment 2 would provide for an acting governor when the elected governor is unable to fulfill the duties of the office. The speaker of the Senate, who also serves as the Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee, would serve as acting governor. The acting governor would perform the duties of the office until the governor provides a written, signed declaration saying they can perform the office's powers and duties again. The ballot measure would also allow a majority of the commissioners of administrative departments of the Executive Department to submit a written, signed declaration stating that the governor is unable to perform their powers and duties, thereby allowing for an acting governor until the governor provides a written, signed declaration saying they can perform the office's powers and duties.

Article III – Section 12 of the current State Constitution outlines the succession plan already in place if the Governor dies but does not currently provide a process for the governor to be temporarily relieved of his power and duties.

3. Constitutional Amendment 3 would remove language from the Tennessee Constitution that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments. The ballot measure would replace the language with the statement, "Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited." The ballot measure would also state that the language does not prohibit an inmate from being forced to work when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.

Tennessee’s Constitution has expressly prohibited slavery since it was first adopted 1870, so the amending of historical language is more about its removal than a change of current practices.

4. Constitutional Amendment 4 would repeal Section 1 of Article IX of the Tennessee Constitution, which says that religious ministers are disqualified from being elected to the state General Assembly. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forbidding religious ministers from public office was unconstitutional. Due to the McDaniel v. Paty, the constitutional language is not enforced.

This change is an opportunity for an Amendment to “clean up” language that is unenforceable.

As I stated earlier, change is being proposed to us daily. What we must do is to become empowered and informed to ensure that any proposed change(s) does not open or cause future proposals to erode our values and liberty as citizens. I hope this snapshot into the four proposed Amendments to our Tennessee State Constitution benefits you as you prepare to cast your vote.

As Realtors®, we are bound by our Code of Ethics to serve the housing needs of those around us, and our local elections are crucial to ensure that our communities are strong and vibrant. All throughout the year, be assured that  Realtors will help not only in the homebuying process, but remain active participants in making where we live a better place. That’s Who We R®.

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October 19, 2022

Obituary: Velma “Carolyn” Beam

Velma "Carolyn" Beam, mother and mother-in-law to Brenda and Mike Purcell (RE/MAX Renaissance) passed away on October 12. Visitation will be on Thursday, October 20, from 6-8 pm at Chattanooga Funeral Home North Chapel. A graveside service will be on Friday, October 21, at 12:30 pm at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.

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October 19, 2022

Looking For A Way to Make Your Listing Stand Out? Look Down

Housing statistics all over the country show that the nation’s real estate market is cooling from being red hot over the past few years. Even before the pandemic, housing inventory was a significant issue. Now that the market has cooled, homebuyers are finding more choices than they would have a few months ago.

While buyers are enjoying the increased housing inventory, the flipside is that sellers are now looking for ways to make their property more attractive to prospects. One way to bolster a home’s appeal is to take a close look at renovations. But which renovations get the most “bang for your buck” with homebuyers?

That’s where the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) comes in. A few months back, they released their 2022 Remodeling Impact Report. In this report, researchers took a deep dive into why a homeowner remodels, the outcome of taking on projects, and the increased happiness in the home once a project is completed. The report also contains the typical cost of 19 remodeling and replacement projects, as estimated by members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

So what were the main takeaways from this report? Dr. Jessica Lautz, NAR’s Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for Research, observed, “This year, the winner was hardwood flooring. Hardwood floor refinishing and putting in new wood flooring had the most significant value, and these projects also had high Joy Scores (calculated by NAR for each project based on the happiness homeowners reported with their renovations) among homeowners. Hardwood flooring looks beautiful in photos and videos, can be easier to clean for new pet owners, and adds warmth to a home that is appealing to both home buyers and homeowners.”

Interestingly, hardwood floors were more desired than kitchen-related projects. “While most of us spend a great deal of time in the kitchen—eating, cooking, working—the kitchen-related project does not bring the highest return on value or the highest Joy Score, according to this year’s report. This may already be an aspect of the home that is highly customizable with features and finishes, and we all use the kitchen differently, so there is room for interpretation of the overall return,” said Lautz.

And so, if you’re looking to sell your home in a more competitive market, the key to getting more offers might be that hardwood flooring project. But whether it’s a buyers or sellers market, utilizing the expertise of a Realtor® will help ensure that you get the most out of your most valued investment. Realtors work for their clients and communities in all kinds of markets. That’s Who We R®.

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October 17, 2022

BrokerBay is Live | Next Steps Re: ShowingTime After October 31

We’ve only been live with BrokerBay for three weeks, and we're pleased to share that already 63% of Active listings currently have “yes” for the “Use BrokerBay” field. Thanks to our MLS Participants and Managing Brokers for their help in onboarding  agents to this latest MLS benefit. We’ve compiled this BrokerBay FAQ to assist with this transition both now and as new agents enter the business. 
 
In 2015 when we converted to Flexmls, we began sending a data feed to ShowingTime and added the ShowingTime button in Flex. However, when launching BrokerBay, we removed the ShowingTime button, and now we need to eliminate marketplace confusion by having all listings populate in two showing platforms.
 
We will maintain the ShowingTime feed of all listings through October 31, 2022. Each Participant should make an independent decision on whether they wish to continue using ShowingTime after October 31.
 
If a Managing Broker determines their office will only BrokerBay after October 31, no action is required.
 
If a Managing Brokerwish determines their office's listings will populate in ShowingTime after October 31, he/she should complete the Broker Back Office data agreement and return it to bethani@gcar.net. We are working with BrokerBay to disable the ability for cooperating agents to book showings when “Use BrokerBay” is “no” in Flexmls. Until that programming is complete, if “no,” listing brokers should (1) Provide alternate showing instructions in the Agent Only Notes and (2) Turn off showings in BrokerBay.

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October 10, 2022

Obituary: Ann Walldorf

Ann Walldorf, wife of Past President and REALTOR® Emeritus Rudy Walldorf (Herman Walldorf Commercial), passed away on October 5. Visitation will be on Friday, October 14, 10:30am at First Presbyterian Church Chattanooga (554 McCallie Avenue), with a celebration of life begining at 11:30am.

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October 6, 2022

Rising Mortgage Rates Starting To Slow Housing Market

There’s no denying that interest rates have been climbing as the temperature outside has fallen. And just like being surprised when stepping out on a brisk fall morning, these higher rates are shocking to many homebuyers looking to enter the housing market.

Mortgage rates rose by more than a full percentage point in September. According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased to 6.7% from 5.66% in the first week of September. As a result, home buying is 12% more expensive now than just a month ago, meaning current buyers need to spend about $250 more every month to buy a median-priced home compared to buyers who purchased their home a month ago. Unfortunately, this increase means that many folks looking to buy are being left out in the cold.

Because of these fast-rising rates, the housing market has slowed down. However, as we head into the last quarter of the year, activity may decline even further. Every year, transactions and prices tend to be above-trend in the summer, while activity typically slows down in the fall and winter. The impact of seasonality is vital to the housing market since it affects housing demand and supply. Specifically, the fourth quarter is typically one of the slowest quarters for home sales, nationally representing 24% of the total activity throughout the year. Compared to the third quarter, activity typically drops by 15 percentage points in the last quarter of the year.

So, what do the experts say? National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun expects the economy will remain sluggish throughout the remainder of this year, with mortgage rates rising to close to 7% in the coming months. “Only when inflation calms down will we see mortgage rates begin to steady,” said Yun. As a result of the current interest rate environment and weaker economic activity, NAR expects (on a national scale) existing-home sales to decline 15.2% in 2022 to 5.19 million units, while new home sales are projected to fall by 20.9%. But we’re already starting to see a slowdown.

To measure this activity, NAR utilizes the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a leading indicator for the housing sector based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed, but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The Northeast PHSI decreased 3.4% from last month to 76.6, down 19.0% from August 2021. The Midwest index fell 5.2% to 88.4 in August, a 21.1% drop from the previous year. The South PHSI slid 0.9% to 105.4 in August, a decline of 24.2% from a year ago. The West index rose by 1.4% in August to 71.0, down 31.3% from August 2021.

“Home prices are the least affordable in the West and, consequently, the region suffered deeper annual declines in contract signings due to rising interest rates when compared to other areas of the country,” Yun added. “However, the recent increases of the last two months, though small, are encouraging.”

So, what are we seeing in the local market? Well, a quick look at the numbers breaks down like this, 908 homes Closed in the last 30 days in our MLS, 638 homes went under contract and 1,785 homes are currently on the market. As Realtors we monitor these numbers on a regular basis. The inventory of listings has grown over the past few months and while interest rates are impacting many buyer’s purchasing power, our local market is still showing signs of strength. Of course, with what is being reported on the national and in other regional areas, we are certainly monitoring the signs of similar changes locally. We will be reviewing the official numbers from last month in the coming week and I will be providing a statistical look at the changes we are seeing from previous months, as well as an update on the changes since a year ago in my next article.

As Realtors, it is our responsibility to help guide homeowners and sellers in a fast-changing market. Look to those who have the expertise to help you, as a buyer or seller, get the most out of your most valuable investment. Realtors work for their clients and community every day. That’s Who We R®.

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September 30, 2022

CHATTANOOGA REALTORS® AND FMLS INK DATA SHARE AGREEMENT, EXPANDING REACH ACROSS GEORGIA AND TENNESSE

Multiple Listing Services Partner to Display Listings to Benefit Buyers, Sellers, and Real Estate Professionals

CHATTANOOGA, TN, and ATLANTA, GA, September 19, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® and the largest MLS in Georgia (FMLS) announced a data-sharing agreement today that significantly increases real estate listing visibility and crosses state lines in Georgia and Tennessee.

This important partnership between one of Tennessee’s largest MLSs, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® (GCR) and America’s fourth largest MLS, FMLS, will open up significant real estate referral opportunities between the two organizations and their members.

The partnership benefits nearly 60,000 brokers, agents, and partners throughout Georgia and Tennessee. Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® serves members in Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. GCR already has a data share in place with the Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS® and TN/VA Regional MLS. Those data share partnerships expose MLS listing information to more than 12,000 real estate professionals in Tennessee. Based in the Atlanta metro area, FMLS has members in Georgia and almost every state in America. The data share partnership between GCR and FMLS further expands the benefits for the respective users and clients.

“There is a lot of synergy between the two in the regions, not only from a geographic perspective, but also from in services to each of our members,” explains Jeremy Crawford, President and CEO of FMLS. “This multi-year agreement is ideal for expanding access to MLS content in the southeast to benefit our Brokers & Agents and their clients. This deal has great benefit to everyone involved and helps the real estate market work more efficiently,” Crawford continues.

FMLS will be able to bring new technology to Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®, as well as additional training and support options.

“We’re especially excited to bring added listing exposure and an even greater level of service to our members,” states Carol Seal, CEO of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®. “This is a seamless extension of our geography, and the additional buying power we’ll have will really help. Our MLS Committee and Board of Directors unanimously approved the partnership, and we look forward to a long and beneficial relationship,” Seal concludes.

The agreement provides local brokers and agents in both organizations with real-time access to reliable listing data from each other’s markets. In addition, FMLS and Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® adhere to strict RESO listing data standards, making this a seamless partnership. According to Crawford and Seal, the data share agreement will go live in the next few months,

About Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®:

Founded in 1912, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is a regional organization with more than 2,700 members in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia. The Association is one of approximately 1,100 local associations/boards of REALTORS® that comprise the National Association of REALTORS®. Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® owns and operates a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), with more than 3,000 MLS users. See GCAR.net for more information.

About FMLS:

The First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS) was founded 65 years ago by eight brokers who wanted to share real estate listings and connect buyers and sellers. FMLS is the fourth largest MLS in the U.S., and as Georgia’s largest MLS, it serves 68,000 members and partners in their home state and through data shares and MLS relationships in Alabama and Tennessee.   In addition, its world-class technology platform and FMLS Training Institute fuel the growth of agents, brokers, and appraisers across the region. Find out more at FirstMLS.com.

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September 29, 2022

MLS Service Are Expanded to Include Additional TN Counties

The MLS Committee and Board of Directors unanimously approved expanding Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ MLS service area to include the following Tennessee Counties: Bledsoe, Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, and Rhea, meaning any listings taken by MLS Participants and Subscriber in these counties are required to be entered into the MLS. This policy is effective immediately, and the MLS Rules will be updated to reflect the following:

Section 1.12. Service Area. Only listings of the designated types of property located within the service area of the MLS, which includes Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie County, Tennessee and Walker, Dade, and Catoosa County, Georgia, are required to be submitted to the service. Listings of property located outside the MLS’s service area will be accepted if submitted voluntarily by a Participant, and as long as listing agent/licensee is licensed in the state where property is located, but cannot be required by the service.

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September 27, 2022

BrokerBay Showing Service is Live!

We are now live with BrokerBay, our new MLS-wide showing service. We are thrilled to offer this service as part of our MLS subscription at no additional cost. Here’s everything you need to know to get started. 

Managing Brokers

•  Login to FlexMLS > Menu > Products > BrokerBay > Setup Your Account > Verify Contact Info > Create a Password

•  From Your Dashboard, Click on the Admin Queue > Unconfigured

•  This shows which listings in your office need to be prepared for showings.

•  Email agents to prompt them to set up listings. In the header, select View Details > Email Info to Agents

•  Your agents can now follow the steps below to prepare their listings for showings ahead of our going live next week.

•  Sign up for the Managing Broker & Admin Training (September 28, 11 am)

•  If you see a pop-up about concierge phone services, you may ignore that pop-up for now. For now, focus on getting your agents adjusted to BrokerBay.

Listing Agents

•  If your Managing Broker has taken the above steps, Login to FlexMLS > Menu > Products > BrokerBay

•  Verify Contact Info > Create a Password > Agree to Terms of Service

•  From your Dashboard > Tasks > Configure Instructions (for each of your listings)

•  Add Showing Instructions to your listings to ensure showings will be processed correctly. Follow this tutorial, https://vimeo.com/697097708

•  By default, some Showing Instructions are checked, such as “leave card,” which is prohibited per our MLS Rules

•  Change your default settings at Account Settings > Listing Settings > Deselect “Leave Card > Save!

•  Review your Agent Notes in FlexMLS and remove references/phone numbers* to other showing services.

•  Sign Up for Agent Training (October 6, 1:30 pm)

Help & Training

•  Visit BrokerBay’s Help Articles for assistance or submit a request to BrokerBay

•  Training Opportunities (all via Zoom)

•  View the recorded training 24/7

•  September 28, 11 am – Training for Admins & Managing Brokers

•  October 6, 1:30 pm – Training for Agents

MISCellaneous

•  Over the next week, the “Use Showing Service Y/N” field will change to “Use BrokerBay Y/N”

•  If you wish to use a showing service other than BrokerBay, please denote that information in the Agent Notes

•  By default, some Showing Instructions are checked, such as “leave card,” which is prohibited per our MLS Rules. Change your default settings: Account Settings > Listing Settings > Select/Deselect > Save!

•  Download the BrokerBay app so you can book showings on the go.

•  Appraisers, Pest Control, Home Inspectors will contact the listing agent who will book a showing on their behalf as these eKEY holders are pre-loaded in the booking roster.

•  *Booking Showings – While most REALTORS® will use BrokerBay via desktop or App, you may also call 888-594-8304 to book/cancel/change showing appointments.

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September 21, 2022

Realtors & Their Safety

With our name and reputation being our brand, Realtors need to promote themselves and maintain visibility as part of our business. But sometimes, this self-promotion can lead to dangerous situations. For example, in the recently released 2022 Member Safety Report, 23% of REALTORS® were more likely to say they had experienced a situation that made them fear their safety or personal information. This number is up from 2021 (14%), which is a sign that Realtors should remain diligent and take advantage of safety training. It’s a hopeful sign that 73% report having personal safety protocols in place that they follow with every client, and this trend is more likely among females (76%) than among males (67%).

And threats aren’t just limited to in-person encounters. Residential REALTORS® most often reported feeling unsafe after receiving a threatening or inappropriate email, text message, phone call, or voicemail (33%) and during a showing (27%), and Commercial REALTORS® most often reported feeling unsafe during a showing (29%) and after receiving a threatening or inappropriate email, text message, phone call, or voicemail (29%).

Realtors know first-hand how stressful the property buying process can be. However, it’s easy to get swept up in the sometimes frantic race to find that perfect home, so we must not cut corners when it comes to safety. One startling statistic from the 2022 Member Safety Report is that the typical respondent meets prospective clients they’ve never met before, either at their office or in a neutral location 66% of the time. Meeting a stranger with who you’ve had no previous interaction could prove dangerous.

These types of situations show why safety training is so important. Nationally, 40% of REALTORS® said that they have participated in a self-defense class, and 43% of men and 54% of women carry a self-defense weapon or tool. Among those who participated in a REALTOR® safety course, 75% said they feel more prepared for unknown situations after taking a REALTOR® Safety course. Locally, we offer members complimentary self-defense classes throughout the year. Greater Chattanooga Realtors believe in promoting safe business practices, creating a culture where members are committed to excellence, and educating members on safety.

One way Realtors can help homeowners have the best possible experience is to address safety and security best practices relating to real estate. That’s what our goal has been for this past month. Realtors love serving our community, and we want nothing else than to help our clients safely and professionally. 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 9, 2022

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® Raise $35,623 For Snack Packs

 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Sept. 7, 2022)  -- Greater Chattanooga Realtors® presented a $35,623 check to Janice Robertson, founder of the Snack Pack Food Ministry, during their annual Realtor Day with Snack Packs.

The check includes an annual $10,000 donation and the proceeds from Greater Chattanooga Realtors®’ recent Trivia Night. That event raised an additional $25,623.84 thanks to the efforts of their Community Partnerships Committee and Janice Robertson’s affiliated firm, Real Estate Partners, who issued a challenge to their agents to support the fundraiser.

“Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is thrilled to continue our support for Snack Packs,” said Derek English, 2022 President. “Snack Packs does so much to help area school children. It’s important for REALTORS® to give back to our community,” said English.

The Snack Pack Food Ministry helps feed nearly 2,500 food insecure children in 22 Hamilton County every weekend while school is in session. Snack Pack Food Ministry is one of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS community partners that add value to the quality of life in our community.

“Our Community Partnerships Committee works hard all year to give back,” said Garrison Parks, 2022 Chair of Greater Chattanooga Realtors® Community Partnership Committee. “I’m proud to be a Realtor, and proud to be a part of this group that serves so many,” said Parks. 

“The Snack Pack Food Ministry is so thankful for the monetary support of Greater Chattanooga Realtors. We are also thankful for all of them that give of their time to come and pack,” said Janice Robertson, Realtor and founder of Snack Pack Ministries. “The children are blessed by Greater Chattanooga Realtors,” said Robertson.

For more information about Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Community Partnerships, visit www.gcar.net.

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September 7, 2022

Realtor® Safety Month: Safety Protocols When Working With a Realtor®

In a few days, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release its 2022 Member Safety Report, which surveys Realtors around the nation about how safe they feel while on the job, their personal safety experiences, and their brokerage’s safety procedures and protocol. NAR publishes this report 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 number of respondents reported they experienced a situation in which they feared for their safety, or their personal information being comprised. Realtors understand the safety risks associated with real estate transactions, so it is imperative to create and share safety protocols with clients to learn about what they may encounter throughout a real estate transaction.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is committed to providing consumers and Realtor members with the resources and education to stay safe and secure. In addition to providing members with safety- related training, some safety protocols are expected to provide 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 his or her office. Most 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 unfamiliar location inherently creates additional tension, which is not helpful when initiating a real estate transaction. By meeting at a Realtor’s office, it allows the time for introductions and also offers the ideal time to outline the processes and procedures in preparing a buyer to purchase a home or land.

Secure your personal information. Some real estate offices may make copies of your driver’s license and mortgage preapproval letter for their records during the initial stages of a Buyer’s home search. This step allows the agent to keep a record of your information at their office and it should be stored securely. So be sure to have these items on hand for your initial meeting. As Realtors, we safeguard our clients’ data and ensure that it stays away from prying eyes. Keeping this information safe and secure is crucial in maintaining a safe agent and client relationship.

Stay away from carpooling. Even though people are returning to a pre-COVID world where carpooling was common, don’t expect your Realtor to drive you to a property unless it is discussed ahead of time. Driving separately is a safety precaution for you and your Realtor – so do not feel offended. Most people don’t pick up hitchhikers and understand the importance of not transporting strangers to a property showing. Driving separately also enables both parties to depart separately from the showing and return to other business, such as returning to the office or picking up the kids from school. It is still common to spend an afternoon seeing properties, but busy schedules and the ability to remain flexible has certainly made driving separately more common in our market.

Your agent might walk behind you. Realtors typically let buyers take the lead when exploring a home. This safety protocol is common and also allows you to view each room on the property first and make your own impressions. A well-trained Realtor will always be engaged with their client and by using a simple phase like “after you” is a polite way to remain out of the way.

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.

Concealed carry permits. Realtors have been the target of many crimes over the years and Realtors who have done everything right have still become victims of crime. An increase in crime over recent years has caused many Realtors to become responsible gun owners as an additional measure of protection. Others carry less lethal means of protection while some choose self-defense training. Another commonly used safety tactic is the buddy system. Realtors may ask another Realtor to tag along on a showing to provide additional support.

As a consumer, please consider the risks that Realtors encounter daily and be understanding when asked to provide identification or to schedule a meet and greet in advance of an impromptu showing.

Safety is our priority year-round, and I urge other Realtors to check https://www.gcar.net/realtor- safety-month-2022 for all the different courses being offered this month, especially. Realtors are focused on protecting our clients and ourselves. That’s Who We R®.

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September 1, 2022

Realtor® Safety Month: How to Avoid Real Estate Cyber Scams

September is Realtor® Safety Month, which is recognized by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) as well as State and Local Associations across the country. While we focus on safety throughout the month, safety is a focus for Greater Chattanooga Realtors® all year long. As my first in a series of articles, today I’m writing about an issue that affects Realtors and consumers alike – cyber-crime.

Phishing, hacking, and wire fraud are all ways people attempt to steal from others online.  As many real estate searches and transactions have moved online, the chances of being caught up in a cyber scam have become even greater.

Most people are familiar with those occasional emails from a foreign prince asking for social security or banking information, but many people don’t know that they need to watch out for more realistic scams when buying or selling their home. Cybercrimes have become increasingly sophisticated over the years and the people perpetrating them focus on situations where a lot of money is changing hands, making real estate transactions an ideal target.

NAR recently warned its members and consumers about one example, a wiring scam during the closing stage of the home buying and selling process. Hackers will break into the email accounts of consumers and real estate professionals to get details about a real estate transaction. The hacker will then send an email pretending to be the buyer, seller, real estate agent or someone else involved in the closing process and say there has been a last-minute change and provide new wiring instructions for funds to be sent; the instructions send the closing funds directly into the hacker’s bank account.

While it may seem like there are hundreds of ways for a criminal to take advantage of a consumer online, there are just as many ways consumers can protect themselves. Here are a few tips to help home buyers and sellers recognize and avoid real estate scams: 

Do not send sensitive information via email. Do not send banking information, your social security number or anything else that could be used to comprise your identity over email. If you absolutely must send personal or sensitive information via email, only use encrypted email. Many title companies and lenders offer assistance in transmission of these requests, and you should always call them directly to verify any request and ask for the encryption platform they prefer.

Do not click on unverified email. If you do not recognize the name or email address of the sender, do not open the email. Also beware of any attachments or downloadable files from unknown email addresses; they can contain viruses or provide a way for a hacker to access your computer. We recommend that if you suspect an email as being fraudulent or a request that seems out of the norm, make a call to your Realtor, title company, or lender to discuss any concerns.

Do not use unsecured Wi-Fi. It may seem harmless to check banking information using the free Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop but using an open connection can leave you vulnerable to hackers and scammers. Only access sensitive information on your home computer or on a secured network.

I tell my clients, if you have a suspicion of fraud, or if something just feels “off,” just pick up the phone and verify the information with your Realtor or lender. And if you suspect that fraud has or is in the process of occurring, contact all parties contacted to the transaction immediately. Unfortunately, often there is nothing that can be done to retrieve money stolen in the scam, however, you should still report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or the Federal Trade Commission.

Educating our clients on these dangers is a top priority. Realtors 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 are reaching the right person, buyers should contact their Realtor using numbers provided in advance.

For my fellow Realtors, I urge you to visit gcar.net/realtor-safety-month-2022 for 5 training classes/webinars and other tools, as well as 5 Safety Action Items for REALTORS®. These include Planning Your Safety Strategy, Tips and Best Practices, Training Videos, Personal Protection Resources, and Taking the REALTOR® Safety Pledge. These items will help Realtors keep Safety as our priority year-round. Realtors are focused on protecting our clients and ourselves. That’s Who We R®.

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August 26, 2022

Obituary: Peggy Kibble

Peggy Kibble, mother of Rob Kibble (The James Company), passed away on August 30. Visitation will be on September 1, from 2-5 pm at Heritage Funeral Home, East Brainerd Chapel, with a Celebration of Life immediately following. 

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August 26, 2022

Obituary: Barbara Thornton

Barbara Thornton, mother-in-law of Rob Kibble (The James Company), passed away on August 25. Visitation will be on August 28, 11am-1:30pm, at Heritage Funeral Home & Crematory, Battlefield Parkway. A graveside service will be held at Pine Grove Cemetery on Sunday, Aug. 28, at 2pm.

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August 24, 2022

What’s Happening With Home Buying

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of consulting an expert, whether it’s a REALTOR®, physician, or a mechanic. This past week I was privileged to do just that while attending our Economic Outlook Luncheon with speaker Dr. Jessica Lautz, who is NAR’s Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insight.

The annual Economic Outlook Luncheon is an extremely insightful event that the Greater Chattanooga Realtors® holds each year with the Homebuilders Association of Greater Chattanooga. These meetings involve engaging speakers from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

This year, 200 Realtors® and home builders met to discuss today's evolving real estate market. As Dr. Jessica Lautz of NAR put it, “We are in a new housing market paradigm, but we continue to see multiple offers for properties due to limited housing inventory. Affordability is the concern, where local home prices have risen 17.5% year over year.”

Dr. Lautz summarized the current housing situation by showing that tight lending, low housing inventory, and changing housing demographics are affecting the market in ways we haven’t seen before. Different from 2008, sub-prime lending is not happening, which shows that our country is not experiencing a housing bubble, but the low housing inventory is a result of under-building by anywhere between 4.5 and 6.5 million homes. As a result of the market, more families consisting of multiple generations are living in the same home, which is increasing the average amount of time an individual stays in a home.

Dr. Lautz also showed a study from NAR that surveyed individuals on the amount needed for a down payment. Typically, a down payment is around 10% of the price of a home, but a large chunk of respondents (35%) still believes that 16%-20% is required to finance a property. It’s crucial that, as Realtors®, we help educate buyers that this large amount isn’t normally required for a down payment.

There were also some generational findings that Dr. Lautz shared that brought a particular group into focus. Dr. Lautz jokingly said that Millennials were everyone’s favorite topic, and their housing situation is an interesting snapshot of what the real estate looks like for younger Americans. Millennials, who Dr. Lautz defines as being between 22 and 40 years old, are the “largest adult generation today and they are the largest generation of home buyers at 37%. Millennials and first-time buyers face multiple challenges such as rampant competition in the housing market, low housing inventory, and buyers who are able to pay all cash for properties.” She also noted that the median age for first time homebuyers is 33, and the percentage of young adults (25-34) who are living at home is over 17%. This represents a large group of people who may look to enter the housing market down the road.

We should never stop learning, and that’s why I love these events. The collective knowledge of our local home builders and Realtors helps us all serve our community better. And so, whether you’re looking to build or purchase a property, it’s crucial to look to the experts. Realtors help our community and serve our clients in so many different ways every day. That’s Who We R®.

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August 22, 2022

Obituary: Shea Williams

Sharon Melissa “Shea” Williams, mother-in-law to Communications Director Josh Branum, passed away on August 16. Visitation will be on Saturday August 27, 2-4pm at Lane Funeral Home (601 Ashland Terrace).

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August 17, 2022

July 2022 Local Housing Market Statistics

At a time of year when homebuying activity is typically very strong, soaring homeownership costs have caused home sales to decline nationwide for the fifth consecutive month. In addition, existing-home sales have fallen 5.4% month-to-month and 14.2% year-over-year, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). But there is a bright spot. Inventory of existing homes has continued to climb this summer, with 1.26 million homes available at the beginning of July, equivalent to a three-month supply. And despite the summer slowdown, homes are still selling quickly, with the typical home staying on market for an average of 14 days.

The U.S. housing market has continued to cool, as rising mortgage rates and record-high sales prices have stifled affordability, weakening demand and pricing out many buyers. According to NAR, the median household income has failed to keep pace with increasing mortgage payments, with the costs of buying a home about 80% more expensive now than they were just three summers ago. As more and more prospective buyers find their home purchase plans delayed, many are turning to the rental market, where competition has intensified due to increased demand.

Looking locally, New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 13.3% to 1,393. Pending Sales were down 15.1% to 1,062. Inventory levels grew a significant 23.2% to 1,822 units. For some perspective, the number of homes for sale in July 2021 was 1,479. Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 17.8% over the July 2021 amount ($263, 050) to $310,000. Days on Market was down 6.3% to 15 days. Buyers felt empowered as Months Supply of Inventory was up 21.4% to 1.7 months.

The housing market continues to shift every day, which is why it is so crucial to utilize the expertise of a Realtor®. Whether you’re buying or selling, or moving locally or across the country, Realtors have the knowledge and tools needed to make sure you are getting the most out of your investment. That’s Who We R®.

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August 10, 2022

Repairing Your Credit Score

Most people know the importance of maintaining a high credit score, especially when weighing financial options for purchasing a home. But what if you’ve fallen behind on some payments, and your credit score has suffered as a result? What can be done to help bring that score back to where it should be?

In a recent article at Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe shared these useful insights for individuals who are trying to rebuild their credit score:

Pull your credit report. There are three major U.S. credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), and each releases its own credit scores and reports (a more detailed history that’s used to determine your score). Their scores should be roughly equivalent, although they do pull from different sources. For example, Experian considers on-time rent payments while TransUnion has detailed information about previous employers. Also, it’s a good idea to check with your credit card company. Many include free access to scores and reports. Check with individual companies for details.

Assess where you stand. It’s simple: The better your credit history, the higher your score—and the better your opportunities for a home loan. The Federal Housing Administration requires a minimum credit score of 580 to permit a 3.5% down payment, and major lenders often require at least 620, if not more. So what can you do if your credit report is in less than shipshape? Don’t panic, there are ways to clean it up.

Improve your credit score with error disputes. A 2013 Federal Trade Commission study found that 5% of credit reports contain errors that can erroneously ding your score. So if you spot any, start by sending a dispute letter to the bureau, providing as much documentation as possible, per FTC guidelines. You’ll also need to contact the organization that provided the bad intel, such as a bank or medical provider, and ask it to update the info with the bureau. This may take a while, and you may need documentation to make your case. But once the bad info is removed, you should see a bump in your score.

Erase one-time mistakes. So you’ve made a late payment or two—who hasn’t? Call the company that registered the late payment and ask that it be removed from your record. If you had an oopsy and missed just a payment or two, most companies will indeed tell their reporting division to remove this from your credit report.

Increase your limits. One no-brainer way to increase your credit score is to simply pay off your debt. Not an option right now?  Here’s a cool loophole: Ask your credit card companies to increase your credit limit instead. This improves your debt-to-credit ratio, which compares how much you owe to how much you can borrow.

Pay on time. If you’re often late with payments, now’s the time to change. You have the power to improve your credit score yourself. Commit to always paying your bills on time; consider signing up for automatic payments so it’s guaranteed to get done.

Give yourself time. Unfortunately, negative items (such as those habitually late or nonexistent payments) can stay on your report for up to seven years. The good news? Changing your habits makes a big difference in the “payment history” segment of your report, which accounts for 35% of your score. That’s why it’s essential to start early so that you’re sitting pretty once you’re shopping for homes and find one that makes you swoon.

Thanks for these tips, Jamie. Maintaining a healthy credit score is very helpful when looking to purchase something as expensive as a car or house. When you’re looking to purchase or sell real estate, utilize the expertise of a Realtor to make the process as seamless as possible. Realtors work for their community every day. That’s Who We R®.

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August 3, 2022

A Shift, Not a Bubble, in Real Estate

If you follow the news, and especially if you follow real estate, you know that inflation has led to increased mortgage rates, which has also contributed to the recent cooling of the residential real estate market. There are a lot of moving parts and it’s becoming a little more difficult to know where the market is heading.

I always say to consult an expert, whether it’s a REALTOR®, physician, or a mechanic. And so I look to two such experts when it comes to market trends in real estate: Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), and Dr. Jessica Lautz, NAR’s Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insight.

"Contract signings to buy a home will keep tumbling down as long as mortgage rates keep climbing, as has happened this year to date," said Yun. "There are indications that mortgage rates may be topping or very close to a cyclical high in July. If so, pending contracts should also begin to stabilize." But what does this mean for home sales, at least in the short term? "Home sales will be down by 13% in 2022, according to our latest projection," Yun added. "With mortgage rates expected to stabilize near 6% and steady job creation, home sales should start to rise by early 2023."

So home sales are having an inverse relationship with the rising mortgage rates. But does this mean that we’re experiencing a housing bubble? In a report for the National Housing Conference, researchers David M. Dworkin and Bill McBride explain the difference in today’s market and the market of 2008. “During the housing bubble, toxic mortgages with teaser rates (usually around 1%) made houses seem more affordable. But when teaser rates reset to market levels, many of these mortgages failed because homeowners could not afford the actual cost of the mortgage. Today, soaring housing costs are driven by the compounding impact of apparent underproduction between 2008 and 2020, housing supply chain failures since 2020, and increased demand since 2020.”

So no, according to experts, we’re not about to experience another housing bubble, but we are experiencing something else that is an obstacle to buyers; housing affordability. In fact, excluding the housing bubble of 2004-2008, it is the worst affordability since 1989, according to Dworkin and McBride. In fact, according to NAR, buying a home this past June, on a national average, was about 80% more expensive than in June 2019. Nearly a quarter of buyers who purchased a home three years ago would be unable to do so now because they no longer earn the qualifying income to buy a median-priced home today.

What are some trends in the houses that are being purchased? Lautz offered five “touch points” for REALTORS® to reach out to clients in the current climate:

•12% of buyers are purchasing homes virtually—and they want a REALTOR® to assist with the process.
•Remote work continues to influence buying trends: 34% of buyers want features that enable them to work from home.
•Consumers continue to have a skewed view of the typical amount required for a down payment. Thirty-five percent of buyers believe a down payment of 16% to 20% is required; 10% of buyers believe they need a down payment of more than 20%. However, the typical down payment for a first-time buyer is only 6% to 7%. For a repeat buyer, it’s 17%.
•There is value in promoting energy efficiency in listings: Forty-four percent of REALTORS® say it’s “somewhat valuable,” and 19% say it’s “very valuable.”
•Seven in 10 buyers report a desire for the latest in heating and cooling, windows and doors, insulation, lighting and appliances; however, the typical home purchased is 29 years old and unlikely to have the newest features. This disconnect presents an opportunity for REALTORS® to contact previous clients about satisfaction with their current home and any improvements they have made.

The insight that these experts provide is not only interesting, but crucial to getting the full picture of the real estate market. I’ll also add that Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is partnering with the Homebuilders Association of Greater Chattanooga to host our annual Economic Outlook Luncheon on August 17, and Dr. Jessica Lautz will be the featured speaker. visit gcar.net/events for more details.

And so consult the experts, get the data, and be prepared. An important step to take in this process is consulting a Realtor® to help walk you through the homebuying or selling process. Realtors work for their clients and communities everyday. That’s Who We R®.

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August 1, 2022

Position Statement: Short Term Vacation Rentals

On July 28, 2022, the Board of Directors approved the following position statement regarding the City of Chattanooga’s current moratorium (through January 2023) on new applications for non-owner-occupied short-term vacation rentals.

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® asks that the City of Chattanooga would expedite their new policies for Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVRs). The city needs to enforce their current code, shut down illegal STVRs, raise the penalty for operating an unpermitted STVR, and hire necessary employees to enforce the STVR rules.

Through our Board of Directors, Governmental Affairs Committee, and Staff, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® will continue to monitor this issue.

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August 1, 2022

Obituary: Judy Webster

Judy Webster (Keller Williams), passed away on July 31. Visitation will be on Wednesday, August 3, 4-8pm at Heritage Funeral Home (7454 E. Brainerd Road). A Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, August 4, at 11am at Heritage Chapel. Read the full obituary.

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July 27, 2022

RESPA Protects Buyers and Sellers

It’s difficult to believe, but we are over halfway through 2022 and in a few short days students in our area will be returning to school. Vacations are wrapping up, school shopping is in full swing (don’t forget to take advantage of the tax-free weekend) and just around the corner is the Tennessee Primary Election slated for August 4. While we all are in the mode of dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s, and prudent Realtors are doing this daily as they assist buyers and sellers under the watchful eye of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Signed into law in December of 1974, The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) became effective on June 20, 1975 and at its core protects consumers by requiring transparency and disclosures from those who provide real estate settlement services. RESPA was introduced to eliminate abusive practices in the settlement process, prohibit illegal referral fees or kickbacks, and limit the use of escrow accounts, and is now regulated by the CFPB.

In short, RESPA exists to protect consumers buying and selling real estate. The rules and regulations are numerous, and often confusing even to those in the industry and many consumers are completely unaware RESPA exists and why.

So why should a buyer or seller care about RESPA? Because RESPA helps to ensure homeownership is affordable. A consumer protection statute, RESPA helps consumers “shop” for real estate settlement services and because of disclosure requirements, it helps eliminate hidden referral fees that unnecessarily increase the cost of certain settlement services. RESPA provides that buyers have choices when it comes to service providers such as title companies and lenders. While a seller may request closing to occur at a specific title company or that a buyer use a preferred lender, RESPA prohibits a seller requiring a specific person or company be used when the buyer is paying for the service.

RESPA also requires that borrowers receive timely disclosures designed to spell out the costs associated with the closing, outline the servicing and escrow account practices and describe business relationships between settlement service providers at least three days in advance of closing.

Often in real estate, people hear of referral fees. A referral fee is a portion of the commission paid to another real estate agent or broker in exchange for a client referral. Consumers should be aware of laws regarding referral fees, specifically Tennessee Real Estate License Law and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The following explanations are based on information provided by the Tennessee Association of REALTORS® and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

RESPA prohibits anyone from giving or accepting a fee, kickback, or anything of value in exchange for referrals of settlement service business to service providers (lenders, title companies, closing attorneys, appraisers, etc.) in conjunction with a federally related mortgage loan.

It’s important to note that Tennessee Real Estate License Law prohibits a licensee from paying a referral fee to a non-licensee. Consumers sometimes request a fee for referring a prospect to a licensee or for finding available property. Such requests are commonly referred to as birddog fees or finders fees, and these fees are illegal.

It is a RESPA violation for someone to receive money or a thing of value solely for sending someone settlement service business. Consumers should consider the following helpful tips:

•Compare the costs (fees, interest rate, points, etc.) of settlement service providers before agreeing to use one to whom you were referred.


•Ask for a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) before you agree to the loan and paying any fees.


•Ask the builder whether you are required to use a certain service provider in order to get special concessions.


•Ask your REALTOR® to verify the validity of fees being charged.


•Ask to see the HUD-1 Settlement Statement before going to closing. Compare the charges with the Good Faith Estimate and ask about any charges that have changed or that you do not understand.


•Forward any tax or insurance bills you receive, immediately to your lender (if the lender is supposed to pay the bill).


•Check your annual escrow account statement for mistakes.


•Make a “qualified written request” when asking your lender for information or making a complaint.


•Make your mortgage payment on time, even if you have sent a complaint to your lender.

Lastly, it’s important to read the FAQs about Escrow Accounts on www.hud.gov before filing an escrow complaint with a banking or government regulator.

Taking the time to revisit these topics is important because buying and selling property is complicated, but thankfully Realtors® work with their clients to help navigate the rules and the real estate transaction so that their best interests are being met. Realtors serve their community’s homebuying needs each day. That’s Who We R®.

Founded in 1912, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is a regional organization with more than 2,700 members servicing Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. The Association is one of approximately 1,100 local associations/board of REALTORS® nationwide that comprise the National Association of REALTORS®. Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® owns and operates a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is one of approximately 600 MLSs in the country and services more than 2,900 MLS users.

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July 25, 2022

Position Statement: Proposed Changes to the Chattanooga Subdivision Regulations

On behalf of the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® and our 2,500 members we would like to thank the City of Chattanooga and The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency for the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes to the Chattanooga Subdivision Regulations.

Although we recognize that a lot of time and work went into these proposed changes, we do not believe that the community and stakeholders have had ample time and opportunity to properly analyze and respond to the proposed regulations. It is important that all parties involved understand the impact and consequences of the regulations being proposed on our community.

One concern we have is with the proposed street pattern and extension changes under 401.3. Our members have found that most homeowners prefer a subdivision with a cul-de-sac and one entrance in and out of the subdivision. Requiring connectivity to other subdivisions raises questions of increased traffic through those subdivisions and altering the landscape of neighborhoods that would normally be safe child friendly neighborhoods.

Another concern are the proposed changes to grade/slope discussed under 401.6. Our members have previously voiced our concerns about putting strict slope regulations on development specifically during our review of the Natural Resources Assessment. As we stated then and will reiterate here, steep slope regulations are detrimental to development in Chattanooga.

Although we have outlined concerns with the proposed regulations, the entirety of the proposed Chattanooga Subdivision Regulations raises the biggest issue of all. Stricter regulations will affect the cost of housing in the city period. As we repeatedly state, the more regulations placed on development the more increased costs to future homebuyers. In June 2021, the median sales price in Chattanooga was $280,000 compared to $335,000 in June 2022, which is a 19.6% increase. The more regulations the City of Chattanooga continues to implement the less opportunity for affordable housing in the area, which we think is essential to consider especially with the announcement of Mayor Kelly’s Affordable Housing Initiative.

We therefore respectfully ask that the community and stakeholders have more time to review the proposed Chattanooga Subdivision Regulations. It is important that we continue to discuss moving the city in a positive direction to ensure that all future development is not only forward thinking but also affordable for those who are profoundly affected in our community the homebuyer. The Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® are willing to meet with the City of Chattanooga and The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency to formulate a plan that will be beneficial not detrimental to the development community.

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July 20, 2022

A few To-Do’s for July to Save Money & Get Ready for Fall

July means hot temperatures, kids on their summer break, and maybe a bit of traveling. But if your busy schedule allows, this time of year might be a great opportunity to knock out some home projects that could make things much easier on your wallet, your life in general, and help secure and maintain the value of your home in the future. Homeownership is much more than just making your house payment, and the investment you make throughout the year in keeping the interior and exterior of your home in peak condition will pay dividends in its future value and your earned equity moving forward.

But where’s a good place to start? Kelley Walters, writer for NAR’s HouseLogic.com, has some out-of-the-box tips from her latest article. These ideas might not be the first things you think of when looking at home projects, but I think you will appreciate her points . Kelley has this to pass along to homeowners gearing up for those mid-year projects:

Organize the Basement. The two most common types of clutter? Old clothes and seasonal items. Just the kind of stuff that winds up in the basement. So this month, face your messy basement head on. Not only will you regain space, but you'll also save time and could even knock out clutter-related depression. And yes, that's a thing.

Now that you've got your basement organized, maybe it's a good time to consider this next project:

Finish the Basement. The solution to a cramped house could be right under your feet. Transforming an unfinished basement into a media room, home office — or even a rentable space — builds equity, upping your home's resale value. Start this project now, and you can kick back and enjoy your new space all winter long.

Buy Paint on Sale. July is not really the time of year you think of painting, right? It's usually too hot and humid. Probably why so many places put paint on sale this month. Stock up now, and you'll be ready for that painting project on your fall to-do list. (P.S. Latex and acrylic paint can last up to 10 years; oil-based, up to 15.)

Hit Up Recycling Centers. Summer is home improvement season. That also makes it the savvy buyer's time to seek out deals at recycling centers and home improvement resale stores. Since this is project time — not to mention moving season — lots of folks are ditching their old stuff. Take advantage and grab it up at super-low prices.

Kelly really offers some great tips on paint sales, purchasing repurposed items and getting the basement cleared out or even renovating it into a new usable space, but let’s think about some projects that you can tackle (no pun intended) outside your home before the Saturday/Sunday football seasons and baseball pennant races start.

Cleaning out and clearing overgrowth off your property. This is one item that no one really enjoys doing, but this time of year is certainly when mother nature likes to take her turn of reclaiming that back property line or the tree’s limbs overhanging your roof. Just be careful to pace yourself and don’t take on the project if you are not comfortable with the scope or the degree of difficulty involved.

Dont’ feel quite up to tackling the outdoors? Refreshing that back patio or deck could certainly go a long way. Both of these items can make a huge difference, and while the labor may be intense during these dog days of summer, a plan to have a pressure washing project in the afternoons can make the latter part of the day a welcome reprieve from the heat. I mention this as outdoor living spaces are always a plus when adding value to a property’s livability and a favorite amenity for future buyers.

No matter the effort involved by you or the impact on your pocketbook, these projects can be rewarding to the overall maintenance and upkeep of your property’s value. Trust me when I say that a Saturday afternoon in the fall in a newly refreshed outdoor living space, well maintained yard, newly reclaimed basement media room, or just the peace of mind that you don’t have a bunch of clutter in your storeroom will make your investment all that more rewarding.

And so, as Summer stays with us and the temperatures remain hot, remember that no matter the time of year, it’s always a great idea to consult a Realtor® for your homebuying or selling needs. Realtors have the expertise to make sure you get the most out of your investment all year long. That’s Who We R®.

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July 15, 2022

REALTOR® PARTY SUPPORTED CANDIDATES FOR August 4, 2022 ELECTION

The Tennessee and Hamilton County General Election will be held on August 4, 2022.  Early voting runs July 15-30.

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

City Council, District 8: Marvene Noel (Special Election to fill Unexpired Term)

Hamilton County Sheriff: Austin Garrett

Hamilton County Trustee: Bill Hullander

Hamilton County Commission, District 2: Chip Baker

Hamilton County Commission, District 4: Warren Mackey

Hamilton County Commission, District 6: David Sharpe

Hamilton County Commission, District 7: Lee Helton

Hamilton County Commission, District 9: Steve Highlander

Hamilton County Commission, District 11: Joe Graham

Hamilton County School Board, District 3: Joe Smith

Hamilton County School Board, District 5: Charles Paty

Hamilton County School Board, District 8: Larry Grohn

Hamilton County School Board, District 11: Steven McKinney

With any questions about the RPAC Trustees processes, contact Governmental Affairs Director, Christy Auld.

Review the RPAC Trustees Policies & Procedures at About Us > Governing Documents

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July 13, 2022

June 2022 Local Housing Market Statistics

Rising inflation, soaring home prices, and increasing mortgage interest rates have combined to cause a slowdown in the U.S. housing market. To help quell inflation, which reached 8.6% in May, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point in June – the largest hike since 1994. Higher prices and 30-year fixed mortgage rates approaching 6% have exacerbated affordability challenges and rapidly cooled demand, with home sales and mortgage applications falling sharply from a year ago.

Across the nation, monthly mortgage payments are up more than 50% compared to last year, and this increase in rising costs of homeownership means that there are many sidelined prospective buyers. Nationally, the median sales price of existing homes recently exceeded $400,000 for the first time, a 15% increase from a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. However, as existing home sales continue to soften nationwide, the housing supply is slowly improving, with inventory up for the second month. In time, price growth is expected to moderate as supply grows; for now, however, inventory remains low, and buyers feel the squeeze of higher prices all around.

Locally, there are many hopeful signs of a stabilizing housing market. One very promising indicator is the sharp increase in housing inventory. As we know, increased housing inventory supply will help lead to more affordable prices in the long run. Inventory levels grew 31.9% to 1,638 units. New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 22.4% to 1,633. Pending Sales were down 5.1% to 1,089.

Prices continued to gain traction in our area. The Median Sales Price increased 19.5% to $328,725. For reference, the Median Sales Price in June 2021 was $275,000. Days on Market was down 23.5% to 13 days. Buyers felt empowered as Months Supply of Inventory was up 25.0% to 1.5 months.

One thing that’s certain is that nothing stays the same, and this is especially true in the real estate market. We currently find ourselves in a time of change, and that’s why if you’re looking to enter the housing market, whether it’s to buy or sell, utilizing the expertise of a Realtor® is so critical. Realtors have the tools and the data to help make the most out of your most valuable investment. That’s Who We R®.

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July 12, 2022

Coming soon! Data Share with the TN/VA Regional MLS

Coming soon! Data Share with the TN/VA Regional MLS: Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® has partnered with the TN/VA Regional MLS* to data share through Flexmls.

Similar to our data share with Knoxville (launched in June 2021), this partnership will:

•  Allow our MLS Participants and Subscribers to view listings in the TN/VA Regional MLS without the cost of subscribing to the TN/VA Regional MLS; and

•  Better serve clients interested in the TN/VA Regional MLS market.

Data Sharing:

•  Provides ONLY the ability to view MLS data and listings and

•  Does NOT include the offer of cooperative compensation.

Unless you subscribe to both MLSs (Chattanooga and TN/VA Regional), you will negotiate cooperative compensation as you would when selling property not listed in the MLS to which you subscribe.

All MLS users are reminded that the respective MLS Rules & Policies continue to apply for each MLS to which you choose to subscribe. As soon as we finalize the data share set-up, we will send out information on how to view the TN/VA Regional MLS data and listings from your Flexmls account.

*The TN/VA Regional MLS is jointly owned by the Northeast TN and Bristol TN/VA Associations. Together, their service area includes Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties in TN and Lee, Scott, and Wise counties in VA.

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July 8, 2022

TREC’s New CE Portal for Licensees

On July 8, TREC launched a new licensee portal and transitioned CE data from verify.tn.gov to CE Broker, a third-party continuing education tracking system. TREC is no longer updating CE data through verify.tn.gov. In order to view your TREC CE credits, you must create a free* CE Broker account:

1. Visit www.cebroker.com/tn/plans
2. Click on BASIC*
3. Enter your license number
4. Create your username and password
5. Enter your new dashboard to see your continuing education
6. Bookmark the new site for quick reference. 

*Some licensees report getting a pop-up window to enter a credit card. For a Basic (free) account, you may disregard credit cards requests, account status is "not complete," and the "activate free trial." 

Unfortunately, this change prevents our Staff from viewing and assisting in checking your CE credits. However, the new platform provides a more seamless way for uploading CE credits following one of our classes. 

Questions? Email support@cebroker.com.

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July 6, 2022

Being “Green” Saves Money

The summer heat has arrived. As a result, we’re seeing some surprisingly large electric bills. Soaring temperatures aren’t just uncomfortable. Extreme temps put an incredible strain on our power grid, which can cause power outages. And there’s nothing worse than being without power during a sweltering summer day, right?

So, what steps can we take to help ease the burdens and save money? When working with one of our local Realtor members, you might learn about the green fields in our MLS, powered by Flexmls. There are also a few local Realtors who carry NAR’s Green Designation www.green.realtor that can assist you with implementing green features into your remodel, new construction, or existing home. These Realtors can assist in being the source for the source in Information regarding curbside recycling, dual flush toilets, energy-rated HVAC systems to hot water recirculation, low emissivity windows, and rainwater collection systems, and will be sure to highlight such green features for sellers and buyers.

In the tightening market of the past couple of years, many new homeowners feel lucky to have purchased the home they are did, no matter its efficiency levels. These homeowners should fear not, as many companies specialize in retrofitting and providing green services to suit many varying budgets. There are many resources available to help make any home more energy efficient, which also means more money in your pocket over the long-term.

Locally, EPB and TVA offer the Home Uplift program (HUP), which provides no-cost home energy upgrades to qualifying homes in our community. Such improvements could include HVAC repair or replacement, insulation, weather stripping, and more energy-efficient lighting. On average, HUP participants have saved more than $400 annually on their energy bills. This service is valuable in helping many in our community. To get started, visit https://epb.com/energy/home-energy-uplift/.

Chattanooga has also been blessed for over 15 years with green|spaces www.greenspaceschattanooga.org , which is one organization in particular that offers assistance to homeowners and company owners alike through advocacy and incentive campaigns, education and training classes, design competitions, and other programs, green|spaces has advanced the sustainability of living, working, and building in Chattanooga.

Lastly, another resource is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), operated by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center. DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States. Visit DSIREusa.org, enter your zip code, and view all the different tax incentives for your area. 

These are a few of the great steps to get you started on an energy-saving journey. Many people think a REALTOR’s job is finished once a transaction closes. In reality, REALTORS are a valuable resource even after the housing transaction. No matter the time of year, REALTORS serve their clients and community in their home buying and energy conservation needs. That’s Who We R®.

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June 29, 2022

Community Partnerships Make Us Stronger

Love where you live. On the surface, it’s pretty simple, but loving where you live means being actively invested in the community. That is why in addition to the causes our members support individually, Greater Chattanooga Realtors partners with charitable organizations to positively impact where we live, work, and play.

Thus, I want to highlight the work of our Community Partnerships Committee, whose focus is supporting our ongoing work with Habitat for Humanity & Snack Packs. These volunteers are the boots on the ground and the behind-the-scenes cheerleaders getting their fellow Realtors engaged. In 2021, their collective efforts of our bi-annual Tee Up & Wine Down for Habitat brought in more than $61,000!

Now our Community Partnerships Committee is focused on Trivia Night benefitting the Snack Pack Ministry. This event has been on a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, and we’re excited it's back this year. Snack Packs serves our neighbors in an extraordinary way. An estimated one out of four school-aged children are food insecure, which, in Hamilton County equates to nearly 11,000 children in need of food.

It takes approximately $80 to provide this ministry to one child. In addition to volunteering for the monthly packing days, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is hosting Trivia Night on August 4 at The Comedy Catch to raise awareness of this important organization. Our 2019 trivia night raised more than $54,000, and we hope to do it again this year. But we need the community's help.

This event is open to the public, and trivia teams will enjoy food, drinks, door prizes, and a comedy show. This year's theme is "Battle of the Decades," and there are prizes for the most creative team decked out representing their favorite decade. Visit gcar.net for more info and to sign up before the July 21st deadline or teams fill up, whichever first occurs.

Regardless of whether you're able to participate in person, you still can help. Our Community Partnerships Committee is challenging the entire membership to see how many children we can feed for the 2022-23 school year. To accept this challenge, make an $80 contribution(s) now through July 21st to sponsor 1 child. At Trivia Night (August 4th), we will announce the following winners:
• REALTOR® with the most sponsorships
• Office with the highest percentage of REALTOR® participation
• Office(s) with 100% participation

I can’t say enough good things about those who serve on the various committees at Greater Chattanooga Realtors®. I know it’s not always easy to find the time to step away from business and volunteer, and I am proud and grateful for all Greater Chattanooga Realtors members who serve with "skin in the game.”

Our Community Partnerships Committee is just one example of how Realtors do more than just buy and sell real estate. Realtors give their time and efforts in so many different ways to give back to our community. Realtors serve in many different ways, and we invite you to do the same. That’s Who We R®.

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June 23, 2022

Supra eKey Co-Op with Great Smoky Mountains Association/MLS

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® has added Great Smoky Mountains to our list of Supra e-Key co-op partners.

All e-Key holders are reminded that Supra eKey Reciprocity is a privilege, not a right. Anyone accessing a keybox in another market should:

•  Contact the listing agent to confirm any showing instructions and related appointments;

•  Follow the listing agent’s/seller’s showing instructions and local MLS Rules; and

•  Ensure you are licensed to conduct business in the state where the property is located.

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June 21, 2022

What Increasing Interest Rates Mean For Homebuyers

No matter your occupation, we’ve all noticed rising prices in items that are part of our everyday life. Whether it’s fuel, clothing, or groceries, inflation has been taking a steadily increasing amount from our pockets. It’s no different for real estate. In case you missed it, this past week’s announcement by the Federal Reserve set a big increase in interest rates and means several more rounds of rate hikes are on the way in upcoming months. 

Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of REALTORS® shared valuable insight on what’s happening and what to expect, “So far, the short-term fed funds rate that the Fed directly controls has risen by 175 basis points. But the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has risen even more – by nearly 300 basis points. On the same $300,000 mortgage, the monthly payment has risen from $1265 in December to $1800 today. That's painful and, consequently, will shrink the buyer pool.”

Yun continues, “Home sales have recently been trending down towards 2019 figures. Sales could fall even further with some inventory sitting on the market for more than a month like in the pre-pandemic days. Pricing a listed home properly will, therefore, be the key to attracting buyers. In the meantime, rental demand will strengthen along with rents. Only when consumer price inflation tops out and starts to fall will mortgage rates stabilize or even decline a bit. That is why providing additional oil supplies will be critical in containing consumer prices and interest rates.”

These higher interest rates are aimed to combat inflation and will definitely throw a wet blanket on the real estate industry until they come back down again. And for those who don’t think these rates will have much of an effect, consider that higher interest rates equate to less buying power. Compared to only a year ago, if you were looking to purchase a $400,000 home, with the increased rates, your buying power decreases to the $300,000 range. Buyers may have to look at smaller homes with less amenities to stay in their comfortable budget range.

So yes, the housing market continues to shift everywhere which is why it is so crucial to utilize the expertise of a Realtor®. Whether you’re buying or selling, finding the right window to purchase or a sell a home is essential. Always trust your real estate needs to a Realtor®. That’s Who We R®.

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June 14, 2022

May 2022 Housing Market Statistics

After two years of record-setting activity, there are beginning to be signs that nationally the housing market might be cooling. High home prices and a surge in mortgage interest rates are slowing buyer activity, with home sales declining for the third consecutive month under the weight of soaring homeownership costs. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports existing home sales were down 2.4% from the previous month, while pending sales fell 3.9% as of last measure, extending the trend of recent months. Economists predict sales will continue to soften in the near future, which may put downward pressure on home prices.

Across the country, the slowdown in sales has provided a much-needed lift to housing supply, with inventory up 10.8% from the previous month according to NAR, although supply remains down 10.4% compared to this time last year, with only 2.2 months’ supply of homes at the current sales pace. As the nation continues to explore ways to solve the ongoing housing shortage, estimated at 5.5 million homes, the White House recently unveiled the Housing Supply Action Plan, which aims to expand housing access through a number of administrative and legislative actions and help relieve the nation’s housing crisis over the next 5 years.

Locally, a somewhat different picture has emerged for May. Not only did inventory increase, but sales increased as well. When looking at the local market, New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 9.5% to 1,415. Pending Sales were up 4.5% to 1,162. Inventory levels grew 4.7% to 1,232 units. Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 21.2% to $315,000. In April, the Median Sales Price was $302,500. Days on Market was down 36.4% to 14 days, which was the same amount of time as April. Absorption rates were even with last year as Months Supply of Inventory remained flat at 1.1 months.

The housing market continues to shift everywhere which is why it is so crucial to utilize the expertise of a Realtor®. Whether you’re buying or selling, or moving locally or across the country, Realtors have the knowledge and tools needed to make sure you are getting the most out of your investment. That’s Who We R®.

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June 8, 2022

Celebrating Homeownership Month

In June of each year, Greater Chattanooga Realtors® joins other associations around the country to celebrate homeownership by showcasing individual homeowners, government officials, and various programs that protect and promote the American Dream of homeownership.

The purpose of Homeownership Month is to encourage current and future homeowners to advocate for homeownership and to ensure current and prospective homeowners have their voices heard at local, state, and national levels of government.

To many people, the very nature of owning a home offers a sense of pride and security. It also represents a testament to one’s hard work and sacrifices. As Realtors, we believe it is vital to take time out to observe and promote homeownership and the benefits it provides. In addition to personal pride in ownership, homeownership strengthens American communities, offers long-term, generational-building opportunities, and helps stabilize and solidify America’s broader economy.

Here is an interesting fact that really highlights the importance of real estate transactions to our economy. The measured impact of a single property sold in Tennessee for 2021, generated $93,000 for the economy. This amount is measured by the total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance.

And while prices have increased, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) released a study showing that the U.S. homeownership rate surged 1.3% to 65.5% in 2020 – the highest annual rise ever – as 2.6 million more households became homeowners compared to 2019. This was the largest annual increase on record. More and more people are experiencing homeownership.

Throughout the year, REALTORS® are looking to engage current and future homeowners – to highlight the importance and critical benefits of homeownership in America. That’s Who We R®.

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May 25, 2022

Memorial Day Message From 2022 President Derek English

As President of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors®, I have enjoyed sharing local market statistics and real estate trends as part of my presidential duties. In fact, I’ve been humbled by the generous (if not exaggerated) compliments I’ve received from friends and acquaintances who express their interest and appreciation for these weekly articles. Admittedly, I didn’t expect nor anticipate becoming an amateur writer, but I’ve become fond of this platform as a way to communicate what I feel to be important news and topics. This week, I wanted to take a break from talking real estate and direct attention toward our upcoming Memorial Day. 

While most people are making plans and preparations for cookouts, pool parties, and other festivities on this last Monday of May and the unofficial start of Summer, the meaning of Memorial Day means far more than the sun and fun that most associate with celebrating the three-day weekend.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War, but didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971. While Waterloo, New York takes the credit as the birthplace of our Memorial Day celebration, many historians credit the earliest organized remembrance of our fallen soldiers to formerly enslaved residents in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865. Many Americans observe Memorial Day following long-standing family traditions such as visiting cemeteries, attending memorial events or demonstrating their respect with patriotic decorations.  

Wearing a red poppy on Memorial Day is a tradition in remembering those who fell. This tradition echoes back to a poem called “In Flanders Field” written by a brigade surgeon named Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The poem accounts the red flowers growing in the Spring in the battle-ravaged land across northern France and Flanders (northern Belgium).

This year Memorial Day falls on May 30th. This is especially symbolic as on May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan called for a National Day of Remembrance to be held on May 30, 1868, which continued to be celebrated on May 30th for a hundred years. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act making Memorial Day the last Monday of May. Originally this day was in remembrance of lives given during the Civil War and has naturally become accepted to include lives laid down for our freedoms from the first World War, World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time. Please take this time on Memorial Day to remember and demonstrate your gratitude and reverence to the men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.

Here are some ways to celebrate this upcoming Memorial Day:

• Visit the Chattanooga National Cemetery – 1200 Bailey Avenue, Chattanooga, TN
• Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park - 3370 Lafayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe, GA
• Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center - Alexander Bonnyman Exhibit unveiling event from 5pm-7pm (this is a ticketed event – www.MOHHC.org)
• Third Annual 2022 Memorial Day 1M, 5K, 10K, 13.1, and 26.2
• Wear a red poppy and/or place a flower on a soldier’s grave
• Place an American flag outside your home at half staff until noon. In the afternoon, place your American flag at full staff and leave it there.
• Remember to observe a moment of silence at 3pm.

I hope everyone has a safe and reflective Memorial Day.

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May 18, 2022

April 2022 Local Market Statistics

It’s hard to believe that spring is here and summer is just around the corner. While rising temperatures 
usually signal that a “hot” real estate market is on its way, the housing market hasn’t cooled off for the past couple of years. The April housing market statistics show that homes continue to sell at a very fast pace. However, a few national factors are starting to affect the real estate industry.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage exceeded 5% in April, the highest level since 2011. The recent surge in mortgage rates has reduced the pool of eligible buyers and caused mortgage applications to decline. We’re seeing a significant impact on refinancing applications, which are down more than 70% compared to last year. As the rising costs of homeownership force many Americans to adjust their budgets, an increasing number of buyers are hoping to help offset the costs by moving from bigger, more expensive cities to smaller areas that offer a more affordable cost of
living. 

Affordability challenges limit buying activity, and early signs suggest that this competition may somewhat cool the market. Nationally, existing home sales are down 2.7 percent as of last measure, while pending sales dropped 1.2 percent, marking five straight months of under contract declines, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Inventory remains low, with only a two-month supply at present, and home prices continue to rise, with the median existing home at $373,500, a 15 percent increase from this time last year. However, homes are still selling quickly, and multiple offers are common in many markets.

Locally, New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 12.1 percent to 1,401. Pending Sales were down 2.6 percent to 1,143. Inventory levels shrank 3.2 percent to 1,060 units. Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 20.5 percent to $302,500. Days on Market was down 39.1 percent to 14 days. Absorption rates were even with last year as Months Supply of Inventory remained flat at 1.0 months.

Regardless of the market, consulting the expertise of a Realtor remains the best way to stay ahead of a competitive market. Realtors have the tools and knowledge to give their clients every advantage they can have in this fast market. Realtors work tirelessly for their clients and communities to assist in their property buying needs. That’s Who We R®.

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May 11, 2022

Greater Chattanooga Realtors In Washington D.C. - Advocating For Property Ownership

Last week, Greater Chattanooga Realtors joined more than 9,000 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 was extremely productive for all in attendance as we were able to meet in person after two years of virtual meetings and saw firsthand the importance and impact of being together furthered our knowledge and engagement in the legislative discussions as well as the classes and informative sessions we participated in throughout the week. Our advocacy as Realtors on the state and national level are alive and well. In addition, it serves as a reminder that our business and the rights of property owners must never be taken for granted.

This year’s key legislative issues centered around access to sustainable property ownership. You don’t have to be a Realtor to see that a historic 50-year record shortage of available homes severely limits access to the residential real estate market. Realtors believe that even relatively modest steps taken now to increase awareness and help bridge the gap will unleash tremendous economic activity and potentially create millions of new jobs. With Realtors from across the country there was also plenty of conversations and discussions related to rising material and fuel costs, the day-to-day cost of living and inflation, continued supply chain delays, as well as the events that continue to occur in the Ukraine. Overall, it seems these concerns are not just being experienced at our local or state level, but throughout our Nation as a whole.

The pandemic created shifts in the commercial real estate market, especially in the office and retail sectors. Policies that support repurposing underutilized or vacant commercial properties can revitalize communities by creating new commercial uses and housing. Thus, during our recent legislative meetings, Realtors across the country asked their elected officials to support these bills:
• The bipartisan Housing Supply and Affordability Act 
• The GREATER Revitalization of Shopping Centers Act 
• The bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA) 
• The Revitalizing Downtowns Act

Shedding light on our industry’s support of the above-referenced bills were insights shared during the meetings from the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) economists and researchers, including:
• The U.S. has developed an underbuilding gap of 5.5 million housing units over the last 20 years. This translates into a $4.4 trillion underinvestment in housing.
• For middle-income households, there is only 1 affordable listing for every 125 households, a stark decrease from 1 listing for every 46 households in 2019.
• Nationally there are currently 165,000 homes listed for sale that middle-income families can afford to buy, a marked decline from 450,000 homes in 2019.
• Over the last two years, the percentage of single-family homes sold below $250,000 has plummeted from 47% of sales to 28%.

So why do we take the time to make this annual visit to the nation’s capital? 2022 NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith put it best in her opening remarks, “We don’t represent an industry. We represent a profession made up of 1.5 million individuals working every day in their communities to change lives.”  As a member of America’s largest trade association, Realtors know the importance of making our voices and the voices of homeowners heard.

It has been great returning to Chattanooga and spending these last few days talking with clients and colleagues about what we learned and shared with fellow Realtors from all over the country. The best part of being away is always coming home. Chattanooga was certainly at the forefront of many conversations over the past week, and I was honored to represent our industry and our city in Washington DC as the current President of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors.

Realtors are and have been essential in the conveyance of real property as a National Association for over 114 years. 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 serve residential and commercial property buyers and sellers in every zip code every day. That’s Who We R®.

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May 4, 2022

Thinking “Green” All Year Long

While another Earth Day has come and gone, it’s important to remember being good to the environment and embracing sustainability is more than an annual one-day acknowledgment – it should be top of mind daily. It’s a way of life and has a significant impact on the real estate industry.

From Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings to green homes, Realtors play a crucial role in sustainability efforts. And we’re driving major initiatives that engage our membership at local, state, and national levels to embrace sustainability conversations. As a result, Realtors take the environment seriously, and research is showing that more and more homeowners are looking for ways for their property can be energy efficient.

A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the 2022 Realtors and Sustainability Report-Residential, shows that buyers are increasingly searching for homes that have increased energy performance and provide a healthier, more comfortable living space. Some of the highlights of the Report include:

• Half of the Realtors surveyed have recently helped clients buy or sell a home with green features, up from 32% from the previous year.
• Roughly two out of three agents and brokers see value in promoting energy efficiency in listings.
• A third of respondents are concerned about the impact of extreme weather events on the housing market.

Also noteworthy from the Report is the rising anxiety among Realtors about the effect of climate change and extreme weather events on their businesses. More than one out of three respondents – 34% – said they were very or somewhat concerned about the impact of extreme weather events on the housing market.

When working with one of our local Realtor members to buy or sell, you may have been made aware of the green fields in our MLS, powered by Flexmls. From curbside recycling, dual flush toilets, and energy-rated HVAC systems to hot water recirculation, low emissivity windows, and rainwater collection systems, we’ll be sure to highlight such green features for sellers and to buyers.

While NAR’s recent Report is residential-focused, a similar commercial study was completed a year ago. Highlights included:
• A majority of agents and brokers (69 percent) said that energy efficiency promotion in listings was very or somewhat valuable.
• Twenty-nine percent of buildings with green certifications, such as LEED, Green Globes, or the Living Building Challenge, spent neither more nor less time on market.
• The building features that Realtors believed were most important to clients included utility and operations costs, indoor air quality, efficient use of lighting, and windows, doors, and furnishings.

Consumers and builders depend on educated real estate professionals to help market newly constructed, remodeled, and retrofitted properties. This is why I obtained NAR’s Green Designation, which is available to all Realtors. The training provides many resources to make sure that Realtors serve the community and its “green” needs.  Our next offering of the Green Designation course is set for early August and, like many of our CE classes, will be deeply discounted for our members.

Realtors® serve our community and clients, but we also have our eye on the future, and what might affect our environment and property owners in the future. That’s Who We R®.

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May 2, 2022

Winners of Fair Housing Month 2022

UPDATED on May 9, 2022

With LOTS of ways to win in April as part of our Fair Housing Month 2022 Commemorations, congratulations to ...

Don Lyle, Glenda Gardenhire, and Erik Palmer ($500 MLS Subscription for completing the member survey)

Jerry Kriss McGowan ($100 Amazon Card for obtaining the At Home With Diversity (AHWD) designation)

Brandon Gibson ($100 Amazon Card for visiting Fairhaven)

Crye-Leike, REALTORS® Ft. Oglethorpe-North Georgia for the highest percentage of AHWD designees (Lunch for the Office)

Weichert REALTORS® - SEM Associates (Chattanooga) for the highest percentage of completed visits to Fairhaven (Lunch for the Office)

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April 27, 2022

Interest Rates & Inflation Increase Irritation

It’s no secret that we’re all feeling the pinch of inflation. No matter where you look, most items we purchase cost us much more than they did just a year ago. Inflation isn’t just affecting gas and groceries; it’s having a massive impact on housing costs. 

Inflation and interest rates usually mirror one another, and the current situation is no exception. The 30- year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to a 5% average this past week – the highest since 2011. This year alone, mortgage rates have increased by over 1.8 percentage points. 

Yes, that sounds like a lot, but most of us don’t think in terms of “percentage points.” Translated into layman’s terms, it means that, on average, a homebuyer entering the market now will pay $400 more per month than a year ago for a median-priced home. It’s more than percentage points – it’s real dollars and cents. Impacting buyers entering the market. 

Gay Cororaton, research economist at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), recently observed that the average consumer is spending $500 more a month on living expenses than a year ago. Thus, homebuyers may need to lower their budgets to keep pace. Cororaton also adds that house hunters would be smart to search for a home that is about $40,000 cheaper than a year ago because of the rising costs. That $40,000 makes a big difference in the type of property you’re pursuing.

“As Americans contend with historically high inflation, the combination of rising mortgage rates, elevated home prices, and tight inventory are making the pursuit of homeownership the most expensive in a generation,” writes Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. Because of these factors, Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, has predicted home sales to decrease by 10% in 2022. Home prices, however, are expected to continue to increase about 5% due to the low inventory of homes for sale. 

So, this sounds a bit daunting if you’re looking to enter the housing market, right? Well, while the process might be frenzied, having a Realtor® that works with you is the best way to help get the right property for you and your family. Realtors work non-stop for their clients and community to help achieve the dream of homeownership. That’s Who We R®.

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April 20, 2022

Open Houses in A Hot Market

Spring is officially here, and with it comes the normal start time of the summer homebuying and selling season. But as we all know, the past two years have been anything but normal. Aside from the pandemic, the real estate market has been “hot” even in the wintertime. And the market doesn’t show any signs of cooling off anytime soon.

Something that helps homeowners get the most from their investment when they’re looking to sell is hosting an Open House. Why hold an Open House? It’s a chance to throw open the doors and dazzle buyers. Whether you’re looking to list now or even 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. Curb appeal is everything and sprucing up the flower beds with colorful perennial and fresh mulch is a great place to start. Don’t forget about those hardscaped surfaces. A day pressure washing the driveway, sidewalks and patios will really set the stage for your home’s introduction to potential buyers. Lastly, as a seller you should make your home as decluttered and inviting as you can. Remove any large cumbersome furniture that is not being used or items that may make a potential buyer not get a true sense of the space that your home offers. Next is 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 some 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.). Thankfully most gun owners understand the importance of securing their firearms, but I would be remiss to not remind everyone to keep firearms safely secured and out of areas where they may be stumbled upon by children. Once your Realtor has given you the “all clear to come home” be sure to do a quick second check of windows locks and doors.

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 and will help make selling your home as smooth as possible. Realtors help their clients and community throughout the entire year. That’s Who We R®.

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April 14, 2022

REALTOR® Party Supported Candidates for May 3, 2022 Election

The Tennessee and Hamilton County Primary Election will be held on May 3, 2022. Early voting has begun and runs through April 28. Absentee ballots can be requested through April 26 and must be back in the Hamilton County Election Commission’s office on or before Election Day to be counted.

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

Hamilton County Mayor: Sabrena Smedley

Hamilton County Sheriff: Austin Garrett

Hamilton County Trustee: Bill Hullander

Hamilton County District Attorney: Neal Pinkston

Hamilton County Commission, District 1: Randy Fairbanks

Hamilton County Commission, District 2: Chip Baker

Hamilton County Commission, District 4: Warren Mackey

Hamilton County Commission, District 5: Nate Doss, III

Hamilton County Commission, District 6: David Sharpe

Hamilton County Commission, District 7: Lee Helton

Hamilton County Commission, District 8: Mike Chauncey

Hamilton County Commission, District 9: Steve Highlander

Hamilton County Commission, District 10: Dean Moorhouse

Hamilton County Commission, District 11: Joe Graham

Hamilton County School Board, District 3: Joe Smith

Hamilton County School Board, District 5: Charles Paty

Hamilton County School Board, District 6: Delores Vinson

Hamilton County School Board, District 8: Larry Grohn

Hamilton County School Board, District 9: James Walker

Hamilton County School Board, District 10: Roddey Coe

Hamilton County School Board, District 11: Steven McKinney

With any questions about the RPAC Trustees processes, contact Governmental Affairs Director, Christy Auld.

Review the RPAC Trustees Policies & Procedures at About Us > Governing Documents

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April 14, 2022

Obituary: Ava Rowan

Ava Rowan (BHHS Realty Center), mother of Amy Jo Rowan (BHHS Realty Center) passed away on April 13. Visitation will be on Monday, April 18, 2-8p at Heritage Funeral Home & Crematory (Battlefield Parkway). A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, April 19, Noon, in the funeral home chapel. 

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April 13, 2022

March 2022 Local Housing Market Statistics

Across the country, consumers are feeling the bite of inflation and surging mortgage interest rates. According to Freddie Mac, rates recently hit 4.6 percent in March, rising 1.4 percent since January and the highest rate in more than three years. So far in April we are seeing a continued track upwards in interest rates. These increases are naturally causing monthly payments to rise significantly compared to this time last year. As housing affordability declines, an increasing number of would-be homebuyers are turning to the rental market, only to face similar challenges as rental prices skyrocket, and vacancy rates trending downward to near-record low.

Home sales have been brisk so far in 2022 and the early pace seems to be slowing on the national level.  We have seen home sales dip by 7.2 percent to a six-month low. Buyers are struggling to find a home amid rising prices and historic low inventory. Pending sales are also down, declining 4.1 percent, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Builders are working hard to ramp up production, and the U.S. Census Bureau reports housing starts are up 22.3% compared to a year ago. However, higher construction costs lend to increased sales prices, which in turn hampers new home sales, despite high demand for additional supply.

For the first time in the Greater Chattanooga area, the Median Sales Price of a home surpassed $300,000, reflecting these increased costs and lower inventory. This Median Sales Price is an 18.5 percent increase in just one year, with the March 2021 Median Sales Price being just over $253,000. However, there are some hopeful signs for inventory concerns. Spring is in the air, and as I mentioned in early March, new properties will be making their way onto the market over the next few months.

While the economy and real estate news nationally is alarming. New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 6.7 percent to 1,310 in March. Pending Sales were up 6.0 percent to 1,174. Inventory levels shrank 28.8 percent to 810 units from last year at this time but are up from our February inventory numbers. For comparison, in March of 2021, there were 1,138 properties for sale.

Prices continued to gain traction. Days on Market is down 42.4 percent to 19 days from March of 2021 and is holding steady with similar numbers as earlier in the year. Months Supply of Inventory is also maintaining levels of 0.7 months of active inventory in our Chattanooga market.

The data shows that this remains a seller’s market, and Realtors are working tirelessly to help their clients get the house they desire, even in this competitive market. No matter your needs, it’s crucial to consult a Realtor®. A Realtor will work with you to ensure your housing needs are taken care of. That’s Who We R®.

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April 7, 2022

Fair Housing Is a Year-Long Commitment

Every April, REALTORS® across the country commemorate Fair Housing Month, which signifies our recommitment to expanding equal access to housing. Fair Housing Month most importantly celebrates the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 with events and education that shines a light on housing discrimination and segregation.

When studying the history of housing in this country, it’s easy to think that discrimination in the real estate industry is an unsightly blemish somewhere far in our past. But the truth is that unfortunately this discrimination is still possible today. Residential segregation in America doesn’t happen by accident. Americans of different races live apart because of deliberate actions by public and private actors. There can even be ties to governing bodies perpetrating programs and incentives to keep different races and classes of people apart. But as community leaders, Realtors® have the opportunity to be a part of the transformative solution, providing equal service to all.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Fair Housing Action Plan, abbreviated ‘ACT,’ emphasizes Accountability, Culture Change, and Training in order to ensure America’s 1.5 million REALTORS® are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America. To help in this effort, NAR launched Fairhaven.realtor  — an innovative online simulation training, where agents work against the clock to sell homes in the fictional town of Fairhaven, while confronting discrimination in the homebuying process. During the training, learners also walk in the shoes of a homebuyer facing discrimination. The training provides customized feedback that learners can apply to daily business interactions.

So, what do these Fair Housing efforts look like locally? At Greater Chattanooga Realtors®, this month we are holding a number of Fair Housing classes to make sure that our members are up to date on the latest ways to maintain their vigilance and commitment to Fair Housing. Since NAR introduced Fairhaven in 2020 over 150 Greater Chattanooga Realtors® have completed or are in the process of completing the Fairhaven Fair Housing simulator. Simply put, Realtors understand the local markets and their impact on the real estate industry. Our members know how best to work with potential buyers and sellers, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin.

Fair housing is more than a list of dos and don’ts, rights and penalties, and mandatory continuing education. As stewards of the right to own, use and transfer private property, fair housing protects our livelihood and business as REALTORS® and depends on a free, open market that embraces equal opportunity. Realtors work for our clients and community every day. That’s Who We R®.

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March 23, 2022

Inflation & Mortgage Rates

Like many people, I have been interested in the coverage of world events over these past few weeks. The heartbreaking images and stirring courage shown by the Ukrainian people is inspiring. The images and daily events like these impact all of us and their impact can't be measured in mere dollars and cents, and it's true that these tensions have had a worldwide effect.

Before the Ukrainian crisis, gas prices and inflation were already trending upward, and we have all experienced pain at the gas pump in recent weeks. Much like what is happening on the other side of the globe, the rising fuel costs have long-reaching implications. Considering the real estate industry revolves around meeting clients and showing properties, the pain at the pumps have certainly been an expense that most Realtors and consumers are having to face on a daily basis. While the increase in prices for goods and services are also on the rise, we have reached a time that our hard earned dollars are getting us less and less.

The relationship between inflation and interest rates is similar in that one impacts the other and can have long-term impacts. With mortgage rates jumping above 4% to their highest level since April 2019, Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), paints the picture of a challenging season, especially for first-time homebuyers in the current housing market. The Increase in the median home price and low inventory locally has made this one of the most challenging times in recent history for many consumers who are searching for their dream in home ownership.

“These higher mortgage rates will affect many home buyers, especially first-time home buyers. Since the beginning of the year, nearly 6.3 million households have already been priced out of the markets.” Nearly 2 million of these households are millennials who are struggling with finding a way into the market with new hurdles of an increased cost of living, rising home prices and housing supply at record lows locally and nationally.  There is some good news though, with homebuying activity that typically increases in the spring due to increased homes being listed on the market that historically peaks in June. Locally, we are still projecting the housing market to outperform previous year’s sales. “Nationally, NAR expects home sales to be 10% higher in the next 6 months compared to the same period in 2019," says Evangelou.

She adds, “Specifically, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 4.16% from 3.85% this previous week. Experts at NAR have signaled multiple times before that mortgage rates would rise in response to the Federal Reserve's strategy of raising short-term interest rates.” 

“While the next few weeks will be unpredictable as markets continue to churn, the outlook is for mortgage rates to rise even higher. The Federal Reserve indicates more interest rate increases by the end of the year. However, NAR predicts that inflation will eventually start slowing down sometime later this year. The Federal Reserve forecasts inflation to average 4.3% in 2022. NAR expects mortgage rates to average around 4.3% at the end of the year.” If you are in the market to purchase a home, then now is the time to stay in contact with your lender to ensure that you are informed on the rates and programs being offered.

Friends and clients might be used to me saying this, but if someone is looking to enter the housing market, the time might be now. Locking in these interest rates while they are lower will certainly increase the amount of a home someone can purchase. A few percentages of a point can potentially make or break many dollars of difference each month, acting quickly is imperative.

There is so much to factor in when purchasing or selling a home. That’s why utilizing a Realtor® for your homebuying or selling needs is so crucial. Realtors help their clients and communities every day. That’s Who We R®.

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March 16, 2022

February 2022 Local Housing Market Statistics

Now that daylight saving time has begun, it means spring is just around the corner and the unofficial start to the home buying season is upon us. However, as you might have noticed over the past few months (and years), residential real estate sales are no longer seasonal but a year-round process. As I have mentioned in previous articles, Chattanooga is a very desirable mid-size city that buyers from all over the country are considering as their relocation destination. This increase in buyers has shifted our market to the point that any day that ends in “y” is a good day to list a home. However, the Chattanooga market is still suffering from an inventory shortage and the limited number of active listings is driving up prices in most, if not in all price points. We have seen this trend through the early part of the year as February’s sales number continued to rise.

Across the country, real estate markets remain hot ahead of the spring selling season with existing home sales up 6.7% as of the latest reports, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Experts attribute the growth in sales to an uptick in mortgage interest rates, as buyers rushed to lock down their home purchases before rates move higher. Mortgage rates have increased almost a full percentage point since December, with the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage briefly exceeding 4% in February, the highest level since May 2019.

Nationally inventory was at an all-time low of 860,000 as February began, down 17% from a year ago which equates to only about 6 weeks of inventory nationally. According to NAR's Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, much of the current housing supply is concentrated at the upper end of the market. We are also seeing this increase in higher priced inventory in our local market, while homes priced at the lower end of the market are quickly disappearing, leaving many first-time buyers unable to find homes in their budget. The shortage of homes is boosting demand even further, and with bidding wars common in many markets, it’s no surprise sales prices continue to soar. Until housing inventory increases, multiple offer situations and frustrated home buyers will be ever present in real estate transactions.

Locally, New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 3.6% to 1,055, Pending Sales were up 3.9% to 1,023 and inventory levels shrank 32.7% to 759 units on the year. In our five-county footprint - Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia - there were fewer homes available in the month February as we have historically ever seen. There is a silver lining to these numbers and that is the fact that we are entering the spring and many people who have staved off the winter months are preparing for the better weather and are looking to take advantage of their increased equity in these super-hot markets.

The coming months will be telling in regard to what exactly all the pent-up demand will result in for homes coming onto the market. Chattanooga’s home prices continued to gain traction in the early part of the year and sellers are keenly aware that spring is the perfect time to present their homes to the market and to the large pool of prospective buyers. Here are the numbers that sellers will be looking at in moving forward over the next few months. The Median Sales Price increased 22.4% to $290,000 from where we were last year at this time. While Days on Market is down 44.7% to 21 days, which is very telling as it was 38 days just a year ago. Sellers should also be encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory continued to decrease by 36.4% to 0.7 months.

No matter what your needs are, in this market it’s crucial to consult a Realtor®. A Realtor will work with you to make sure your housing needs are taken care of. That’s Who We R®.

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March 9, 2022

Giving Back & Getting Better

Real estate depends strongly on a community’s educational system. While it might not be obvious, the relationship between the two is critical. The strength and curriculum of our schools draws people to our community. Education is also a significant factor when companies look to relocate or expand their operation in Chattanooga. Without quality education, our workforce and economic development suffer.

While not everyone chooses to pursue a higher education, many students feel they must in order to better themselves in certain career fields. This decision is often weighed against one’s ability to balance life goals and their financial means. The time I spent at Ole Miss and in Oxford, MS was crucial in making me who I am today. While I only completed a few years of my collegiate studies, I found that my on-hand work experience helped mold my work ethic and while academia was something I bypassed in my youth, the experience I acquired led me to where I am today. As Sir Walter Scott said, “All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”

With all that being said, we as Realtors are committed to education, and I am thrilled that Greater Chattanooga Realtors® started a Community Scholarship Program. We established this fund to give back to our neighbors on behalf of our more than 2,500 members. These Scholarships assist incoming first-year college students attending an accredited university or trade school and living within Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ service area - Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia.

Under the leadership of our 2020 President Brandi Pearl Thompson and 2021 President Robert Backer, Greater Chattanooga Realtors began the budgeting process to establish the fund, with 2022 as our launch year for its first recipients. All of us on the current Board of Directors are excited and dedicated to make this scholarship available for many years to come.

With so many deserving applicants, I am incredibly thankful to rely on our Consumer Education & Scholarship Committee to vet the applicants. In addition, this volunteer-driven committee is charged with facilitating programs throughout the year to educate young consumers about the home-buying process and careers in the real estate industry.

The Greater Chattanooga Realtors are accepting applications through the end of March and will announce the scholarship recipients in April. I encourage those interested to visit gcar.net/scholarship and complete the application.

Regardless of the industry in which you work, continually improving yourself through education and training makes us all the best we can be. We are never too old to stop investing time to better ourselves.

The Community Scholarship Program is just one more way that Greater Chattanooga Realtors gives back to the community that has given all of us so much. Realtors love serving our community. That’s Who We R®.

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March 2, 2022

“R” Political Responsibility

These days the political climate of our country as well as the World’s seems to be taking center stage. Whether it’s on tv, our phones, or social media, it seems that people are becoming more and more informed of issues affecting our day to day lives without being provided accurate or quite frankly the news and information that would allow us to make up our own mind. In many cases this information is only causing each of us to become more disconnected from one another. It disappoints me more often than not, that the vehicle that our information is being provided to us through is being manipulated in a way to keep everyone at odds against one another.

All of us have views about which we feel strongly and involved, and one of my interests bridges the happenings in Washington, D.C., to politics happening here at home. While the talking heads battling to see who can talk louder might catch our attention, the issues that impact most of us day-to-day take place at the local level. It’s these discussions that shape zoning ordinances, provide adequate infrastructure, and regulate environmental issues.

In previous columns, I’ve outlined the work of our Governmental Affairs Committee, which monitor local policies that may impact the right to own, use, and transfer real property. Two other ways in which Greater Chattanooga Realtors® engage in these local issues is through our Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) and RPAC Trustees. Our members serving on these important committees encourage Realtors to vote, act, and invest on behalf of consumers to protect and promote private property rights.

The RPAC Committee solicits their peers for RPAC investments, which are used to support pro-REALTOR® political candidates or policies that build strong communities, protect property interests, and promote a vibrant business environment. Working alongside the RPAC Committee are our RPAC Trustees, who interview candidates running for elected office. The purpose of these interviews is to determine the candidate’s stance on issues that affect the real estate industry and educate them on said issues and views.

As a result of these collective efforts, Greater Chattanooga Realtors provide financial support to a candidate or a public policy initiative. It’s important to note that Realtor Party is non-partisan. While our members individually may be aligned with one party, when Greater Chattanooga Realtors® takes a position, we do so neither as red nor blue. The Realtor Party stays focused on supporting candidates and issues based on real estate, while setting aside personal agendas or party affiliation. The RPAC Trustees complete a training prior to servicing their two-year term that outlines and identifies the structure and purpose of the group and how to conduct healthy and productive interviews with candidates. 

As we enter the political season of 2022, we need to understand that this election cycle is of unprecedented importance. Residents have never had the opportunity to vote on so many seats at so many levels. The Realtors are thrilled to be a part of such an exciting time for our community and the challenge is something the Trustees and our membership will not take lightly in advocating for candidates that support the protecting and the promoting of private property rights. That’s Who We R®.

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March 2, 2022

Obituary: Dora Bridgman

Dora Bridgman, former REALTOR® (Crye-Leike), passed away on March 1. Visitation is from 9-11am on Saturday, March 5, at Companion Funeral Home (Cleveland, TN), with the memorial service immediately following. 

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February 24, 2022

BYLAWS AMENDED RE: Unprofessional Conduct

The Boad of Directors approved an NAR-mandated Bylaws Amendment, as outlined below and now incorporated into our local Bylaws. These amendments were made in light of an increase of complaints nationwide at the local and state level, with said complaints alleging unprofessional conduct. The amendments are regarding the enforcement of membership duties and replace previous language that was both vague and difficult to interpret effectively.

Strikethroughs indicate deletions; underlines indicate additions.

Article VI – Privileges & Obligations Section 6. REALTOR® Members. REALTOR® members, whether primary or secondary, in good standing whose financial obligations to the association are paid in full shall be are entitled to vote and to hold elective office in the association;, and may use the terms REALTOR® and REALTORS; and have the primary responsibility to safeguard and promote the standards, interests, and welfare of the association and the real estate profession. For purposes of this section, the term “good standing” means the member satisfies the “Obligations of REALTOR® Members”, is current with all financial and disciplinary obligations to the association and MLS, has completed any new member requirements, and complies with NAR’s trademark rules.

Article VII – Professional Standards & Arbitration, Section 2. It shall be the duty and responsibility of every REALTOR® member of this association to safeguard and promote the standards, interests, and welfare of the association and the real estate profession., and to protect against conduct that may cause a lack of public confidence in the real estate profession or in REALTORS®. REALTOR® members also must abide by the Constitution and Bylaws governing documents and the rules and regulations policies of the association, the Constitution and Bylaws of the State Association, and the Constitution and Bylaws of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, and to abide by as well as the Code of Ethics of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, including the duty to arbitrate controversies arising out of real estate transactions as specified by Article 17 of the Code of Ethics, and as further defined and in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual of this association, as from time to time amended.

Every REALTOR® member shall maintain a high level of integrity and adhere to the association’s membership criteria. Any violent act or threat of violence to person or property, hateful conduct, or acts of moral turpitude impacting the public shall not be tolerated and may be cause for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of membership.

 

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February 23, 2022

Expertise Matters

Growing up, I was fortunate to be around a lot of different types of cars. I loved the lines and the character of the different makes and models. I have always considered cars to be moving pieces of art. How fast and loud they can be is just a bonus to the way they look. Over the years, I have learned more and more about how they work and how all the parts fit together.

I know my way around cars quite well, but I’ll be the first to admit that I am just a shade tree mechanic. Sure, I save a few dollars and work on them myself, but I also know that a professional has the expertise and knowledge that I don’t. For example, changing the oil or moderate tunings are one thing, but rebuilding a transmission is another. So, I know when it’s time to consult a professional.

While it might not look like it on the surface, Realtors® and professionally trained mechanics have many things in common. We both have very specialized skill sets and access to tools and knowledge-based training that make us experts in our respective fields. While both car maintenance and real estate might appear easily accessible fields, it takes time to learn the intricacies of the profession, and failure to recognize the potential pitfalls can result in the owner losing a lot of money relying on limited or outdated knowledge.

My point in this week’s article is this, some homeowners and home buyers are deciding to go it alone without engaging the services of a Realtor®. This For-Sale-By-Owner, or FSBO, approach is due in part to some popular TV shows that suggest the only thing you need is a computer and/or a sign in the front yard.

In the current competitive housing market, properties can sell quickly, but in many cases, it might not be in the parties’ best financial interests to not employ a Realtor®. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 90% of home sellers were assisted by a real estate expert. Based on the national median sales price, the typical FSBO home sold for $260,000 compared to $318,000 for agent-assisted home sales. In any price range, a 22.3% difference is a lot of money to be left on the table.

According to the 2021 Profile, FSBOs accounted for 7% of home sales in 2020. In the report, I also found it interesting that 34% of FSBOs did not actively market their property, and 26% of FSBOs relied only on a yard sign. So, this is the part where an experts tools come into play. Realtors® have marketing expertise and reporting to make sure a property is priced correctly and to ensure the home seller gets the most for their investment and a home buyer is educated and advised through the transaction.

I think there are a few key pitfalls to consider when buyers or sellers decide to go it alone when preparing to purchase or sell their home. While many individuals may be competent in representing themselves in real estate transactions, there are still many obstacles that may come into play.

As a seller, one must consider the limited audience a FSBO property will reach. Real estate agents have large networks, and FSBOs are cutting out a significant portion of potential people when not considering the increased exposure a home may attract when using a Realtor®. There is also the risk of dealing with a buyer who is not qualified to purchase the home. Realtors® make sure homebuyers are prequalified before they bring them to your home. These are two examples of what a seller may face once they have decided to place their home as a FSBO. But let’s address the earliest part of the process and that’s the preparation. If you’re a seller, do you know which aspects of your home you should change to get top dollar? Real estate agents do and they know which changes will make a difference to the bottom line and which will not. But let’s say you have found what we call in the industry as “an able and willing buyer.” How do you know what to negotiate? Are their costs associated with the transfer of property? What terms and fees need to be considered for each party to get to the closing table? The simple answer, if you haven’t already guessed it, is to hire a Realtor®. Trust me, maximizing your investment is as much a priority to us as it is to you.

The other side of the coin is if you’re buying a home that is a FSBO. Do you just pay the seller what they are asking and get the keys once you have figured out how to get financing? Would you even know what legal aspects of the property you need to consider? What evaluations could affect the value of the home? Should you do every inspection, or are there any you can forgo? Because real estate agents work closely with Lenders and Mortgage Brokers to assist you from the beginning, important factors like the financial aspects are introduced and defined in the earliest part of the process. A Realtor® also understands how the results of inspections or assessments can affect the value of the home in both the long term and the short term. The simple answer is again, hire a Realtor® because a real estate agent’s advice and expertise is not something you want to skip.

Let’s go back to the car mechanic analogy and consider what happens if someone did fraudulent or unnecessary repairs on my vehicle. For starters, I would raise my concerns to the business owner and the governing body that certifies the mechanic. Every industry has folks that prey on it, and real estate is no exception. Not only do REALTORS® adhere to the Code of Ethics, but we are also trained on potential scams that impact the industry, such as fraudulent loan documents, improper titles, or repair scams. When selling or buying property on your own, you don’t have a REALTOR® working on your behalf to help you avoid these issues or address them, if needed, and avoid unnecessary costs or legal woes.

Buying a selling property can be a process that is wrought with difficulties to the untrained and unrepresented consumer. That’s why utilizing the professionalism and expertise of a Realtor® is so important. Realtors work for our community’s home buyers and sellers every day. That’s Who We R®.

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February 18, 2022

Obituary: Rayburn Lambert

Rayburn Lambert, husband of Brenda Lambert (Century 21 Professional Group) passed away on February 16. Visitation will be held at Standefer-Reed Funeral Home (Dunlap, TN) on February 19, from 3-8pm CST and February 20, from 12-2pm CST, with the service immediately following. 

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February 16, 2022

January 2022 Local Housing Stats

The beginning of the year marks a new opportunity for many hopeful buyers to make their home purchase dreams a reality. While those efforts won’t be without challenges, Realtors continue to advocate for access to affordable housing, despite the shrinking inventory.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 2022 began with an existing home inventory of 910,000, the lowest level recorded since 1999. Thus, competition in the real estate market remains fierce. In addition, the affordability rate continues to decline as inflation, soaring sales prices, and rising mortgage interest rates reduce purchasing power. The sudden increase in rates and home prices means buyers are paying significantly more per month compared to this time last year, which may cause sales to slow as more buyers become priced out of the market.

With 2022 beginning where 2021 left off, existing home sales reached their highest level nationally since 2006. NAR reported that sales were up 8.5% compared to the previous year as homebuyers rushed to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates. Yet, many buyers were forced to temporarily put their purchase plans on hold due to higher sales prices and a shortage of supply. A desire for more consumers, especially first-time buyers, to have the means for entering the market is why Realtors keep working with elected officials to increase inventory and stabilize prices.

Locally, new listings in the Chattanooga area decreased 2.5% to 874 in January. The result naturally affected the pending sales which were also down 1.9% to 961. There was a significant decrease in Active Inventory levels as they shrank 35.2% to 775 units from last year at this same time. As a comparison, in January 2021, there were 1,196 available properties. List prices and closed sales prices in January continued to gain traction in our local market.

The Median Sales Price in Chattanooga has increased 23.4% to $290,000 over the past 12 months. In January 2021, the Median Sales Price was $235,000. While days on Market is continuing to show a decrease of 43.2% to 21 days, compared to 37 days in January 2021. This caused the absorption rate (Supply of Inventory) to tick down 41.7% to only 0.7 months from just a year ago.

To address market, inventory and legislative concerns, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® traveled to Nashville in early February to meet with our elected officials. The purpose of our conversations was to advocate for homeownership, property rights, and access to affordable housing. I will try to share more on those meetings in the coming weeks and feel like our visit was productive for the membership as well as for our voice as Realtors in Nashville. In the meantime, I assure you that while the cold weather has not translated to a cooling of the housing market, Realtors are very much aware of these challenges and are working to address these issues. Spring is just around the corner and likes its names sake we hope to see a bounce of increased homes coming onto the market in the coming months.

With limited inventory and properties selling so quickly, it is crucial to work with a Realtor® who knows the ins and outs of this market. Realtors help their clients work fast to get the home they desire or to list a home and navigate the increasing number of offers a seller may expect with such high demand from so many buyers being in our market. That’s Who We R®.

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February 9, 2022

Celebrating Black Americans Who Continue to Inspire

While February is Black History Month, I find myself troubled with limiting the celebration of great Black Americans to only one month. As I was gathering my thoughts for this article, name after name of significant Black Americans and Black Chattanoogans came to mind. Eager to share my thoughts about these individuals and their profound impact upon society, I wondered if I would live to see a time when we do not need a calendar reminder for such an occasion. Instead, my hope is for the celebration and appreciation of not only black history and Black Americans, but all individuals that serve to inspire and educate to be our constant. I hope the following inspiring individuals mentioned in this brief article can ignite a deeper curiosity in what we can and should celebrate every day.

As a Realtor, I’ve had the privilege of working with buyers and sellers of many different backgrounds. Even before becoming a Realtor, I crossed paths with people from all walks of life and it was while living in Mississippi that I was fortunate enough to meet and hear James Meredith, a man who broke down the state's culture of racial segregation, speak at the 40th Anniversary of his integration at the University of Mississippi. Through my time spent in Mississippi and my studies, I found a fondness for the Blues. As a native Chattanoogan, I would be remiss to not mention Chattanooga’s own Bessie Smith, the “Empress of the Blues” and her significance to many and the entire music industry.

Bessie Smith was no stranger to difficulties, but her talent and grit propelled her to stardom. In 1923 she signed a record deal with Columbia Records and recorded the company’s first major hit, “Down Hearted Blues” which inspired the label to begin serving the African American market, a groundbreaking move.

I have to confess my recent knowledge of a few notable Black Chattanoogans is partly owed to Linda Moss Mines. I had invited Linda to speak at the Greater Chattanooga Realtors leadership orientation about Chattanooga’s history as part of an effort to educate up and coming leaders within our Association. Her immense knowledge and passion for Chattanooga history mesmerized her audience and myself. Through Linda, I learned about the impressive lives of Emma Wheeler and Mary Walker.

Emma Rochelle was born in 1882 to a prominent African American family in Florida. At the age of 17 she completed her undergraduate degree in Jacksonville and shortly thereafter married only to become a widow one year later. She and her newborn relocated to Nashville where she enrolled in medical school. She later married Dr. John N. Wheeler and the couple moved to segregated Chattanooga where they both practiced medicine. During this time African Americans in need of medical care were treated in the basements of existing hospitals and often suffered higher mortality due to lack of supplies and poor conditions. After saving money for years, Dr. Emma Wheeler purchased two lots on the corner of East Eighth and Douglas Streets. In 1915, she dedicated the first Chattanooga hospital owned, operated, and staffed by African Americans for the care of African Americans.

Mary Walker’s story is quite different than Dr. Wheeler’s, but nonetheless inspiring. Mary was born into slavery and was just 15 years old when the Emancipation Proclamation declared all slaves were free. She moved to Chattanooga in 1917 where she worked as a domestic helper. In 1963 when she was 115 years old, Mary decided to enroll in the Chattanooga Area Literacy Movement. By 1964 she learned to read, write, and solve basic math problems. She was certified as the “nation’s oldest student” and her retirement center was renamed after her. Mary Walker died at the age of 121 in 1969 and to memorialize her life and commitment to never stop learning, the Tennessee Historical commission dedicated a marker in her memory at 3031 Wilcox Blvd.

In downtown Chattanooga at the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center, a Recipient by the name of Sgt. George Jordan is memorialized for his patriotism. A former slave born in Williamson County, Tennessee in 1847, Jordan volunteered to serve his country in 1866 on Christmas Day. Jordan received his Medal of Honor for actions on two different occasions. Despite being ineligible to vote, Jordan continued to serve his country faithfully and his story remains an inspiration to many.

Later this month, author Jason Riley, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and columnist for the Wall Street Journal will speak here in Chattanooga on “Why Thomas Sowell Matters.” Riley, like Sowell, is renowned for his writings on inequality, race, school choice and social justice. I have found myself drawn to their works and hope that other Chattanoogans find time to reflect upon the treasure trove of notable, inspiring Black Americans such as these. Moreover, I hope that we’ll all take the time to talk with our young people about individuals who have provided us with wisdom and inspiration that we may apply to our own lives.

The list of contributors to our nation’s history is lengthy and in my research of a handful of individuals one fact stood out to me. Not one person rose alone. In fact, every leader cites the help and support of many and that’s what I want us to walk away with as we celebrate Black History Month. Let us each take responsibility for the continuous celebration of Black Americans like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, Hiram Rhodes Revels, Condoleezza Rice, Ben Carson, Shelby Steele, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, and many others.

REALTORS® fully embrace perspectives from all walks of life, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, national origin, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, or any other qualities by which we may define ourselves. These beliefs are essential as we serve our members who help fulfill the dream of home and property ownership throughout the nation. That’s Who We R®.

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February 8, 2022

Obituary: Andrew Eaton Govan

Former member Andrew Eaton Govan (Fletcher Bright Realty) passed away on February 2. A memorial service will be held on February 11, at 3:30 pm at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church (211 Franklin Road, Lookout Mountain, TN), with a reception following at Our Lady of the Mount Catholic Church (1227 Scenic Highway, Lookout Mountain, GA). A private family burial will be held at a later date.

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February 2, 2022

The Voice of Real Estate; That’s Who We R®

When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them that I’m a REALTOR®. While most people have an idea of what that entails, they may not be aware of all that happens behind the scenes – property reports, market reports, inspections, lender and appraisal communications and many more daily routines in keeping our clients on track whether they are buying or selling a home. Something a little trickier that I am quickly learning to grasp is the role as President for Greater Chattanooga Realtors®.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is the local Realtor® association representing more than 2,500 members in our area. We service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is the voice for real estate in the greater Chattanooga market and the surrounding areas. 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.”

That last sentence in our mission statement is especially important to me, as it conveys what REALTORS® do for consumers beyond a real estate transaction – advocate and engage in the conversations and decisions related to polices impacting all property owners, whether commercial or residential. Individually and collectively through our governance process, REALTORS® take an active role in advocacy, regardless of party affiliation.

Through our staff and volunteer-driven Governmental Affairs Committee, we monitor proposed policies and legislation for issues that might affect property rights and values, positively or negatively. It’s not uncommon to see REALTORS® engaging in the weekly City Council or monthly Regional Planning Commission and County Commission meetings. REALTORS® travel to the state and national capitol for this exact purpose on our annual Day on the Hill and whenever the need presents itself when issues arise that need our attention.

I’m thrilled to be returning in person for this year’s Realtor® Day on the Hill, where we will join Realtors from across the state to visit with our elected officials at the state capital. And in May, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with our federal officials. Getting this one-on-one time with officials is how REALTORS® ensure the needs of property owners across the city, county, state, and nation remain top of mind. Our officials know that Realtors see the community from a unique perspective, and we appreciate the opportunity to work alongside them.

So, what do we talk about during these visits? On the national level, Realtors are watching legislation related to tax reform, natural disasters, mortgage and rental assistance, and flood insurance to name a few. In addition, REALTORS® advocated for increased housing access to homebuyers by letting them utilize FHA loans, which they had not been able to do in the past.

During our upcoming Nashville meetings, our conversations will touch on a variety of topics important to property owners, such as broadband access, tax relief for disabled veterans and victims of recent natural disasters, opposing impact fees on residential development, monitoring building and construction standards, and legislation regarding subdivision regulations. This list touches on just a few of the issues REALTORS® are monitoring in more than the 80 proposed bills for the upcoming session.

Leadership is not easy, but our roll representing the public and are industry is worth the effort. No member in a leadership or voluntary role for Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is compensated for their time or efforts. We lead because we know our industry is stronger when we work together on behalf of all our neighbors, whether they own or lease their home or business. Through our advocacy efforts, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® continues to be the voice of real estate in the greater Chattanooga area. That’s Who We R®.

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January 26, 2022

How Much Do You Need for a Down Payment? Probably Less Than You Think

In my years as a Realtor®, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many different types of clients; from young people looking to purchase their first home, to older people who are looking to find a smaller more manageable property. Of course every situation is different, but one thing I have found to be true is the misconception in the amount of a down payment buyers really need to purchase a new home. This confusion often causes some aspiring buyers to delay their property purchase. My hope for this week’s article is to offer helpful and informative advice to those buyers thinking of entering the market.

Do not fret, you are not alone in having questions regarding the down payment process. In fact, a recent study by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), shows that thirty-five percent of consumers believe they need a down payment of 16% to 20% of the purchase price in considering their purchase of a new home. Ten percent believe they need more than 20% for a down payment to purchase a new home. That is nearly half the buyers in the national market believing their hopes to become homeowners may be unachievable. Accompanying this data, you may have noticed that home price percentages have increased into the double digits over the past year which makes saving for such a large down payment an even tougher hurdle.

The good news provided by Jessica Lautz, NAR’s Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights, is that the typical down payment is much lower than some might think. For first-time home buyers the average down payment over the last three years has ranged between 6% and 7%.

For sellers who decided to become buyers again in 2021, the typical down payment was 17%. Down payments among these buyers have been on the rise over recent years. This stems from increased home equity that previous homeowners, turned repeat home buyers, roll into buying their next home. While 17% may be a down payment that seems out of reach for the first-time home buyer, homeownership is about building equity. In time and by making wise decisions in purchasing a home, buyers can be well on their way to overcoming the above mentioned down payment hurdle.

Buyers, be sure to do your homework, because you have several loan options available. For instance, about 23% of first-time buyers represented in the survey chose a Federal Housing Administration loan. Despite the current challenging and competitive market conditions, FHA loans remain a very accessible way for first-time buyers to enter the market as they allow borrowers to put down as little as 3.5% on the purchase of a home.

While it might be tempting to take a wait-and-see approach when entering the housing market, buyers need to be monitoring the rising interest rates as an increase in rates might put your dream home out of range. For example, a half percent increase in interest rates might not sound like a lot, but it could mean the difference in the price point of the home a buyer can comfortably afford. Home prices will conceivably continue to increase in most markets and with historically low interest rates, the time to act might be now.

There’s a great tool for the potential buyer who is wanting to learn more about the loan process. Visit HUD.gov for an interactive site that can direct the user to state and local lending programs that they may qualify for in purchasing a new home. Another great way to educate yourself is to talk with a Mortgage Lender. Lenders can assist potential buyers with different loan options that can best suit their needs and circumstances.

Entering the market might seem like an overwhelming process, but I hope the information provided has been helpful. A wise man once said, “Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.” This is why it is so crucial to utilize the skills and expertise of a Realtor®. A Realtor will work with you to help make sure your housing needs are met, while getting the most out of your investment. That’s Who We R®.

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January 19, 2022

5 Tasks Every Homeowner Should Do in January

The New Year is upon us, and colder weather has definitely moved in over the past few weeks. So just because it’s cold outside, that doesn’t mean that we have to sit around and wait for better weather. We can accomplish a lot during this time, and Gabriela Barkho at the National Association of  REALTORS® consumer website, HouseLogic.com, provides several tips that will help save time, money, and hassles all year long. I am happy to share a few of her suggestions and hope you’ll find these as helpful as I do in the coming months.

Organize Your Seasonal Storage Space. Packing away holiday decor presents a big opportunity. It's the best time to sort, declutter, and reorganize that space where you store your seasonal stuff.
So before simply stuffing your holiday things back in there wherever, take inventory; then sort, filter, donate, trash, and re-home as many of your things as possible. It'll help keep you more organized all year long, and make it easier to find all your holiday stuff next year.

Deep-Clean the Kitchen. All of that holiday merriment-making is rough on a kitchen. Give it a good deep cleaning now that the glittery dust has settled. Purge your pantry and frisk your fridge, passing what you can on to local food banks. Scrub the walls and kickboards, and even pull those appliances right out from the walls for a thorough vacuuming to prevent gunk from accumulating.

Plan Summertime Projects Now (Especially if You Need a Pro). Finalize plans for any landscaping, decks, patios, or other outdoor projects that need warm weather. Two good reasons:
1. If you're DIYing, you'll be ready to roll at the first hint of nice weather. That way, you'll be less affected by any supply chain shortages and have your improved yard ready to enjoy by summer.
2. If you're hiring a contractor or other professional, getting your bids and contracts in place now will save you from competing with the spring rush (wait too long, and you may not be able to book anyone!).

Create a Schedule to Clean ALL Your Home's Filters. It's not just your HVAC. The filters in your fridge, your vacuum cleaner, your dryer, your air filter, and other household items need to be changed or cleaned at least once a year to be effective, usually more often — especially your dehumidifier. Mold grows easily there. Check manufacturer instructions for all the filters in your home, and create a master schedule; then add them to your calendar app to remind you.

Save Some Green at White Sales. Linens and towels go on sale in January. It's a long-standing retail tradition that started back when linens only came in white (hence the name), and it still has a solid rep as a money-saver — only in more colors today. Cut your threadbare bath towels into rags and restock your supply, plus fill in any gaps in your bed linens you may have noticed if you had a house full of holiday guests.

These are some great tips to accomplish over the next few months, so thank you Gabriela. Also, remember that 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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January 6, 2022

Carrying the Torch Into 2022

In taking the reins as President of the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® from my friend Robert Backer, I am both inspired and optimistic. No matter your profession or background, 2021 was a year that proved we are all capable of adapting to change and we are much stronger when we work together.

All things seem to be pointing in the right direction for our market and I am confident that our market will continue the trend of recovery and homes will remain accessible to people moving to our area from all over the country.

Like many REALTORS® who’ve served before me, I held a variety of jobs before choosing the career path of a full-time REALTOR®. During college, I worked in the food and beverage industry where I honed my people skills. While working as a journeyman carpenter in my late twenties, I learned that I really enjoyed building, which led me into general contracting and project management. Overall, I believe that all of those experiences and life lessons led me to where I am today as a REALTOR®.

Years ago, I had been away from Chattanooga since I went away to attend college, and I returned to find it booming, and seeing it blossom was a great feeling. Neighborhoods were thriving, businesses were moving here from around the world, and downtown had an energy that I had never experienced in my youth. Many people talk of Chattanooga’s renaissance, but I feel we are far from seeing the height of its rebirth. In my years as a Realtor, I’ve seen many trends and fluctuations affect our market, but I also feel that these changes were quickly responded to with necessary adjustment. Not just on the part of the consumer, but from all perspectives - builders, government, buyers, sellers, lenders, and REALTORS®. 

We must all remember that we will often face a wide variety of disruptors, but eventually, things sort themselves out. Recently Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, provided a market forecast that included a frenzied market mellowing out even with a slight rise in mortgage rates. In 2022, market forecasters are projecting a 3.7% growth in home sales and a 6.9% increase in home prices in the Greater Chattanooga market.

After 2021 year-end numbers come in, we will have a better grasp of what these projected numbers mean locally for our housing market. I know that I’ll be looking forward to seeing the data from this past year to see where we need to focus locally. For example, we must continue to look at ways to solve our inventory issues and ensure that affordable homes are more accessible to homebuyers that are ready to invest. It is without question that homeownership leads to numerous positive outcomes that extend beyond the home, such as economic stability, better access to quality education, increased civic and social engagement and better health.

The positive predictions for 2022 point toward a market that should be a bit more stable than 2021. While markets are ever-changing, we hope to see stability return in the areas that support and surround real estate. This would include home-building, labor, and supplies.

At Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®, we have been blessed with some of the brightest leaders over the years. I’ve had the privilege of serving alongside many of these great leaders on various committees, including Governmental Affairs, Grievance, Community Partnerships, and Leadership Development. Most recently, my service on the Board of Directors has provided me with the encouragement that our membership is home to many good, hard-working REALTORS® who want to see our market continue to grow and thrive. They have weathered a few tough years and deserve the recognition for their hard work. It is because of them that I am truly honored to serve in the role of President in 2022.

To homebuyers and sellers within or moving into the Greater Chattanooga area, you can rest assured that REALTORS® will continue to advocate for policies that will help make the most out of your investment and ensure that your property rights are at the forefront of our conversations with elected officials.

I’ve enjoyed reflecting on 2021, but like most of you, I’m ready to see what 2022 holds for all of us. I also feel confident in saying that on behalf of all REALTORS® throughout the Chattanooga area, we love serving our clients and our community. That’s Who We R.

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January 3, 2022

Obituary: Charles Moses Gardner

Charles Moses Gardner, brother of Ellis Gardner (Keller Williams), passed away on December 28. Services were held on December 31. 

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January 3, 2022

Obituary: Dallas Ray Cross

Dallas Ray Cross, husband of Shelia Cross (RE/MAX Properties), passed away on December 31. Visitation will be on Sunday, January 9, from 1-3 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home (7454 E. Brainerd Road), with the service immediately following.

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December 29, 2021

Serving Realtors, Clients and Our Community

As we look to a new year, my term as President comes to an end. In my final weekly column, I wish to thank those who have helped me this past year, to take a look at what we’ve achieved, and to look forward to 2022.

2021 was a tumultuous year in real estate and virtually every other facet of life. Covid-19 taught us that our lives could change, seemingly, in an instant. And while 2021 arguably had more upside than 2020, our lives were anything but ordinary. Specifically, in real estate, Realtors® everywhere continued to pivot and adapt to make sure that we could effectively (and safely) serve the needs of our clients and community.

For many, 2021 was the year where real estate needs continued to intertwine with our need for personal space and workspace. This meant that many folks were looking for homes that could comfortably accommodate their individual and family lives, as well as support the need to switch to a remote work situation. These needs translated into record low housing inventory and increased prices. There were many challenges, but Realtors®, both locally and nationally, rose to the occasion to serve their clients.

While there were definitely challenges for us, I’m not too bashful to admit that there’s a lot to be proud of for our association in 2021. For starters, our Placemaking Committee was able to complete the Highland Park Commons Placemaking Project. This was a joint project between the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS ® and Highland Park Commons, and it provides a distinct place for conversations and activities by everyone in the neighborhood. There is a community flower garden with raised flower beds and an ADA compliant concrete pathway to help increase the impact to the community and become relevant to a wider audience.

Highland Park Commons plans to eventually expand the project area to include a covered area that will allow for tables for socializing and after school programs for children to learn chess and other hobbies. The area will also eventually be fenced in to provide a safe area for children to play without fear of the nearby road. This project is tangible proof that Realtors are making a difference in our community.

And our continued support of Snack Packs through volunteering and donating funds shows just how much Realtors are dedicated to fighting hunger for area school children. And our involvement with the Medal of Honor Heritage Center and Wreaths Across Chattanooga show our gratitude for those who have selflessly served our great nation, and our promise to never forget their sacrifices.

And when times were tough, our association and members rose to the occasion like we always do. Greater Chattanooga Realtors® donated funds to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, and most recently to various relief funds and directly to the tornado victims impacted in Tennessee. It’s easy to see that we serve (and we love) where we live and work.

Something near and dear to me was establishing Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Scholarship fund. Thanks to the hard work of many dedicated Realtors®, our association will be able help 10 local graduating Seniors each with a $1,000 scholarship. We encourage local seniors to ask about this scholarship, with more information to come in early 2022.

But that’s not all. Not even close. Our association continued to increase participation in the Realtor Party, the nation’s largest non-partisan political action committee, with more investors and dollars over previous years, as well as more Major Investors investing $1,000 or more. Vote. Act. Invest. It’s part of our culture.

And the culture of our association is being well represented by Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Diversity Inclusion Committee. Throughout 2021, we have welcomed speakers and discussed topics that have helped us examine not only real estate, but parts of our history that could impair all people from achieving the dream of homeownership. I’m looking forward to more great talks in 2022!

Personally, I was privileged to meet with elected officials to help convey the needs of Realtors and also homeowners. With the help of others, Greater Chattanooga Realtors® continued to be the voice of real estate. While advocating for homeownership often took me away from my everyday business, and many times, my own family, I want to thank my family for their understanding, endless love, and support.

I would also like to thank the staff of Greater Chattanooga Realtors® for their support over this past year. Sometimes our staff gets overlooked since they are behind the scenes, but I thank them for all they do for our more than 2,500 local Realtors every day.

Lastly, as we all look toward 2022, I want to congratulate my friend Derek English on being elected as 2022 President of Greater Chattanooga Realtors®. I know that he will bring passion and excellence as President, and I look forward to seeing all the great things to come.

It has been a pleasure to serve as President this past year, and I urge all of my fellow Realtors to get involved and serve at our association. Our association is only as strong as those who choose to serve. It’s a time commitment, but a commitment that I am so glad that I made. Serving fellow Realtors, our clients, and community-  That’s Who We R.

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December 23, 2021

2022 BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION RESULTS

Congratulations to:

     2022 President-Elect Steven Sharpe

     2021 Secretary-Treasurer Bev Boss

     2021-22 Directors Brian Erwin, Ryan May, Rolanda Pullen, and Mike Purcell

These newly-elected REALTORS® will serve alongside:

     2022 President Derek English

     2022 MLS Chair Barry Hamilton

     2022 Immediate Past President Robert Backer

     2022-23 Directors Kadi Brown, Ellis Gardner, Jennifer Grayson, and Steven LaMar

We invite all members to celebrate with these newly-elected Officers & Directors on January 13 at Coker Tire Museum.

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December 22, 2021

Local & National Real Estate in 2022

We all wish we could look into the future and know exactly what the future holds for us. Well, we all know that’s impossible, but thanks to some very clever forecasting, we can get a pretty good glimpse into real estate in 2022 from a local and national standpoint.

Last week, Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’® (NAR) chief economist and senior vice president of research, unveiled the consensus forecast during NAR’s third annual year-end Real Estate Forecast Summit, which focuses on the national landscape. Dr. Yun, who has presented for Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® multiple times, says to expect slower housing price appreciation, easing inflation, and rising interest rates in 2022.

This forecast isn’t just from Dr. Yun but rather the consensus of more than 20 top U.S. economic and housing experts. As for 2022, the group of experts predicted that annual median home prices will increase by 5.7%, inflation will rise 4%, and the Federal Open Market Committee will twice increase the federal funds rate by 0.25%.

“Overall, survey participants believe we’ll see the housing market and broader economy normalize next year,” Yun said. “Though forecasted to rise 4%, inflation will decelerate after hefty gains in 2021, while home price increases are also expected to ease with an annual appreciation of less than 6%. Slowing price growth will partly be the consequence of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.”

Yun forecasts U.S. GDP to grow at the typical historical pace of 2.5%, barring any major, widespread transmission of the omicron COVID-19 variant. He expects the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to increase to 3.5% as the Fed raises interest rates to control inflation but lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 4%.

The housing market performed better than it has in 15 years in 2021, with an estimated 6 million existing-home sales. However, as mortgage rates tick up slightly, Yun predicts existing-home sales will decline to 5.9 million in 2022. He also forecasts a modest increase in housing starts to 1.67 million as the pandemic’s supply chain backlogs subside.

So, where does the forecast leave us locally? For the Chattanooga-area market in 2022, experts are projecting 3.7% home sales growth (year over year, and 6.9% home price growth (year over year).

These numbers are helpful, but what can we take away from them? Simply put, it means that the market is looking to remain robust and fast but slowing down somewhat from the breakneck speed of the past year and a half. These predictions means that it will still be crucial to work with a Realtor who can maximize your chances of getting a jump on those properties that tend to sell quickly. Realtors work for their clients every day -  That’s Who We R.

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December 15, 2021

November 2021 Local Housing Market Statistics

When you zoom out to get the big picture of real estate across the country, you’re going to see some pretty positive developments. The economy is improving, unemployment is falling, and the U.S. real estate market remains very strong. This news is positive as we head into the holiday season, a period when activity typically slows as people take time to travel, celebrate, and spend time with loved ones. Although the market is not as frenetic as we saw earlier this year, buyer demand is still high and bolstered by attractive mortgage rates and a low supply of inventory.
 
How much have prices changed in a year? The most recent data from the National Association of REALTORS® reports that the national median price for single-family existing homes rose 16% in the third quarter of this year to $363,700, with all four regions of the country experiencing double-digit price growth. In addition, in new construction, builder confidence increased in November, surpassing analyst expectations and rising to 83 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, the highest level since spring, despite persistent labor and supply chain challenges and a shortage of available lots. So despite these challenges, the market nationally remains quite robust.
 
Locally, New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 5.7% to 987. Pending Sales were up 16.4% to 1,014. Inventory levels shrank 37.2% to 1,012 units.
 
Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 13.6% to $280,000, which is quite a jump from the $246,400 we saw in November 2020. Days on Market was down 48.6% to 18 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 43.8% to 0.9 months, compared to November 2020’s 1.6 Months Supply of Inventory.
 
The housing market hasn’t slowed down all year, and it’s looking like the same may be true for 2022. In markets like these, it’s critical to work with a Realtor who knows how to navigate your real estate needs. In addition, Realtors are mostly small business owners who work to ensure buyers and sellers have the greatest access, transparency, and choice through independent, local broker marketplaces that level the playing field for all types and sizes of brokerages. This collaborative competition among Realtors makes the market work, as does working for our clients throughout the year – That’s Who We R.

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December 8, 2021

2022-23 OFFICER & DIRECTOR CANDIDATES & ONLINE VOTING INFO

The Nominating Committee presents the following Candidates for the 2022 Board of Directors:

     2022 President-Elect (Choose 1): Steven Sharpe

     2022 Secretary-Treasurer (Choose 1): Bev Boss OR Kevin Wamack

     2022-23 Directors (Choose 4): Connie Brewer, Lisi Chavarri, Brian Erwin, Ryan May, Rolanda Pullen, Mike Purcell

Those elected will serve alongside: 2022 President Derek English, 2022 MLS Chair Barry Hamilton, 2022 Immediate Past President Robert Backer, and 2021-22 Directors Kadi Brown, Ellis Gardener, Jennifer Grayson, and Steven LaMar. 

Online voting begins Thursday, December 16, when each REALTOR® member eligible to vote will receive an email from announcement@associationvoting.com containing the secure voting credentials unique to the email recipient. Voting will remain open until 5 pm on Wednesday, December 22. Election results will be announced on December 23.


2022 President-Elect (Select 1)

STEVEN SHARPE, ABR, GRI, e-PRO (Keller Williams Realty) 

I wish to step into the President-Elect role to have a direct influence on the direction of the real estate profession in the Chattanooga area. I feel that my current role as a principal broker has given insight into the everyday challenges faced by our members and gives me perspective on some of the best ways to confront and overcome those perceptions and difficulties in our industry.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2019-20, 2021 Secretary-Treasurer); Budget & Finance Committee (2018, 2021 Chair); Bylaws Committee Liaison (2017-18, 2018 Chair); Governmental Affairs Committee (2019 Director Liaison); Grievance Committee (2010-12); Professional Standards Committee (2014, 2017); RPAC Committee (2020 Director Liaison, 2021)

STATE & NATIONAL: Tennessee REALTORS® Board of Directors (2021); Tennessee REALTORS® Bylaws Committee (2018-19); Tennessee REALTORS® Professional Standards Committee (2014-15); Tennessee REALTORS® Residential Forms Committee (2019-20)

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Founder (2005 to present) of Camp Horizon, a camp for children with physical disabilities.

2022 Secretary-Treasurer (Select 1)

BEV BOSS (RE/MAX Renaissance)

I enjoy working with like-minded REALTORS® to ensure our industry grows and thrives. I genuinely feel that we serve a purpose to maintain REALTOR® integrity and promote homeownership. I would love to continue serving.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2019-21); Budget & Finance Committee (2021); Community Education & Scholarship Committee (2021 Director Liaison), Community Involvement Committee (2016-20, 2018 Co-Chair); Diversity Inclusion Committee (2017-2020, 2020 Director Liaison); Governmental Affairs Committee (2021); Leadership Development Committee (2018-2020); Placemaking Committee (2021), Professional Development Committee (2018-2020); Leadership Academy Graduate (2017)

STATE & NATIONAL: Tennessee REALTORS® Board of Directors (2021)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: Home Builders of Greater Chattanooga (2018-20)

COMMUNITY: Habitat for Humanity (2016-21); Junior League (2018-21); Teacher Support (2005-21)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2008-09 Teacher of the Year; Agent of the Month; Multi-Million Dollar Producer


KEVIN WAMACK (Real Estate Partners)

I wish to serve as Secretary-Treasurer to give back and do my part for the Association and help keep the board and Association moving forward in a positive direction.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2017-20); Community Involvement Committee (2015-2018); Engaging young Professionals Task Force (2017); Leadership Development Committee (2017-18); Professional Development (2018 Director Liaison); RPAC Committee (2015, 2019 Director Liaison); RPAC Investor; Leadership Academy Graduate (2016)

STATE & NATIONAL: Tennessee REALTORS® Board of Directors (2019)

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Eagle Scout; Habitat for Humanity; Snack Packs

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Top 50 producing agent in Chattanooga for the past three years

2022-2023 Director (Select 4)

CONNIE BREWER, AHWD, GRI, PSA, C2EX (Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty)

I wish to continue my growth in the REALTOR® profession. I have a desire to continue being actively involved in our Association by serving, supporting, and representing fellow colleagues.

LOCAL: Grievance Committee (2020, 2021 Chair); Education/Professional Development Committee (2019-2020); RPAC Committee (2019-2021); RPAC Major Investor (2020-2021); Leadership Academy Graduate (2021)

STATE: Women’s Council of REALTORS® (2015-present, 2020-2021 Liaison, 2021 Nominating Committee)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: Women’s Council of REALTORS® (2015-present, past Membership Director, Project Teams, 2019 President-Elect, 2020-2021 President)

COMMUNITY: Hydrocephalus Walk Chattanooga (current); Life Group Leader (2020); Sleep in Heavenly Peace (current); TN Dachshund Animal Rescue

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2002 Presidential Award with major insurance company; 2019 Presidential Award Women’s Council of REALTORS® (Tennessee)


LISI CHAVARRI (Scout REALTOR® Group)

I wish to create a better sense of community, camaraderie, and engagement within and connected to the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® members; contribute to establishing a 360 feedback loop to better develop rapport and a roadmap for development; establish stronger relationships with REALTORS® and the Association; and gain a deeper awareness and advocate for the REALTOR® Association at the local, state, and national levels.

LOCAL: Leadership Development Committee (2019-2021, 2020-2021 Chair); Leadership Academy Graduate (2018)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: Women’s Council of REALTORS® (2018-present)

COMMUNITY: 100+ Women Who Care of Chattanooga (Co-Founder); Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute Game ChangeHER (2021-2022); Medal of Honor Lunch Committee for Fundraising (2018-2020); St. Peter’s Auction Committee (2019)


BRIAN ERWIN, ABR (Real Estate Partners)

I wish to contribute to our Association with my time, presence, and influence. We have made great strides to expand member involvement, engagement, and outreach during the tenure of my membership, and I intend to build on the progress of the last two years. I wish to collaborate with leadership to showcase our Association’s value to members and the REALTOR® influence in our community. We have a platform and a duty to grow the REALTOR® brand and protect our industry. I wish to be an experienced leader in protecting and guiding the direction of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2020-2021); Community Involvement Committee (2018 Chair, 2015-2018); Education Professional Development Committee (2019 Chair); Governmental Affairs Committee (2017, 2021); Leadership Development Committee (2021 Director Liaison); MLS Committee (2019-2020); RPAC Committee (2018); Strategic Planning Task Force (2019); RPAC Investor; Leadership Academy Graduate (2017)

STATE & NATIONAL: Tennessee REALTORS® Board of Directors (2020)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: WCR Member (2017-2018)

COMMUNITY: Chattanooga Preparatory School Mentor Program (2019-2026); Habitat for Humanity Volunteer (2016-present); Emerging Leaders United Way of Greater Chattanooga (2016-present, 2019 Executive Committee, 2021 Volunteer Advocate)


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: Board of Directors (2020-2021); Community Involvement Committee (2018); Education/Professional Development Committee (2019); Governmental Affairs Committee (2021 Director Liaison); Grievance Committee (2019); Placemaking Committee (2020 Director Liaison); RPAC Major Investor; Leadership Academy Graduate (2018)

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


ROLANDA PULLEN, CMS, CNHS (Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty)

There are several reasons I’m running for a second term on the Board of Directors. I want to help our board continue to be relevant to our members. I hope that we can be a voice for our REALTOR® community as we vote on decisions that affect our members. I want to show our community the important role that our Association plays in real estate and help protect our profession's integrity.

LOCAL: Board of Directors (2020-2021); Community Involvement Committee (2017-18, 2020-2021); Consumer Education & Scholarship Committee (2021); Diversity Inclusion Committee (2020-2021); Grievance Committee (2019); Government Affairs Committee (2017); Leadership Development Committee (2017-2020, 2018 Chairman); Strategic Planning Task Force (2019); Leadership Academy Graduate (2016)

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: 2021 Historian and member of NAREB

COMMUNITY: Member of Olivet Baptist Church (1998-present, past photographer/event planning committee); Member of the PTA & Volunteer at Wallace A. Smith (2017-present); Order of the Eastern Star-Lookout Chapter (2013-present, 2017-2018 Secretary, 2021 Associate Matron)

BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Coldwell Banker International Sterling Society (2020); 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, 2020); Coldwell Banker Team Player (2019-2020); 2011 Featured in Hamilton County Herald


MIKE PURCELL, ABR, CRS (RE/MAX Renaissance)

I believe that the one of the key purposes of the Board of Directors is to listen to and advocate for our REALTOR® members.  As such, I wish to serve this Association by using my business as well as real estate experience to help grow and improve our Association for all members.

LOCAL: Governmental Affairs Committee (2019-2021); Grievance Committee (2018-2020, 2020 Chair); Professional Standards Committee (2021 Chair); Leadership Academy Graduate (2018)

STATE & NATIONAL: Tennessee REALTORS® Day on the Hill

CHAPTERS & COUNCILS: Chattanooga Council of CRE (2018-present)

COMMUNITY: Member, Burks United Methodist Church, Trustee (2022-2024); Board Member and President, UTC Alumni Board of Directors (2008-2011); Board Member, Mustard Tree Ministries- (2016-2019); Member, Affordable Housing Initiative Committee (2019-present); University of Chattanooga (UC) Foundation (2008-2011)

BUSINESS: Executive MBA, UT Chattanooga (1998); UT National Alumni Association Appointment by Chancellor, UTC (2009-2011); Licensed Real Estate Broker (2019-present); Licensed  Professional Engineer (1985-present)

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December 8, 2021

Looking Ahead To Real Estate in 2022

2021 is winding down, and so is my term as Greater Chattanooga Realtors® President. Much has changed this year locally and nationally, and I believe that many of these changes will be with us well into the future. But not all of these shifts are bad. For many, these past two years have shown exactly why our area is so appealing and why we love calling Greater Chattanooga home.

Chattanooga has been forever changed by the pandemic, more so than other cities. As a result, our jewel of a city is no longer a secret. The advent of work-from-home careers, our powerful broadband, and lower cost of living have made our area an attractive alternative to larger, more expensive cities.

As far as housing goes, I can honestly say that the market in 2021 has been one for the record books. This market is, by far, the most intense that I have experienced in my more than 25 years as a Realtor®.
We’ve been experiencing issues in the past few years, such as lower housing inventory and supply-chain issues, both of which really came to a head this year. Each month, when Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® releases the local market statistics, the Median Sales Price has increased, and sometimes the year-over-year increase is in the double digits.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors®, predicts that the new year will see some return to normalcy, but will still see more increases than in the pre-pandemic market.

“There are signs for 2022 that a more normal and predictable market is on the horizon. Home sales have surged over the past year in an uncharacteristic manner, many receiving multiple bids after only being on the market for a short period. However, the housing sector will settle down but at above pre-pandemic levels,” Yun said.

Yun also projected that mortgage rates, which are currently at 3.0%, will see an increase of 3.7% in the coming months, a rise he attributes to persistent high inflation. Home prices rose by 12% on average in 2020 and 2021, while inflation rose 3%.

As far as the local market, an increase in housing inventory would help stabilize prices, and allow more people to enter the housing market who might find themselves currently priced out. Whatever the new year might bring, utilizing the expertise of a Realtor® in your real estate transactions remains your best option to help make sure that you get the most from your investment. Realtors work tirelessly to serve their communities every day, and I’m very proud to be a part of this industry. That’s Who We R.

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December 1, 2021

Obituary: Jack Spangler

Jack Spangler (Teems & Teems Realty) passed away on December 1. There will be no public visitation or service.

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December 1, 2021

Should You Sell Your Home This Holiday Season?

The holidays have arrived, and so has the time of year when home sellers wonder 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. In years past it was typical for sellers to wait for the spring but in today’s brisk market, we are seeing any signs of slowing down. The season can be hectic for families, and the idea of taking on the additional stress of selling a house could be a turnoff to some people.

Many people might think that the holiday season would be 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, in today’s brisk market and low housing inventory, listing a home during the holidays can be highly advantageous to homeowners, and it doesn’t have to ruin any holiday cheer.

Here are a few reasons why homeowners should consider listing their homes this winter:

Less Inventory. For many homeowners, selling during the winter holidays seems like too much of a hassle. As a result, some will take their home off the market or wait until the warmer months to list.  This delay creates an inventory shortage, which is good news for sellers keeping their homes on the market. Limited choices for buyers can lead to high asking prices for sellers.

Control Your Showings. Sellers do not need to let their homes be constantly available for showing. Let your Realtor know if certain days and times won’t work for your schedule. You can have blackout dates with absolutely no showings or create a daily schedule outlining when 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 religious themes.

Motivated Buyers. People hunting for homes during the holidays often have a reason for doing so, meaning they are more motivated buyers. Buyers who aren’t on a specific timeframe will put off their 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 23, 2021

Look How Far We’ve Come: Technology & MLS

In any profession, it’s interesting to take a moment and look back from where you came. I’ve been a Realtor for 25 years, and it’s amazing to see the evolution of technology and access to data, and how we are better equipped to serve our clients and community.

It seems so far-fetched now, but there was a time when if I were going to show a property to an interested buyer, I would pick up the physical house key, show the property, and then return the key to a listing agent. Now, thanks to technology, I’m able to press a few buttons on my phone to open a house. For my listings, I can access a list of everyone who accessed the keybox to view the property, including how long they took at each property. It’s a secure and accessible system to know who has, or has not, been in a property. How great is that?

Another advancement is Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service, or MLS for short. When I first got into the business, our MLS was a book. Newer Realtors can’t believe me when I tell them this. But it was a big book, with black and white pictures, and each property listing included just one picture. And of course, by the time we got the book, it was already outdated. There was no automatic way to know about new listings, price changes, open houses, or that a property already was under contract. And thanks to technology, our MLS has advanced, which enables us to arm clients with the most current data about the local market inventory.

And it’s not just having access to property images. Thanks to the MLS, we now have much more statistical knowledge and more comprehensive market data, which puts Realtors on the edge of market trends. The ability to drill down deep into the data isn’t just to get numbers; it’s key to marketing a property as well.

Here at Greater Chattanooga Realtors, we know that our Association-owned MLS is making the market work. There are many benefits to our MLS system, and here are three key focuses:

Confidence. Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ MLS safeguards market information and enforces rules that govern market participation. This allows local real estate professionals to do their jobs with a confidence that would not otherwise exist. This means that there is verified, trusted, detailed, and accurate property information. Let’s say you were looking for a piece of property to build a house on. You would want the exact amount of land to be correct, right? Our MLS gives buyer confidence knowing that the property listed is correct.

Connections. Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ MLS creates connections between local, informed professionals with properties to sell and those with clients who may buy them. It is the platform on which those who make transactions happen come together. Our MLS facilitates cooperation between the buyer and seller. Without it, buyers and sellers would likely have to pay a fee to list on websites.

Community. Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ MLS sustains a dynamic community of local professionals where competitors cooperate to make homeownership happen. With our MLS, it is easy to find the local agent who happens to be selling the home. It also provides equal opportunity for all home buyers and sellers. Without the MLS system, residents would have few options available for their home buying or selling needs.

No matter your profession, we all have come to appreciate advances in technology that not only make our job easier, but serve the customer better. Our MLS is crucial in making sure that Realtors serve their clients with expert knowledge. Realtors embrace technology. That’s Who We R.

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November 18, 2021

Obituary: Richelle Carmody

Richelle Carmody (DK Real Estate) passed away on November 16. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, November 19, at 1 p.m. CST/ 2 p.m. EST at Rogers Funeral Home Chapel (South Pittsburg, TN). There will be no public visitation.

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November 17, 2021

October Local Housing Market Statistics

As temperatures drop, existing home sales continue to be plentiful, buoyed by strong demand, low interest rates, and a slight uptick in new listings in recent months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. With interest rates inching upward, and experts expecting further rate increases on the
horizon, motivated buyers are hoping to lock in their home purchases to take advantage of what are still historically low rates.

On a national level, the U.S. housing market remains robust, with strong activity reported across both rental and residential housing fronts. Single-family rent prices are increasing rapidly, as demand for single-family housing and inventory constraints forces some buyers to rent, increasing competition and pushing rents up across the nation. Meanwhile, sales of new construction single-family homes recently hit a six-month high, rising 14% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 800,000, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors®, projected last week that there might be a slight drop, about 1.7%, in the total number of homes sold in 2022 over 2021. Yun also said that Yun said even though there may be a decline in sales in 2022, he still forecasts home sales will outdo pre-pandemic levels.

Locally, New Listings in the Chattanooga region decreased 2.0% to 1,155. Pending Sales were up 17.6% to 1,216. Inventory levels shrank 35.1% to 1,114 units. As a point of reference, the Inventory level for October 2020 was 1,716. Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 10.0% over October 2020, when it was $250,000, to $275,000.  Days on Market was down 51.4% to 17 days. In other words, the Days on Market for October 2020 was 35 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 41.2% to 1.0 months.

Clearly the cooling weather doesn’t show the housing market cooling off anytime in the foreseeable future. It remains true houses are moving quickly in this market, which is why utilizing a Realtor® remains the best way to make sure you’re in the best possible position in this competitive market. Realtors work tirelessly for their clients and community to advocate for their property needs. That’s Who We R.

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November 10, 2021

Real Estate & The Impact On Our State’s Economy

Everywhere you look, the economy is showing signs of making a strong comeback. In spite of supply chain issues, progress is definitely being made.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), always has a way of making abstract statistics more concrete. This past week he gave a hopeful outlook for the nation’s economy:

"The job market continues to make progress in October with 531,000 net new jobs. Since coming out of lockdown 18 million jobs have been created, but total jobs are still 4 million below the level seen before the arrival of COVID-19. The unemployment rate is low, at 4.6%. However, 3 million fewer Americans are searching for jobs and they are not being captured in unemployment statistics.”

This positive hiring news, along with the news that 5-11 year olds are now eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, are welcome signs that our economy, and our way of life, is hopefully returning to normal. With more people returning to the workplace, our national economy is looking to be on the rebound.

Most people realize that real estate has an impact on local, state, and national economics, but putting a dollar-value on real estate can be elusive. Thankfully, NAR has developed a report that does just that. Their Economic Impact of a Home Sale report, outlines the total economic impact of real estate related industries on each state’seconomy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance. In short, this report helps find out how much the real estate industry is affecting the gross state product for each state.

And the amounts are incredible. For example, in Tennessee, the typical economic impact of each home sale averages $75,000 (for our Georgia friends, it’s an even larger amount- $85,000). This means that for each home sold, thousands of dollars are being put back into our economy. In fact, in Tennessee, the real estate industryaccounted for $59.6 billion or 16.4% of the gross state product in2020. Talk about having an impact.

Not only does homeownership benefit our communities by helping people “plant roots” in our area, but it’s also a crucial component of our economy. This is why Realtors fight so hard to advocate for policies that benefit homebuyers, and why we work to make the dream of homeownership a reality for all in our state and country. Realtors work tirelessly for our clients and communities. That’s Who We R.

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November 3, 2021

6 Tasks For Smart Homeowners Before the Holiday Season

Halloween is behind us. The temps are starting to drop. The smell of wood smoke is in the air.

This time of year is when veteran homeowners know to make the most of the comfortable temperatures and get a jump on some important housekeeping tasks before the busy holiday season.

Stacey Freed in the National Association of Realtors’ Houselogic provides six helpful tips to make sure that your home is ready for what the next few weeks will bring.

Clean Those Gutters. This time of year we tend to get a lot of rain. To make sure that water doesn’t end up backed up into your house, take the time now to clean out those gutters. When you’re cleaning them, make sure those downspouts are pointed away from your house and foundation to help prevent erosion.

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.

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. For streak-free windows, combine ¼-cup of white vinegar with ¼ to ½ teaspoon of eco-friendly dish detergent and 2 cups of water.

If window cleaning isn’t a DIY job at your home, schedule a professional window cleaner (who, unlike most of us, can 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 worthwhile.

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, and damage. Nothing pairs better with frigid temps than the assurance you’ll be weathering potential inclement weather with warm air piping through the vents and cocoa in hand.

Also, remember that changing your air filters regularly will help your unit run more efficiently, and help give it a longer life.

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. So, yeah, it’s pretty important.

Tip: 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.

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 very expensive) ordeal, prep your home’s exposed pipes with foam or heat tape — choosing which one will work best with your climate. Remember: The most at-risk pipes are often those in unheated areas such as an attics, crawl spaces, and garages, so secure those first.

Homeownership has many benefits, and taking care of these tasks now will help make sure ready for a smooth and seamless holiday transition. Realtors help their clients all year long get the most enjoyment, and money, out of their investment. That’s Who We R.

Founded in 1912, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is a regional organization with more than 2,500 members servicing Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. The Association is one of approximately 1,100 local associations/board of REALTORS® nationwide that comprise the National Association of REALTORS®. Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® owns and operates a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is one of approximately 600 MLSs in the country and services more than 2,700 MLS users.

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October 27, 2021

The Appraisal Process Doesn’t Have To Be Scary

In this current market, simply finding the right home for buyers can be a struggle. Even with the help of a Realtor, the process can be daunting. You find the home you like, you make an offer, and it’s accepted! The home of your dreams is within sight, and it’s smooth sailing, right? Not so fast.

The National Association of REALTORS®’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed that 87 percent of buyers in 2020 financed their home purchase. In most cases, buyers financed up to 88 percent of the purchase price. So even after buyer and seller have agreed to price and other terms and bind a contract, there still is the lender-required appraisal.  And as the Georgia REALTORS® cleverly stated in a recent Halloween-themed Instagram post, “The home appraisal process can send chills down the spines of homebuyers and sellers alike. But never fear – it doesn’t have to be a ghastly experience.”

In their post, Georgia REALTORS® highlighted eight features that are common for appraisals, with the assurance that a “REALTOR® can help you prepare for the appraisal if you’re the seller, and help you understand what the various findings mean in terms of your purchase if you’re the buyer.” So that both sellers and buyers can better understand the appraisal, let’s explore the following considerations.

Where the home is located. Appraisers will refer to the quality of the neighborhood, area schools, local crime statistics, and access to local healthcare.

What homes are nearby? Appraisers compare the subject property to at least three other properties (“comps”) in the area. This isn’t the only time comps come into play for a home sale. Prior to listing a property, the REALTOR® will run comps from the multiple listing service (“MLS”) to aid the seller in determining the list price. And when assisting a buyer in preparing an offer, the buyer’s REALTOR® can consider comps, along with the buyer’s budget to prepare an offer. Appraisers are Realtors, too, and have access to the MLS, which can prove invaluable when it comes to pulling comps to use in the appraisal.

What needs to be fixed? This consideration includes any detrimental aspects of the property, such as foundation concerns and electrical issues. One way to avoid appraisal surprises is for the seller to pay for a home inspection prior to listing their home for sale. Doing so provides the seller the opportunity to remedy serious concerns ahead of the appraisal and/or the home inspection. Knowing these items were addressed sooner rather than later gives the buyer confidence regarding their future home’s condition.

How large? In addition to comparable properties and the home’s square footage, an appraiser will confirm the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

What’s on the inside? From lighting and countertops to appliances and flooring, the quality of interior products matter. A REALTOR® can make suggestions to the seller about what, if any, upgrades could be addressed prior to putting the home on the market or accepting an offer to purchase. Further, a Realtor can educate the buyer on what items might impact the appraisal, positively or negatively.

Are there any home renovations? Home Improvements such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel can greatly impact what a property is worth.

What’s on the outside? Consider the condition of the exterior materials, such as brick, stucco, or wood. In what condition is the exterior? Are there siding boards that need to be replaced? Is there any rotting wood trim? Are there cracks in the brick or foundation?

Extras that add value. These items can include fireplaces, security systems, smart appliances, and thermostats. Other items that are considered “extras” and can add value are pools, screened-in porches, and outdoor cooking spaces.

Thinking of buying or selling a home without using a Realtor®? That’s a frightening idea. Realtors work to make sure their client's interests are well represented and help explain the ins and outs of the appraisal process. Realtors work for our community every day. That’s Who We R.

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October 20, 2021

Rising Mortgage Rates Might Mean It’s Time To Act Now

Over my years as a Realtor, I’ve noticed that the first thing homebuyers look at is price. As obvious as this observation may be, significant issues can arise when price – not financing – is the only consideration.

It might not seem like a big deal, but locking in an interest rate when the rate is lower can potentially make thousands of dollars difference in the lifetime of your mortgage, and could change your monthly payment by hundreds, which could make your dream home unaffordable or not. And the simple fact is that home prices won’t be seeing any dramatic price reduction in the near future. So locking in a favorable mortgage is one of the best ways to make sure you get the most for your homebuying dollar.

Speaking of mortgage rates, they rose sharply above 3% this past week, the highest since April, as consumer and producer prices continue to inflate due to persistent supply bottlenecks and labor difficulties. According to the finance mortgage provider Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate moved up to 3.05% from 2.99% the previous week. So it seems that rates at the 2% range are over.

A question that pops up for millions of homeowners is whether it is a good time to sell their home. People typically sell their home after 16 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, there are about 20.2 million homeowners that purchased their homes in the last 10 to 19 years. Thus, many of these homeowners may wonder if they should sell their homes now or wait. Here are a couple of big reasons why it’s a good time to sell.

Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) explains it like this:

“First of all, there is no doubt that it’s a seller’s market. Although the market typically slows down in fall, there is still stiff competition among buyers, with multiple offers for each home due to low inventory. As a result, sellers continue to have strong negotiating power as most of them are able to sell their home for higher than the asking price. Comparing sales volume with current inventory, we are also seeing that homebuying activity is very strong. Specifically, more than half of the inventory was sold in August since the sales to inventory ratio was 0.51. Nevertheless, the sales to inventory ratio was only 0.07 back in 2009. Remember that a higher ratio implies a seller’s market, while a lower ratio implies a buyer’s market.”

“Secondly, mortgage rates are still historically low while the outlook is for higher rates in the upcoming year. With lingering inflation, the Fed may start tapering earlier than expected. Specifically, the Fed recently announced that it will begin gradually decreasing its purchases of long-term Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities before the end of the year. Moreover, the Fed will also raise interest rates by the first half of 2022 in order to control elevated inflation. Both of these strategies are expected to move up mortgage rates in 2022. The National Association of REALTORS® forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will reach 3.6% by mid-2022.”

So if you happen to be on the fence about purchasing a home, the recent increase in new listings and lower than projected interest rates might mean it’s time to act. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, utilizing a Realtor is the best way to ensure that your best interests are being taken into account. We love and serve our community’s real estate needs every day. That’s Who We R.

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October 13, 2021

September 2021 Local Housing Market Statistics

In years past, September home sales tended to reflect the changing temperatures this time of year. September usually starts hot, and by the end of the month, a shift in weather is usually a sign of fall’s arrival. Well, our current housing market has kept a similar trend with the temperature; locally, there are little signs of any cooling off period. A limited supply of housing and increased selling prices are keeping the market very hot indeed.

There are signs the market may be shifting more towards the favor of homebuyers, however. New listings have continued to hit the market, bucking seasonality trends commonly seen in the fall, a time when listing and sales activity typically slows as children return to school. Moreover, as inventory increases, competition for homes may soften, and could even bring some moderation in sales prices, which, after 114 months of year-over year gains, would be music to the ears of homebuyers throughout the country.

Nationwide, existing home sales were down slightly in August, falling 2% after two consecutive months of increases, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. The decline in existing home sales coincides with rising sales prices, which have continued to soar into fall, with the median sales price of existing homes up 14.9% compared to last year. Declining affordability has had a significant impact on homebuyers, many of whom have been priced out of the market and are choosing to wait for sales prices to ease before resuming their home search.

Locally, New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 12.1% to 1,295. Pending Sales were up 13.1% to 1,216. Inventory levels shrank 27.2% to 1,258 units. Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 10.9% to $265,000. Days on Market was down 61.5% to 15 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 33.3% to 1.2 months.

Weather changes. The housing market changes. But something that won’t change is the importance of utilizing a Realtor to buy or sell. Realtors have the tools to make sure that whether you’re buying or selling, you will get the most for your largest investment. Caring for our community’s real estate needs, That’s Who We R.

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October 11, 2021

GREATER CHATTANOOGA REALTORS® DONATE $10,000 TO SNACK PACK

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (October 11, 2021) – Greater Chattanooga Realtors® presented a $10,000 check to Janice Robertson, founder of the Snack Pack Food Ministry during a Realtor volunteering event.

“Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is thrilled to continue our support for Snack Packs,” said Robert Backer, 2021 President. “Snack Packs does so much to help out area school children, and as Realtors, it’s important to give back to our community,” said Backer.

The Snack Pack Food Ministry, founded by Realtor Janice Robertson, helps feed nearly 2,100 food insecure children in Hamilton County every weekend while school is in session. Snack Pack Food Ministry is one of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS community partnership organizations that add value to the quality of life in our community.

“The Snack Pack Food Ministry is so thankful for the monetary support of Greater Chattanooga Realtors. We are also thankful for all of them that give of their time to come and pack,” said Janice Robertson, Realtor and founder of Snack Pack Ministries. “The children are blessed by Greater Chattanooga Realtors,” said Robertson.

For more information about Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Community Partnerships, visit www.gcar.net.

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October 6, 2021

FOREWARN Added as Realtor Member Benefit

The Board of Directors recently approved a COMPLIMENTARY PROACTIVE SAFETY AND LEAD INTELLIGENCE service for all REALTOR® members!

FOREWARN brings intelligence to the real estate industry through innovative solutions to help ensure safer engagements and smarter interactions. 

The FOREWARN application gives an agent the ability to gain instant insight (within seconds) on a prospective client using only a phone number!  Don’t have a phone number? You can also search by name. 

Instantly verify:

  • Identity (first name, last name, alias, and age)
  • Phone numbers (residential and mobile history)
  • Address history (rental, ownership, and associated addresses) 
  • Financial indicators (bankruptcy, lien, and judgement history)
  • Property records (nationwide property ownership history)
  • Criminal records (nationwide criminal history search)

Verifying your prospects in FOREWARN is not only critical for your personal safety and efficiency, but also a benefit to your listing homeowners, providing an added layer of protection for their homes and families.

REALTOR® members: Click here for additional details and to sign-up for your complimentary FOREWARN subscription.

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October 6, 2021

Chattanooga Ranked as Top 10 Commercial Real Estate Market

When most people hear “real estate,” they automatically picture a home with a “for sale” sign in the yard. But there’s another equally important component to the overall market – commercial real estate. In fact, in Greater Chattanooga, we have 430 REALTORS® who subscribe to our commercial multiple listing service, with nearly 80 of those 430 REALTORS®, specializing in commercial real estate only.

Nationally, the commercial real estate market has taken a big hit from the pandemic. After all, it isn’t easy to have office or market space if everyone is working remotely. It’s a side of real estate that definitely has had its challenges of late.

But that’s turning around. At the National Association of REALTORS’® (NAR) inaugural C5 Commercial Real Estate Summit, it was reported that since the second quarter of 2020, vacancy rates have fallen for apartments and multifamily units, industrial, and retail properties. The conference brought together commercial investors and industry leaders, REALTOR® associations, economic development corporations, and government officials.

During the conference, NAR released their Top 10 Commercial Office Markets for 2021 Report, and in it they named Chattanooga. For the report, NAR analyzed 390 commercial real estate markets to identify those with the most robust recoveries, including positive net absorption and strengthening rents across the multifamily, industrial, and retail sectors.

“Even as the economy makes a steady recovery, the one sector still lagging behind has been the office market,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Work-from-home flexibility looks to be the defining shift in the new post-pandemic economy. Despite the overall challenges, however, some local markets are bucking the trend with more office occupancy and rising rents. A combination of strong in-migration and relatively lower cost of doing business is driving these growth markets.”

So it looks like commercial real estate is on the upswing, and our area is poised to recover and lead better than most. There’s no one better to help you than a Realtor who specializes in commercial real estate. Realtors have the tools and information to make sure that you get the most for your investment, whether it’s for your business or for your home. That’s Who We R.

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September 29, 2021

4 Things Proactive Homeowners Do in the Fall

It’s here! Fall has finally made its arrival. With cooler temps and beautiful foliage, it’s the perfect time to do a bit of much-needed maintenance on your home. After all, an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure.

Over time, owning a home can be one of the best ways to build wealth, and it also comes with a lot of maintenance responsibilities. In a recent article from NAR’s Houselogic, Kelley Walters explores four different ways to make sure your home is prepared for the cooler weather:

Stain the Deck. Help your deck field what winter throws at it by re-staining it this month. Fall’s cooler temps and lower humidity make it the ideal time for this project.

Check Fire Extinguishers. According to the Red Cross, fires increase in the fall and winter. Keep your home fire safe by getting your fire extinguishers checked by a certified professional. Fire extinguishers do break down and malfunction. In fact, after six years, they need to be emptied and reloaded. If you haven’t already, buy one for each floor and the garage. Also, take this opportunity to change out those smoke alarm batteries.

Spruce Up the Yard. Aerate your lawn, reseed or fertilize it if needed, and plant perennials and shrubs, which are often on sale this time of year. Your grass will green up faster after winter, and the shrubs and perennials will have a chance to establish roots before the first freeze.

Inspect Your Home’s Exterior. Spending money on roof repairs is no party, but neither is handing out buckets to the family to catch leaks in a winter storm. Instead, inspect your roof and other big-ticket items, like siding, grading, and gutters, before you’ve got problems. You’ll cut costs by fixing them now and stay dry and warm all winter long.

Thanks for those tips, Kelley. The Greater Chattanooga area is gorgeous in the fall, and with these tips, you’ll be sure to have a home that looks just as great as its scenic surroundings. Realtors help homeowners get the most out of their most valuable investment in every season. That’s Who We R.

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September 23, 2021

Statement Re: District 7 Intersection (SR 320/East Brainerd Road & SR 321/Ooltewah Ringgold Road)

On September 23, 2021, the Board of Directors approved making a position statement in support of infrastructure improvements at the intersection of SR 320/East Brainerd Road & SR 321/Ooltewah Ringgold Road as outlined below.

September 23, 2021

Governor Bill Lee
State of Tennessee
1st Floor, State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243

Governor Lee,

On behalf of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for not only your hard work on behalf of the State of Tennessee but specifically the citizens of Hamilton County, of which approximately 1,700 of our 2,500 members reside.

Our members are dedicated to the real estate industry and the communities in which we live and work. 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.”

As you know, Hamilton County has grown considerably over the years, which has brought numerous positives to our community, including jobs and tax dollars. However, with growth comes growing pains, and this is where we would like to ask for your help.

District 7, which contains the East Brainerd and Apison area, has grown exponentially over the past 10 years and is one of the most sought-after areas to reside in Hamilton County. The intersection at Tennessee State Route 320 (East Brainerd Road) and Tennessee State Route 321 (Ooltewah Ringgold Road) is in dire need of improvement to accommodate both the increased traffic volume from residents and businesses moving to the area and the four schools that service the area. In addition, we believe that these improvements will help ease the minds of the community and enable them to embrace continued growth, which has been impeded recently due to their concerns surrounding this intersection.

Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® supports the efforts of Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, County Commissioner Sabrena Smedley, and the citizens of District 7 to make improvements to this intersection. We would appreciate your assistance in encouraging the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to reevaluate its timeline for making these improvements. If TDOT continues to follow its current timeline, growth in this area will come to a standstill, which would be detrimental for Hamilton County. We are asking that you help us ensure that growth will continue in our community for years to come.

Again, thank you for your continued hard work and your assistance with this issue. If there is anything we can do to assist you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Robert Backer
President

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September 22, 2021

OBITUARY: Lori Orr Stansell

Lori Orr Stansell (Keller Williams) passed away on September 16, 2021. A visitation will be held on September 23, outside at Hamilton Memorial Gardens from 12-3 p.m. with a private memorial service for family to follow.

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September 22, 2021

Keeping Realtor® Safety Top of Mind Throughout the Year

September is winding down, and soon Realtor® Safety Month will be behind us for another year. But, before it’s gone, I want to take one last opportunity to focus on safety, as this topic is vital in our profession year-round.

Earlier this month, one of our fellow Realtors was shot while at a property adjacent to one where there was an issue. While the incident was unrelated to a real estate transaction, and thankfully, this Realtor is recovering, it further shows that our industry is especially susceptible to violence. This attack is a sobering reminder of Realtors’ potentially dangerous situations each day and how we all need to be aware throughout in-person and online interactions.

With our name and reputation being our brand, Realtors need to promote themselves and maintain visibility as part of our business. But sometimes, this self-promotion can lead to dangerous situations. For example, in the recently released 2021 Member Safety Report, 14% of REALTORS® were more likely to say they had experienced a situation that made them fear their safety or personal information. However, this number is down from 2020 (23%), which is a hopeful sign that more and more Realtors are taking advantage of safety training. In fact, 72% report having personal safety protocols in place that they follow with every client, and this trend is more likely among females (75%) than among males (64%).

Realtors know first-hand how stressful the home buying process can be. However, it’s easy to get swept up in the sometimes frantic race to find that perfect home, so we mustn’t cut corners when it comes to safety. One startling statistic from the 2021 Member Safety Report is that the typical respondent meets prospective clients they’ve never met before, either at their office or in a neutral location 65% of the time. Meeting a stranger with who you’ve had no previous interaction could prove dangerous.

These types of situations show why safety training is so important. Nationally, 38% of REALTORS® said that they have participated in a self-defense class. Among those who participated in a REALTOR® safety course, 39% said they feel more prepared for unknown situations after taking a REALTOR® Safety course. Locally, we offer members complimentary self-defense classes, and to date, more than 450 members have taken the training. Greater Chattanooga Realtors believe in promoting safe business practices, creating a culture where members are committed to excellence, and educating members on safety.

One way Realtors can help homeowners have the best possible experience is to address safety and security best practices relating to real estate. That’s what our goal has been for this past month. Realtors love serving our community, and we want nothing else than to help our clients safely and professionally. 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 19, 2021

Alert: Bogus Sheriff Calls Targeting Realtors

12/13/2021 UPDATE: Three members contacted us today after receiving these types of calls. This time from 423-358-1934 identifying himself as either Jeffrey Snyder or Jeff Pitts. In one call, he referenced "his" badge # 9574. The caller gives similar instructions to those referenced below in previous posts about this scam for the REALTOR® to appear immediately at the courthouse related to a previously closed transaction. In each call, the property address is one in which the REALTOR® participated as the listing or selling agent. 

10/02/2021 UPDATE: The type of calls outlined below have continued. with the caller now providing "his" name (Brandon Connelly), badge number, supervisor's name, and address of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department.

ORIGINAL POST from 09/19/2021: A 2018 scam is circulating again with a new twist – targeting REALTORS® related to properties they sold. Caller ID says “Hamilton County,” with the caller claiming to be with the Sheriff’s office. The caller alleges/instructs various versions of the following:

• References the REALTORS®’s (current or former) office address.

• Claims the REALTOR® has an outstanding warrant for failure to show for jury duty or as a witness in a court matter related to a previously closed transaction.

• Instructs the REALTOR® not to tell anyone b/c the property involved a minor.

• Asks the REALTOR® to go to the courthouse to verify their signature on the subpoena and to stay on the line until arriving at the courthouse.

• Informs the REALTOR® they will have to remit money (up to $8,000 in some cases) over the phone so as not to be detained for 72 hours once arriving at the courthouse.

The Sheriff’s office has reconfirmed they would never ask for money over the phone and are aware of the fake calls. Thanks to all those who reported this scam occurring in our marketplace. Stay alert and vigilant out there, folks!

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September 15, 2021

August 2021 Local Housing Market Statistics

In August, the housing market showed few signs of cooling off. School has started, and the majority of students are reporting for in-person schooling. But the hot real estate market isn’t just limited to single-family homes; the rental market is quite hot as well.

The booming U.S. housing market has spilled over to the rental market with demands for apartments and single-family rentals.  This demand is a result of high sales prices and an inadequate supply of available inventory.  Increased demand for housing, along with an improving economy, has competition for rental units soaring, and landlords are taking note, with the national median rent increasing 11.4% in 2021 so far, according to Apartment List.

In new construction, home builders continue to struggle to meet buyer demand, as housing starts nationwide dropped 7% last month, according to the Commerce Department. Single-family home construction declined 4.5%, and multi-family home construction, which includes condos and apartment buildings, was also down, falling by 13%. Labor shortages, rising material costs, and supply-chain setbacks continue to challenge builders, with some projects temporarily paused due to availability and cost of materials.

So how have these factors affected housing in our area? New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 5.1% to 1,376. Pending Sales were up 9.7% to 1,266. Inventory levels shrank 32.1% to 1,257 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 9.2 % to $270,000. Days on Market was down 59.5% to 17 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 36.8% to 1.2 months.

Inventory continues to be an issue, which means that it’s more important than ever to work with a Realtor® to help navigate such a fast market. Regardless of the season, working with a Realtor will ensure that your housing needs will be in good hands. Serving our communities and homeowners nationwide, That’s Who We R.

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September 14, 2021

TONYA BELL RECEIVES RCE DESIGNATION FROM NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

CHATTANOOGA  -- Tonya Bell, MLS Director, of the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is being honored by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® with the REALTOR® association Certified Executive (RCE) designation, which recognizes exceptional efforts made by the REALTOR® association executives.
Bell is one of more than 500 REALTOR® association executives, and one of only 14 in Tennessee, who have achieved this mark of excellence. Local and state association executives who hold the RCE designation represent REALTORS® in 49 states/territories.
“This is truly an honor and I am very proud to be receiving this designation. It is a high point in my career as an association executive,” Bell said.
Prior to becoming a candidate for the RCE designation, applicants must document their association management and academic experiences. Once they have completed this first step, eligible candidates must successfully complete a multiple choice exam, which is based on a comprehensive understanding of association operations and management practices.  Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of areas critical to REALTOR® association management, including association law, governance and issues related to member services.  To retain the designation, RCEs must be recertified every four years.
“I've had the pleasure of working with Tonya for many years, and this great achievement comes as no surprise. She is an integral part of Greater Chattanooga Realtors® , and I, along with the Board of Directors, are proud of her for this accomplishment,” said Robert Backer, 2021 President of Greater Chattanooga Realtors®.
“Tonya has shown herself to be an extremely valuable member of our team, and by earning her RCE, she has proven her dedication to our local, state, and national associations, and more importantly her dedication to serving Realtors® with excellence,” said Carol Seal, CEO and Executive Vice President of Greater Chattanooga Realtors®.

Bell will receive an award plaque from representatives of the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® during an upcoming event.

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September 9, 2021

Obituary: Saundra Newman Salisbury

Sandra Newman Salisbury(Keller Williams) passed away on Saturday, Aug 28, 2021. A memorial service will be held at St. John United Methodist Church (3921 Murray Hills Drive), on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 2 p.m.  A reception and celebration of life will follow in their Fellowship Hall.

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September 8, 2021

Realtor Safety Month: Cyber Security

For more than a year when thinking about danger, we’ve rightly been focused on an invisible virus. “Safety” has meant staying a safe distance from others, wearing a mask, and washing our hands. But for others that work with the public, including Realtors®, physical violence has been front of mind when talking about safety. In addition, electronic/cybercrimes are becoming more and more common , and the real estate industry is no exception. These offenses can include identity theft, email hacking, and wire fraud.

Buying and selling property is stressful enough without having the threat of cybercrime looming over the transaction. So much of our lives are online now, and there's no way to protect yourself from every instance of cybercrime. Since few if any Realtors would work without a computer or smartphone, industry professionals 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®. Smaller and midsized real estate companies—where transactions involve multiple players and large sums of money—are an ideal target for criminals, Edgerton said.

Unfortunately, hackers can gain access to email accounts fairly easily. 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.

So how can you help make yourself more secure? Some 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.

This practice can lead to another potentially devastating scam, wire fraud. Staying alert can protect yourself and your money. As you approach the closing date, be cautious of emails. It’s unusual for wiring instructions to change at the last minute or that the title company would do so via email. Call the title company using a known phone number, not the one provided in the email, which might be spoofed to appear to be from someone involved in the closing. Before sending the wire, ask your bank to confirm the name on the receiving account. And within a few hours, call your REALTOR® or title company to confirm your monies were received.

Another common scam involves taking legitimate property listings from websites and reposting them on other sites such as Craigslist for rent. Scammers will typically make up a plausible story that requires the consumer to wire or mail them money without ever meeting in person. The problem comes when all the renters try to move in and discover the property was never the “landlord’s” to rent in the first place. Meanwhile, the scammer take the funds and disappear.

Educating our clients on these dangers is a top priority. Realtors 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 year-round. Realtors are focused on protecting our clients and ourselves. That’s Who We R.

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September 1, 2021

Safety Protocols When Working With a Realtor®

In a few days, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release their 2021 Member Safety Report, which surveys Realtors around the nation about how safe they feel while on the job, their personal safety experiences, and their brokerage’s safety procedures and protocol. NAR publishes this report 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 in which they feared for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information. Realtors understand the safety risks associated with real estate transactions, so it is imperative to create and share safety protocols with clients to learn about what they may encounter throughout a real estate transaction.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is committed to providing consumers with the resources and education to stay safe and secure. Here are some safety protocols to expect to provide 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. As Realtors, we safeguard our clients’ data and ensure that it stays away from prying eyes. Keeping this information safe and secure is a crucial step in maintaining a safe agent and client relationship.

Stay away from carpooling. Even though more and more people are returning to a pre-COVID world where carpooling was common, don’t expect your Realtor to drive you to a property. Driving separately is a safety precaution for you and your Realtor – so do not feel offended. Most people don’t pick up hitchhikers, and understand the importance of not transporting strangers to a property showing. Driving separately also enables both parties to depart separately from the showing and get back to other business, such as returning to the office or picking up the kids from school.

Your agent might walk behind you. Realtors typically let 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.