Real estate

Home buying has become an adventure in many parts of the country.

Buyers find themselves competing for a tiny inventory of available homes, often making what might once have been considered outlandish offers, only to lose out to a higher bidder.

Much of Williamson County has been experiencing this trend too — local realtors have a lot to say about how it's affecting the Nolensville market.

Jennifer Hughes, who is affiliated with Benchmark Realty, talked about the area's desirability.

“Until recently, Nolensville has been a hidden gem,” she said. “Initially homes were more affordable, the school system is well respected and walkability is improving. We’re close to Franklin, Brentwood and Nashville. It’s an ideal location.”

Flint Adam, owner of Beacon Real Estate, agreed.

“The greater Nashville area is on a lot of people’s radar," Adam said. "Nolensville is very attractive, but housing inventory is very low.”

That seems to be the Catch-22 for buyers interested in the town.

“The average time on the market right now is four days,” Adam said. “It’s become hard to establish a valuation because a home that sold three months ago isn’t a good indicator of a similar home’s current value. Prices have skyrocketed and yet, competition for available homes is unbelievable.”

Hughes pointed to homes sold during identical periods in 2020 and 2021.

“In 2020, the average sales price was $589,000," she said. "This year the average is $654,000.”

Apparently, the problem extends to shortages of materials such as lumber, paint and even appliances. It’s taking longer to build new homes, which contributes to the low inventory problem.

“Currently, resales account for 73 percent of homes sold. Only 27 percent are new construction. And some builders have found it necessary to insert escalation clauses into their contracts,” Hughes said. “You can’t be certain you will pay what you agreed to pay the day you signed the contract.”

What’s driving the market? Hughes believes COVID-19 had a lot to do with that. More people are working from home now, perhaps permanently.

“Why not move to a great place where taxes are lower?” she said.

One thing is for certain. While realtors are earning more money than they ever imagined, they are working harder than ever.

“It can be daunting to buy a house these days,” Adam said. “I worked with a couple that didn’t find their home until their 12th attempt; having made offers and been outbid over and over again. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and I feel for the people who are going through this.”

What advice do Adam and Hughes offer potential buyers and sellers? Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a good starting point. Selecting the right realtor is another important consideration.

“If you haven’t selected an agent yet, it would serve you well to pick one based in Nolensville,” Adam said. “We are in touch with people and often get advance notice of homes going on the market.”

Hughes suggested that buyers be prepared to offer anywhere from 5-to-15 percent over the asking price, usually without contingencies.

“If they plan to have a mortgage, they have to hold their breath while they wait for the appraisal," she said. "If the home appraises for less than the price they’ve agreed on, they have to come up with the difference.”

Adam also pointed out that: “All cash sales used to be rare. In March of this year, alone, they accounted for 37 percent. Cash sales are another factor buyers have to contend with in this market.”

“Local agents can definitely help a buyer through an increasingly complex process,” Hughes added. “Buying a home has always been an emotional experience. A good realtor can keep you grounded and is more likely to help you achieve your goal.”

How long will the Nolensville market stay so hot? Hughes thinks it could last for several years. Adam is less certain.

“I’m betting we’ve seen the big leap. We’ll see some additional price growth, but probably not as much as we’ve witnessed lately," he said.

Regardless of what the future has in store, what makes living in Nolensville a good bet?

“People want to move here because they recognize it’s a beautiful, vibrant place to live, with opportunities to make a good life,” Adam said.

“We still have a small-town feel, regardless of recent growth,” Hughes said. “We’re just minutes from the hottest city in America.”

Len is a local writer whose fiction work can be found at www.lenserafino.com He is also available for speaking engagements.

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