Knoxville area 2010 homes sales end strong

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 11:08 pm, January 14th, 2011  

One of the tough things about making predictions of any sort is that it’s pretty easy to be wrong. I seem to have been wrong once again on my prediction in total 2010 Knoxville, TN area home sales.

If you will recall on November 15, 2010 I predicted a year end total of 9,500 total homes and condos sold in the greater Knoxville area but the final total turned out to be 10,133 for the year. That’s about 600 more than I thought would sell making my guess off by about 6%; not too bad for a guess. It appears the 4th quarter sales of 2010 were far stronger than I thought they would be.

Here’s how 2010 ended up in Knoxville compared to the past 9 years:

2010 sales

You’ll notice that 2010 ended up about 400 homes below 2009. In analyzing the sales data for the past few years I believe the 2009 and some of the 2010 data was artificially inflated by the $8,000 tax credit that expired on April 30th of 2010.

That tax credit may have been driving Knoxville area sales by as much as 20% or more. In addition to driving sales it also seems to have encouraged the sale of more lower priced homes (first time buyers) driving the average sales prices down along with the median prices.

average & median

So now we’re in January of 2011 and what’s the Knoxville housing market like so far?

We’re only 2 weeks into the year so very little hard data is available but I’m hearing a lot of anecdotal positive stories from my fellow Realtors about increased traffic at open houses, more inquiries on listings for sale, and lenders fielding questions about interest rate and mortgage loans.

If all that positive activity continues, then 2011 should be a good year for Knoxville sellers and buyers with both increased numbers of sales and higher average prices since the market will be more balanced with the demise of the tax credit.

Interest rates remain at historic lows and inventory of homes in all prices ranges is plentiful.

Head on over to KnoxvilleHomeCenter.com to see all the Knoxville, TN area homes for sale and please email or call me with any homebuying or selling questions.

knoxville tn real estate word cloud

knoxville tn real estate word cloud

VA Loans and Other Available Veteran Benefits

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 1:56 pm, September 3rd, 2010  

This is a guest post by Brandon Fischer on VA benefits; I hope some veterans find it useful.

Jim

VA benefits

VA benefits


by Brandon Fischer:

For the men and women that have so willingly served our country, the government offers a variety of programs and incentives designed to enhance their quality of life after service. Benefits for our country’s veterans range from educational assistance to job training with benefits more specifically being:

VA Home Loans

Since its creation in 1944, the VA loan program has provided millions of veterans and active duty service members – even those with imperfect credit – with the opportunity to achieve home ownership. The VA home loan program’s flexible eligibility requirements offer borrowers the ability to receive loans up to $417,000 in most areas of the country and loans up to $1,094,625 for borrowers looking to purchase a home in more expensive real estate areas.  Veterans can use a VA loan calculator to find the loan limit in their area.

What are VA Loan Benefits?

Because the VA insures part of each loan, VA-approved lenders have greater confidence in eligible borrowers. This greater confidence in borrowers inclines VA-approved lenders to offer qualified borrowers a variety of benefits they would not be able to find with conventional loans including:      zero down payment required

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Down payments in the form of gifts
  • Flexible debt-to-income ratio
  • No mortgage insurance required

How Do I Qualify for a VA Loan?

The VA Home Loan program offers some of the most flexible eligibility requirements which has allowed over 18 million service men and women achieve homeownership. More than 80% of all veterans and active duty service members who have obtained a VA loan would not have been eligible for a conventional loan. To initially qualify for a VA, a service member must:

  • Have served 181 days on active duty
  • Or served 3 months during war time
  • Or have served 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Be the spouse of a service member who was killed during active duty

Service men and women who meet the preliminary guidelines must also obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to apply for a VA loan. Although there are no required income minimums and flexible eligibility requirements for VA loans, most VA-approved lenders wll require a mid-range credit score of at least 620 to secure financing.

Harbor Tour of Portsmouth New Hampshire

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 10:27 pm, July 17th, 2010  

This past Thursday night I had the opportunity to go on a harbor tour/cruise of Portsmouth, New Hampshire along the harbor out to where it runs into the Atlantic Ocean.

Portsmouth harbor portsmouth new hampshire

Portsmouth New Hampshire harbor view

Portsmouth is a beautiful coastal city on the northern end of the New Hampshire seacoast. In the harbor view above you can see a new, waterfront condo project under construction and the white steeple of the Old North Church to the far right.

At only 17 miles long, the New Hampshire coastline is shorter than any other state that borders an ocean.

Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River, portsmouth nh

Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River connects Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine

Because Portsmouth is a working harbor with lots of large ship traffic in and out, two of the bridges over the river are drawbridges which raise every 30 minutes from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM to accommodate harbor ship traffic. In this photo the middle section of the bridge is starting to lift.

portsmouth nh harbor moran tugboat company

Moran Tugboat & towing company tugboats

The Piscataqua River is the third-fastest tidal river in North America and also very narrow by modern shipping standards. Local river pilots take the helm of in and outbound commercial vessels and guide them safely through the channel. These two large tugboats are operated by Moran Towing & Tugboats. Because the Piscataqua flows so fast these tugs only operate at “slack tide”, roughly four hours a day.when the incoming tides temporarily balance the outgoing river currents. Check out this Portsmouth harbor cam to watch river traffic live. The images refreshes every 10 seconds.

portsmouth naval shipyard portsmouth nh

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established in 1800

The Shipyard’s primary mission today is the overhaul, repair and modernization of Los Angeles-class submarines. The dry-docks have recently been enlarged and upgraded to accommodate the new and larger Virginia class submarine with the first due in for a tune up later this month.

USCGC Campbell (WMEC-909) is a United States Coast Guard medium endurance cutter based at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine and is the 5th Coast Guard Cutter to bear the name. She regularly patrols the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Maine to the Caribbean Sea

USCG Cutter Campbell based at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

The Campbell regularly patrols the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Maine south to the Caribbean Sea.

Portsmouth Naval Prison, Kittery ME

Portsmouth Naval Prison

This is Portsmouth Naval Prison which is curiously actually located in Kittery, Maine just across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth. The prison has been closed and abandoned since the 1970s as too expensive to rebuild or to tear down. Scenes from the movie “The Last Detail,” starring Jack Nicholson were filmed there.

new castle nh harbor smallest town in nh

New Castle, New Hampshire the smallest city in NH

This is some of the waterfront of New Castle, the smallest city in New Hampshire and the only one located entirely on islands. New Castle is also home to a US Coast Guard station and the historic Wentworth by the Sea hotel.

setting sun over portsmouth new hampshire

Setting sun over Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

portsmouth light at New Castle Coast Guard Stations setting sun over portsmouth new hampshire

The green light at right is Portsmouth Light on the New Castle Coast Guard Station grounds.

Portsmouth light was originally established before the Revolutionary War when American was still a British Colony.

In 1946 the current lighthouse keeper’s wife Connie wrote a book titled not surprisingly “The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife” and described the view from the top of Portsmouth Light. “I looked down forty feet to the little white scallops of incoming tide washing over the rocks, caressing each one lovingly. …We could look up the Piscataqua River to Portsmouth, with its gleaming white belfry of North Church, a landmark for sailors, silhouetted against the sky. …At the center of the harbor was Whaleback Lighthouse, and ten miles out to sea from that was the lighthouse on White Island, part of the Isles of Shoals. Both sent their beams across the water.”

Lighthouse keepers were or often became, a little ‘different’ from the rest of us. Imagine your job was taking care of Whaleback Lighthouse on an uninhabited, rocky small island day in and day out.

One lighthouse keeper was reported to use the top of his light to shoot passing ducks. He also had a small dingy that he used to row to shore occasionally where he would borrow a resident’s car to visit the local grocery store.

Whaleback island lighthouse entrance to portsmouth harbor

Whaleback Island lighthouse marks the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor

Whaleback Island is actually part of  a  jagged ledge known as Whaleback. This ledge is completely underwater at high tide and is a continuation of the southern portion of Gerrish Island in Maine.  The little dots you see in the water are buoys for lobster traps.

whaleback island lighthouse at darkness falls and a light fog starts to roll in

Whaleback Island at twilight as a light fog starts rolling in.

By the way, this is a working light house; the reason it appears dark in the photos is that the light only flashes on and off every few seconds but trust me, you do not have any problem seeing it when its light flashes. Whaleback light gives 2 white flashes every 10 seconds and during foggy weather, 2 blasts on its foghorn every 10 seconds. Click here to hear the Whaleback Light fog horn. It’s not too loud so it won’t blast you out of your seat. ;)

portsmouth nh harbor at night

Portsmouth Harbor at night is a beautiful sight too.

We got back to the dock around 10:00 PM after a great tour of Portsmouth Harbor. If you ever in the area I recommend a harbor tour as a ‘must do’ part of your visit.

Google Trends Labs shows you what people search for in your area

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 6:59 pm, July 9th, 2010  

Have you tried this great Google tool yet? Google Trends Labs lets you search, find, and compare keyword search terms with others to see which ones are being searched for most.

Here’s an example from my area comparing: “Knoxville Real Estate”, “Knoxville TN Real Estate” and “Knoxville Homes For Sale”

knoxville tn real estate listings for sale in knoxville tennessee google chart

Google chart comparing keywords

The blue line above represents Google searches within the US for the keywords, “Knoxville Real Estate” which form the baseline at 1.00

The red line is for “Knoxville TN Real Estate which scored 0.45 or less than half the top keywords rank.

Last is the term, “Knoxville Homes For Sale” which is the keyword set the salesman below told me was the top search term for my area and it ranked 0.39

These results are for searches done within the United States for the year 2009. You can ask Google Trends Labs for most any combination of areas and time periods. Since I believe most of my searches originate in the US that was what I was most interested in.

I found this tool by accident while looking for most used keywords for real estate in my area. I had one of “those salesmen” call me several times trying to sell the proverbial “latest and greatest” keyword oriented website. Looks like Google’s results above doesn’t support his story.

Here’s what Google says about their new tool:

“1. How does Google Trends work? Google Trends analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.

We then show you a graph with the results – our Search Volume Index graph. Located beneath the Search Volume Index graph is our News reference volume graph. This graph shows you the number of times your topic appeared in Google News stories.

When Google Trends detects a spike in the volume of news stories for a particular search term, it labels the graph and displays the headline of an automatically selected Google News story written near the time of that spike.

Currently, only English-language headlines are displayed, but we hope to support non-English headlines in the future. Below the search and news volume graphs, Trends displays the top regions, cities, and languages in which people searched for the first search term you entered.”

Pretty cool stuff from our friends at Google.

BTW, here’s a pretty cool website to search for Knoxville area homes if you’re looking or thinking: www.KnoxvilleHomeCenter.com

What’s going on in 2010 with Knoxville TN area real estate?

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 6:08 pm, April 18th, 2010  

Have a question about real estate in the greater Knoxville, TN area? Please ask; there are no dumb questions, just ones you need answers to. Please feel free to call or email any questions to: Jim@JimLee.com or call 865-693-3232

Time for an update since the first quarter statistics for 2010 are now available. Let’s see how we did and which direction Knoxville area sales and home prices are headed.

First of all April is almost over now and that is the end of the $8,000 tax credit for lots of homebuyers. I believe this incentive has been driving between 30-40% of our market for the past several months. It will be very interesting to see what the trend is for the 2nd quarter of this year after it expires.

Local weekly sales dropped a little this week compared to last week. The Knox County Register of Deeds reported 159 transactions for the week of April 18th compared to 188 the past week of April 11th.

Knoxville TN area real estate sales for the week of April 1th, 2010

Week of April 11th, 2010

Knoxville TN area real estate sales for the week of April 18th, 2010

Week of April 18th, 2010

As both graphs indicate, the lower price ranges remain where the action is; from $100,000 to $200,000 with sharp dropoffs once you pass the $300,000 threshold.

And here’s the first quarter of 2010 compared to past first quarter figures. Still nowhere close to where we were a few years ago but a modest increase from last year’s first quarter.

Knoxville tn real estate listings sold for the past 10 1st quarters

1st quarter of 2010 compared to past 1st quarters

260 more homes sold in the first quarter of 2010 versus 2009 but still a whopping 43.3% lower than the peak year of 2006.

Lack of jobs growth remains an issue for the house market. According to the US Department of Labor’s latest stats,  in March the number of unemployed was little changed at 15 million and the unemployment rate remained at 9.7%.

Economists want to believe the economy has turned the corner but housing remains the bellweather indicator to confirm that belief and it isn’t showing broad and/or sustained growth just yet.

“Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke called housing a “critical” challenge to the economy. “We have yet to see evidence of a sustained recovery in the housing market,” Bernanke said in a speech on April 7.”

It will be an interesting next few weeks and whichever direction we head is likely an indicator of the the housing market direction for the remainder of this year.

On the plus side for buyers there remains a large supply of homes to choose from. Currently in the greater Knoxville, Tennessee area you can view 11,763 great houses and condos for sale at www.KnoxvilleHomeSearcher.com and I will be happy to help you become the owner of one.


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Award winning Key Lime Pie recipe

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 8:16 am, March 25th, 2010  

One of my favorite kinds of pie is Key Lime. Easy to make but hard to find a good one.

My benchmark for excellence in Key Lime pies are the ones made at the Donut Hole Bakery & Cafe on Harbor Boulevard in Destin Florida. Their pies are what all Key Lime pies should aspire to; that tart-sweet taste that makes your mouth sort of pucker and gets your saliva glands flowing at the same time. Delicious.

I have now discovered another Key Lime pie that you can easily create at home that tastes just as good. My fellow Realtor Jean Tavenner’s daughter Yvonne is an accomplished cook just like her mother. Yvonne has a Key Lime pie recipe that won First Prize in a local cooking contest and after tasting a slice last night, I know why. It was delicious with that trademark tart sweet taste all Key Lime pies should have.

With her permission I’m sharing her award winning recipe with you.

Yvonne Farmer Award Winning Key Lime Pie recipe

Yvonne Farmer

Here’s what you need to make your own “Yvonne’s Award Winning Key Lime Pie”:

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk (Yvonne uses one regular and one low or non-fat).
  • 1 cup of  Key Lime juice (make sure it’s REAL Key Lime juice, regular limes just don’t produce the same taste) Yvonne uses about 3/4 cup and squeezes the remaining 1/4 cup from fresh Key Limes.
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tarter
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Lime slices to garnish
  1. Combine the first 3 ingredients. Press into a 9 inch pie pie plate or pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 10 minutes and then let it cool.
  2. Stir together sweetened condensed milk and lime juice until blended. Pour into crust.
  3. Beat egg whites and cream of tarter at high speed with electric mixer just until foamy. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time while beating until soft peaks form and sugar dissolves  (2 to 4 minutes). Spread meringue over pie filling.
  4. Bake @ 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool completely. chill 8 hours. Garnish with lime slices. Yields 1 9 inch pie.

There you go, one of the best and easiest Key Lime pie recipes around. Thanks to Yvonne Farmer for sharing her award winning recipe.

Visit Knoxville Home Searcher.com to see all Knoxville area Realtor listings for sale.

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Knox County Register of Deeds real estate transfers for the week of Dec. 27th

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 10:21 am, December 28th, 2009  
Play VisualTour

Terrific new listing in north Knoxville, reduced $25,000!

Not surprisingly it looks like the real estate transfers in Knoxville and Farragut Tennessee were down a bit this past week.

I counted 135 with the usual high numbers in the lower price ranges as it’s been all of 2009

I’m very excited for 2010 to begin (which is will in only 4 more days) and see what a new year holds for us.

On one hand interest rates remain very, very low which makes buying attractive. But on the other hand unemployment remains higher than usual in Tennessee although we’re faring better than many other areas.

I believe I’m predicting a modest improvement in the volume of sales with prices still stagnant to downward. A good time to buy if you’re thinking about that. For sellers you have to price your houses competitively and be prepared to deal if you want to sell, you’re facing a lot of competition out there.

www.KnoxvilleHomeCenter.com is the “go to” place for both buyers and sellers for all of the Knoxville area Realtor listing plus some great selling tips and information including my free 52 page ebook titled: “450 Ways to Sell Your Home Faster For More Money” email 450Ways@JimLee.com for your free copy.

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