Nashville real estate market continues to boom, scaring first-time home buyers

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The real estate market in Nashville is unlike any the city has ever seen. For the first time last year, market closings surpassed sales from 2007.

House hunters fear a lack of affordability, but along with rising prices comes opportunity.

These real estate records are dominating headlines, and more record growth is forecasted. Nashville is Zillow’s pick for hottest city to move to in 2017, and it’s all happening in a flash.

“Literally on a daily basis, I may drive down a street and see a new building go up,” says local real estate agent and investor Robert Drimmer.

With 86 people a day moving to Middle Tennessee, contractors are scrambling to keep up with demand.

It’s the biggest and most basic reason for the price surge, yet that surge is scaring some first-time home buyers.

“Looking online every single day was exhausting,” says Lindsey Laparra, who purchased a home last summer with her husband.

Her experience sums up what hundreds, if not thousands, of house hunters are experiencing.

“There were moments he would say, ‘Should we just not buy a house? are we crazy?” she told News 2.

Fear and frustration can accompany rapid growth. Laparra’s budget was below $200,000.

In late 2016, Nashville’s median home price rose to $260,000.

And how about the hottest zip codes at the moment? In East Nashville, 37206’s price per square foot shot up to $208 dollars last September. For a 2,500 square foot house, that’s more than $521,650.

In the 37204, which encompasses part of 12South, Green hills, and Berry Hill, the rate was $270 a square foot during that time. The same size house cost $675,000.

The growth is unprecedented for Music City.

“Not only are home values going up, land values have gone up drastically in last 18 months,” Drimmer says.

Drimmer will argue it’s the sharpest jump in Nashville’s history. In the same breath he’ll say this is not the same market from a decade ago, in danger of a bubble. Pricing is not reckless, rates are low historically, job and population growth, and demand protect us.

To navigate the market, first Drimmer recommends consulting a lender to find out how much you can afford.

“The last thing you want is to look at a home for $300,000 and find out you’re only qualified to buy a $200,000 house,” he says.

Second, find an agent who knows about properties before they hit the market. They could give you the inside track on your dream house.

“It’s very important if you want to be in a specific neighborhood to work with an agent familiar with that neighborhood,” says Drimmer.

And finally, it’s ok to interview agents. It might be a red flag if they specialize in homes that are outside of your budget.

“Do they work with first time home buyers who are looking to buy a $100,000 house?” Drimmer says. “They may not be as connected with those lower price homes.”

For Laparra, who wanted to live in East Nashville, walkability to coffee shops and bookstores was on her wish list–but homes within her budget were slim pickings.

“Just, like, not livable, holes in the wall. We were there because they were in our price range and where we wanted to be and had walkability,” Laparra says.

She eventually purchased north of East Nashville, but says the sacrifice was worth it.

“It may not be in the exact location that we wanted, but its five to seven minutes from everything we do. You have to give up some things; you have to trade.”

Our city is on an upward trajectory. The cranes that dot the downtown sky line remind us we’re changing.– and Nashville will never be the same.

“When people look back at 2010 to 2020, they’ll see the growth of Nashville as an incredibly exciting time,” says Drimmer.

It’s a memorable movement forward as a city sits on the brink of a rebirth.

There are programs available for lower income families for home buying. For instance, you don’t have to do a conventional loan to buy, and you don’t have to save for years and years. For further information or consultation, contact Robert Drimmer at RDrimmer@villagetn.com.

News 2 is exploring the pros and cons of the city’s growth in our Nashville 2017 project in every newscast Thursday, January 18. Click here for complete coverage.