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From Ho-Hum House To Hot Home: How to Keep Up In A Sizzling Real Estate Market

From Ho-Hum House To Hot Home: How to Keep Up In A Sizzling Real Estate Market

Article by Jennifer Bennhoff

Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle

It has been a record year for home sellers. The migration to Tennessee from northern and coastal cities was documented by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, among other national publications, making Franklin one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. And who can blame them? Those who showed up hoping to score bargain-basement properties experienced sticker shock. According to Redfin, the listing price for a typical four-bedroom is $262 per square foot, a 28.9% increase in one year. A house with 4,000 square feet or more could run a million dollars, up 45% from a few years ago, and multiple offers are customary.

So in all this excitement, how can a buyer compete and actually end up in a house? Ruth Picha, a leading real estate agent with Village Real Estate in Franklin, advises buyers to position themselves beforehand to win the deal. “First, you need an experienced agent,” she says. “You want someone representing you who works well with other agents and has solid recommendations for local lenders. Down payments over 20% are increasingly common. “But if the buyer is putting down less than 20%, I recommend presenting a bid with more than the standard 1% in earnest money. That means you’re serious.” Picha also says it’s important to use a local lender who realtors know personally. “When the house you really want has multi-bidders, your lender will need to provide a letter of introduction and a verification of assets.” Sellers request a verification of assets before choosing which buyer wins the deal; no one wants a sale falling through once all parties have a binding agreement.

With average properties selling for 5% above listing and hot homes fetching 11% above, how are appraisals keeping up with rising sales? As we move into 2022, the market will now have what real buyers paid for homes, meaning we will have comps. In addition, “You have to decide how much the house is worth to you,” Picha explains. “You’re not overpaying in a multiple bid situation if others want the property, and you appreciate the value of the neighborhood, and the value of schools, then it’s a great decision to buy!”

This doesn’t mean sellers should be lax with renovating and keeping up their properties. Ms. Picha says buyers want move-in ready. They want updated kitchens and bathrooms. “If you put a little money in, you’re going to get it back when you sell,” she says. “Make everything sparkle with fresh paint, simple-yet-stylish light fixtures, quartz countertops and new appliances will make a great statement. Also, declutter the home, and ensure you have great curb appeal with beautiful landscaping. Being on trend is key in this market, and that’s what turns an average house into a hot home!”

Ms. Picha’s upcoming listing illustrates this concept. Last winter Melanie Johnson, owner of Westhaven’s home design store Sanctuary South, purchased 1727 Championship Boulevard for $1.4 million. The 5,273 square-foot custom home on .43 acres has one of the largest yards in Westhaven, along with an outdoor entertaining kitchen, media room, gourmet kitchen and coffered ceilings. Johnson set about renovating. She re-did the bathrooms, painted throughout, replaced carpet with hardwood floors, and added gorgeous light fixtures and furnishings from Sanctuary’s sources, including Gabby Lighting Company and Uttermost Furniture. Although Johnson has no formal design training, she has a knack for coordinating pieces that set rooms apart. “I just choose what I like,” she says. “I don’t like carpet, and I wanted the lighting to be the style of today, not so ornate,” she said.

Her finished design caught the eye of “My Southern Home” TV host Kimberly Greenwell, who featured the home and asked Johnson if she’d like to sell. “I wasn’t planning to sell it,” Johnson says, “but as a widow, I don’t need all of this space, and the renovations increased my home’s value.” 1727 Championship Drive will hit the market for $2.5 million in the spring, presented by Johnson’s daughter Nicki Reeves in partnership with Ruth Picha. Interested parties can contact Ms. Picha at 615-864-2959 to request a showing.

As for the rest of the buyers and sellers out there, rest assured, now that so many residents are vying for a spot in Franklin, you’re safe whether you buy to get established in town or sell to downsize nearby.