Taking Nashville’s Real Estate Temperature

The spring real estate season is about to get underway, and anybody who expects to take part — as a seller or a buyer — needs to start putting together a strategy, an action plan.

But what a confusing time to try to figure out a strategy! The real estate market is sending very strange, mixed messages. On the one hand, inventories of unsold listings are up and sales are sagging in most states. In Massachusetts, for years one of the hottest states in the country for home value appreciation, sales were down 21% in January. Unsold inventories are billowing in Florida, California, Arizona, New York, Washington and other large markets as well.

Nationwide, according to the National Association of Realtors, the inventory of unsold houses on the market is at its highest level in seven years — more than a five-month supply. The number of unsold houses listed for sale has swollen to 2.8 million, up 580,000 in the last 12 months.

But, Nashville home sales are bucking any slow down. Last month, 2,610 residential properties changed hands in the Nashville area, up 11.6% from a year ago, according to figures from the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors. That comes on the heels of a 12% year-over-year increase in January.

The latest strong showing in sales came despite continuing signs of a U.S. housing market slowdown. Recently, mortgage giant Freddie Mac said its latest weekly survey showed rates on 30-year mortgages at their highest level since an average of 6.44% the week of Sept. 3, 2003.

Having just come from the TAR Spring Conference, I discovered the Nashville real estate community remains optimistic despite other statistics indicating that a slightly higher percentage of borrowers in the Tennessee are 90 days or more behind in mortgage payments or in foreclosure.

So, It still looks good for Middle Tennessee —But— I advise sellers, not to try to retire from the proceeds of their home sale. The more out of touch the price, the longer it will take to sell the house. If you’re a buyer, bargain hard. But don’t expect miracles just yet.

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