Ask Abby: Real answers to real estate questions

Hey Abby,

My morning news program keeps running pieces on the state of the real estate market and how real estate in this country is cooling off. Is this true? Is now a bad time to sell my house or to be looking for a new one?

Concerned and trepidacious

Dear Chicken Little,

The sky is NOT falling! I hear these declarations coming from every morning show and every major newspaper in the country. With each article or report, we are being intimidated by the threat of a real estate fall, crumble, plunge, burst, or crash! But if you really think about it, what sells in this country...besides sex and celebrities? Fear. Whatever the public most fears is what they most want to hear about and what better than the fear of losing your home.

CNN reports, “home prices in a deep freeze,” and the “home sales slump deepens.” The NY Times headlines that  "28 states see decline in homes sales,” but they only mention as an afterthought that 20 states saw an increase in sales and the remaining two maintained their sales. And Good Morning America believes they have proved their point by promoting a house on the air for a week and that at the end of that week, the house still hadn’t sold. They neglect to tell their viewers that the house lacks character and charm and that it is located in an area of New Jersey that has had slow sales for years.

The folks writing these articles are interested in selling papers, not your house and they paint with broad strokes. They write doom and gloom and say it’s a national epidemic, but in reality the housing market cannot be characterized by the nation. There are always pockets that are heating because they have been undervalued and pockets that are cooling to correct an over-zealous market. Either way, homes are always selling. 

Homeownership is one of the greatest American dreams and the fulfillment of that dream is not going to come to a screeching halt no matter what the national media does to make it so. When interest rates drop, people rush to buy that house before someone else beats them to it. When interest rates climb, people rush to lock in a rate before it gets any higher. The rate they get simply affects the amount of home they can buy, not really whether or not they are going to buy all together.

If they are talking in generalizations, stop listening to the national news! You live locally, so start listening locally. How are sales in Nashville? Are prices slipping in Nashville? You also have to think about what the market is doing for the time of the year. Is it back-to-school time? Is it the holidays? Are elections coming up? Think about the things that might be a distraction for buyers and sellers. These are the things that usually cause the market to slow, temporarily. 

There was a good article on Nashville in USA Today last  year, stating that “Music City USA isn’t singing the blues.” The article continues…“seems they make two kinds of records in Nashville – the music kind and the home-sales kind. In Music City USA, homes sales have set records for 52 of the past 56 months. August wasn’t one of them, but sales were still the second highest for August that the city has ever had. This year, sales are up 4.5%, and 2006 is poised to set another record both for sales and prices (and yet the median home price is still 20% below the national median).” The article goes on to mention some obvious growth indicators for Nashville being the recent move of Nissan’s North American headquarters to Nashville, and of course Nashville is also home to HCA, the world’s largest private hospital operator.

The sky is not falling. Nashville is just beginning to simmer and in another ten years, we may be just beginning to boil to the level of today’s Atlanta. We have plenty of growing to do and plenty of time to do so. We are just beginning to tap into the rebirth of our downtown. With this rebirth we will see development of new communities and the utilization and expansion of our mass transit (the Music City Star commuter rail, and the growth of public green spaces for community recreation and fitness. We will also see the continuation of in-fill in the neighborhoods that surround downtown and as we radiate outward, you will see whole communities built where old farms and rolling acreage now sit near the main arteries of what will be the inner loops (I440 and Briley Parkway) and the outer beltlines (I840 and beyond).

What’s driving Nashville? You are. If you are interested in buying or selling, there is no time like the present. When the market is slow, there are always serious buyers out there for serious sellers and when the market is fast there are just that many more buyers and sellers. If you have any other questions or you want to know more about the market in Nashville, just give me a call and I’ll steer you in the right direction.


Email your real estate questions to Abby at

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