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Housing shortage in Johnson County?

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

It seems like Johnson County is slowly growing and changing if the last few years have been any indication. New businesses have come and gone, and new regulations make opportunities such as alcohol package stores a reality. Johnson County is in a real estate boom currently, but the area’s growth may be stunted by limited housing availability.

People ranging from young adults to the elderly have expressed interest in moving to the area but cannot find somewhere to live. Some of these people reach out via the Johnson County in the Know Facebook group requesting suggestions, and others reach out to well-known property owners or real estate agents. Referring to Facebook inquiries, people mostly mention rental properties. According to real estate agent Ann Cornett, “there is a huge demand for rentals,” and “we do not have many rentals available in the county.”

“My boyfriend and I have been looking for months for a place to rent, and we just aren’t having any luck whatsoever,” said one prospective renter already working in the area. “I’ve called Gerald Buckles and even met with him one day, and the past couple days, he said he hasn’t got anything! I’m getting really discouraged.”

Real estate agents from this general area are searching for properties to show prospective buyers but deal with “low inventory.” Some agents who previously advertised half a dozen properties are down to a few. Johnson County’s rising popularity could be related to the recently increased popularity of small towns and the longtime popularity of mountain views.According to realtor Jessica Harkness, Butler’s property value “ went up tremendously” in the last few years.

While growing popularity can be beneficial for an area, limited resources stymy area growth. Real estate professionals believe that Tennessee’s natural beauty, tax relief, and the area’s small-town charm are a natural recipe for a “destination dream.” The missing piece is availability.

“Unfortunately, many of our builders during the economic downturn did not find it feasible to continue to speculate on new home construction,” said Cornett. “Our market is very insular, unlike in the Tri-City and surrounding areas, where more new construction is available. We currently find our agencies with solid, qualified buyers but in waiting.”