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Signs of life in real estate

The recent strong start to the April real estate market across much of the country has raised the hopes of consumers and real estate agents that the home selling season, and the economy, is on the mend. Fixed-rate mortgages are at their lowest in close to 60 years and the sale of new homes grew over three percent in the month of April. In Johnson County, local real estate agents are hopeful as they have seen a lot of interest in local property and houses.
“Things are looking up,“ said Jimmy Bonifacino, a broker with General Realty of Tennessee and involved in the real estate world for the past 25 years. “We are very busy right now.” According to Bonifacino, his office has seen more interest in home sales in the past two or three months than combined in the last three years. As the outlook for the United States economy continues to rise, people who have been waiting in the wings are starting to look at property investments. He enjoys working with local banks, as dealings with larger financial institutions can be more problematic. “Dealing locally is the best way,” he said.
According to Bonifacino, a majority of the people who move into Johnson County will be coming from other markets that may have been hit hard by the housing market collapse. Now that the real estate market is showing signs of life, those people sitting on the sidelines are now beginning to look for property investment. He believes that people are doing their own research and discovering that reasonably priced housing can be found in the northeastern corner of Tennessee. “Tennessee is a good place to live,” he said.
According to Aaron Cornett, a broker with Ace Realty, approximately 80 percent of the investors purchasing property in Johnson County need to sell currently owned houses or land before making the move to Tennessee. He has found that many potential buyers are looking for land and foreclosures. “We’ve been a lot busier in the last month than in the last couple of years,” he said. “The normal market is not there yet,” he said, despite the increase in Johnson County real estate.
Sharon Phillips, a broker with Watauga Lake Real Estate, also concurs that interest in property in Johnson County has increased. In the last four to six weeks, she has seen an increase in interest and offers on real estate at her office. She finds that most of her clientele are close to retirement age and are looking for property and homes under $300,000. “People are looking for good deals before it goes away,” said Phillips.
According to Jerry Redden of Redden Realty, he and his wife, Margo, have been extremely busy showing property. “I have no complaints,” said Redden. His clients tend to come from Florida, North Carolina and Connecticut and are interested in purchasing second homes in Tennessee while maintaining their primary residence. He has found the majority of his clients are spending in the $200,00 to $300,000 price range. They have been showing a lot of land recently, and Redden believes it’s always a good sign when land begins to move. “I think it’s about to bust wide open,” he said.
Despite the increased showings and interest in real estate in Johnson County, the Register of Deeds office has not seen any increase in recent home sales. They do continue to see foreclosures. Johnson County Bank reported more interest in loan and people requesting more information, but at this time they have not seen any change in actual loans.