By Jill Penley

Real estate experts say early indicators point to another positive year for the local housing market.
Johnson County has more than $101 million of farms, ranches, and rural property for sale.
The total size of all Johnson County farms and ranches for sale encompasses more than 9,200 acres, and according to the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR), a non-profit organization
dedicated to helping people
in the area buy and sell homes.
Twelve closings reported for Johnson County just in January, with the average sales price for that month of a little over $250,000.
Local real estate professionals attest January was, indeed, a record month. Ken Tolliver, Realtor with Mullins Real Estate and Auction, likened this past January’s sales to a typical July. “I had more closings in January and February than any other months since I have been in the business,” said Tolliver.
“Lower mortgage rates
are making homes more affordable in the month
before the housing market heats up for the spring buying season,” NETAR President Karen Randolph said. “Buyers are looking at this drop as a signal the spring rates will be at one-year lows during the upcoming peak buying and selling season.”
Loan officers with both Farmers State Bank and Johnson County Bank report an increase in real estate closings. “We have had more closings recently,” said David Arnold, Executive Vice President, Farmers State Bank, “which represent efinances, home equity, and new construction loans.”
With home sales and home loans on the rise, the challenge for buyers and local real estate professionals will be tight inventory causing somewhat of a seller’s market and possible higher asking prices. “We have actually been in several multiple offer situations,” said Tolliver, “which is fairly unusual for our small market.”
Some of the factors used in determining a healthy housing market are the number of days a house stays on the market, the amount of homes with negative equity, how affordable they are and low-interest rates.
There are many reasons for prospective home buyers to look to Tennessee, not the least of which is the absence of a state income tax, but it is also important to consider the uniqueness of rural living. “It is important to think about your new home’s location just as carefully as its features,” said James Bonifacino of General Realty of Tennessee.
“In addition to considering the distance to work, evaluate what matters to you in terms of services, convenience, and accessibility.”
As Boone, NC and the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, have exploded in population in recent years, so has
the cost of living there making Johnson County a hidden gem of sorts to realtors. According to www.bestplaces.net, Mountain City sits 24.7 points below the national average for cost of living at 75.3. This number reflects the cost of groceries, health, housing, utilities, and miscellaneous expenses.
“Just in the past year, I am finding that more and more people are learning about this hidden gem and moving into the area,” said Jessica Harkness, of Evans and Evans Real Estate. “There are many people from all over the United States uprooting and creating a new home in the Mountain City and Butler regions,” Harkness explains in addition to tax advantages and lower cost of living many people, including those looking to retire, are also drawn to the natural beauty of East Tennessee. “It appeals to people looking for vacation homes in the mountains allowing them to live here part of the year and then use the home as a rental for the rest of the year,” said Harkness. “I think Johnson County will continue to be an attractive town for those looking to move to a smaller town with a laid-back lifestyle.”
This past year was very good for the local real estate market.
Most just need more
listings to keep up with demand of new buyers.
The cycle is advantageous to all as a booming real estate market tends to entice manufacturing, small
business entrepreneurs
and more recreational
endeavors.