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Daily Real Estate News  |  September 9, 2004  |   Market Roundup: Nashville Home Sales on a Tear Spurred by a low unemployment rate and diverse economic base, the eight-county Nashville, Tenn., metropolitan statistical area is breaking home-sale records this year. Home to 1.5 million people and the state capital, Music City boasts a recent second-place ranking by Expansion Magazine as a hot spot for corporate office and plant locations in a poll of 60 prominent site selection consultants. The Nashville area's major employers include Vanderbilt University & Medical Center, with 13,601 employees; Saturn Corp., with 7,609 employees; Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp., with 6,500 employees; and Saint Thomas Health Services, with 5,790 employees. Seattle-based metal-fabricating company National Industrial Concepts also just announced plans to move to Nashville later this year, eventually creating 150 jobs. The growth of these and other companies have kept the area's unemployment rate at very low levels—3.7 percent in June 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's compared to a state rate of 4.5 percent and an area unemployment rate of 4.7 percent in June 2003. Healthy Economy Fuels Real Estate Boom Real estate has done consistently well in Nashville over the last few years, but this year it's breaking records. In July, there were 3,627 home closings, up 16 percent from the 3,116 closings reported for July of 2003, according to figures provided by RealTracs Solutions through the Greater Nashville Association of REALTORSŪ. Year-to-date closings for the Greater Nashville area are 21,046, a 19 percent increase from the 17,634 closings reported for the same period a year ago. "A double-digit increase in closings for July and significant number of pending sales combine to indicate that the real estate market in Greater Nashville is very healthy," says Jay Lowenthal, GNAR president. The median residential price during July was $151,900, compared with $146,000 in July 2003. The median condominium price remained unchanged from a year ago at $125,000. The average number of days on the market for a single-family residence in July was 64 days. Housing Inventory Lower, but Still Strong Housing inventory at the end of July was 15,222 units, compared to an inventory of 16,681 at the end of July 2003. Though inventory may be lower than last year, Jim Terrell, managing partner at the Pilkerton Co., says the market has been "fairly balanced" with an ample supply of homes in all price ranges. Sales for his two-office, 90-associate company are up 20 percent over 2003. "We still have plenty of supply," says Terrell, GNAR's vice president, "but buyers are coming in and buying it up fairly quickly." Terrell credits low interest rates with driving much of the area housing market's growth. He says the "slight uptick" in rates that took place a few months ago pushed a lot of undecided buyers off the fence and into the market. Christie Wilson, broker with The Wilson Group in Nashville, says her company is having its "best year ever" for sales. According to Wilson, homes priced from $200,000 to $400,000 sell the fastest. She adds that in the downtown area a number of renovations and teardowns are underway on older residents and apartments. Wilson sees more of the same through the rest of the year. "We're looking at the deals that our company is ready to close on in September, and it doesn't look like it is slowing down." —By Bridget McCrea for REALTORŪ Magazine Online

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