Despite COVID-19 economy, Tri-Cities’ real estate market is booming

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Cleaning supplies and masks aren’t the only things selling out during the pandemic. In the Tri-Cities, some real estate agents say there is a shortage of homes.

And despite unemployment and dips in the economy, the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors is reporting an almost $14,000 increase in average sale prices for July of 2020 over last year.

Kym Ward is one of those agents. She has been putting a lot of for sale signs up in yards.

“It’s definitely a seller’s market right now,” said Ward, an agent for Keller Williams in Johnson City. “It’s booming. The inventory is very low so that’s not good for buyers.”

Because of that high demand, she’s also been taking a lot of signs down.

“I listed a house and sold it in nine hours,” she said.

NETAR reports home sales in the region increased by 11% in July.

“Interest rates are really low even though prices are a little bit higher, people can afford to buy a larger house because of those low-interest rates,” said Kristi Bailey, a spokesperson for NETAR. “And because they are staying so low and the inventory is so low, it’s such a frenzy.”

The average sales price was up by 7.5% percent.

“You can’t wait, you have to come in pre-approved to buy and you just can’t hang out there and think about it,” Bailey said. “You have to know when you walk in the house if it’s for you or not.”

The high demand for buying has somewhat translated into high demand for rental properties.

“We do have lots of out of town buyers that come in and if they can’t find a house and they’re relocating for work, they do go ahead and rent and then if you’re in a lease that’s a long term rental, so you can’t buy anything and you can’t move,” Bailey said. “So, we just don’t have enough of any kind of inventory right now.”

The Weedo family knows the struggle to find a home in the Tri-Cities. They’ve been searching for three months.

“It’s difficult because when you find something that you like or think you like…it’s gone in no time at all,” said Ken Weedo.

He, his wife Deborah and their five children are moving from Florida to be closer to family.

“When I find one and we contact the realtor, then the realtor says ‘Oh, I’m sorry but there’s already a contract on that home,'” said Deborah Weedo.

On the other hand, Ward says if you’re thinking about selling your house, now is the time.

“You’re going to get top dollar for your house and I feel very confident in saying that this is the time that you can list your house and not leave money on the table…maybe even make more money,” Ward said.

She also says social media has played a role in the quick movement of properties and homes. Houses can be previewed online before they go on the market and therefore sold even faster when they go live.

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