‘We haven’t seen anything like this since about 2005’: Realtors describe current renters market as positive but unusual

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JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — Home buyers looking on the market for a new home will learn that finding one is a tough task.

The Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) said March 2021 home sales hit a six-month high and the average price soared by more than 23%.

Realtors describe the region as inventory-starved with homes on the market dropping to an all-time low last month.

Buyers are not the only ones having trouble finding a place to live. So are renters.

Real estate experts tell me the rental market is considered to be very tight right now. The vacancy rate for single-family rentals is 1.5 percent. The national average just over 3%.

There were 110,386 investor-owned single-family Tri-Cities rental properties during the first quarter of 2021, which is 42% of the region’s total housing inventory, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.

“Rental, apartments, sales, new homes…we haven’t seen anything like this since about 2005 and 2006,” NETAR data analyst Don Fenley explained.

Fenley said Johnson City’s market has less than a month’s supply of inventory.

“If you go back to about four or five years, the average supply was somewhere around 10 or 11 months on the market,” Fenley said.

Sellers are taking advantage of this time and getting top dollar for their homes, but finding a new home won’t come as quickly as many would hope.

Tri-Cities Rentals owner Meghan Masters said, “They have to turn around and buy a property and there’s just not any inventory out there, I mean they’re turning around and renting for six months to a year until they can find something to purchase.”

Masters said those who live out of state are also taking advantage of East Tennessee’s inventory.

“They’re coming in from the North, from California, from Florida coming to purchase a home but when they get here, for the real estate market, there’s just not much inventory so they are renting for a while until they find a place,” Masters said.

From a landlord’s standpoint, Universal Development and Construction owner Shane Abraham said this has created a stable and positive environment.

“Because of the opportunities for remote work, we also have some level of people moving into this area, beyond maybe what the influx of people, maybe the typically bid,” Abraham said.

He said the best advice he can give is to give yourself a minimum of 60 to 90 days, and renters can find what they need.

“I would start your process early, and so you know, unfortunately, our leasing agents and property managers will receive calls from people that were needing it yesterday, and that’s tough,” Abraham said. “Typically, those folks are working off waiting lists for any kind of new products.”

Home renters who plan to continue to search are reminded about online scams. Anyone looking should do their homework and it is always best to consult a professional.

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