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Old 05-13-2006, 08:13 AM
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Post Home sales across county fall during wet April, but rebound seen for summer

Security for her children motivated Anna Ogak to move her family from Nashville to a new home in La Vergne in April.

Music City had just become too crowded for the single mother with four children, making it the right time for her to purchase her first home.

"I need my own place and my own privacy and a safe place for the children," Ogak said. It took her one day to find the perfect house for her family in Lake Forest Estates, the most active subdivision in the county in April with 36 closed sales.

High quality of life, affordable housing, strong job growth and an exceptional school system continues to attract homebuyers to Rutherford County, said Candy Roberts, executive vice president of the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors.

Rainy weather, though, likely had an impact on the number of home sales in April, which were down 3.6 percent over the same month last year. Some 516 home sales closed last month, according to data from the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors, compared to 535 in April 2005. Out of the closed sales last month, 190 were new constructions.

From March 2006, homes sales were down 9.8 percent in April.

"Rain delays can affect both new construction and existing sales, including inspections and repairs needed for closing," she said.

The average home sold in April brought $171,830, were 1,839 square feet and spent 64 days on the market.

David Penn, director of the Business and Economic Research Center at MTSU, said the slight drop in sales doesn't suggest a downturn in the market. Sales during the summer months, when home construction is at its highest, are expected to be comparable or slightly higher than last year.

"If we were to see two or three months down, it would be an indication that demand was slacking," he said. "Right now, it is too early to say."

Construction of single-family homes were up significantly in March, Penn said, with 463 building permits issued compared to 395 issued in March 2005. Building permits issued for April weren't available.

The local housing market hasn't seemed to cool down as in other markets across the country, Penn aded.

Home pricing, however, has increased in Rutherford County as materials and transportation of materials has increased. Roberts said that could reflect higher loans costs included in the sale price.

Rutherford County's recent home reappraisal could cause home prices to spike, she said, if a seller uses that figure as a base for the asking price of their home.

From 2004 to 2005, the average home sale price rose by 9.7 percent. Year-to-date sale prices are up nearly 3 percent.

Despite the Federal Reserve continuing to raise interest rates, Roberts said rates are still low.

"It is still an affordable option, around 6 percent," she said.

Affordable homes constructed by Murfreesboro-based Greenvale Homes is another factor that attracted Ogak to Lake Forest Estates. Ogak purchased a 1,270-square-foot home for around $130,000 on Cheryl Street.

Lake Forest Estates has more than 3,100 homes and encompasses 880 acres from Floyd Mayfield Drive to Percy Priest Lake. Greenvale Homes is one of several builders in the neighborhood.

Tammy Morgan, real estate agent with Greenvale Homes Realty, said the subdivision's proximity to shopping and restaurants, Interstate 24, Percy Priest Lake, Veterans Memorial Park and good schools makes Lake Forest appealing to homebuyers.

Sophrina Moore moved into the 1,250-square-foot home she purchased for around $125,000 in Lake Forest Estates in April. She said she was tired of renting an apartment in the Hermitage area in Davidson County and was ready to make her first home purchase. Moore likes the convenience to I-24 to get to her nursing job at Saint Thomas Hospital and to nearby shopping.

"I have always wanted to live in La Vergne," she said, adding that the city just feels like home.


Construction in Lake Forest Estates in La Vergne continues to set the pace in new-home sales countywide.
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