Knoxville and Knox County Tennessee residents enjoy our public parks

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 12:47 pm, May 31st, 2008  

The greater Knoxville & Knox County area current has 5,900 acres of land dedicated to 213 public parks. That’s abut 2% of the total land area of the County.

The City of Knoxville’s Parks and Recreation Division offers a wide variety of activities for each member of the family to enjoy. One of the main goals for the Division is to improve recreational opportunities for all Knoxvillians and they do a fine job.

Knox County Park’s Department also maintains a large portion of our area’s excellent parks and recreational areas.

The new, Harvest Park & Farmer’s Market located on the site of the old farmer’s market in northeast Knoxville is the latest addition. Here Knoxvillians can buy locally grown produce directly from the farmers that produced it. Their products are fresher, better quality, and equal or cheaper than supermarket produce.

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Knox County’s new, Harvest Park & Farmer’s Market

A recent survey reveals (to no surprise) that over 80% of Knoxville & Knox County residents want more parks. The survey also said that walking trails, followed by bicycle and nature areas are the most used park features.

Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is a 360 acre wildlife sanctuary in east Knox County. Seven Islands has a rich diversity of wildlife with over 150 species of birds including a pair of bald eagles. The French Broad River which borders the park contains over 50 species of fish which is more varieties that are found on the whole European continent. In addition there are lots of great hiking and walking trails along the ridges and the waterfront and a boat launch ramp.

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Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge in east Knox County

Our area’s great parks system is one of the many attractions that make Knoxville & Knox County such a great place to live, work, play, and raise your family. is a great place to look for your next Knoxville area home.

Are you better off buying a home in Knoxville or continuing to rent?

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 2:55 pm, May 23rd, 2008  

I get inquiries often from buyers who find the cost of buying a home to be a bit overwhelming.

But after we sit down and I lay out the benefits of actually owning a Knoxville home of your own versus continuing to rent one they almost always see the financial and other intangible benefits of buying now.

Here’s how you can do your own analysis.

Currently our average sales price in the Knoxville, Tennessee area is around $165,000 for a typical 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a 2 car garage. A home like this would typically rent for $800-1,000 a month.

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In this market I can usually negotiate seller paid closing costs into a sale so your cash to get into a new home would be $0; that’s right, you can still get $0 down mortgages at affordable rates in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Here are the numbers for a 5 year, buy vs. rent scenario.

Buying Analysis
Based on the information provided for a 5 year period:
You will pay a monthly PI (Principal and Interest) payment of:   $885.00
You will gain a tax advantage of:   $11,105.00
You will gain an equity appreciation of:   $52,751.00
Totaling a net value gain of:   $63,857.00
Selling the home in 5 years will incur closing costs of:   ($6,317.00)
Giving you a total net benefit of ownership of:   $57,539.00
Rental Analysis
Based on the information provided for a 5 year period:
If you chose to buy you would have paid home buying expenses of:   $53,145.00
You will pay rental expenses of:  ($66,495.00)
Giving a difference of:   $-13,350.00
Investing the average yearly difference of $-2,670.00 for 5 years at %8 yields:   $0
Final Analysis
Because your Total Benefit of Ownership of $57,539.00 is GREATER than your investment yield of $0, it would be in your best interest to BUY this home rather than to RENT it.

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When you combine the tax benefits of owning a home, the annual appreciation in value, plus the investment benefits, it almost always makes more sense to buy than continue to rent.

Visit to find some great choices in homes to buy then let’s get started buying you a Knoxville home of your own instead of renting and helping your landlord buy the home or apartment you’re in now.

Knoxville’s April 2008 home sales data is out

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 10:46 am, May 21st, 2008  

The Knoxville Realtors Association released their April 2008 home sales data yesterday.

April’s figures show a total of 1,144 closed sales in the Knoxville market versus 1,416 sales in April of 2007. That’s about a 20% drop in volume.

The median priced Knoxville home this past April was $149,000 vs. $152,000 for the same time period in 2007. That means we’re selling more of the less expensive homes.

The average sale price in April of 2007 was $163,600 and $152,000 this April which goes along with the drop in the median sale price.

It’s important to understand that both the drop in volume, median sale price, and average sale price DOES NOT translate to a drop in Knoxville home values although some of my buyers are getting some pretty awesome buys. For instance we just closed last week on a sale where the house was listed for $164,900, we bought it for $156,000 and it appraised for $165,000! Not surprisingly my buyer clients were very happy campers when they got that news.

Higher end homes continue to languish on the market. There are currently 1,137 single family homes priced at $500,000 and above in the Knoxville area market. 24 homes over $500,000 sold and closed this past April so there is still a very, very plentiful supply in that price range. At that absorption rate that translates into almost a 4 year supply of homes priced over $500,000!
On the average sale price end (160-165,000) however there are only 183 homes currently available. There were 78 closed sales this past April so that’s only a little over a 2 month supply. The average time on the market has dropped 4 days to an average time now of 100 days to sale.
Sales seem to still be pretty brisk in the Knoxville area which I believe is being driven by the time of year combined with the very low interest rates still available (5.75-6% fixed, 30 year).

Knoxville’s average days on the market (time to sell a house) is down 5 days, from 105 days in January of this year to 100 days this just past April. is still the place to visit to see all of Knoxville’s homes, condos, and land for sale. Please call to see any homes you find there or with any real estate questions.

Best ways to buy a home in Knoxville, Tennessee

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 3:43 pm, May 19th, 2008  

I noticed in today’s Originator Times, a website for mortgage loan originators, that Fannie Mae is loosening up their guidelines for down payment policies by going to a national, single down payment policy to replace the now required higher down payments in markets where home prices are declining. Knoxville, Tennessee BTW is not one of these markets; our home prices increased about 2% over last year’s prices.

However that still does not make them competitive with FHA insured mortgages in the greater Knoxville, TN area because of their “risk based” interest rates and higher mortgage insurance premiums for borrowers getting a mortgage for more than 80% of the value of the home they’re buying.

Current Fannie Mae requires you to accept a higher interest rate for lower credit scores, which translates into higher monthly payments, if your credit score is under 720 which is really a pretty decent score. If your FICO score is below 620 you would be looking at an interest rate over 7% today for a Fannie Mae loan.

In the Knoxville area the new FHA loan limits are up to a $271,000 sales price and you can still qualify with a credit score as low as 580!

If buying a home in the Knoxville or Farragut area is in your future I invite you to call me and let’s talk about how we can make that happen for you.

There is a big selection of homes for sale, interest rates are both attractive and available (contrary to what you hear in the news), and it’s a buyer’s market in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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You can view Knoxville, Farragut, Maryville, Oak Ridge, and other area homes for sale on my website,

Yea, it’s “free day” in Knoxville, Tennessee

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 1:17 pm, May 11th, 2008  

In honor of National Tourism Week many of Knoxville’s attractions offered free admission on this past Saturday, May 10th.

The majority of these attractions are free every day but some have an admission charge so it was a good day to have a family outing with little expense.

Admission free was:

  • Armstrong-Lockett House: Also known as “Crescent Bend” because it sets on a bend in the Tennessee River This mansion, known as the Armstrong-Lockett House, is a magnificent home built in 1834 and positioned as a centerpiece on 600 acres of rolling Tennessee land between the river and the mountains. Painstakingly restored in 1977, the interior is authentic 18th century furniture and artwork. The silver collection dates back to 1640. The Italianate gardens are a combination of terraced levels, classic fountains, and thousands of colorful blooming plants. Closed most weekend afternoons during the spring and summer for weddings so please call ahead to confirm that it is open. Normal admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students.

  • Blount Mansion: Built in 1892 by William Blount, Tennessee’s first governor. This home was also the Governor’s mansion when Knoxville was Tennessee’s capital city. Normal admission is $4.95 for adults, $2.50 for ages 6-17, and free any day for children under 6.

  • James White’s Fort: Built in 1796 by James White, the Founder of Knoxville, came here in the early 1780’s from North Carolina. He had fought in the Revolutionary War and was given a land grant of 1,000 acres for his service. James White laid off part of his land in October 1791 to establish a town which would become known as Knoxville, named for Henry Knox, president Washington’s Secretary of War. Sixty-four lots were laid off in 16 blocks, each lot being one half acre in size. The cost was $8.00 per lot and a lottery drawing was held to assign the lots. Much cheaper than today’s prices. 😉 Normal admission is $4, children under 12 $2.50, and under 6 free.

  • Knoxville Museum of Art: The KMA’s predecessor, the Dulin Gallery of Art, opened in 1961 in a beaux-arts mansion in West Knoxville. By the middle 1980s the Dulin had outgrown its quarters, and a major community effort raised $11 million for a new museum in downtown Knoxville at the site of the 1982 World’s Fair. The Knoxville Museum of Art opened in March 1990 in a state-of-the-art, 53,200 square-foot facility designed by renowned museum architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. Normal admission is $5 with children under 17 free. The museum also is free most Thanksgiving holidays and several days around Christmas.

  • Knoxville Zoo: Adults, $16.96, Seniors, $14.95, and $10.95 for children 2-12. A little pricey but it’s a great zoo with birds, mammals and reptiles of all sorts!

  • Star of Knoxville Riverboat: Great boat ride along the Tennessee River. You can see parts of Knoxville from the water that you can’t see any other way. Normal rates are $14.25 for adults and $8.95 for children 4-11.

  • Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame: Last but certainly not least in the land of UT Coach Pat Summitt and the 8 time national championship UT Lady Vols. Adults normally $7.95, Seniors and children 6-15 $5.95

Knoxville has lots of free stuff especially around holiday times so residents and visitors alike need to do some research and take advantage of what our fair city has to offer.

Knoxville also has lots of great homes for sale; you can research them at

Walking in Knoxville, Tennessee

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 11:45 am, May 9th, 2008  

Now that Knoxville gas prices have passed the $3.50 a gallon mark, the huge increases are a frequent subject of conversation (not to mention other words not printable here ;-0).

One way to escape paying the higher gas prices is simply to walk more to destinations. Lots of parts of Knoxville are not particularly “walker friendly” but many are.

Besides being a very healthful exercise, walking is also a great way to get places, especially if they’re nearby. Besides the wonderful fresh air and exercise you get walking, it’s a great way to meet your neighbors and others. I very rarely run into an unfriendly walker, most will wave to you, smile, and speak.

hiking in the great smoky mountains national park, a great walking activity

Don Anderson, one of my fellow Realtors, during a recent hike we enjoyed in the Great Smoky Mountains; hiking is a great walking activity.

Here’s a great website I located that lets you calculate your home or neighborhood’s “walk score“.

We moved last year from the Cedar Bluff Road area to the West Hills neighborhood. One reason we love our new West Hills home is because it’s so conveniently located to everything. According to we now live:

  • .71 miles from a grocery store
  • .22 miles from a restaurant (about 20 actually)
  • .23 miles from a coffee shop
  • .33 miles from Little Ricky’s Sports Bar
  • .80 miles from a movie theatre
  • .80 miles from West Town Mall
  • .31 miles from a school (Bearden Elementary & Middle)
  • 1.29 miles from a park (and it’s an easy walk or bike ride from our new West Hills home.)
  • .42 miles from a public library
  • .44 miles from a bookstore
  • .42 miles from a fitness center
  • .61 miles from a drug store (3)
  • .42 miles from a hardware store

That gives our new home a “walk score” of 66 out of a possible 100; good enough for me. Even if you don’t walk, it’s a super convenient (and economical) drive to any of the above mentioned places.

What’s your Knoxville or Farragut home’s walk score?

If you want to improve it by moving to a more “walking friendly” neighborhood, is a great place to start, no walking or driving involved. 😉

7 ways to avoid foreclosure in the Knoxville, Tennessee area.

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 10:24 am, May 2nd, 2008  

I know foreclosure is an unpleasant topic but since Tennessee is number 11 nationwide in numbers of foreclosures, it certainly seems like a subject that merits some discussion.

If anyone is behind on their mortgage payments or have maybe received a foreclosure notice, you still have some legal options to solve, prolong, or even fix your financial difficulties.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Restructure your loan. With this option you try to negotiate with your lender to come up with a payment plan to get you caught up and possibly add any late fees and charges to your current loan to soften that burden for now.
  2. Reinstatement. This is simply catching up all your late payments plus associated fees and charges. Since most people facing foreclosure in the first place are having financial problems this is not an option for most.
  3. Refinance your existing loan. If you have a large amount of equity in your home it might be worthwhile to talk with your lender about refinancing your existing loan to get you caught up and hopefully make your payment a bit more bearable.
  4. Sell your home. If your home is in salable condition, maybe selling now to avoid foreclosure and moving to something a bit more affordable until things get better could be a consideration.
  5. Do a short sale. In a short sale your lender agrees to take less than the principal amount of your mortgage if you sell your house. Not surprisingly most lenders are not too excited about this option but since it costs them so much to foreclosure and they usually sell the homes at a loss, a sort sale would be something to run by them.
  6. Give them the deed in lieu of foreclosure. This is actually a “friendly foreclosure” if there is such a thing. You simply sign the house over to the lender and give them the keys. The effect on your credit is the same a a bankruptcy but it could save you from bankruptcy which should always be the final option.
  7. Bankruptcy. This is the most extreme solution and should only be undertaken with good legal guidance and under dire circumstances. This will not stop a foreclosure but merely slow it down for a few months. Trying to negotiate a short sale would be a better option than both this and giving a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

If you’re A Knoxville, Farragut, or Knox County resident and are having any difficulties making your mortgage payments or have maybe even received a notice of foreclosure I would be happy to sit down with you and go over all your options. No cost, no obligation.