Congratulations, you missed the $8,000 tax credit

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 3:48 pm, September 12th, 2010  

No, I’m not being facetious or implying you’re a dummy because you haven’t bought a house yet.

joker knoxville, tn and portsmouth nh real estate for sale houses homes condos land

In fact, just the opposite; waiting until now has saved you thousands of dollars more that than measly 8 grand credit a lot of your friends got when they bought earlier this year. Here’s how.

Let’s take a look at the facts and mortgage market now compared to what they were then.

The $8,000 federal tax credit that got everyone excited earlier this year expired at the end of April, 2010. Buyers that had a contract dated prior to that were able to claim the credit and also got a loan with an interest rate around 5.5% or so.

If they bought the median priced house in the Knoxville, TN area, which would have been around $180,000, and got an FHA insured loan with the minimum 3.5% down payment they would have a monthly mortgage payment of $986.25 for their principal and interest. Taxes and insurance are added to that amount.

However, because you waited until now for whatever reason, interest rates have continued to drop. In the current mortgage market you can get an interest rate as low as 4.25% which would lower your monthly principal and interest payment to $854.50 or $131.75 LOWER than your friends who bought earlier this year and got the tax credit.

One huge benefit to you with the lower interest rate is that it’s actual cash you’re saving each month you can use for savings, bill paying, or whatever you choose.

And if you only own you house 5 years and 1 month and then decide to sell and move up, move down, or whatever, you have then saved $8.036.75 in actual cash payments which puts you Waay ahead of your friends and their $8,000 credit 5 years previously

Finally if you end up keeping your house and paying off your 30 year loan over the whole term you save a whopping $47,430 in actual monthly payments over your friends who bought earlier.

So if anyone tells you that you’ve missed the boat on that now expired tax credit,just whip out your calculator or this article and explain to them how you decided to wait until conditions were ‘more perfect’, as they are now, before pulling the trigger on your new home purchase. Then show them how much more they’re paying compared to the sweet interest rates you’re now able to take advantage of.

In the greater Knoxville, TN are visit to see all the area homes for sale.

A little further north, Portsmouth, NH and Seacoast area buyers can visit The state of New Hampshire also has a stunning 3.5% rate through their New Hampshire Housing program. These are the lowest rates in their 30 year history.

The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask; call or email us.

The nice folks at  wrote a very flattering  review of my blog. You can get some great mortgage information (not to mention a great mortgage) by visiting their website.

Content published by Jim Lee

VA Loans and Other Available Veteran Benefits

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 1:56 pm, September 3rd, 2010  

This is a guest post by Brandon Fischer on VA benefits; I hope some veterans find it useful.


VA benefits

VA benefits

by Brandon Fischer:

For the men and women that have so willingly served our country, the government offers a variety of programs and incentives designed to enhance their quality of life after service. Benefits for our country’s veterans range from educational assistance to job training with benefits more specifically being:

VA Home Loans

Since its creation in 1944, the VA loan program has provided millions of veterans and active duty service members – even those with imperfect credit – with the opportunity to achieve home ownership. The VA home loan program’s flexible eligibility requirements offer borrowers the ability to receive loans up to $417,000 in most areas of the country and loans up to $1,094,625 for borrowers looking to purchase a home in more expensive real estate areas.  Veterans can use a VA loan calculator to find the loan limit in their area.

What are VA Loan Benefits?

Because the VA insures part of each loan, VA-approved lenders have greater confidence in eligible borrowers. This greater confidence in borrowers inclines VA-approved lenders to offer qualified borrowers a variety of benefits they would not be able to find with conventional loans including:      zero down payment required

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Down payments in the form of gifts
  • Flexible debt-to-income ratio
  • No mortgage insurance required

How Do I Qualify for a VA Loan?

The VA Home Loan program offers some of the most flexible eligibility requirements which has allowed over 18 million service men and women achieve homeownership. More than 80% of all veterans and active duty service members who have obtained a VA loan would not have been eligible for a conventional loan. To initially qualify for a VA, a service member must:

  • Have served 181 days on active duty
  • Or served 3 months during war time
  • Or have served 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Be the spouse of a service member who was killed during active duty

Service men and women who meet the preliminary guidelines must also obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to apply for a VA loan. Although there are no required income minimums and flexible eligibility requirements for VA loans, most VA-approved lenders wll require a mid-range credit score of at least 620 to secure financing.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park webcams | Knoxville Tennessee

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 3:48 pm, July 29th, 2010  

Near the town of Knoxville, Tennessee lies the 521,086 acre (more or less) ;) Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A scenic mountain range that attracts over 10 million annual visitors to view the scenic beauty of the rugged mountains and beautiful pastoral valleys.

A couple of strategically placed web-cams can give you up to date views of what the local weather and scenery looks like most anytime during daylight hours. I’ve seen some very beautiful scenes from looking at these webcams periodically no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

It’s also fun to watch the change of seasons on these webcams. One great use is to monitor the leaves as they change color in the fall if you’re coming for a visit.

One of my favorites is the one at Look Rock just off the Foothills Parkway below Maryville, Tennessee. This is a recent photo from the Look Rock webcam just before dark in late July around 9:00 PM.

night falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Knoxville, TN This is from the Look Rock webcam

Night falls over the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP)

The mountain in the middle foreground with the three peaks on top is Rich Mountain; Cades Cove lies just behind it.

Here’s what you’re looking at in daylight on a clear day.

great smoky mountains national park near knoxville, tennessee

Here's a handy photo of what you're actually looking at.

Another great webcam is the one on Purchase Knob on the south side of the park. This camera is actually just inside the park boundary but faces east to northeast towards Bald Mountain, Johnson City, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina to the east.

Here’s a shot from the Purchase Knob camera with prominent landmarks identified.

purchase knob great smoky mountains national park near Knoxville, TN

Did you ever wonder what you're looking at on web-cam shots? Here's some help

East Tennessee and the greater Knoxville area are known for natural and scenic beauty; pay a visit soon and look around. Lots of folks do and end up deciding they want to live here. is a great resources to find a home, condo, or land in and around Knoxville.

7 Gardening mistakes to avoid

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 2:56 pm, April 18th, 2010  
Lawn irrigation system at a homeYour irrigation system can bring disease and rot to your lawn if improperly set. For best results, water in 40- to 60-minute intervals two to three times per week. Image: Rain Bird Corporation

Gardening is just about the simplest do-it-yourself home improvement work there is. If you can dig a hole, turn on a spigot, and snip a dead flower off a vine, you’ve got the basic skills down. Still, you do have to make some judgment calls, so it helps to know the ground rules, so to speak, that can help you avoid making some rookie mistakes.

Mistake #1: Making changes too soon

Take the excitement of buying a home, add a nice stretch of spring weather, and you get a lot of enthusiasm for doing yard work. That’s great; seize the day, but don’t jump into wholesale landscape changes, like pulling out plants or reorganizing the layout quite yet.

“That weed that you want to yank out in the spring might turn out to be a gorgeous fall-blooming vine,” says Gary Blondell, owner of Gary’s Gardens, a nursery in Severna Park, Md. Plus, it takes time to learn the landscape and figure out exactly what changes make sense.

Avoid this by: Living with the landscape for a full year, so you can observe it in all seasons.

Mistake #2: Planting too close together

You buy a wheelbarrow full of young shrubs and perennials and plant them in a pleasing arrangement. But if they look properly spaced now, they’re actually way too close together.

Unless you’re creating an evergreen hedge, when the idea is packing things tightly together, the immature plantings will grow into each other in a few years and struggle to compete for sun, water, and soil nutrients. You’ll either have to dig them up and transplant them—or possibly throw them away.

Avoid this by: Following the spacing requirements on the plant label—even though the results will look absurdly sparse at first.

Mistake #3: Planting without a plan

Putting in new garden beds without a long-term landscape plan is like tiling, painting, and wallpapering your house before you figure out your future remodeling plans: There’s a good chance you’ll have to undo your efforts in the near future.

Avoid this by: Drawing a simple, bird’s eye view sketch of your yard, and figuring out the rough location of any future construction—additions, patios, outbuildings, pools—so you can plant around them.

A good local nursery or home improvement store can help you with your design. Or you can hire a landscape designer to create a starter plan for as little as $250 to $500. Find a professional at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers or the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Mistake #4: Neglecting the root ball

Even the hardiest plants need a little help getting their roots established in their new locations. But just turning on the sprinkler every day to douse the foliage isn’t enough to ensure that they get the nutrients and hydration they need. You have to get the water to a plant’s nerve center—the root ball below ground—or it’s going to be stunted or short-lived.

Avoid this by: Placing the hose near the root ball and setting the water to a trickle for about 20 to 30 minutes. Do this twice a week—more during hot, dry spells—for the first four to 12 weeks. Choosing the right irrigation system can help with this task while saving water.

Mistake #5: Ignoring your yard’s sun conditions

Too many nursery shoppers pick plants based only on looks—not the growing conditions they need, which are almost always indicated on a label wrapped around the trunk or a marker pressed into the soil. “They put a sun-loving perennial under a dense tree or something that wants partial shade out in full-day sunshine,” says Blondell. “It looks great for about a week, and then it begins to die.”

Avoid this by: Watching the spot where you’re going to put the plant and estimating the amount of sun it gets over the course of the day during the growing season. To translate that to the language on plant labels, use this key:

Full Sun 6 hours a day or more
Part Sun/Part Shade 3 to 5 hours
Shade Less than 3 hours

Mistake #6: Misusing irrigation systems

An automatic irrigation system is a luxury that allows you to keep your landscape hydrated throughout the growing season with almost no effort. Unfortunately, with the wrong settings, it can also bring disease, root rot, and an untimely death to the plants in your landscape.

“People tend to set their systems to come on for 15 or 20 minutes each morning,” says Blondell. “That provides a nice saturation of the surface, but not a deep penetrating soak to reach the roots of large shrubs and trees.” And a deeper soak is better for the lawn, too, because it promotes deep root systems.

Avoid this by: Watering for longer intervals—say, 40 to 60 minutes—only two to three times a week. Check with the company that maintains your irrigation system for local recommendations.

Mistake #7: Not budgeting for landscaping during construction projects

Whether you’re building a house or an addition, the bulldozers that excavate the job and the pickups that park on the lawn will damage the grass, trees, and shrubs. And the new building configuration will call for new landscape plantings.

Unfortunately, homeowners don’t often include money in their budgets for this work. So you wind up with a beautiful new family room, screened porch, or solarium, with a few azaleas thrown in around the foundation as an afterthought.

Avoid this by: Allocating 10 to 20 percent of your construction budget to the landscape—both hardscaping and plants—or at least making plans to spend that money as soon as possible after the construction job is complete.

A former carpenter and newspaper reporter, Oliver Marks has been writing about home improvements for 16 years. He’s entering his second summer at his house and has big plans for upgrading its scraggly foundation plantings.


Where do new Knoxville residents come from?

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 8:46 am, August 4th, 2009  
MIAMI - JUNE 25:  A sign advertises a home for...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

As a long time Knoxville area Realtor I have helped literally hundreds of families buy and sell homes. And of course since I’m fairly intimately involved with those people during their home purchase or sale I know a lot about them including where they’re moving from or to.

However I have often wondered about the rest of people moving here from other areas. Where did they move from? What part of the United States or the world were they living before they moved here?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has a research department that investigates such things as where people come from, what sort of house did they buy, number of people in the family, and lots of other statistics.

Historic trend of homebuyers into and out of Knox County, TN

Historic trend of homebuyers into and out of Knox County, TN

I got a copy of the latest “NAR Relocation Report” for Knox County, Tennessee to get some empirical data on just exactly where do new Knox County residents come from; the results were pretty surprising to me.

In the latest year data is available far and away the biggest number of new Knox County residents moved here from Blount County which is just next door. 817 households from Blount County are now Knox County residents.

Number of households that moved into Knox County, TN and bought a house.

Number of households that moved into Knox County, TN and bought a house.

Blount, Anderson, Sevier, and other area folks are invited to view all of Knox Counties Realtor listings for sale at

Here’s a couple of Knox County homes that might appeal to newcomers.

Karns, 4 bedrooms, and priced at $299,900

Karns, 4 bedrooms, and priced at $299,900

Attractive Cape Cod style and priced at only $174,900

Attractive Cape Cod style and priced at only $174,900

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Knoxville real estate sales for the week of July 5th

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 1:40 pm, July 5th, 2009  
RAMONA, CA - OCTOBER 30:  A real estate for sa...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The Fourth of July weekend is winding down;  only the occasional firecracker “bang” can still be heard and it’s rainy out today so I don’t expect too much will be going on.

Unfortunately the “don’t expect too much will be going on” still applies to Knoxville’s real estate market as well. The weekly figures from the Knox County Register of Deeds show 157 real estate transactions recorded in the past week; that’s about the same number as was recorded the week before.

And like all the weeks past, the figures show the lower end; homes priced below $250,000 with most of sales in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

Knox County real estate transactions recorded provided by Jim Lee, Realty Executives Associates

Knox County real estate transactions recorded provided by Jim Lee, Realty Executives Associates

With the end of June comes the end of the Second Quarter of 2009. The 2nd Quarter sales figures are usually posted around the middle of the following month along with the previous month’s sales. It will be interested to compare 2nd Quarter 09 with previous years to see how we’re doing over a longer term.

I did notice the average days on market jumped up in May to 125 days. It was 109 in April, 116 in March, 120 in February, and 110 days in January so that’s not a huge jump although it is a high for the year in what’s has been historically one of the more active sales months.

Below is a chart showing how many months supply of homes are current for sale at the current sales rates. For example on the first category, homes priced over one million dollars, it will take 43.8 months to sell just those homes assuming no new listings come on the market.

Knoxville tn homes for sale absorption rates

Knoxville tn homes for sale absorption rates

While most sellers are not getting top market value if they sell now, some very good buys exist for buyers able to qualify for a new loan. Interest rates are still very low, in the bottom of the 5% range, which translates into more affordable house payments.

Take a look at and see if anything for sale there strikes your fancy. I have all the homes listings in the Knoxville Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service (MLS) posted there and you can search them with no registration required.

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Knox County real estate transfers for the week of May 10th

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 12:19 pm, May 10th, 2009  
Logo of the Federal Housing Administration.
Image via Wikipedia

The past week looks a bit worse than the week before with the volume of transfers down to 78 from the previous weeks 138.

Real estate transfers for the week of May 10th

only 78 Knox County Real estate transfers recorded for the week of May 10th

This market has created the proverbial “Perfect Storm” for home buyers. Lots of home for sale (Today there are 5,124 active single family and condominium homes for sale just in Knox County) and 78 recorded transactions last week so it’s very clearly a strong buyer’s market.

Financing remains in the sub 5% range for most price ranges with some great 100% financing available for buyers able to use the Tennessee Housing Development Authority (THDA) program.

Those smart folks at THDA have a new program that actually lends you up to the 3..5% of your down payment (which coincidentally happens to be the minimum down for FHA financing) at 0% for up to a year and you can repay them when you file your taxes and collect that $8,000 tax credit the federal government is offering for qualified buyers that have not owned a home in the past 3 years.  Regular conventional buyers also can qualify for the 8K tax credit as well.

All you need is a minimum 620 credit score and a debt to income ratio below 45%; call me if you’re interested and I’ll explain how it works; easy for most people to qualify.

Here’s a few listings you can buy right now that fit into this program’s guidelines.

This charming Cape Cod styled home is priced at only $129,900. Ask about $0 down financing and a principal and interest payment under $600 a month!

This charming Cape Cod styled home is priced at only $129,900. Ask about $0 down financing and a principal and interest payment under $600 a month!

This excellent basement rancher is priced at only $149,900 with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a two car garage.

This excellent basement rancher is priced at only $149,900 with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a two car garage.

This charming older home was listed for $84,900 and not surprisingly just sold.

This charming older home was listed for $84,900 and not surprisingly just sold.

Visit to see over 5,000 Knox County homes for sale as well as other nearby areas such as Maryville, Oak Ridge, Loudon County, and many others.

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