Technology dos and dont’s for your listings | Knoxville Tennessee Homes For Sale

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 6:59 pm, July 7th, 2010  

For some strange reason the post below I wrote several years ago popped on a Google alert. After re-reading it I decided it was still very relevant to today and hopefully you will find it worthwhile:

Play VisualTour

BTW, this is a pretty cool listing of mine in North Knoxville just in case anyone has a buyer. This listing is NOT several years old.  ;)

I just received my July/August issue of “The Real Estate Professional”, a great magazine sent to all REBAC (Real Estate Buyers Agent Council) members.

A feature story is titled “Technology and Home Sales: How the Internet is Changing the Real Estate Industry”. Boy, ain’t that the truth. ;-)

I found some of the technology do and don’ts for using technology in your listings to be especially relevant.

  1. I think a lot of us don’t quite realize yet is that most buyers (and sellers) are way more tech savvy than the average Realtor. Probably something to do with their average age being in the 30s and ours being in the 50s.
  2. The time to make a first impression is shorter than ever before. This is especially important on your websites. You have very, very little time to catch and hold someone’s attention before they’re bored and/or ready to move on to a site that gives them what they’re looking for. In order for your website to be effective it must be:
  1. Easily findable by consumers.
  2. Deliver the content they’re looking for
  3. Have compelling reasons to cause them to contact you to do business.
  • Don’t try to overwhelm consumers with lots of bells & whistles on your site, i.e. lots of flash or downloads, NO MUSIC, and make sure your website is compatible with current popular browsers such as Internet Explorer (still the most widely used), Firefox, & Mozilla.
  • Photos. Some panoramic photos tend to distort a room, so stills only or stills plus a panorama are best to appeal to the lowest common denominator of viewers.
  • Anatomy of a Knoxville TN short sale

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 7:01 am, June 9th, 2010  

    Over this past weekend,  I wrote an offer on one of my listings which is going to be a short sale. I thought it would be interesting to keep an online journal of the process to see how it shakes out and if the lender will approve this price.

    Today is Tuesday, March 30th, 2010, I have just faxed to the lender (who shall remain nameless) all the documentation they requested. As of today they have asked for:

    1. A HUD 1 closing statement detailing all the charges and net proceeds to seller/lender.
    2. The Purchase & Sale Agreement
    3. A copy of my listing agreement with my seller
    4. The listing history of this property (it’s been listed twice before at higher prices).
    5. A hardship letter from my sellers explaining why they’re unable to pay their mortgage.
    6. I also sent another copy of a letter signed by my sellers authorizing the lender to talk to me about their loan.

    So the short sale process is underway. I’ll keep this post updated as we move through the process.

    UPDATE: April 6,2010 Called lender for update and status.

    Lender: “We don’t have your authorization form to talk with you about this short sale.”

    Me: “Yes you do, I’ve faxed it to you twice now and a third time when I submitted this package on March 30th. Happy to send it again if you like.”

    Lender: “Oh wait, here it is. OK, what do you want to know?”

    Me: “Offer status”

    Lender: “In 3 to 5 business days you will receive a call from the negotiator that’s has been assigned to this transaction. They will take it from there.”

    Me: “OK, thank you, I’ll look forward to hearing from someone by next week.

    So 8 days later that’s where we are. Stay tuned for the next update.

    UPDATE: April 13, 2010, Realtor called and said she had been asked by lender to furnish them BPO (Broker’s Price Opinion). I told her to go ahead into the property.

    UPDATE: April 16, 2010. I called lender to follow up on negotiator not contacting me in  “3 to 5 business days” like I was told last time I called. 

    Lender: “Don’t know who told you that but blah, blah, blah.” We did get the BPO back and I am sending it right now to the RMV (Reconciliation Market Value) department. Once they complete their analysis you can call back and talk to the negotiator”

    Me: “OK, that’s nice, when should I call back?”

    Lender:  “Call back next Tuesday.”

    OK, so we’re now waiting for next Tuesday to call back and talk with the negotiator. Stay tuned for the next installment.

    UPDATE: April 21, 2010 Negotiator called me today and said short sale was approved subject to several conditions. All minor and acceptable subject to “management approval” from negotiator’s boss, we’re going to closing. So, not too bad for short sale approved.

    I believe the lender is taking about a $30,000 hit on this sale so it’s not a huge loss for them and certainly more than they would net if they foreclosed and had to start from scratch marketing this property.

    Now to see how fast I can get this one closed; stay tuned for update.

    FINAL UPDATE: June 9, 2010 Today was closing day so it’s finally done. I didn’t do any updates in May because there wasn’t really anything related to the short sale going on. The new buyer’s lender was processing his loan and all the stuff related to a ‘normal’ transaction.

    We did have to ask for and receive a 2 week extension on our short sale approval because of the time frame in getting the new buyers loan approved. I called Gus, our bank short sale contact and he granted the extension on the spot.

    The original contract date is March 30th and we closed June 9th so about 70 days total from start to finish. The whole process went pretty smoothly:

    • The original lender took about a $30,000 hit letting the sale go through for that much less than the mortgage balance. However who knows how long it would have taken to foreclose and what they could have sold for.
    • The sellers salvaged some of their credit and can rebuild it quicker than a foreclosure.
    • The new buyer got a pretty good deal on the house and their lender now has a new, paying loan on the books.
    • And I got paid for doing my job; listing and selling houses.
    • A win, win, win, win for all.

    Please call or email if you have a Knoxville property you’re thinking of selling.

    Visit to see all of Knoxvilles  Realtor listings for sale.

    Buy a Knoxville TN home | get a green card

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 6:00 am, June 9th, 2010  

    Here’s a simple solution to our current housing dilemma.

    We all know there are too many houses on the market in most areas that are not selling.

    Play VisualTour

    There is also a problem with too many illegal immigrants.

    One simple solution I ran across recently is to just give a green card to every legal immigrant who wants to come to the US and buy a house.

    Democrats should love it because it allows more immigration.

    Republicans should love it because the new immigrants would be well documented. Mortgage bankers ask for lots more documentation than the INS.

    This offering should not apply to illegal aliens currently in the country.

    I believe that would be a huge slap in the face to our country, our laws and those who obey them, and all other immigrants that took the time and trouble to go through the process legally.

    Personally I don’t see a downside, do you?

    Buy a house, get a green card.

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    How to become a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 6:59 pm, June 7th, 2010  

    The highest professional designation awarded to all Realtors is the CRS or “Certified Residential Specialist”

    It’s also tougher to earn a CRS designation than any of the others I’ve done, in fact less than 4% of all the 1,000,000 plus current membership are CRS designees.

    First there are production requirements; you must meet:

    Participate in 75 transaction sides within any 5 year period of do a gross volume of $25,000,000 during any five year periord.

    Successfuly complete any two Residential Sales Council RS core courses (business planning & marketing, listings, sales, wealth building, technology, or referrals.

    AND complete a total of 4 more elective units such as 2 additional core courses, attend a CRS “Sell-a-bration”, or any 4 more electives from a list available at

    There an alternative course that requires 1 more core course also available on the CRS website.

    If you’re asking yourself why you would want to become a CRS besides the obvious reasons (learn more, become more knowledgable & professional, and do a better job for your clients) there are 2 great reasons that immediately come to mind.

    According to a survey of CRS designees the RS council conducted in 2005, designees earned an average income of $160,500 which is 4 times the average income of a residential sales agents.

    Additionally holding a current, active CRS designation also puts you in the council’s referral roster. I received anywhere from 2-6 referrals a year from fellow CRSers all over the country.

    So if making more money, being more professional, and becoming one of an outstanding group within the Realtor family appeals to to you, consider starting down the path to earning your CRS designation today. has all the info and an application

    Jim Lee, Realtor®, CRS

    See all Knoxville, TN homes for sale @

    Recipe for Vidalia Chicken………Mmmm, good.

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 4:38 pm, May 10th, 2010  

    Vidalia® onions are in lots of stores now so it’s time to get cooking. These super sweet onions can only be legally called “Vidalia” when grown in a 20 county area of Georgia with the town of Vidalia being roughly in the center. Vidalia, Georgia is roughly located about 90 miles east of Savannah, GA

    The Vidalia Onion was named Georgia’s official vegetable in 1990; but enough history, let’s talk about eating them.

    The following original recipe I created not only involves a great tasting onion but a legendary Tennessee product as well, Jack Daniel’s famous Black Label, sour mash bourbon whiskey. Don’t worry, using Jack to cook with won’t make anyone tipsy, the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process just leaving that wonderful sweet smell and taste of sour mash bourbon which greatly complements both the Vidalia onions and the chicken.

    The following is for 4 servings; easy to fix the same for 2 people and refrigerate the extra portions for another meal, it reheats very well.

    You’ll need:

    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 2 Vidalia onions, peeled and julienned
    • 1 stick of butter
    • 1 Cup of Jack Daniels
    • 2 tablespoons of Lawry’s seasoning sale (or equivalent)
    • 4 slices of Swiss cheese

    In a large saute pan melt the butter over medium heat, add the julienned onions and cook until they are translucent, add the chicken breasts, Jack Daniels, and seasoning salt. Cover and cook about 20-30 minutes until chicken breasts are done.

    Remove chicken breasts to plate and reduce the liquid in the pan until it begins to thicken. Lay one slice of Swiss cheese on top of each chicken breast and spoon hot onions and liquid onto to melt cheese.

    Serve hot with most any vegetable. If you have a large enough bottle of Jack Daniels you can also have a drink before or with dinner. ;)

    Bon Appetit.

    PS, just in case you need a kitchen to prepare this delicious recipe in, I suggest a visit to to pick one out.

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    What’s going on in 2010 with Knoxville TN area real estate?

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 6:08 pm, April 18th, 2010  

    Have a question about real estate in the greater Knoxville, TN area? Please ask; there are no dumb questions, just ones you need answers to. Please feel free to call or email any questions to: [email protected] or call 865-693-3232

    Time for an update since the first quarter statistics for 2010 are now available. Let’s see how we did and which direction Knoxville area sales and home prices are headed.

    First of all April is almost over now and that is the end of the $8,000 tax credit for lots of homebuyers. I believe this incentive has been driving between 30-40% of our market for the past several months. It will be very interesting to see what the trend is for the 2nd quarter of this year after it expires.

    Local weekly sales dropped a little this week compared to last week. The Knox County Register of Deeds reported 159 transactions for the week of April 18th compared to 188 the past week of April 11th.

    Knoxville TN area real estate sales for the week of April 1th, 2010

    Week of April 11th, 2010

    Knoxville TN area real estate sales for the week of April 18th, 2010

    Week of April 18th, 2010

    As both graphs indicate, the lower price ranges remain where the action is; from $100,000 to $200,000 with sharp dropoffs once you pass the $300,000 threshold.

    And here’s the first quarter of 2010 compared to past first quarter figures. Still nowhere close to where we were a few years ago but a modest increase from last year’s first quarter.

    Knoxville tn real estate listings sold for the past 10 1st quarters

    1st quarter of 2010 compared to past 1st quarters

    260 more homes sold in the first quarter of 2010 versus 2009 but still a whopping 43.3% lower than the peak year of 2006.

    Lack of jobs growth remains an issue for the house market. According to the US Department of Labor’s latest stats,  in March the number of unemployed was little changed at 15 million and the unemployment rate remained at 9.7%.

    Economists want to believe the economy has turned the corner but housing remains the bellweather indicator to confirm that belief and it isn’t showing broad and/or sustained growth just yet.

    “Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke called housing a “critical” challenge to the economy. “We have yet to see evidence of a sustained recovery in the housing market,” Bernanke said in a speech on April 7.”

    It will be an interesting next few weeks and whichever direction we head is likely an indicator of the the housing market direction for the remainder of this year.

    On the plus side for buyers there remains a large supply of homes to choose from. Currently in the greater Knoxville, Tennessee area you can view 11,763 great houses and condos for sale at and I will be happy to help you become the owner of one.

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    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.