Q&A: Christie Wilson’s insights into Nashville’s booming housing market – Nashville Business Journal
March 1, 2022
Q&A: Christie Wilson’s insights into Nashville’s booming housing market
By Ian Bradley – Reporter, Nashville Business Journal
Feb 18, 2022
In the last decade the value of Nashville’s housing market has increased by $169 billion. The coronavirus pandemic created a rush on housing that has pushed homes to record high prices, but even before that the city was on the rise. Due to low inventory and high demand, real estate agents commonly report homes getting offers as soon as they enter the market. Christie Wilson, the president and CEO of Wilson Group Real Estate Services, sat down with the Business Journal to discuss the Nashville market’s “new normal.” This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
There are lots of stories of people buying homes sight-unseen. When did that become normal?
It really started taking off during Covid. Pre-Covid it wasn’t that common. You still had to make kind of a quick decision, but nowhere near what happened to the market late April, early May 2020. The lid just got ripped off real estate, people said ‘I can live anywhere’ or ‘I need more space’ or ‘I need a yard’ or ‘I’ve got to get out of this condo.’ It was really about two years ago it took off.
In a market moving this quickly is there time for an open house?
The heyday of open houses I think was probably between 2002 to 2007. You would have like 25-30 people come to your open house. Then from 2008-2012 if you had four people come in, that was a good day.
Now if you do have an open house, you could have upwards of 40 people come through. Most realtors doing it in Nashville will have a ‘coming soon,’ which we didn’t have in 2010. It’s basically an announcement a home will be on the market soon, so be ready. You never want to put a coming soon out too soon because your seller will have so many people driving past their house.
But you know you’ll get an offer even without the open house?
Right. The flip side of that is what we’re seeing now that we never used to see, playing with that ‘coming soon’ type thing and the number of showings in the first day or two, is these offers that come in like $100,000 or $200,000 or $300,000 over asking price with a short timeframe for the seller to respond to the buyer, like ‘We’ll give you this much more and we don’t want you to do an open house.’
We would create a strategy with our seller and say ‘Let’s open it up to everybody for three days, accept offers up until five o’clock on Sunday, and then we’ll respond to everyone on Monday morning.’ Now if you get an offer $100,000 to $500,000 over asking the seller may say, ‘Forget about it. This is extra money in my pocket.’
Are people getting creative in securing financing for a new home?
Something else we never used to see is people not making it contingent on getting their financing … If a buyer’s offer was ‘not contingent on financing,’ you’d think it meant they were a cash buyer. Now, so many people feel like they’re in such a solid position, they won’t make the deal contingent on any kind of financing even though they go out and get a mortgage.
With so much competition are people offering something extra to entice the seller?
Oh yeah. We were the listing agent on a home, the buyer was an orthodontist and they offered the seller a year’s free orthodontic services. We’ve had people offer to pay their moving expenses and the sellers’ moving expenses, offers to pay all the sellers’ closing costs. There’s a variety of things. I had one guy, a landscaper, he offered to landscape their new home.
Did it used to be common for buyers to forego appraisals and/or inspections?
Never. You’d never forego an appraisal. On a cash deal you might but on a loan you always got the appraisal. Now, let’s say you’re buying something for a million dollars, and it only appraises for $900,000 and you waived your appraisal, that buyer has to bring an extra $100,000 to bridge the gap on the sale price and the loan amount.
It sounds problematic for the average buyer.
It doesn’t bode well for the normal buyer who is taking all their equity out of their house to buy the next house. Most sellers aren’t taking a home sale contingency, which is when a buyer makes an offer a new home contingent on their current home selling. That was common a decade ago. No seller is taking a home sale contingency right now, or very few are. Right now people are buying without the contingency because they know their home will sell.
Have you had clients experience buyers remorse after rushing to buy a home?
We always follow up to make sure everything’s good. That’s always a dicey phone call, but it’s one that needs to be made so they know you’re thinking about them. I used to be really scared to make that phone call but now, just looking at all this opportunity, … if they love it, pat yourself on the back, everybody’s happy. If there’s something they don’t like it’s, ‘what is it that you don’t like?’ ‘Is there something we can do to fix that or do we start looking for something else?’ As crazy as it sounds if you bought a house six months ago, you can probably sell it and be okay.
Is there a high demand for new construction or are people taking what they can get?
There wasn’t a ton of new construction a decade ago and now there’s so much of it. The new construction back then felt like it was a little bit better built than it is today. It just feels like not great building materials until you get up to $3 million range. That’s disappointing, but it’s what it is right now.
I think demand is about the same. There are some people who just don’t want what they call ‘used houses,’ which is a very weird way to put it. We have those people who just want new construction but there’s so little new construction that what we see is people modifying their list, realizing the scope in which they can work.
If Covid hadn’t happened, do you think Nashville would be facing similar problems, i.e. high prices and low inventory?
I think we would be close. There was the Amazon announcement in 2018 and then Oracle in 2021, so I think the energy around North Nashville would have stayed the same because Oracle was huge news. I think we’d be in a similar position but nowhere near as crazy. Maybe a few steps behind.
If you were bringing on a new agent 10 years ago, what advice would you give them?
There were no buyers, only listings back then. I encouraged new agents to work with renters, to help find rental property and start working on their business from that perspective. I had several agents who are very successful today create their business through representing past homeowners looking for rentals, or people relocating to Nashville who couldn’t sell their place back home and were forced into a rental situation.
What advice do you give new agents now?
Now we teach our agents quickly how to list on top sellers and how to work with buyers, how to write the best offer to win for your client. And you do that by asking what is that seller going to be looking for when they’re looking at 10 other offers that you’re competing against?
Is there something about the market now that you find exciting?
I’ve had some of the greatest experiences with the younger generation of realtors who’ve really come in and treated the business like a business. These younger agents, they’re the face of the future of the industry and they’re badasses. For as many bad agents, there’s equally as many good agents.
What worries you about the new Nashville real estate market?
For the older people in our city, who can sell their house for a lot of money — it’s not just Nashville, it’s everywhere — it’s like, where do they go? They might get $500,000 for their house and that’s all the money they have left in the world and they’re only 65 years old. You think $500,000 is a lot of money and it’s just not. That’s one thing that makes me sad is where can people in need go — people who want to stay in the west side of town or the east side of town, or even the north side?