The Henley Bridge closure has impacted many businesses near the bridge as customers are steered away from the area by detours. Some real estate agents say the closure is also impacting home sales and property values, including a trend of investors steering towards the area.
The perceived short-term depression of home prices has attracted investors that seek relatively inexpensive homes to flip for a profit.
"You are seeing a big influx of investors over here
that are buying houses and flipping them and making money.
Maybe they try to sell them or rent them. Either way, it is a savvy investment right now. You get a lot of bang for
your buck in South Knoxville," said Danny Sturdevan, a residential real estate agent with Wallace and Wallace. "When the bridge opens a year from now, you're going to see property values start to go up again."
Lee Smith is a contractor who specializes in roof repairs. He is one of the investors who recently purchased a foreclosed home in South Knoxville. Smith said he has also tried to purchase other properties in South Knoxville and frequently encounters competition from other investors.
"Right now property values here are a little bit less than what they should be. You can get such a large house, a large lot, and it is so close to downtown. So a lot of investors are looking over here because they know it's going to turn around as soon as the bridge is finished," said Smith.
Smith purchased a home on Mayflower Drive. He said comparable homes have sold for $60,000 to $70,000. Smith will invest $30,000 to $40,000 in repairs and upgrades. He then plans to list the property for $150,000.
"We have stripped the outside of the house and are going to repaint it. We've gutted the kitchen, redone the ceilings, refurbished hardwood floors, expanded bathrooms, and just completely redone the house. We've redone the deck outside. We want to be done by June," said Smith.
10News spoke to several other real estate agents Wednesday with listings in South Knoxville. Opinions were mixed on what level of causality can be established between the Henley Bridge closure and depressed property values in South Knoxville. However, all agreed prices are relatively low and it has attracted a large number of investors to South Knoxville.
Wednesday TDOT said construction is running slightly behind schedule, but it expects the Henley Bridge will still be completed before the deadline of June 30, 2013.