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Unprecedented housing market in Knoxville causes dilemma for buyers

An inventory crisis is leaving many buyers and realtors frustrated and scrambling to find homes.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Jason and Danielle Lawrentz had their pick of buyers when they decided to sell their Colorado home last fall and move across the country.

"It was head-swimmingly fast. We found ourselves with our house sold and wondering where we're going to live at this point," Jason said. 

The couple rented an apartment in Knoxville and began their search around Thanksgiving.

They spent months visiting houses, sometimes left with just hours to make an offer.

"You had to be prepared to say, 'This is the one,'" Danielle said.

"It was tough," Jason said. "We put a lot of offers in, nail biters, some sleepless nights wondering if it was going to come through."

49 properties later they finally landed a home in the River Sound neighborhood in West Knoxville after beating multiple bidders.

"If you have to sleep on it someone else is going to be sleeping in it," said Ryan Levenson, principal broker at Re/Max Preferred Properties in Knoxville.

Levenson said the competition among homebuyers is fierce.

The current housing market is booming in Knoxville as businesses expand and more people move to the area.

An inventory crisis is leaving many buyers and realtors frustrated and scrambling to find homes.

"It has made it very difficult. We don't have time to say I can show it to you at 5 o'clock. We pretty much have to drop everything and go and show houses, that and we're showing 40 in some cases in order to get one," he said.

More than 21,000 homes sold in the Knoxville area in 2020, according to the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors.

But the number of houses for sale was down 47.5% year-over-year. New listings were down 6.1%.

Houses that are currently for sale are selling quickly.

In March, 50% of homes were on the market for less than 6 days.

RELATED: Knoxville area experiencing unprecedented housing market

Jason and Danielle Lawrentz are relieved they finally found a house, even if it took a lot of patience and quick action.

"We had moments where it felt like we weren't going to find our home," Danielle said. "We absolutely love it here, we're closer to our family so really excited to make this our home."

Here are some tips if you are trying to buy:

  • Hire a realtor--they often know about new listings before they officially hit the market and can help you navigate the complexities of a competitive market.
  • Act quickly and with confidence---expect that every house will have multiple offers.
  • Know what you can afford and stick to your budget.
  • Forget list price---the only value that matters is what you (or someone else) is willing to pay.
  • Be flexible with the closing date.
  • Get pre-approved for your home loan as soon as possible.
  • Don't skip a home inspection.
  • Don't give up---know there is more than one "perfect" house for you and it may take multiple tries before you land that new home.

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