Kingsport-Bristol dominates new Q2 loan and single-family home purchase originations; region outperforms national market

Kingsport-Bristol was the Q2 hot spot for new loan and single-family home purchase originations in the seven-county Tri-Cities region, which outperformed the U.S. market.  At the same time, Tri-Cities Home Owner Equity Lines of Credit eased off its Q1 20-year high.


Total loan originations in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol metro area were up 25% over Q1 and 11% better than  Q2 last year.  At the same time, the three-county Johnson City Metropolitan Area (MSA) had a 12% increase over Q1 while year-over-year originations were flat. From a moving average perspective, Kingsport-Bristol is slowly trending higher while Johnson City has plateaued after peaking in Q4 2016.

Attom Data Solution’s Q2 Residential Property Loan Origination Report shows U.S. originations were up 15% from the previous quarter and up 1% from last year.

The Tri-Cities saw a 19.3% increase over Q1 and 6.2% over last year.

The loan origination report is derived from publicly recorded mortgages and deeds of trust collected by Attom in more than 1,700 counties accounting for more than 87% of the U.S. population. Counts and dollar volumes for the two most recent quarters are projected based on available data at the time of the report.

“Rising mortgage rates are continuing to cool demand for refinance originations, which were down to their lowest level since 2014 — the last time we saw more than six consecutive months with average 30-year fixed mortgage rates above 4 percent,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Meanwhile buyers are upping the ante when it comes to down payments, evidenced by the record-high median down payment for homes purchased in the quarter, and an increasing number of buyers are getting help from co-buyers.”

Tri-Cities new originations peaked in Q3 2012 at 3,752 and 2,022 the same quarter for Kingsport-Bristol. The Johnson City metro area peaked at 2,605 in Q3 2005. During the second three months of this year, there were 3,342 new originations in the region; 1,980 in Kingsport-Bristol and 1,362 in Johnson City.

Purchase originations


Kingsport-Bristol’s residential market also flexed its muscle in the drill down of raw numbers that shows a 106% increase over Q1 and a 12% year-over-year increase.  The Johnson City metro is was up 27% from Q1 but 11% lower than last year.

The regional total for purchase originations was 1,447, up from 900 in Q1 but only slightly better than the 1,443-last year.

Kingsport-Bristol’s Q2 total was 796 compared to 386 for the first three months of the year and 708 Q2 last year.

Johnson City’s Q2 total was 651 compared to 735 last year and 513 during Q1.

From a trend’s perspective, Kingsport-Bristol’s 4 quarter moving average is gaining a decline from its Q2, 2016 peak. And while Johnson City’s more recent performance lagged its neighbor to the north it has been steadily gaining since Q2, 2015.

Refinancing originations


Thanks to increasing mortgage rates, the refinancing trend is deader than disco in both the region and its two metro areas. But that’s doesn’t mean it’s time to put a Rest In Peace Sign on refi loan originations.

During Q2 there were 983 new originations in the region. That’s a 16% improvement over the first three months of the year and down 1% from last year.

The month-over-month performance shows Kingsport-Bristol claiming the lion’s share (545) from Q1, but Johnson City claimed the lead in the year-over-year performance metric with 438 new originations compared to 388 last year.

Home Equity Line of Credit originations


HELOC originations continue to be mixed in the region as Kingsport-Bristol homeowners pulled back on the reigns in Q2 after a six-quarter moving average trend of tapping into home equity.

Johnson City homeowners have been a little more conservative with HELOCs showing a moderate increase.

According to Attom’s report, there were 909 new Tri-Cities HELOC originations in Q2. Kingsport-Bristol homeowners claimed 636 of those compared to 273 in the Johnson City metro area. Even with its higher Q2 share, Kingsport-Bristol Q2 total was down 24% from Q1 and up 39% from last year.

HELOC origination hit a 20-year high in Q1 at 1,087 for the region then eased back to 909 in Q2. The 28.8% decline from Q2 last year still puts the region at its third highest level in two decades.

Kingsport-Bristol is the clear driver in the HELOC trend increase.

Local co-buyers have bigger down payments, pay above the estimated value for single-family homes

A co-buyer real estate purchase is one where multiple, unmarried buyers are listed on the sales deed. Current data on local single-family sales show co-buyers are likely very good news for sellers, his or her Realtor. And these co-buyer purchases can help push market prices a little higher.

Here’s a capsule look at how Q2 co-buyer single-family sales in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) looked compared to other sales:

  • They almost doubled from Q1 sales.
  • They accounted for 11% of all single-family sales.
  • Their average down payment was $18,781 higher than the down payment for other sales.
  • The average sales price was $11,491 higher than the average for other sales.
  • The average sales price was $2,360 higher than average automated valuation model (AVM) price. The other sales average sales price was $11,600 below the AVM.

Unfortunately, Q2 co-buyer data isn’t available for the three-county Johnson City MSA. That region made the cut for reporting in Q1 but not for Q2. That’s a problem frequently see in data reports and an example of the downside of the legislative construct that divided the region into two MSAs. But that’s another story.

Kingsport-Bristol Q2 single-family sales

While co-buyer single-family sales were only 11% of Kingsport-Bristol single-family Q2 sales, they were 17% of single-family sales during the first half of this year.

That’s some of what regional-level data show about this segment of the housing market. Unfortunately, what it doesn’t tell us who are these co-buyers and what were the communities in the MSA where co-buyers are most active.

It’s easy to see why sellers, their agents, and lenders like co-buyers. Instead of a 7.4% down payment, they come to the table with an average 18.5% down payment.  On average they’re buying slightly more expensive homes and they’re paying 1.4% above the AVM, which is slightly higher than the median for all residential sale in the Tri-Cities region.

Some co-buyers are unmarried couples willing to sign a mortgage but not willing to take wedding vows. This trend has boosted the level of legal implications that come hand-in-hand with such decisions. Others are reportedly parents who want to help Millennials get out of their room and cross the homeownership threshold. And there are also some examples of them being low-level investors. Low-level since they don’t make more than 10 purchases a year.

Regardless of who they are, the effect of higher co-buyer sales prices could boost the housing market in some areas if they are paying more than the other buyers in a specific community. They would boost the market because the higher price they pay would translate to higher comps.

Kingsport-Bristol didn’t quite come-up to 17.5% of all single-family sales reported on the national level in Q2. But their 18.5% down payment was better than the 16.3% reported on the U.S. level.

The big question is how the co-buyer trend will stand up to the headwinds of higher interest rates and a market that after two-and-a-half years of record sales is seeing the growth rate slow?


New Census data show economic gains, losses in Tri-Cities 2 metro areas

An earlier report on the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey showed last year was a growth year for the Tri-Cities despite some headwinds. A comparison showed jobs, pay, household incomes were up while public assistance was down.  A drill-down to the metro area finds much of the same, but the growth was not distributed evenly. There are also continued signals of how the labor market and retail dynamics of the regions continue shifting toward a new normal.

For example:

  • The median household was up in Kingsport-Bristol, but down in the Johnson City metro area.
  • Per capita income was up in both metro areas.
  • Kingsport-Bristol’s retail employment increased more than it did in Johnson City.
  • While the year-over-year increase in the number of government workers was higher in Johnson City while the Kingsport-Bristol total was higher.
  • Full-time, year-round male workers in Kingsport-Bristol took a pay cut while full-time, year-round female workers led the region for the highest median pay increase.
  • Cash public assistance and food stamp participation were down in both metro areas while there was a small increase the overall poverty rate in the Johnson City metro area and an increase in the number of households receiving Supplemental Security Income in the Kingsport-Bristol area.

Here’s that drill down of selected items with an employment and wage focus.

Labor force

The number of people in the labor force increased in both of the region’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). The participation rate share was highest in the three-county Johnson City MSA. But the four-county Kingsport-Bristol MSA had the largest number of people joining the labor force, which is expected since it has the largest population. It also had the best increase.

The Johnson City MSA participation rate last year was 56.8%, up from 51.1% in 2016 while the Kingsport-Bristol rate was 57.5%, up from 52.2. The U.S. rate was 62.9% up 0.1%.

Since the Johnson City MSA is home to two four-year colleges the number of working-age people increased more than it did in Kingsport-Bristol.  The Census looks at working age as 16 and over. That age group increased by 2,499 in Johnson City and declined by 80 in Kingsport-Bristol. College students are supposed to be counted at their college address, either on or off campus. They can be counted at their parents’ home only if they live and sleep there most of the year.


The number of people employed in Kingsport Bristol was up 3,700 from 2016 and 854 in Johnson City.

Occupation drill down:

Management, business, science, and arts occupations: Johnson City up 2,937. Kingsport-Bristol up 991.

Sales and office occupations: Johnson City up 1,325. Kingsport-Bristol down 699.

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations: Johnson City down 2,218. Kingsport-Bristol down 1,286.

Production transportation and material moving occupations: Johnson City up 490, Kingsport-Bristol up 1,529.


Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining: Johnson City up 287. Kingsport-Bristol down 330.

Construction: Johnson City down 2,587. Kingsport-Bristol down 694. (The total number of construction workers in the Johnson City metro area was 4,519 and 10,069 in Kingsport-Bristol).

Manufacturing: Johnson City up 2,553. Kingsport-Bristol up 4,380.

Wholesale trade: Johnson City down 833. Kingsport-Bristol up 617.

Retail trade: Johnson City down 747. Kingsport-Bristol up 1,311. (There were 11,213 retail employees in the Johnson City metro area last year – 12.3% of the total labor force. In Kingsport-Bristol the number was 16,686 – 12.9% of the jobs.)

Transportation and warehousing and utilities: Johnson City down 1,152. Kingsport-Bristol down 54.

Information: Johnson City down 87. Kingsport-Bristol up 707.

Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing: Johnson City up 586. Kingsport-Bristol down 140.

Education services and health care and social assistance: Johnson City up 3,261. Kingsport-Bristol down 1,009.

Arts, entertainment and recreation and accommodations and food services: Johnson City up 1,202. Kingsport-Bristol down 122.

Other services except public administration: Johnson City down 2,034. Kingsport-Bristol up 1,688.

Public administration: Johnson City up 121. Kingsport-Bristol up 523.

Class of workers

Private wage and salary workers: Johnson City up 854. Kingsport-Bristol up 2,481.

Government workers: Johnson City up 2,191. Kingsport-Bristol down 258. (The total number of government workers in the Johnson City metro area last year was 14,314. In Kingsport-Bristol it was 17,312).

Self-employment in owned not incorporated businesses: Johnson City down 2,258. Kingsport-Bristol up 1,632. (The share of self-employed to the total number of workers was 5.1% in Johnson City and 7.4% in Kingsport Bristol)

Income and benefits

Median household income: Johnson City $40,663, down 0.7% from 2016. Kingsport-Bristol $43,516, up 6.6%.

Median family household income: Johnson City $54,107, up 6.8%. Kingsport-Bristol $55,696 up 7.3%.

Per capita income: Johnson City $25,778, up 6.5%. Kingsport-Bristol $26,042, up 8.1%.

Median income for workers: Johnson City $26,832, up 4.7%. Kingsport-Bristol $26,584, up 4.4%.

Median earnings for male full-time, year-round workers: Johnson City $41,076, up 4.6%. Kingsport-Bristol $41,455, down 0.5%.

Median earnings for female full-time, year-round workers: Johnson City $33,640 down 5.6%. Kingsport-Bristol $34,581 up 8.1%.

Social Security and retirement

Households receiving Social Security: Johnson City 32,824. Kingsport Bristol 58,012.

Mean Social Security income: Johnson City $17,983, up $518. Kingsport-Bristol: $19,165, up $781.

Households with retirement income: Johnson City 15,581, down 808. Kingsport-Bristol: 29,252, up 561.

Mean retirement income: Johnson City – $19,434, up $678. Kingsport-Bristol: $19,277, down $1,141.

SSI, public assistance, food stamps, poverty

Households with Supplemental Social Security: Johnson City – 3,643, down 1,298. Kingsport-Bristol 9,206, up 741.

Mean SSI income: Johnson City: $10,791, up $2,602. Kingsport-Bristol: $8,416, down $1,024.

Households with cash public assistance: Johnson City: 1,278, down 496. Kingsport-Bristol: 3,348, down 1,516.

Households with Food Stamp benefits in past 12 months: Johnson City: 12,143, down 2,850. Kingsport-Bristol: 19,281, down 906.

Overall poverty rate: Johnson City – 13.3%, up 0.2%. Kingsport-Bristol – 11.5%, down 1.3%.


New Census data shows Tri-Cities jobs, pay, income growth; public assistance declines

Despite some headwinds and stress signals, the Tri-Cities is enjoying a strong economy so far this year that is building on 2017 which new Census data shows was also a growth year.

American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2017 (released Sept. 13) and compared to 2016 data shows:

  • The population increased.
  • Median household and family incomes increased.
  • Median earnings for workers increased.
  • Per capita income increased.
  • More people had jobs.
  • The labor force increased.
  • The number of households with earnings increased.
  • The number of people receiving Supplemental Social Security Income declined.
  • The number of people receiving cash public assistance declined.
  • The number of people receiving food stamps declined.
  • The overall poverty rate decreased.

The health insurance comparison is mixed:

  • More people had private insurance
  • Fewer had public coverage
  • The number of people without insurance increased.

In many ways, 2017 was the year the regional economy began setting its new normal after a slow recovery from the Great Recession. This report will be followed during the comings weeks and months by localized reports on city, county and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) localizations. Next week Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data for 2017 will add additional perspective to the economies of the regional and metro area. This report uses the 1-year ACS because it’s more representative of current conditions than the 5-years ACS reports that will be released later this year. Supplemental data from the 1-year ACS will be released later this year and will afford additional data on cities and counties that did not meet the population benchmark for the core report.

One thing this comparison does not go into is the growing wealth disparity in the Tri-Cities. That situation will be the topic of a report in the coming weeks.


The region became the new home to 1,204 people last year giving the region a population of 509,376.

Of that increase, Sullivan and Washington counties claimed 857 new residents – 491 to Sullivan and 366 to Washington. The 1-year ACS population estimates have a margin of error of +/-0.2%

This counters the migration trend for the past couple of years when Washington County attracted the lion’s share of new residents. It’s also a downward adjustment from Census population projections released earlier this year. That report projected Sullivan would see an increase of 823 residents and Washington County see 586 new residents.

Attracting new residents is critical to the region since the death rate is higher than the birth rate.


The per capita income in 2017 inflation adjusted numbers for the region increased to $25,937. That’s a healthy 7.4% increase form what it was in 2016. While that’s better than the Tennessee increase of 6.3%, the region lags the state per capita income by $2,827.

The region’s median household income was $42,155 last year. That a 3.2% increase from the previous year. Tennessee’s median household income was up 5.8% to $51,340.

Tri-Cities’ family fared much better with a median household income increase of 6.7% to $54,926. The local increase was better than the state 3.7% increase, but Tennessee’s median family income is almost $12,000 higher than what it is in the Tri-Cities. Fortunately, the Tri-Cities has a lower cost of living than the state.

Earnings for full-time male and female workers were up 1.2%.  For males, the median was $41,304. For females, it was $34,072.


Civilian employment increased by 4,554 and the labor force increased by 3,477. The number of people not in the labor force declined by 1,058.

A broad drill-down from employment compared to 2016 shows:

  • Construction was down 3,281.
  • Manufacturing was up 6,933.
  • Retail trade increased 564.
  • Transportation, warehousing, and utilities declined 1,206.
  • Information increased 620.
  • Finance and insurance; and real estate, rental, and leasing increased 446.
  • Professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management services declined by 2,893.
  • Educational services, health care, and social assistance increased 2,252.
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services were up 1,080.
  • Other services – except public administration were down 364.
  • Public administration increased 644.

Here’s a capsule and comparison for the class of workers that illustrates the growth rate for each class.

  • Private wage and salary workers – 174,651, up 3,237 (+1.9%).
  • Government workers – 31,626, up 1,933 (+6.5%).
  • Self-employed in not incorporated businesses – 14,195, down 626 (-4.2%).


The number of households receiving Social Security increased by 1,574 last year to a total of 90,836. The average Social Security income was $18,738, up $696 from 2016.

Households with retirement income were down 247 to 44,833. The average retirement income was $19,322, down $482.


Contrary to some of the political rhetoric, the reliance on SSI, food stamps and cash public assistance declined last year.

SSI recipients totaled 12,849, down 557 from 2016. The average SSI benefit was $9,089, up $110.

There were 4,626 cash public assistance recipients, down 2,012 from the previous year. The average public assistance income was $1,908, up $58.

The number of food stamp recipients was 31,424, down 3,756 from 2016. The cash value of food stamps is not covered in the ACS report. A county by-by county drill down from state reports will follow in the coming weeks.


The region’s poverty rate (percent of families and people whose income in the past 12 months was below the poverty level) dropped to 16% from 17.8%. The state poverty rate was 15% down from 15.1%.

The poverty rate for people under 18 year was 23.2%, down from 25.3%. This state rate for this category 20.9% down from 25.9%.


The number of people with health insurance coverage totaled 458,785 last year. That’s an increase of 1,010.

Of that number, the number with private health insurance was 319,614, up 10,509.

The number with public coverage was 215,669, down 13,657.

There was 43,252 with no health insurance coverage, up 65.



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