Kingsport-Bristol home seller profits soar

Kingsport-Bristol home sellers pocketed a $45,100 home-price gain on a typical sale last year – a profit gain of 22.2% from 2019.

Profits rose in 90% of the U.S. housing markets with enough data to analyze in ATTOM Data Solution’s 2020 Home Sales Report.  It was the highest-level U.S. gain since at least 2005.

Markets included were Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with 200,000 population and/or at least 5,000 sales. Although the Tri-Cities is one marketplace, it is divided into two MSAs, and only Kingsport-Bristol met a benchmark.

There were 4,106 sales in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol MSA last year and 3,033 in the three-county Johnson City MSA. Kingsport-Bristol was included because it has a little over 300,000 population. Johnson City has a little over 200,000.

Although the Johnson City metro area was not included in the analysis, judging from other housing market data sellers’ profits last year were equal to or exceeded the Kingsport-Bristol levels reported in the ATTOM analysis.

There is only one example of how the Tri-Cities market’s designation as two MSAs distorts regional economic and statistical updates, but that’s another story.

The $45,100 profit on median-priced single-family Kingsport-Bristol homes and condos was a 50.1% return on investment compared to the original price. That’s up from 42.9% in 2019 and 33.1% in 2018. It was the highest gains since 2005’s 38%.

Kingsport’s housing market has been one of the strongest in the region during the past two years. Much of that was driven by a larger supply of affordable homes and a state forgivable loan program in the 37660 area.

The combination of rising profits and record prices came during a year when the national and local housing markets fended off damage that affected wide swaths of the economy after Coronavirus began spreading in late February. Unemployment hit Great Depression levels after almost 19,000 local residents lost their jobs as businesses cut back or closed down. But the housing market boom that began in 2016 made a sharp “V” shaped recovery in early summer. Buyers who were unaffected by the layoffs and groups of new residents looking to escape to lower tax areas chased the declining supply of homes and pushed prices even higher.

The average sales price across the Johnson City MSA increased 13.7% last year. They were up 12.1% in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA. Across the Tri-Cities, region prices were up 13.1% higher, according to the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) Home Sales Report. Home prices rose at least 10% in more than half of the counties included in ATTOM’s report, and most markets hit new highs.

ATTOM’s chief product officer, Todd Teta’s summation of the analysis on the national level also sums up the local situation.

“Last year marked a unique year in the history of home prices and profits in the United States. A once-in-a-century health crisis tore through much of the nation’s economy but seemed to have the opposite effect on the housing market,” Teta said. “Demand remained strong as people who could afford the space, and relative safety of single-family homes did just that, aided by super-low mortgage rates and a strong stock market. But they went after a narrowing supply of housing stock, so prices soared, and so did seller profits. While it’s unclear how long that will last, in the annals of history, there will be few years recorded as better for sellers and more challenging for buyers.”

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