By DON FENLEY
TRI-CITIES, Tenn. – After outperforming the other Tri-Cities area housing markets all year, Greeneville has turned downward on the region’s only long-term sales trend tracker. Since the tracker relies on monthly existing home sales ending in the 12-month period for the reporting period it moves moved in increments as small as four or five sales during the 12 months. It’s a slow-moving, but clearly defined trend picture that doesn’t show up on the standard year-over-year comparisons.
The Tri-Cities area market’s decline began softening in November. The trend isn’t necessarily bad news. According to some top housing studies, the region’s odds of price declines are slight, even though they’re rated as overvalued by as much as 40% in the Kingsport-Bristol metro area. What that means is the price growth rate will slow, but the base prices won’t revert to yesteryear’s levels. That defines some basic changes to the area’s housing fundamentals have occurred. It suggests a market performance pattern forward for both housing and the economy.
The most noticed shift is the base home price has increased. It’s now in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. Currently, the area median (“in the middle”) price is just under $300,000. While it’s an affordability issue for some locals because local wages have not kept pace, it continues to position local housing as attractive to the relocation buyer. That’s important because housing is key to attracting new residents and growing the local economy.
A deeper look shows that home prices in the various price ranges from $300,000 to $600,000 are within the 25% market share for all sales. That identified a market where housing is not so expensive it curbs relocation plans for the work from anywhere group, early retirees, and younger families. The most recent regional Census data also illustrates how household income groups are changing. Households with a median income level of $200,000 and up account for only about 5% of the total. They have increased 34%. Households with a $150,000 to $199,999 income also account for 5% of the total and have increased by 22.9% since the pandemic. The largest percentage of households are in the $50,000 to $75,000 income range. They account for almost 20% of all households and increased by about 3.5% since the pandemic.