I had a very spirited discussion with a colleague last week about the differences between our real estate markets today versus the pre-housing market downturn. I have been a realtor and developer in Rutherford County since 1993 and have noticed many changes in our local residential market today compared to 10 years ago.
I have included, what I think, are the most significant changes after the crash:
The Big Boys Are Here
Prior to 2007, most of the new construction in Rutherford County was built by local “mom and pop” companies. A big reason for this is that most of the local development was created by three men: Bob Parks, Howard Wall, and James Rowland. These men also owned residential brokerage companies, as well, so it was advantageous for them to sell lots to local builders to keep the listing commissions in-house.
When the market shifted, however, publicly-held companies such as NVR took advantage and purchased some bank owned developments and the rest, as they say, is history.
Before the crash I can only think of one publically held builder, Centex (now Pulte) who had a presence here but now they are too numerous to count. DR Horton, Ryan Homes, LGI, and Lennar are just a few of the national builders currently building in Rutherford County.
Developments have become more master planned and lots have gotten smaller. We are seeing more planned urban neighborhoods featuring segmented housing styles connected with sidewalks. They incorporate landscaped green spaces, pools, and other amenities to compensate for smaller lot size. Although homes are closer together the landscape design and tightly restricted covenants give these neighborhoods a clean, appealing feel and have become very popular.
Puckett Station on the West side of Murfreesboro, for example, features three distinct housing options. There are the Villas which are townhomes, The Knolls which is a small lot hardi-plank offering, and the Preserve which is a larger lot, executive style home concept. This allows buyers in several different price points the opportunity to live in the same development and share the same amenities.
Today’s new construction homes are usually built on slab foundations and offer multiple exterior textures such as brick or partial brick, stone, cement board, and vinyl. Prior to 2007 most homes were brick or partial brick and vinyl combinations and were built on crawlspace block foundations.
Another interesting floor plan trend, influenced by the “tract builder” mentality of cost efficiency, is locating the master bedroom upstairs. Prior to the crash this was deemed taboo in our local market but has become much more acceptable by the “younger family” who enjoys having the kids bedrooms close to the master. This also allows for much larger kitchens and living areas downstairs.