Fast-growing residential real estate agency Benchmark Realty has opened an office in Murfreesboro to go with its Brentwood home office. Principal Broker Mickie Howell (pictured here) is leading the location, which also is home to agents John Smith, Leslie Wright, Cindy and Matt Moore, Shauna Mason, Bobbie Jo Brewster, Tim Boyce, Brenda Walsh, Emily Flanders and Sherri Wellborn. CEO Phillip Cantrell, who launched Benchmark in the spring of 2006, says he's looking to open other offices in the Nashville area.
“We are blessed with absolutely amazing growth. Even in the down market we have continued to add nearly 15 agents each month, largely because we offer 100% commission for a fixed monthly fee. Our model allows agents to exert firm control over their expenses – something no other company offers to the extent we do. Agents tell me they come for the savings, but they stay because of the nurturing environment,” says Cantrell.
Clear Capital says U.S. home prices, which fell 2.1 percent in 2011, should rise slightly this year. But not surprisingly, the numbers will vary significantly from city to city, even within the same region of the country. Perhaps more surprisingly, Clear Capital's researchers say the price of the average home in Nashville will lose 3.8 percent of its value in the coming 12 months, adding to a drop of 4.8 percent last year. Memphis and Charlotte are among our regional peers that are projected to fare much better.
“Although the national numbers suggest markets are flat, when looking at individual metro markets it turns out only 24% of them showed signs of stabilization in 2011, while the others are still moving more dramatically higher or lower. What’s most interesting is that the lower segments of appreciating markets are driving much of the current price growth. In places like Florida, which have historically been hard hit, we are now seeing considerable activity in lower-end properties as demand continues to heat up.”
Research firm CoreLogic says 1.9 percent of Nashville-area homes with mortgages were foreclosed on in October. That's more than 30 basis points higher than in October 2010 and the highest level since February of last year. Also worth noting: During the fourth quarter of 2010, the region's foreclosure rate jumped to 1.89 percent from 1.5 percent. If the end of 2011 produced a jump even half that big, foreclosures would easily — and for the first time during this downturn — top 2 percent of all Nashville-area homes. That would suggest the housing slump is nearing its end as both stretched borrowers throw in the towel and exhausted bankers finally pull the plug on struggling credits.
SEE ALSO: Mortgage delinquency data showing little progress from last month
Shares of Louisiana-Pacific took a bit of a beating Monday after TD Newcrest Graham Meagher downgraded them to 'reduce' from 'hold' following a very nice run from the market's early-October lows. Meagher, who now sees LP going to $6.50, isn't tweaking any other company-specific forecasts but also isn't upbeat about home construction in 2012.
"We do not forecast a recovery in U.S. housing until 2013 at the earliest, and while we encourage investors to take a countercyclical approach, we see better risk/reward elsewhere in the wood products sector."
Despite their recent run, LP shares (Ticker: LPX) are down about 24 percent so far this year.
Housing market research firm CoreLogic is out with its latest set of delinquency and foreclosure statistics for the Nashville area and the news is very so-so. The number of home loans at least 90 days delinquent has stopped trending down while the rate of foreclosures is at its highest point since February. Drilling down to foreclosures, little appears to have changed from June's numbers.
October numbers from CoreLogic show that the Middle Tennessee housing market is holding on to the small year-over-year price gains it began posting this summer. Statewide, October home prices were off 0.2 percent, including distressed sales, but up 0.4 percent without them.
In Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.2 percent in October 2011 compared to October 2010 and increased by 0.6 percent* in September 2011 compared to September 2010. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices increased by 1.6 percent in October 2011 compared to October 2010 and increased by 0.6 percent* in September 2011 compared to September 2010.