Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Mistake #1 -- Pricing Your Property Too High
Every seller obviously wants to get the most money for his or her house. Ironically, the best way to do this is NOT to list your house at an excessively high price! A high listing price will cause some prospective buyers to lose interest before even seeing your property. It could also lead other buyers to expect more than what you have to offer. As a result, overpriced properties take an unusually long time to sell, and they usually end up being sold at a lower price.

Mistake #2 – Mistaking A Re-finance Appraisal for the Fair Market Value
Unfortunately, a re-finance appraisal may have been valued at a much higher price than Fair Market Value. Fair Market Value is the price a buyer on the open market is willing to pay for the property. Very often, appraisers place your property at a higher value during a re-finance because they take into consideration the number of years you have lived there and made the payments on time. The lender is more willing to loan a higher value to someone with a proven track record than they are a buyer who is about to purchase the same property. Also in this changing market, the market value of your home could actually be lower than a recent appraisal. Your best bet is to ask your Realtor for the most current information regarding property sales in your community. This will give you an up-to-date and factually accurate estimate of your property’s value.

Mistake #3 -- Forgetting to "Showcase Your Home"
In spite of how frequently this mistake is addressed and how simple it is to avoid, its prevalence is still widespread. When attempting to sell your home to prospective buyers, do not forget to make your home look as pleasant as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean, clean, clean. Make sure everything functions and looks it’s very best. A poorly kept home in need of repairs will lower the selling price of your property and will turn away a lot of buyers.

Mistake #4 -- Trying to "Hard Sell" While Showing
Buying a house is often an emotional and difficult decision. As a result, you, as the seller, should try to allow prospective buyers to comfortably and privately examine your property. Don't try haggling or forcefully selling. Instead, be friendly and hospitable. But, also don’t tell them too much about your situation either. A good idea would be to point out any subtle amenities and be receptive to questions.

Mistake #5 -- Trying to Sell to "Looky-Loos"
A prospective buyer who shows interest because of a "for sale" sign he saw may not really be interested in your property. Often buyers who do not come through a Realtor are a good 6-9 months away from buying, and they are more interested in seeing what is out there than in actually making a purchase. They may still have to sell their house, or may not be able to afford your house. They may still even be unsure as to whether or not they want to relocate. Your Realtor knows how to distinguish realistic potential buyers from mere lookers. Realtors usually pre-qualify a prospective buyer, by finding out about their savings, credit rating, and purchasing power in general. This will help you avoid wasting valuable time marketing towards the wrong people.

Mistake #6 -- Not Knowing Your Rights & Responsibilities
It is extremely important that you are well informed of the details in your real estate contract. Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, and they can often be complex and confusing. Not being aware of the terms in your contract could cost you thousands of dollars. Know what you are responsible for before signing the contract. Can the property be sold "as is"? How can deed restrictions, and local zoning laws affect your transaction? Not knowing the answers to these sorts of questions could end up costing you a considerable amount of time and money. This is where it pays to use a professional Realtor.

Mistake #7 -- Limiting the Marketing and Advertising of the Property
Chances are that you have a job, so you may not be able to get in touch with many potential buyers or be available to answer the phone during business hours. When you use a Realtor they will employ a wide variety of marketing techniques. Your Realtor will also be committed to selling your property. You should choose a Realtor who is a full-time Realtor so they are available for every phone call from a prospective buyer. Most calls are received, and open houses are scheduled, during business hours, so make sure to choose a Realtor that is working to sell your home during these hours.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Real Estate Reality Check - aka The Sky Has Not Fallen!

Okay, it's true – While most sales categories in Middle Tennessee are down about 27% from 2007. General activity is slower, some areas have slightly decreased prices, and there are some foreclosures. But, we have NOT seen an alarming loss of value in our market and, overall, the Middle Tennessee market has not experienced anything even near the market deflations of California, Michigan, or Florida.

The Real Estate Market here in Middle Tennessee is very much ALIVE, just not at the high activity level of 2005 and 2006. We must remember that 2005 was a record-breaking year for sales in the history of the Middle Tennessee MLS. Then 2006 broke the 2005 record, WOW, followed by 2007 which was the 5th best year on record (and it was down 25% from 2006).

There is ample cause for Sellers to be frustrated due to the lack of showings on their properties. After two years of multiple offers and homes flying off the market in record time, the Seller public is having a hard time adjusting to a more “normal” Middle Tennessee market.

The majority of this “slow-down” is simply supply and demand. The fact remains that there is still an inventory of 24,000+ properties for sale in Middle Tennessee. And with the buyer pool down about 27% from last year (2007), which was down about 25% from 2006, the average days on the market have gone up. The media’s hyperactive negative reporting of the US and Global economic news can be blamed for a good portion of the lack of buyer confidence.

Sellers are not only frustrated with higher days on the market, but decreased Buyer showings. However, with the advent of virtual tours, and lots of pictures available online, the fact is more and more Buyers are completing their research on the Internet and actually viewing fewer houses in person before they buy. This can cause a Seller to feel their house is being ignored, when in fact there could have been 3-4,000 people look at the house virtually via the Internet. (I have a Franklin listing (the house in the above picture) that has had over 48,000 views on, but only about a dozen actual showings.)

What I do know for sure is that everyone has to live somewhere and someone owns the property even if you rent. I also know for sure from this research that houses ARE selling . . . and Buyers ARE buying and that the sky hasn’t fallen even though this market more likely resembles 2001 not 2006.

Please remember, people always need to buy and people always need to sell for reasons unrelated to the market. Real estate is still a great investment in Middle Tennessee and this remains an EXCELLENT time to be in the market to BUY a house. Whether you need a primary residence or investment properties. Savvy investors always buy in a down market, because there are a lot more people choosing to rent. It can be an equally good time to sell a house, as well.

If you or anyone you know are contemplating a move but are hesitant to enter what appears to be a volatile market, you should contact me to arrange a time for us to meet so we can explore your unique situation and discover your options in this market.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reunion for descendents of Sam Webb Scales

Descendants of Samuel Webb Scales and Ada Jane Bellefant Scales gathered November 23, 2008 at the Arno United Methodist Church near College Grove, TN for their annual reunion.

Samuel Webb Scales, a descendant of Absalom G. and Martha Lavender Scales, married Ada Jane Bellefant December 22, 1886 and they resided at Triune, TN. This union produced seven children – Stella Scales (Wallace), Joe Scales, Urban Owen Scales, Charlie Lavender Scales, Mary Pearl Scales, Marvin B. Scales, and Pauline Scales (Camp).

Those present at the reunion are as follows:

Descended from Charlie L. Scales and Agnes Mae Tosh Scales:

Urban and Vivian Scales, and their daughter, Michelle Locke, and granddaughters, Merideth, & Molly

Charles Leroy and Katie Scales and their son Chris Scales with his wife Tonya and children Elijah, Sierra, and Taylor

Sandra Hill and her daughters, Shelly Hill & Jenny Steele and granddaughter, Emma Steele

Descended from Stella Scales and Jim Wallace:

JoeAnn Wallace

Becky Haley and her dad Mike Haley

Descended from Joe and Corrine Scales:

Beulah Scales Arney and her sons, Ronnie Arney & Joe Ben Arney

Descended from Marvin B. and Thelma Scales:

Sam A. Scales and his son Allen Scales and granddaughter

Barry Scales and daughter Scarlett Scales

The group enjoyed sharing a scrumptious pot-luck dinner. Several brought old photos and every one had stories from the past to share. They all look forward to next year’s gathering, which will be held on the Sunday before Thanksgiving with the location to be determined at a later date.

Many thanks to Vivian Scales from this author for all the hard work to pull this reunion together and host it at her church.

Friday, November 2, 2007

First Impressions

YOU MAY ONLY GET ONE CHANCE…Get your home ready for its first date!!!

Over the past 8 years, I've shown 1,000s of homes to hundreds of prospective buyers. One thing I have learned is the first impression is very often the last impression.

The average buyer may look at 5-10 homes in a single day. By the third or fourth home, they are overwhelmed, tired and even impatient. IF it is raining, hot/cold, or they are dragging children in and out of the car, they may not even hold out until house # 3 before they begin to ask "How many more homes do we have to see today?" To compete, your home has to get their attention in the first 45 seconds (about the time it takes for me to open the door and let them inside)...or they most likely say "Next!" If you don’t have great curb appeal, they may even decline to get out of the car.

Truthfully, you need to make sure you capture their interest even before they walk inside. While I'm opening the door, they are looking around and taking in the condition of the exterior...the landscaping...whether or not the entrance is inviting. A nicely manicured lawn and fresh exterior paint immediately tell the buyer that the home has been lovingly maintained. It sets the bar for what the buyer can expect to find inside.

What will make your home stand out from the last 4 or 5 they have seen?

1. Make sure that your home is clean and clutter free. (This is not negotiable!) I'm sure you wouldn’t go on a first date wearing sweat pants and a stained t-shirt. You may be your most comfortable in sweats, but they may not be very flattering. We all live in our homes and are perfectly comfortable in our home when it's messy. However, just as you would want to show off your best side on a first date, you want to show your home in its best light on "the first date." Another key component of this is not to place your home on the market until it is immaculate and ready to be shown.

2. Cover up the age signs! Okay...I KNOW you ladies never leave home without make-up. And, you guys primp, too! Even Hollywood stars don't shine as brightly without a little help from the makeup artist, hair stylist, and sometimes even an airbrush artist. Fresh paint, new flooring, (or at least professionally cleaned carpets), sparkling appliances will give your home a ‘move-in' feel that appeals to today's buyer. Remember, buyers are looking for the best home the market has to offer for their money. Is your home a perfect ten? You aren't even in the race if it’s not!

3. Have your home inspected and make the necessary repairs. Unless you are a super vigiliant repair person (or dating/married to one), you may have put off some maintenance items in your home. During the past 8 years, I’ve not seen a single house that was perfect on home inspection, but a couple were really close. Ninety-eight percent of buyers are going to have a home inspection, and the inspector is going to uncover the repairs that are not apparent to the naked eye. some point, if the first date goes well, there is going to be a second date with the home inspector, and possibly a third with the home appraiser. And one of these will discover the flaws you so cleverly disguised for the first date. It is always less expensive and less painful to take care of repairs upfront, before the buyer gets involved. Our goal is...NO RED FLAGS!!!

4. Get out of the house! You want the buyer to imagine what it would be like to live in your home, so you need to get out of the house. Take a walk...go to the mall...visit your Grandma. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it somewhere other than the house. Give the buyer some private time to bond with your home. If you stick around, odds are the buyer won't!
I hope this helps you look at your home from the perspective of a potential buyer. If you want more information on selling your home and/or buying a home in Middle Tennessee email me at

If you aren’t local to middle Tennessee, but you are thinking of placing your home on the market I can also put you in touch with a great real estate professional anywhere in the USA!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Changing Face of a Small Town

College Grove has been a small town that no one really cared about moving to until the past couple of years. Apparently, it seems everyone moving to Tennessee wants to move to Williamson County based on scholastic scores that are posted for the public school system.

Williamson County has about 7 different "areas" if you look at it from a real estate market view point. But if you are shopping for real estate, this popular county is known collectively in the multiple listing service as "Area 10."

First you have Brentwood, just south of Nashville, with a mix of old and new homes, nothing under $300k for a single family home. Brentwood seems to be locked in between Nashville and Franklin with no real place to expand.

Next, and in some places literally across the street from Brentwood, is Franklin, the seat of Williamson County's government. Dubbed "the best small town in Tennessee," Franklin has a great old part of town which boast a pre-Civil War era courthouse, great main street shopping, and beautiful old homes that have been renovated. There are also numerous newer homes in the surrounding spaces. Single family homes here start about $200k and just go right on up. Franklin has been expanding to the west for several years and has started to expand to the east in the past couple of years.

To the west of Franklin is the Leiper's Fork community which has, over the past 10 years, become a haven for upscale folk, artist, music personalities, Hollywood personalities, etc., looking for the privacy of living in the country, yet convenient to Music Row and the like. Market values in Leiper's Fork seem to go up every time another celebrity moves in. Apparently this small community, which has a Franklin zip code, has adopted some fairly strict restrictions on land development, also causing market values to be a premium.

Further west of Franklin and Leiper's Fork, almost to Dickson, is Fairview. Fairview still retains the flavor of a small country town. In this writer's opinion, the thing about Fairview is "you can't get there from here," and it really doesn't seem like it is a part of Williamson County. It seems to just be there between Nashville and Hickman County. The booming real estate market of the past 2-3 years has had some impact on Fairview, but nothing compared to other areas of the county. The lack of a large sewage treatment system has curtailed the development of subdivisions.

To the east of Brentwood/Franklin is the quaint, small town of Nolensville. This town also predates the Civil War and was a stage coach stop on the highway that leads to College Grove. Nolensville incorporated several years ago probably to avoid being absorbed by Franklin and Brentwood. This town has a really neat retail area located in the old store front buildings. Nolensville is also just south of the Nashville/Davidson County line. This area has become most recently a popular destination for upper-middle class families moving out of Nashville to the south. The sudden, recent growth and development here is the result of this town being connected to the Nashville Metro Sewer System. Nolensville sponsors a lot of community events and still feels like a small country town, but not for long. Housing prices for new construction homes start around $300k.

South of Franklin about 10 minutes down the I-65 corridor is Thompson's Station and Spring Hill. Spring Hill is technically a Maury County town with the government being on that side of the county line. This area was the "sticks" when this writer was growing up. Then GM built the Saturn plant and Spring Hill has never been the same. In the early years of GM being in town, it seemed the economy and the housing market was dependent on the population of the auto plant to support it. However, over the past 10 years, this area has become the most popular move-to location for middle class families coming here from all over the US. Home prices in this area have been "affordable" for many years. But, alas, the hot market of the past 2-3 years has seen an increase in the numbers of folks moving to Williamson County and with this being an area with the most expansion space, there are lots of new homes in the $400k range. There are, however, still lots of new homes being built that are in the low $200k range. Thompson Station is pressed right in between Franklin and Spring Hill and these communities sort of just "run together" like Franklin and Brentwood to the north.

As the recent hot real estate market heated up, Williamson County seemed to be running out of areas that were undeveloped. Land in the College Grove area has consisted of large family-held agricultural parcels since Tennessee became a state. More than a few of these have remained in the possession of founding families for 200 years. But, as the patriarchs and matriarchs pass, the importance of the family farm weakens with the temptation of big bucks. When this writer was newly married in 1975, raw land at auction brought about $2,000 per acre for a 5-6 acre tract. Nowadays, it seems this area will be mostly developed into 5-6 acre estate lots largely due to the fact there is not and probably will not be any large sewer systems in this end of the county. Most recently the going price for a 5-6 acre tract is averaging around $35-40,000 per acre. Two very large tracts, 500 acres and 1,000 acres, sold this year for development as golf course communities. These communities will be private gated communities with homes starting around $600k and going up to $1.5 million.

It's looking as though College Grove is the "next Big Thing" in Williamson County. Oh, by the way, College Grove is also home to more than one music celebrity as well.

Personal note: This writer's maternal grandmother was upset when her husband, Charles Lavender Scales, borrowed $900 to buy 110 acres of his grandfather's homeplace from an uncle in the early 1930's and "and we couldn't even live in the house, it was being used to store hay."

Absalom Scales Homplace
toward the end of the
19th Century

Absalom Scales Homeplace
as it appears today

Thursday, September 6, 2007

In the beginning

Hundreds of years before Europeans settled in what was to become Williamson County the area was home to at least five prehistoric cultures. Over many centuries these occupants of the Harpeth Valley progressed from a nomadic existence to a settled lifestyle in fortified villages along the Big Harpeth River and its tributaries. One such prehistoric culture site exists along the Harpeth River near College Grove. When the first white scouts and long hunters ventured onto the land, tribes of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Shawnees were sharing its bounty in a migratory fashion.

From the time these European settlers, mostly Scottish, Irish and English, began the attempt to wrest the area from the Indians, they were determined to have the rich, well-watered meadows and forests at any costs. They paid dearly for their desire to settle this region prior to treaties being signed, and several lost their lives to the tomahawks and arrows of those first Williamson Countians who were only defending their hunting grounds.

By 1798 a few white settlers were permanently established in the area. In 1799 Major Anthony Sharp sold 640 acres of his enormous military grant to Abram Maury, who laid out the county seat of Franklin, named for Benjamin Franklin, on 109 acres of this property in 1800. The little village with its huddle of log cabins was half-circled by the Big Harpeth River. Both the city of Franklin and Williamson County were created by the Tennessee General Assembly on October 26, 1799. Carved from neighboring Davidson, the new county was named for Dr. Hugh Williamson, a Revolutionary patriot and distinguished statesman from North Carolina.

Many of the early settlers came to claim grants awarded to them for their Revolutionary War service. Others bought land from those who chose not to settle here. Soon representatives of every honorable profession were calling the county home. Possibly its fame could be laid in part to its fine schools dotting the countryside. Franklin and Triune (5 miles north of College Grove) were noted for their male and female academies. At this same time College Grove was being settled by early families such as Allison, Ogilvie, Demonbreum, Hughes, Rogers, Cannon, Covington, Gentry, Page, *Scales, and Webb.

Once known as Harpeth and then Poplar Grove, the name was changed for the last time in 1861 to College Grove when a post office was established and it was discovered that another Poplar Grove already existed in Tennessee. The name College Grove was chosen in honor of a boy’s school and a female seminary in the community.

Prior to 1861 Williamson County was the third wealthiest county in Tennessee. Its riches were derived from its productive soil, timber, and livestock. Almost wholly loyal to the South, Franklin and its surrounding communities suffered extreme hardships during Union army occupation from 1862-65. The battle of Franklin was a bloody conflict fought on November 30, 1864, between the forces of Confederate General John B. Hood and those of Union General John M. Schofield.

There were many encampments of both Union and Confederate soldiers in the College Grove area resulting in numerous skirmishes throughout this area.

The extent of destruction associated with the war, the collapse of slavery, and the political upheaval associated with Reconstruction produced years of uncertainty before recovery began for the citizens of the county and College Grove.

Up until recent years Williamson was a rural, agriculture-based county with very little manufacturing. The town of College Grove is no different. Even though development is quickly moving in with new communities such as Laurel Cove, which will boast a Greg Norman golf course, College Grove still retains is small-town country charm.

From 1980 to 2000 businesses became more diversified and Williamson became one of the fastest growing counties in the state, with major development taking place in residential, retail, office, and manufacturing properties. Williamson County's population boomed like no other county in the state between 1990 and 2000. The county grew to 126,638 residents an increase of 56.3 percent in ten years.

Such rapid growth and the construction of new highways, schools and malls in rural areas, hitherto untouched by progress, have created enormous stress in many places. These developments have resulted in the loss of private homes, historic landmarks, cemeteries, springs, and open spaces. However, in the face of all this change College Grove still retains it’s small town charm. Visit the best kept secret in Williamson County.

* Note from the Host: Scales is my mother’s maiden name. My great, great, great, great grandfather, Absalom Scales, settled in the College Grove area in1798, moving his family from Rockingham County, North Carolina. I currently reside in a pre-Civil War house built by my great, great grandfather (also Absalom Scales) on a portion of the original land grant that remains in our family to this day.