Special to Nashville Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK newsrooms in Tennessee
No one knows exactly what the new normal will look like, but for homeowners like Will and Amanda Street, it includes a newly built house in a growing neighborhood.
“We just felt like it was the right time” to buy, said Will Street.
For developers like Bob Parks, it means going ahead and adding pools and clubhouses at new neighborhoods like Shelton Square in Murfreesboro and Hardeman Springs in Arrington.
The Streets closed on their new house in the Preserve at Stewart Creek neighborhood on April 10. Their builder, Ole South, is actively building in the community, located in Smyrna close to interstates 24 and 840.
“From the day we put a contract on our house, the whole street was empty. Now it’s full of homes, 20 or 25 homes,” he said.
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New homes still in demand
For home buyers like the Streets, buying a house is still a good financial decision. They sold their former residence, a townhome in the nearby Lee Crossing community, for the full asking price within a week and half of putting it on the market in January.
They made enough profit to pay off $36,000 in student debt and set enough aside for Amanda Street to complete her studies at MTSU to become a teacher.
Despite the headwinds buffeting the economy and the need to take precautions such as showing homes by appointment, Ole South’s sales of new homes are up 11 percent over this time last year. The company is active in neighborhoods across the region in Nashville and Cheatham, Williamson, Rutherford and Maury counties, said Vice President Trey Lewis.
“People do have housing needs, and we’re here to help them,” he said.
Some buyers are local, like the Streets, who moved from a home they purchased new from Ole South 12 years ago. Others are moving from other cities and states.
“Tennessee, even though we’re in a state of uncertainty, our quality of life is better than a lot of states and people want to live here,” said Lewis.
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Schools, amenities drive sales
Ole South is one of the companies selected to build homes in Shelton Square, where 360 Development just opened a new section of 77 home sites. Another 59 lots are being released to builders in the next 60 to 90 days.
“We feel very comfortable releasing these new home sites at this time,” said 360 Development’s owner, Bob Parks. “All of our builders were eager to purchase the home sites and have a very optimistic outlook for the rest of 2020.”
“Although our traffic was down considerably in late March and the first three weeks of April, we have seen a significant comeback in traffic and sales over the last couple of weeks,” he said.
Shelton Square will have more than 700 homes when complete, with prices ranging from the low $300,000s to the $900,000s.
The range of prices and the quality of the local schools are driving sales. Buyers looking past the time when social distancing is necessary are attracted by the community’s amenities, said Parks.
Those features will include a clubhouse, adult and children’s pools, a dog park, a playground, open play fields and walking trails. The swimming pools, dog park and playground are expected to open this summer.
“Construction crews were still working,” said Parks Realtor Lisa Barrett, who is a buyer’s agent for Shelton Square.
In Hardeman Springs, located east of Franklin along Highway 96 in Arrington, 360 has been busy working on the community amenities. The neighborhood of 118 homes will have a pool, a pavilion, a tot lot and a walking trail.
“We are moving full speed ahead with our pool and pool house at Hardeman Springs and are on target to open this summer,” said Parks.
“At Hardeman Springs as well as at our general real estate brokerage, we have seen accelerated showings and pending sales week-over-week since the first of March. The real estate market still appears to be very healthy in Middle Tennessee,” he said.