The answer to your biggest home buying question…

Imagine the first moment that you get over that hurdle – I’m going to buy a house!


Closing Time at Hutch & Howard!

It’s a mixture of excitement and terror. The biggest purchase you’re likely to make for a while. Short of having a child or starting a new full-time business there’s hardly anything in this life that changes your perspective on EVERYTHING than changing where you call home. Your home is your identity – it reflects and affects what you do in your personal time, how you see yourself. It determines who your neighbors are… or whether you’ll ever see anyone when you get home.

The first day that I meet up with new buyers there are always a TON of questions – just like a journalist I ask the basic questions Who (is making the decisions about the purchase), What (type of home are you looking for), When (do you need to be there – are you ready to go NOW? Also, how available are you to go look at homes) Where (do you want to have your new home – what type of location), Why (what’s changing in your life to motivate the big move), and finally How (the biggest question of all!)

Most of these are easy questions – for example: “I am getting married, we want OUR house, we’re thinking we’ll want to grow our family and have a baby in the next few years and we need a home office so at least 3 bedrooms, we’d rather have a house than a condo, our leases are up in a couple months and we’d love to have a week to move so closing right before the lease is up would be ideal, we both grew up in Halls and would like to be somewhere between Powell and Corryton – I work downtown so, hopefully no more than 15 minutes from there.” That is where the easy questions give way to the BIG question – HOW.

If you’ve been saving up over the years and if you have the funds ready to buy with cash it’s another very easy question. If not, the question of HOW takes an interesting turn. Looking at coming up with the funds to buy the house you want involves talking about how much house you want to buy. Getting pre-qualified by a great (ideally local) lender is one of first steps with his. It tells you how much you CAN spend – how much they’ll be willing to lend you based on your credit history, your employment status and other information. After you’ve gotten this information you have to determine what you WANT to spend. Usually the banks will lend about 1/3 of your annual income toward buying a home – financed and forecast over 30 years.

We will have conversations about this. Our goal is that your new home will be a blessing, not over-bought or needing more maintenance than you want to take on.

Below is an amortization table that will help with knowing what your loan will look like, it shows the principle and interest costs per $1,000 borrowed, once you find out about the interest rate for your loan.



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WhyKnox? Hutch & Howard at Visit Knoxville

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to sit down with one of my favorite Knoxville podcasters – literally and figuratively Jody Collins of Feral Giant towers over the competition. Standing at 6’7″ smart, funny and infectiously engaging, Jody has recorded hundreds of hours with a wide range of Knoxville people from all walks of life, highlighting great stories of KnoxLife as well as the experiences of those who have wandered to and from Knoxville. The “fish out of water” stories that have sometimes become a theme in his interviews – Knoxville people out in the world at large and in every situation from creating topiaries in London to mission trips to Brazil.

I have joined him a few times talking about general life in Knoxville on the Ramblin’ Man podcast, and more recently on a show that Jody has hosted for Visit Knoxville called Why Knox? There we discussed loving Knoxville and talked a bit more about my 17 years as a Knoxville Realtor and how Hutch & Howard works.

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Realty Mad Season in the Age of Coronavirus

As an “on the ground” REALTOR (one who actually works with real estate clients in an age of people who purport to be your agent while having a crew of 20+ agents covering all aspects of the agency with the “lead agent” just serving as a figurehead) for the past 17 years, I have learned some of the patterns of realty.

When they first are thinking of selling, friends/clients ask when to put their house on the market. I always tell them Valentine’s Day – that is the ceremonial first day of real estate Mad Season in Knoxville and East Tennessee. The reasons are simple – the first sunny day after Valentine’s Day has always been the time when people figuratively come out of the woodwork looking for a new home, looking to sell and move up (or down) and the sales inventory is always historically low. 

This has been a tactical advantage for the people I have helped with listing their homes during this time, since this is also a time when the biggest annual moves in pricing have happened, when homes have appraised for higher and people are able to get the more for their property through cash offers and highly motivated buyers coming in for career moves and other corporate-sponsored relocations where companies help their new management and executives come to Knoxville or sell their homes as they move to another city for advancement.

Hutch & Howard

Our small 5 person team each knows about our transactions and we discuss what’s going on in our weekly meetings and throughout the week – Carrie Mays is our Director of Everything – she’s the broker who knows what’s really going on with each transaction. We call this Mad Season because often my real estate team is working like mad – especially after coming out of comparatively near-hibernation during the preceding holiday season.

It’s not unusual to have 35 or more homes going under contract per month between mid-February and mid-May, when traditionally most sellers catch on that it’s a seller’s market and begin to flood the area with FSBO signs that eventually become our listings after a couple weeks of seeing what we do.

This year in the middle of Mad Season, the Chinese government “released the Kraken” in the form of the evil COVID-19 super virus, that has become the bane of American existence as well as a mass-murderer across the world. While this has had devastating effects on the global economy, has temporarily quashed international (and much of domestic) travel, Mad Season has struggled on. In the past few weeks we have listed and sold 34 homes, several buyers have been moving from areas that are ravaged by the virus, others are part of the movement that was described above – moving for jobs, retiring from high-tax states to the mountains and more tax-friendly climes of East Tennessee. 

Suttree’s Landing

Here with all the flowering trees blooming and people jogging with their dogs around our gently rolling neighborhoods – “sheltering in place” isn’t nearly as foreboding as in a speedier culture where life only revolves around large cultural gatherings with strangers. We still have LOTS of events and usually mingle with crowds – it just still feels like a “bigger city problem” for many of us.

While pollen and yellow-jackets are still the most obvious perils – there is plenty of fear – social distancing and Zoom meetings are just as much a part of Knoxville life as anywhere else, though today’s Second Bell on-line music festival promises to be fun. It’s still a pale and sickly cousin to the fun of wandering around Suttree’s Landing with friends (and friendly strangers) sampling food truck fare and sampling the wares of one of the 100s of new micro-breweries that continued to pop up in the exploding economy of the past few years. 

I can only imagine this is how those in the Roaring 20s of last century felt when the market crash of 1929 happened – leading to the Depression of the 1930s. God forbid that history repeats itself. We can only hope that (albeit slow in the beginning) sharp and decisive actions of the government will keep everything afloat while this all passes. That the strength of the American economy will be enough to carry us through what is proving to be “interesting times.”

Looking forward to the day when we can congregate together freely again.

The virus has had me in a quandary – they say the time to buy is when there is a panic like this one – there are still buyers wanting to see homes. There is still business there waiting to happen. I know with the relief package comes stimulus and I’m not afraid to don some gloves and a mask along with my glasses and go look at some houses!  This season is a little less mad, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to put in a 16 hour day. I just have a pact with my wife that the clothes go in the laundry, everything is swabbed down with disinfectant and I catch a long hot shower before going in for a welcome home hug and kiss.

Hutch & Howard is part of Keller Williams – Farragut / Hardin Valley. Each Keller Williams office independently owned and operations. The main office phone number is 865-966-5005. You can reach Rob Howard at 865-385-9070 or Brandon Hutchison at 865-216-2009.

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Novembruary in Knoxville!

It’s an old and popular adage – I know it’s applied in a lot of places – but nowhere is it likely to be truer than in East Tennessee… “If you don’t like the weather – wait a few minutes!” Indeed today in Knoxville is the mightiest example of it – our blazingly beautiful autumn colors of the Maples, Elms, Poplars and other native trees are all arrayed in the richest Reds, Yellows, Oranges and all shades in between – contrasted with the deep rich greens of the Pines and Cedars – while today they have a bonus crystalline white frosting of snow! 

Snow … Fall!

Nothing says “Novembruary” like East Tennessee Autumn peak leaf-peeping season set off in a carpet of a few inches of the amazing, temporary white stuff. This is even more striking when ya think about the last 24 hours. Last night when I went to sleep the temperature was a wonderfully comfortable 62 degrees with a morning drop of exactly 30! 

Our mornings lately have certainly had the crisp chill of the seasons turning, just enough to give me second thoughts about taking the dog for his early morning wander throughout our neighborhood. Time change, when we “Fall Back” would normally make the 5:30 trip into a nearly crazy 4:30 event – somehow my body also went into hibernation mode with 6:30 feeling like the natural time to awaken. 

SnowVember! Yes, the Christmas Tree is indeed up before Thanksgiving!

Like the weather – it seems only the hardiest, most motivated buyers and sellers are raising their hands to buy and sell their homes this time of year. With the uncertainty of what the economy is likely to do in the next year or so, our business is marked by folks who are coming to or leaving town for more marked reasons than other times of the year – job relocations, retiring from high-tax to low-tax states and coming to be near family are the main reasons people are giving these days for their moves. 

Never too cold to call Hutch & Howard!

In the past few weeks I have helped friends find an agent wherever they are moving (whether outside the state or in areas that Hutch & Howard aren’t members of the MLS, and helped several others who have sent their friends to me for help in their relocation from elsewhere to the Knoxville area. I love these types of referrals because I know I’m sending my friends to highly qualified agents wherever they’re going. I also feel a special need to treat the folks they have entrusted to me as I expect them to treat my folks. If you’re thinking of moving to or from Knoxville we’d love to help – if you’re leaving town let us help you find an agent in your new town!

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Sept 11th – my memory.

Earlier today I was looking at my calendar and planning things to do for the next month and in tiny muted letters – as the calendar always marks “holidays” the words Patriot Day seemed to whisper a memory.

I was fairly freshly out of UT and still working in Marketing for the food service company there. I’d began a new job traveling from West Virginia to North Georgia working at other small colleges and helping them with their marketing.

On that day I was in my home basement office – typing up purchase orders for some new signage when my boss Fred called and in a hardly decipherable Cajun English garble he mumbled something about planes exploding in New York and that I should turn on the TV.

Like the rest of America and the free world I sat and stared – gobsmacked – while they replayed the plane hitting. Then ANOTHER plane hit it live!

I was sick, I prayed, I fretted and mentally traveled there trying to catch my breath in all the dust that enveloped everything in the images I was seeing on the screen.

I called everyone and told them, I tried to think about what friends might be in NYC or Washington or Shanksville, PA. I had friends who had family in the Twin Towers – I’d be surprised if anyone in America was more than a couple degrees of separation from someone in the wide and varied population that died that day – but I lost nobody that I knew directly.

In this – the season of Patriot Day – 18 years removed – it’s amazing how much the terrorists have taken from us. How much fear has grown and metastasized through the culture. How many of their own families and interests have been obliterated in both retaliation, escalation and hatred. And how America has gotten more like them – hate and love have always been a large part of our culture and that of the terrorist perpetrators of that day.

I remember the blossoming of Americana in the ensuing days, the sad memorials, the striking stories and quirky incidents. The awe inspiring Freedom tower that rose from the ashes and the moment of panic that rose in my stomach a few weeks ago when I was waiting in the mile-long TSA line when I noticed my (ever-present) pocket knife was in my stuff as I was getting ready to board a plane.

Life has changed. People are more polarized, untrusting and patriotic for what they believe is right. But worst of all the freedom that we all enjoyed has given way to an insular protectionism that values safety over liberty and often those who wish it was like before (like me) are becoming relics.

I am heartened working with my young cousin, my intern, in her second year of college. She who was 3 years old when the planes took down the towers. She grew up in this world and is flourishing. She and other young people in my family are not like my generation – they have hope and irresistible optimism. That hope and love of God and each other is all we’ve got to build upon.

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Knoxville: Old North Bungalows and Riverfront Condos

This weekend I was showing a condo that looked out on the Tennessee River – it was a great place, looking out over weekenders in their pontoons, paddleboards, these crazy water-bicycles that looked like they might be harder to operate than the person who rented them might’ve expected. The condo was lovely in it’s own right without such a spectacular view of the new Suttree Landing Park. There were things that I would personally change and my client asked what I’d suggest – all my suggestions, I realized later, would have made the 1990s vintage place look and feel more like the 1890s homes in the Old North Knoxville and Fourth & Gill areas that I personally love so much. He liked many of the ideas, but we both realized at the same time that the suggestions would be tough to pull off in a “newer” place. At the end we agreed that putting in hardwood floors would be an age-appropriate improvement over some of the other ideas.

In a fit of self-awareness I realized that he wasn’t asking for my ideas on how I’d make it my own favorite spot in Knoxville, but how to make it perfect for him. In that moment I started asking better questions and tailoring answers and ideas – even suggesting other locations that might make his home happen more easily. We may end up circling back the “million dollar view” that would be nearly impossible to find elsewhere, and in the price range. If we do that he’ll have seen a few more places that might help him craft that place into HIS place.

Earlier in the day I’d done a final walk-through inspection of a home in Oakwood-Lincoln Park neighborhood before a closing scheduled for this week. My suggestions would have made the condo (priced well over $300,000) more closely resemble the beautiful old house a couple miles away that was about ⅓ the price. The next time someone asks what I’d do to a place, I think I’ll dig a little deeper in my experience than the last home I saw that I loved. 

Whether it’s a riverfront condo, a charming bungalow or the suburban family home that you’re looking for we’d love to help with the search and help you sell your current place to someone who’ll love it like we do!

Hutch & Howard – Keller Williams
11400 Parkside Dr. #120 Knoxville TN 37934
Office: 865-966-5005
Cell: 865-216-2009 or 865-385-9070

Each Keller Williams office is independently owned and operated.

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Who do you recommend in Knoxville?!

Since I began real estate in Knoxville when this century was in its beginning to turn, one constant and consistent question has come from friends, clients, customers and other folks I talk with who learn that I’m a REALTOR.

“Who do should I use for _________?”

Get your home ready to sell!

The blank has been everything from local trash pick-up, plumbers, handymen, electricians, central heat and air repair folks, deck builders, new home contractors, lawn contractors, home inspection people, painters, lenders, roofers…….. – basically every service known to the Knoxville homeowner! As people come and go in business I have noticed a trend — first the vendor decides they’re going into business for themselves, next they promote and attend events and other things where we’d meet. I’d send them some of my friends and they’d do an amazing job for them. Then they get popular, busy and harder to get lined up or totally unresponsive. For this reason, I’ve gotten more and more resistant to recommending folks – though I know Word of Mouth is the best way to grow and maintain a business. I’ve probably been guilty of doing that myself at stages in the past – but that’s one reason we teamed up and added members to my own team who make sure that we are responsive, even when I’m personally running in 6 directions!

Real Estate is Fun with Hutch & Howard!

Here is a list of some of the folks who’ve proven to do a great job and show up on time. I don’t have agreements with any of these that I get paid when someone uses them or anything like that, though if they ever want to send me a buyer or seller, or if they want to do co-marketing or share the cost of advertising I’m happy to talk!

These are folks who’ve proven in the real world that they’re awesome – in Dave Ramsey’s words – here are my Endorsed Local Providers!


Lenders – There are so many great lenders in town, but I’ve had wonderful luck with communication and getting deals closed and general awesome experience with Foundation Mortgage Nick Galbraith, Josh Purvis and Trevor Hill are all great. Their office number is 865-392-5450. Other good folks with different companies include Joe Pace and Adrian Hall.

Home Inspectors – Home inspectors seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days. I choose to recommend some of them based on the temperament and level of fear that the buyers have. Everyone I work with creates a comprehensive report, but some highlight things that MIGHT become an issue and extreme checklist person – my engineers – I really like Ethan Hotchkiss with Brass Tacks. If you’re more squeamish and prefer a great inspection with the same information but a little softer touch (I’m personally a touchy-feely guy who wants to know if the place I’m getting is a good one or if it’s about to fall down) I would recommend Tommy Kirby at First Choice Home Inspection Services. There are lots more good ones, but these are my personal go-to recommendations.

Title Company – Title companies are popping up everywhere as well. Just month I’ve had closings at several that I’ve never heard of before – that’s evidence of the amazing economy we’ve been experiencing the past few years. There are two veteran title companies that come to mind as excellent in the customer experience aspects of the business. Robb White at Crown Title – is hands down the most entertaining of all title company personalities in town. His wonderful veteran staff takes care of every aspect with great attention to detail and communication. Closings elsewhere are pleasant, professional affairs – passing papers with explanations of what the buyer and seller are signing. Robb has a singular gift for making this event FUN. While it’s not for everyone, most of my clients who have ever closed there have had glowing reviews. Another title company I’ve enjoyed closing with in Knoxville is Admiral Title – Phyllis Burnett’s staff are all wonderful friendly folks who do an excellent job in a great centrally located location in Bearden near Cedar Bluff. In Maryville, I usually close at Foothills Title. Troy Brown has an impressive staff who do great work with several convenient locations around town.


Remodel / Home Sale Repairs / General Contractor – Historically this has been one of the more volatile of groups I’ve ever been asked to recommend. It could be because a great contractor who charges a decent price can easily be overcome with calls for help and over-extend themselves whenever word gets out that they are awesome. Jimmy Manning – 865-556-6980 has always done a great job for me. He fixed several issues that have developed over time at my own home and has helped several of my clients with work needed within tight real estate deadlines – always taking care of the needs when called upon. Another great contractor that is highly popular with the Hutch & Howard team is Kyle Hohman with Unique construction who has done work for several more of our clients.

Happy new homeowners Zack & Alexis at their home in Downtown Knoxville!

Like I mentioned above, there are too many great local service providers to cover all the services. If you’re thinking of getting your home ready to sell or have questions about our process or and how we do business OR you need a personal recommendation for a great service provider that I haven’t yet mentioned. Feel free to call me Rob Howard at 865-385-9070 or Brandon Hutchison at 865-219-2006 or our office at Keller Williams in Farragut / Hardin Valley at 865-966-5005.

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Vegan, Keto & Knoxville Real Estate

Yesterday I had a fun exchange with one of my dear friends who decided to let me be her real estate agent. She was so excited about doing our final walk-through and tacitly planning a get-together house warming. We joked about the menu because she’s a vegan and I have been on the keto diet for a few months (37 lbs down so far!) The resolution was more of a well-labeled potluck. We dropped the planning session as we wrapped up the walk-through and took down the sign. All smiles all around.

In the past few months, real estate has been extremely fast-paced – more than any of my previous 16 winters in the business. The clients and friends with whom I’ve worked have all been positive, energetic, fun and a little nervous on occasion, but it’s so neat how they have been a true cross-section of America. Diverse in every sense of the way – politically, racially, socio-economically with diverse needs, wants, challenges and expectations.

One came to Knoxville as a refugee from an oppressive homeland, others are coming here because Florida was too …. “Florida.” One was the first transgender person to run for office in Knoxville! One was a vegan, others we never talked about food – some I met at the next table at Sami’s while I chatted real estate with a buddy! Those are just the buyers! The same could be said of the sellers as I prepare to go tour and hopefully list an antebellum estate down close to my hometown – someone I met nearly a dozen years ago who happened to hang on to my business card.

I think my take away from the recent, wonderful group of folks that we’ve helped is that it’s no surprise that Yassin’s in Knoxville is named the ‘Nicest place in America.’ While everyone around here holds strong opinions, I have experienced how much we all have in common, what we share and how awesome life can be when you care about the people more than the differences.

Whoever you are, whatever you believe or like to eat – as long as you’re kind and respectful … and ready & motivated to make a home move at Hutch & Howard we’d love to work with you! Call our office at 865-966-5005 or our cells at (Brandon 865-216-2009) or (Rob 865-385-9070.)

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Seller Secrets! Book available now

Click here to get your copy of Seller Secrets!

It’s been a life-long goal to write books and take photos . I love shooting photos and teaching with a passion – both have been important parts of my 16+ year real estate career. Each transaction has involved learning more and more about people in general – my clients, colleagues, friends, support team and myself – to be more specific. In the past few months, circumstances have aligned that allowed me to take enough moments to actually pull together my outline, thoughts, and all the rest that goes into writing the first in what I intend to be a series of books that will help others – new real estate agents, new clients, veteran agents who may need help getting their message across and others who are considering a career in real estate or wonder what there is (aside from showing pretty houses) involved in the life of an agent. For more perspectives check out my old post about Why I love being a Keller Williams Agent.

Throughout the years I’ve always enjoyed sitting down with others and sharing what I’ve learned and hearing others’ perspectives on so many subjects. I think this began when I was a baby in my mother’s hair salon hearing all my “grandmothers” (most of her clients adopted me as one of their grandchildren) discussing the goings-on in Benton, TN – a tiny and beautiful burg in Southeast Tennessee. This created a natural curiosity and feeling of belonging in a larger sense than might be normal in an only child.

This curiosity has lead to this, my first book. The teacher that lives in my left brain and the photographer that lives in my right joining forces to create a work portrait of my views on helping people 1) know what goes into getting their home ready to sell, 2) understand the processes that happen while the home is being sold, and 3) knowing some of the reasons that most people truly benefit from having a real estate professional helping. I hope you check it out and if you’re thinking of selling your home give us a call at 865-385-9070 or 865-216-2009!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Click here for our Thanksgiving Message46635863_267449027161356_6592113859727720448_n

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