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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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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Gentrification: a Knoxville Realtor’s perspective

One of my favorite clients recently sent me a link to a listing that had gotten lots of people downtown in quite an uproar about the subject of Gentrification in the east area of Downtown Knoxville. It was a 1920s home that hadn’t been renovated, encouraging a buyer to be part of the “Downtown Gentrification” – brought up to current code and given the type of curb appeal that will attract a higher price-point than the regular home in the neighborhood.


The targeted buyer is likely an investor who sees the growing home value trends in the area and looks for a foreclosed house or motivated seller’s plight as an opportunity to make a great profit, “improve” a neighborhood and stretch development of “new” old homes beyond the scope of the Historic Overlay boundaries set by the city.

As an effect of efforts by growth-minded politicians in the recent past, downtown has semi-organically pushed the limits of this Historic Overlay areas like 4th & Gill, Parkridge, Park City and others – making them more and more attractive to young, affluent buyers who like the ideas of living close to all the great developments that are happening downtown. With 20+ micro craft breweries and wonderful restaurants and bars opening in the past few years, many major Brew festivals around town, a lively culture has grown into Knoxville becoming known as a Maker City.  It’s a place where people of all walks of life will want to come down and soak in a variety of creative, interesting and eclectic efforts by local artisans, photographers, painters, farmers and other folks all making uniquely Knoxville items and products.

If you Google Gentrification in Knoxville articles quickly pop up dating back to 1983 on the first page.


This has created an unique constituency in the areas of revitalization and growth – namely the people who have lived there for years. As Knoxville’s revitalization and renovation continues a segment of the population have felt the squeeze that comes with this Gentrification of historically lower-income areas. And the word has taken on quite the stigma. The last places in Knoxville where one can find a home with rents less than poverty level or high in subsidized housing options has become one of the most popular targets for investment, growth and “revitalization” – and the historic residents are feeling the squeeze.

All of a sudden a home that is less than $500 per month and surrounded by many generations of friends and family is right next door to one with $1,500 per month rent or $250,000 mortgage, a newly sewn Zoysia yard, fresh paint and a monitored security system. Inside, a business owner who daily commutes via bicycle to her mid-century modern furnished loft business in the Old City creating and manufacturing something that everyone wants. The new neighbor is a great one to have, unless you can’t afford the rent-raise or eviction that looms on the horizon.


The new character living in the neighborhood has made the current neighbors nervous because much like when James White and his family set up on the banks for the Tennessee River, surrounded by other long-time residents, the stranger in the area portends a wave of other settlers who will fundamentally change where they live. Anyone can understand the consternation the new interlopers would cause.

In an informal poll of my office, the word Gentrification is a mystery to most. Most think it means Improvement, Revitalization, Growth and a number of other good-sounding things. We’re real estate agents! Bringing higher home values, growing great neighborhoods and affecting change and development are all ways that we make a living.   

4th Gill

It is a real disconnect between those who are living in the areas that are being Gentrified and those who it is affecting. The areas around Parkridge and Park City that have undergone such growth now have a number of residents and former residents who have had to scramble to find other housing, usually far away from their friends and families in areas on the other side of the interstate – areas like Fountain City, Mascot, farther East, farther North or deep into the county in any direction. Real estate agents should be very careful about bandying around words and the way they describe the change that they are assisting to affect throughout the area. Gentrification is one of those words that can be seen as insensitive and lacking in caring that we all want to have for ALL our neighbors.

Between us all, the team of Hutch & Howard have lived in and loved things about every major section of Knoxville. From the Halls to Hardin Valley, Solway to Seymour and everywhere in between – we love all, serve all and would love to help you sell your home. Call Rob and Brandon at 865-219-2006 to help you get ON the market or IN the market today!

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Valentine’s Day? Mardi Gras? No Magic Season !

This past weekend we had our first Hutch & Howard Winter Retreat. With the most productive winter any of us have experienced in any of our combined 25+ years we needed a quick respite to regroup and re-energize. It was wonderful to spend the weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains in a cabin with our significant others, close friends – our support system!

In my experience this week in February marks the perfect time to put your house on the market. Our little moment to catch our breath was in preparation for the awesome time that I love to call ‘Magic Season’ my clients who are thinking about selling their home have a short statistical window where there a lots of buyers emerging (two personal friends called me JUST YESTERDAY to say they wanted to go looking) and not enough homes on the market.

The past few months have been special, any home that’s correctly priced and in decent condition has sold RAPIDLY. We have had a low listing inventory all winter because as soon as we put them on the market they’ve gone under contract within days and sold soon thereafter!

Knoxville has been very good to us. If you read the blog regularly you know Brandon and Carrie are life-long Knoxville natives, I’ve lived here longer than anyplace else. We love Knoxville and truly enjoy the people we live and work with. If you’re looking to move in Knoxville or the surrounding areas give us a call today.

There’s no better time to put your current home on the market and if you’re about to buy this is the time to get a head-start over the crowd that goes looking when it gets warmer.

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Realty with Various Generations

This week I was honored to celebrate the beginning of my mother’s 70th year of life. She’d probably blush and say she’s still just 69, but I mentioned it the way I did because my not-too-distant cousin Max put it that way – talking about going into his 80th year (he turned 79 the day before my mom’s birthday dinner). Max has a poetic and freely intellectual way of speaking – everything, even serious talk – seems fun and extremely interesting. Lorraine, his wife, is fond of talking about the year they spent in Belgium! It’s fun talking with folks like them about the different homes they’ve had and moves they’ve made throughout the years and around the world.

In the past few years we’ve gotten to enjoy helping clients get their very first homes, sold homes that families have out-grown their first place, relocated families for a variety of different reasons – people who are coming out of a divorce; relocated by natural disasters; those finding investment properties – even coming into town for a new job or following careers to other places around the country. We have even helped clients connect with a great agent we know from networking at Keller Williams national events or by reputation, through conversations on our forums or other ways.

Lia and Brandon B. were a couple of my favorite clients – I’d gotten to help them sell a VERY cute home in South Knoxville and move into an awesome home on the water near Farragut a few years ago. I was surprised and pleased when they called me about a year later when they shared that she’d taken a job with a big Hollywood studio and they were going to California! We got their home sold and now I enjoy watching their new adventures on Instagram quite often.

Some of my favorite clients have been those whose children have “flown the coop!” While I was helping Max and his wife Lorraine for a different reason, many of our most awesome Knoxville real estate clients have been those looking to “right size” – selling the big home they’d chosen when their families grew out of that starter home. There was the beautiful 1800’s New Orleans plantation-like home in Corryton that Chuck and Michelle built for their kids, including my friend Gina, who called me when they were ready to join her in Atlanta after retirement. Chuck has built the home specifically for this family in the early 90’s and had put so much craftsmanship and care into it – he told me how the living room walls featured panels he’d rescued from an old church that was being torn down and the priest offered to let him take away some of the wood-work to re-purpose. I could tell they had mixed feelings about leaving – but really wanted to be closer to my friend, their daughter and their grandchildren. They were pleased to get their new home and see that the new owners were preservationists who had been looking for a home just like he’d created – appreciating every nook, cranny and especially Chuck’s awesome handiwork.

Another wonderful client, Kay, and I clicked immediately. She had been working with a couple of younger agents and hadn’t been able to “talk their language” so we sat down and talked about her house. That conversation went in dozens of directions and when we were finished talking her home went on the market, was under contract within the week and …. she panicked!

I went back to her house and we had another talk. With this closing she was going to have a sizable sum of money – but no place to land! I calmed her fears, talking about all the great places that fit her needs and were right in her area – she talked about all the stuff that she’d gone through and I realized that the panic wasn’t built on the real lack of a home, but the fear that she’d experienced years before when she was without a home or means to get one. After we got her settled down, we set off on the adventure of finding her a new home. That was great! We found a home that was easier for her to navigate, close to her children, her doctors and everything she wanted in time to do back to back closings and with the perfect yard for the Christmas reindeers that she and her neighbors have loved for decades.

Working with folks looking for their first home is a lot of fun – helping families move up into the ultimate place to raise their kids is so fun, but – as I transition into middle age – I’m grown quite fond of helping my clients that are the age of my parents and those of their and later generations find the comfort of a more manageable and inviting place for them to have their grandchildren and other family visit in coming years. Maybe I just love

spending time with people who think I’m young!

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