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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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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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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