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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Drew Scott eat your heart out!

Last week one of my Facebook friends who works at a Knoxville-based network put out a call for a Realtor to do a little appearance. Thankfully a few of my friends/former clients recommended us to participate.

It’s really no big deal, a few seconds on a show that maybe not too many folks will see and our part may be less than a blip on the screen, but what fun it is to break with the norm, while doing what ya love while portraying ‘ourselves’ on camera. Being similar to the Property Brothers in a few ways (only our mothers can tell us apart?), we thought it would be a great fun thing to do!

It’s not the first time being on a show, #Knoxville has several production companies around town and a few times when friends have had a bit part in an episode of something they’re doing I’ve jumped in and played a crime scene investigator or ‘guy who discovered the body’ – being a ‘Re-enactor’ is different from playing ‘the REALTOR!’

A small buzz went around the office. Brandon was worried about where he’d put his hands! I decided that I’m ‘Just Happy To Be Here’ which is my usual opinion when something is outside my comfort zone – yet potentially fun, exciting or at least interesting. Donning my Keller Williams fleece and a positive attitude we met the crew and went for it.

The premise was showing a novice ‘fish out of water’ guy what a life like TV’s Drew Scott from the Property Brothers might be like. Ryan, the ‘regular guy’ was warm, funny and seemed really interested in seeing ‘the worst house we could find.’ It was so much fun!! Look for it on sometime in the next month or so.

The REAL Property Brothers are promoting a build with Habitat for Humanity coming up in Nashville! I entered to participate, thoroughly enjoying my previous work days that Hutch & Howard did with them as part of our KW Red Day Service. I hope to get more involved with them locally. To enter for a chance to participate with the Property Bros’ build click here.

If you’re thinking of doing your own investments or trying your hand at flipping a house, give us a call Rob and Brandon both have extensive experience with all facets of your future project. Call us 865-216-2009!

Hutch & Howard are Rob Howard and Brandon Hutchison – at Keller Williams in Farragut / Hardin Valley 865-966-5005 — Knoxville, TN

Each Keller Williams Office is independently owned and operated.

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Knoxville: Craft Beer Mecca!

An interesting thing about spending enough time in a place is that you have the perspective of seeing locations grow, change and develop. I remember being a freshman at the University of Tennessee in the early 1990s. I so wanted to explore the big city though a lot of my friends on campus were content watching bands on the Strip or doing the fraternity thing, I wanted to see what else was going on in town. The love of some of the ‘new music’ at the time was enough to entice me downtown before it was anything like the wonderland that it is today.

I blame Ska… the concept of horns, clever lyrics in a rock band were enough to bring me out to a little club on the old Market Square called The Mercury Lounge – it was starting to get dark and nobody was around. The Subway was only open during the day and there were not even homeless people were milling about since there was no-one around for them to ask for help. I remember being a little scared until I heard the music spilling out. I was a foreigner in the land of kids who were a mix of goth, redneck, rockabilly and skaters – I guess I was the only preppie that night – the people I met there have mostly either become West Knox parents or hipsters at this point. I still see some of them when I venture downtown and Mercury Lounge is now the super-popular Preservation Pub. If you have been to Downtown Knoxville lately, you’ll know what an amazing change has been happening in the past few years. Among other cultural developments, Knoxville is becoming a destination for beer lovers!

While I have passed the biggest ‘going out’ phase of my life, I’m currently beginning the Mediterranean diet – something my amazing girlfriend assures me will make the rest of my life much better – but I have gained an appreciation of the spectrum of tastes and especially the social impact on Knoxville (and many other Southern cities) that the thriving culture that has grown up around craft beer.

Last night I saw my friend Sallye, the brand champion for Blackberry Farms own craft beer label. She was talking about a partnership that Blackberry Farms had formed with Madisonville’s world-wide culinary sensation Benton’s Bacon founder Allan Benton. Any foodie will be wowed if they don’t already know that Allan was awarded a Who’s Who membership with the James Beard Foundation. Recently Benton contributed his amazing rich smoky flavor process to the Blackberry Farm’s Tennessee Smoke. When I heard this the image of Primus’ Pork Soda album cover flashed in my mind – but when I smelled the stuff she was sampling it was pretty amazing!

Just about anyone walking down Gay St in Knoxville will know about the venerable Downtown Grill & Brewery, kind of the granddaddy of Knoxville brewing. These days micro breweries dot the landscape from downtown’s reclaimed warehouses like “Crafty Bastard” and “Fanatic” spaces to the Disneyland-like “Schulz Bräu” and ultra-hip Elmont Exchange. The scrappy outliersd like Hexagon & Last Days of Autumn are tucked into unlikely spots just out of the way enough to encourage true hops hunters to go hunting for the patios where they would normally speed by.

A personal favorite place to explore new and exotic local creations isn’t even a microbrewery – of all things, it was originally known as a bakery! Sitting in the tawny 100 block of Gay St and priding themselves on a rich assortment of “locals-only” taps, Sugar Mama’s is the perfect spot for lunch or dinner. Aside from the homey old-Knoxville environment, Sugar Mama’s boasts a richly warm and fun cast of characters including Premiere Beer Snob Jason “Ratchet” Carpenter, the friendly and under-stated Matt Jackson, the wonderfully witty Leslie Berez and many others behind the counter and helmed by perfect hosts Mike and Hannah McConnell, Sugar Mama’s is the place to be when you’re looking for the ultimate sampling spot for local flavors.

Even if you’re not an imbiber, you’ll love soaking up some of Knoxville’s beer culture flavor! Knoxville is a wonderful place to live, if you’re thinking of making it your home, or relocating closer to downtown we’d LOVE to help. Give us a call! Hutch & Howard (865) 216-2009 at Keller Williams (865) 966-5005. Each Keller Williams Realty office is independently owned and operated.

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Zooming into 2018!

Gentlemen -and Lady — Start Your Engines!

As we thunder or stumble or crawl into this new year of 2018, we’re reminded of the resolutions we set last week or made jokes about. I resolved to spend less money on concert tickets and adventures – more toward kicking up the real estate another couple notches. This blog is part of that so, as a reader, I implore ya to “keep me honest!”

Supermoon welcomes in 2018! Photo by Caitlin Ryan

My friend Randall quipped about his mad dash toward procrastination on twitter, my first LOL of the year – but as an American icon once said ‘it’s funny ’cause it’s true.’ – Homer Simpson.

This morning I was 15 minutes late to the first of our weekly Knoxville Hutch & Howard ‘Crush the Goal’ conferences where we discuss specific tasks and targets we plan to accomplish for the coming week. In doing that I learned an important lesson about myself – it’s one of the things Keller Williams teaches in our Bold Training – there are reasons and there are results! There are plenty of reasons why my alarm wasn’t fully affective, 7 degree temperatures outside of an exceedingly warm bed, frost on my windshield, wallet and keys out of place. In retrospect, those late night football games weren’t really that compelling though I loved the camaraderie of spending time with my guys and No Regrets about the epic Chicken Carbonara or the fun that accompanied it.

The #goals are challenging there are several Kellerisms that I’m going to try to keep bouncing around in my head to keep on task. Gratitude, positivity and consistency aren’t usually measurable – I expect to have some  measure of each of those in the words I use each day in life and each week here  in written form.

Our new office General – Carrie – has already shown us how much easier it is operate a professional service when there is a focal point with an eye on everything thank God for her gentle reminders and checklists.

Unlike a lot of people who are ‘successful’ in our business, we have no interest in specifically beating the competition – as I’ve heard others say. I don’t feel like someone’s success diminishes my own. I’m not stealing food from your children’s mouths when I close a deal. There were 19,111 single family homes sold in Knoxville this past year. All tolled, we sold 107 of them. It seems like a tiny drip in that pond, but it’s a mix of challenge and encouragement. When we decide we’re going to sell a bigger piece of that, it’s not going to hurt someone else. This year the pool was a little diluted when a lot of new folks decided to jump into the business – the same thing happened in 2003 when I jumped in with a bunch of other people!

Who knows how much any of us are going to actually sell this year? We do! Because we decided to set our goals and keep everyone on track to hit them!

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Resolutions and Gratitude as we wrap up 2017

This last week of 2017 at Hutch & Howard has already been interesting. Amid some wonderful listing appointments, closings, creating vision boards, discussing a variety of new tactics and plans, plus meeting new people – we got to enjoy our families and friends at Christmas in Knoxville and out of town!

This week we listed a beautiful horse farm in Lenoir City with an epic tack room, barn and showing ring just a few miles from Farragut. What fun it was to talk about the farm and hear stories about the place with the owner. His Tennessee Walking Horses had won several championships – hats, belts, ribbons and trophies were all prominently displayed in a few of the rooms, along with all the accouterments that come with being horsey people. I look forward to showing the place once Eric, our photographer, has the pictures back. That’s the perfect place for him to shoot with the drone and possibly do a video tour skipping around more than 19 acres with a small airplane hanger and lots of other cool things to see! I’ve been amazed how many people have decided to buy/sell and move this year around the holidays! Historically, real estate has been a little slow this time of year but the closings in December and coming up in January are still happening!

I’ve had several friends contact us over the past couple weeks talking about THEIR friends who were ready to make moves. I really appreciate

Andy, Gina, Victor, Jennifer, Macy, Gina, Oscar, Lindsay, Alissa, Shawnee and Meghin and others who have called to talk real estate and mention either friends in common or their friends and family who are making moves. It’s always encouraging to get recommended friend when people are looking to sell or get a new home. I was excited the day before when I got a message from a friend and former client that her friends were moving into town and she wanted us to help!

A neat thing I learned this week, as an aside, was that most folks have identity fraud coverage through their homeowner’s insurance! A nifty bit of information that came up in conversation with my smart girlfriend when we were discussing what folks might like to know as added value from this little blog.

Making vision boards and looking at stuff related to how we will accomplish our goals was very inspiring as well. It’s funny how individual and different yet similar our desires, needs and wants were once put to paper – they aren’t as elaborate as my friend Natalie’s epic works of vision have been over the years- but she’s an artist at heart and puts her all into things like envisioning her goals. Probably a big part of how she accomplishes so much! The way vision is shared around our offices is one of the more inspiring things about the team of teams and individuals at Keller Williams. I’m proud that Hutch & Howard is part of that.

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