Walkability said comprehensive plan priority

homeslider murfreesboro - Walkability said comprehensive plan priorityThe city’s 2035 Task Force Tuesday talked about attracting higher-paying headquarters jobs and creating a more walkable community as being keys for developing a 20-year comprehensive plan.

“I want to improve our averages,” said Murfreesboro City Councilman Rick LaLance, who is part of a task force that gathered for its first meeting with many other city officials on the fifth floor of Pinnacle Bank on College Street in the downtown area.

Hoping to create a new comprehensive plan to replace one crafted in 1984, the task force and other city leaders are providing input about future economic development, housing, parks and recreation services, transportation and other quality of life concerns to consulting firm Kendig Keast Collaborative.

The input is supposed to help the consulting firm from Sugarland, Texas, prepare a comprehensive plan in the next 18 to 24 months for a fast-growing Murfreesboro that will add 75,000 to 85,000 people in the next 20 years to a U.S. Census estimated population of 117,044 in 2013.

The consultants and city representatives also will seek input from the community from residents, business owners and city leaders during a meeting with workshops at 6:30 p.m. at World Outreach Church, 1921 New Salem Highway.

The consultants will provide information during a joint meeting with the Murfreesboro City Council and the Murfreesboro Planning Commission at 5 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers at City Hall, 111 W. Vine St.

If the city is going to attract higher-paying jobs that will entice younger people to want to stay here, it will need to make Murfreesboro a more walkable community, said Aaron Tuley, who is one of the consultants with Kendig Keast Collaborative.

Neighborhoods within a short walk to fine-grade commercial and retail businesses, such as a deli or a coffee shop, are what younger adults want more than living in a big city with a professional sports team, Tuley said.

Corporations look for cities that offer attractive places to live for their workers because they’re more likely to retain them, said Tuley, noting how Dell Computer chose to leave Houston and relocate to the more attractive quality of life offered by Austin, Texas.

Murfreesboro City Manager Rob Lyons assured the Task Force that the city already has the key ingredients to entice a corporation into locating a headquarters here.

“We got it all,” Lyons said.

The city’s development of the Gateway area in particular has enabled Murfreesboro to compete for higher-paying jobs, said City Councilman Ron Washington, who is also on the Task Force.

Washington said part of the reason Franklin was able to lure the Nissan headquarters to the Cool Springs area is because the city invested in infrastructure.

In addition to recruiting headquarters, the city should also do what it can to help people start and expand businesses in Murfreesboro such as the way Chattanooga does through its incubator initiative, said Task Force member Ross Bradley, who is a vice president of TDK Construction Company Inc. in Murfreesboro.

“Grow what’s already here,” Bradley said.

The comprehensive plan also must examine what exists rather than only look at the open green spaces on Veterans Parkway on the far west side of Murfreesboro and other newer roads, Washington said.

“I just want to see the process being inclusive and don’t forget about the older parts of town,” said Washington, who grew up near the city’s Public Square area that dates back before the Civil War. “They have challenges. We’ve been here a long time, and we’re not going away.”

Tuley promised that the consultants will examine the entire city in crafting a comprehensive plan they hope the city will adopt by May 9, 2016.

The plan will also examine infrastructure and storm water drainage to ensure the city can take care of its projected growth, Tuley added.

Task Force member Bill Jakes also talked about the importance of having a vibrant historical downtown area that’s bounded by public housing and nearby student housing. He said if the housing is not well maintained it can lead to crime.

Jakes also recalled how people used to walk to two or three grocery stores in the downtown area, but it’s difficult to bring back such businesses because of regulations on land development.

“Is zoning serving us?” asked Jakes, who works as a real estate agent for Exit Realty, which is owned by Bob Lamb, the chairman of the Murfreesboro Planning Commission.

Tuley also promised the consultants would examine the city’s zoning regulations to see if any of them are restricting growth.

Economic growth will come to Murfreesboro, Tuley said, but city leaders should guide it through economic development that will “keep young people excited and wanting to live here.”

Shared from Daily New Journal

Families look to Smyrna for place to call home

family silhouette - Families look to Smyrna for place to call homeChris and Tracey Ormes thought about buying their next house in one of the fast-growing neighborhoods in Spring Hill or Murfreesboro, but that would have meant moving their family away from a place they love — Smyrna.

“It’s a great community, and Smyrna is on an upswing,” Chris said.

The couple and their three children moved into their four-bedroom house in the Stonewood subdivision in June. They moved from a three-bedroom home in another neighborhood in this city on the northern edge of Rutherford County.

They weren’t alone in choosing Smyrna. At the end of June, 340 homes had been sold in Smyrna so far this year. That number was down slightly from 362 closings by that time in 2013, but the average price was higher. This year the typical home sold for $165,809. Last year the average price was $155,244, according to Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors.

Houses are selling faster, as well. During the first six months of this year, it took an average of 63 days to sell a house. Last year, the typical house was on the market for 72 days.

Prices are rising because the supply of homes can’t keep pace with demand from local move-up buyers like the Ormeses and from people relocating to Smyrna, said Sheila Prince, a Realtor with Bob Parks Realty. The city’s population was 43,063 last year, up from just under 40,000 in the 2010 census.

“If a property looks good and is priced right, it will sell quickly,” she said.

Smyrna’s lure

Home buyers are making Smyrna their destination of choice for a variety of reasons, Prince said. The city’s location along Interstate 24 and state Route 840 makes for quick commutes to downtown Nashville and to Franklin. Rutherford County’s schools attract young families like the Ormeses.

Smyrna’s low cost of living appeals to retirees. So does the presence of TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center. Others are attracted by the strong economy, jobs at Nissan (which employs more than 7,000 workers) and with other local employers.

“We have a good job market and home prices and the cost of living are low. The lake is an added plus,” Prince said, referring to nearby Percy Priest Lake.

Homebuilders like Ole South Properties Inc. are working to meet the demand. Ole South, one of the region’s largest builders, is active in the Belmont and Lee Crossing subdivisions. Prices for townhomes begin at $110,000. Single-family homes start at $160,000, said Vice President Charles Jeter.

“With the lack of affordable housing in Davidson and Williamson counties, we’re getting people looking for a house they can afford,” he said. “And it’s a very convenient spot.”

Neighborhood speculation

Regent Homes is building ranch-style homes in the Lenox of Smyrna subdivision to meet demand from retirees who want single-level floor plans. The company also offers no-step entries.

Regent was building townhomes in the subdivision, when it recognized growing demand from home buyers who preferred not to take the stairs.

“It’s estimated that 75 percent (of retirees) have hip, back or knee problems,” said David McGowan, Regent’s president.

Regent has built 100 homes in Lenox of Smyrna so far, with prices ranging from $180,000 to $260,000. The company plans to build a total of 225 homes in the subdivision, he said.

Texas-based D.R. Horton Inc., the country’s largest homebuilder, plans to build at least 46 homes in the Woodmont subdivision. That number could increase to a total of 63 houses, said Andy Oxley, the company’s manager in Middle Tennessee.

The company begins about half of the houses on speculation, meaning construction starts before a buyer is found. Those homes don’t stay on the market for long, Oxley said.

“Most of the speculative homes are put under contract before completing construction,” he said.

D.R. Horton’s homes range from 1,800 to almost 3,500 square feet. They include ranch homes, two-story floor plans and homes with the master suite on the main floor, he said.

Smyrna is in a “sweet spot” for growth, said Debra Beagle, a Realtor with the Ashton Real Estate Group of Re/Max Elite. In some neighborhoods, she said, “you can’t build houses fast enough.”

Shared from The Tennessean

Don’t let a credit debacle dash your home-owning dreams

(Photo: File / Getty Images / iStockphoto )

Mr. Mohr, we have a real estate related question that we haven’t seen asked in your articles yet and would appreciate your advice.

We went through a very embarrassing and difficult time a few years ago. Between my health issues and my husband losing his job, we could not continue making our house payment and eventually sold our home through a short sale. We were told by friends that we will probably never be able to own a home again. Is this true?

I appreciate our little rental but I miss the benefits and joy of home ownership. Thanks for your advice. — Marge in Nashville

Thanks for being bold enough to reach out with your question, Marge. There is no judgment here. Because of co-signing a loan for my sister years ago (which is something I would never do again), I have a short sale on my own credit history. And I bet you would be surprised how many times I have heard similar stories. Life happens.

The good news is, yes, you can buy another home again. The bad news is that it does take a minimum of three years now to build your credit history back to a place where you can qualify for another home mortgage.

What I would be doing, and hopefully you already are, is making sure you are building your credit score at every opportunity. Keep your credit cards paid down, pay rent on time, utilities, etc. With a minimum average credit score of 660, you can potentially — assuming everything else is in place — qualify for a new Federal Housing Administration home loan.

The great thing about an FHA loan is that by negotiating with the seller to pay your closing costs, you can get into a home with as little as 3.5 percent of the sale price as your total out-of-pocket investment. But be aware, the downside to an FHA loan is that the mortgage insurance premium — the insurance required when a loan is for more than 80 percent of the purchase price) — now stays on the mortgage for the life of the loan. It no longer matters when you make it to the 20 percent equity mark that used to make that required insurance go away.

Considering how hot the Middle Tennessee real estate market has become over the past year, and how much positive publicity we are receiving daily across the country as “the place to be,” I would highly encourage everyone to do what they can do to own a piece of the local “rock.” Values are going up consistently and it looks like they will continue doing so for several years to come.

Monte Mohr is a broker with Re/Max Elite. He has been helping home buyers and sellers for over 28 years. Send your real estate questions tomonte@themohrgrouptn.com or go to www.tennesseedreamhomes.com.

Shared from The Tennessean

Home Safety Tips


qtq80 nmGRuo 300x220 - Home Safety Tips

Here at Team George Weeks family is very important to us, both ours and yours. We have compiled a few tips, downloads & links to help keep your family and home safe.

  • Emergency Contact List  –  This is a downloadable list that you can fill out and  print as many copies as you need.
  • Home Safety Checklist    –  Download this checklist from the U.S Fire Administration for invaluable fire safety information.
  • Pet Safety at Home          –  Home safety information for your pets and more.
Sources: www.usfa.fema.gov, ADT Security