Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"How to find a house in Knoxville, TN", by Patrick Beeson

Entry updated Dec. 1, 2008 at 4:13 p.m.

*Note: You can also read this entry on Knoxify.*

UPDATE: My wife and I closed on our house November 24!

Knoxville is an easy enough city in which to live. It's cheap, most folks are nice and life is generally relaxed. But whats it like finding a house in Sunsphere City?

My wife and I, being home-buying n00bs, had the chance to find out with our (fingers-crossed) recent find in Fountain City, just north of downtown Knoxville.

Home-finding resources for Knoxville
I work for Scripps Interactive Group, which means I know more than enough about home listings available though the Web site of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. This online resource culls both multiple listing service (MLS) listings and newspaper classifieds into a site that's easy to use. I especially like the way that you can filter the listing criteria, which also adjusts the map display.
Another resource I used extensively was the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors' (KAAR) Internet Data Exchange Program. This complex name really denotes a basic listing application that pulls from the MLS database, and displays data similar to that of knoxnews' service.
I especially like the KAAR's interactive map, which displays available listings for the area of town you're looking at. Also useful is the ability to save your favorite listings, rate them, and write notes.

Unfortunately, as my wife and I learned the hard way, the available listings are always current. And they don't show whether an offer is pending on the house.
We used KAAR service as a starting point for drive-bys.

Other resources include Realtor Suzy Trotta, Zillow, print classifieds and driving around neighborhoods.

Here's how I rank the resources used:

  • KAAR
  • Realtor
  • Driving around neighborhoods
  • News-Sentinel
  • Zillow
  • Print classifieds
  • How to find a neighborhood

Knoxville's lack of established neighborhoods is probably its greatest flaw. Fortunately, there are a few great ones such as Sequoya Hills, Island Home, North Hills and Fountain City, all of which are located within bike-riding distance to downtown.

West Knoxville is home to mostly mindless subdivisions and new construction with little to no history or character. There are diamonds in the rough, but they're few and far between.

My definition of a great neighborhood means the following:
Sidewalks or streets with little through traffic
Walking distance to local eateries or other businesses
Walking distance to parks
Walking distance to schools
Homes with distinct characteristics (not planned communities)
Connections to other neighborhoods, not just isolated pockets of housing
Historical significance (bonus)

Honestly, this was the hardest part of the home search because there aren't many resources available for researching Knoxville neighborhoods other than talking to long-time residents. Fortunately, our Realtor Suzy Trotta has compiled a number of neighborhood reviews on both her blog All Around K-Town, and the Knoxville-centric group blog Knoxify.
The real estate section of knoxnews also features a number of neighborhood descriptions.

Summary and other tips
If you're looking to find a house in Knoxville, here are the resources I'd recommend:
Realtor: Suzy Trotta
Mortgage lender: Kristin Abouelata
Home inspection: Volunteer Home Inspections
Listing service: KAAR IDX and knoxnews
Neighborhood information: All Around KTown's Neighborhood of the Week and Knoxify Neighborhood Guide

If you want information about my experiences finding a home in Knoxville, or just have a question about any of the resources I mentioned, please post a comment or contact me directly.

I found Patrick's blog [HERE]


Home Loans said...

I really like to visit these kind of blogs. You have really provided the useful information and resources.

Reverse Mortgage Loan said...

For one human being, What is the real dream, Having his/ her own home. This is one of the big dream that a human being can have.

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Justin said...

Every city always has its own beautiful offerings and some shortcomings, but I guess we really have our own preferences when it comes to choosing a neighborhood to live in. I'm very sure that you've came to love Knoxville. In our case, with the best mortgage rates, Pittsburgh is where we chose to settle. It's a vibrant city, and we really love it.

In Pittsburgh, mortgage refinance is fairly easy too, according to our relatives who live there.

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