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VOL. 43 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 26, 2019

Inventory, construction jump, market stays steady

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Building permits increased 30 percent during the first quarter of 2019 compared to last year and totaled $1.43 billion, says real estate developer Charlie Vaughn of Cherry and Associates.

As was reported last week, residential sales decreased 6% in May while inventory increased.

The permits include residential starts and renovations, as well as commercial construction. Much of the new construction is feeding the enormous appetite of national and international investors who are gorging themselves on these cash cows.

One indicator of whether the data are skewed by the purchases from distant lands is to review sales of $1 million or more. Few investors are jumping on single-family homes selling for $1 million or more.

Realtracs data show 76 homes sold for $1 million or more during the first quarter of last year, the most expensive going for $7.2 million, followed by a $4,853,000 sale. Condominium sales were omitted since a large number of upper-end condominiums are sold for second homes, or even short-term rentals (Airbnb, VRBO).

In the first quarter, there were also 76 homes that sold for $1 million or more, with sales of $4.6 million, $4.250 million and $3,322,023 leading the pack. Condo sales were not included.

Based on this comparison, the residential real estate market is stable, and spring always brings more inventory. Are the buyers there? From all indications, they are.

For the conspiracy buffs out there, consider this: What if most of the international money is from one country alone? What if that country pulls the plug on a certain date? Nashville is filled with grassy knolls.

Sale of the Week

In the beginning there was Horace Greeley Hill, named for Horace Greely, the founder of the New York Tribune which became the highest-circulation newspaper in the country. From his New York perch, Greeley participated in a movement for citizens to move to the western United States. The slogan “Go West, young man” was his.

Apparently, Nashville was far enough west for Horace Greeley Hill, who was born in White County (Sparta). Hill became a grocer, opening the first H.G. Hill store in 1895 and adding 101 more locations by 1920.

With his brilliant mind and entrepreneurial spirit, Hill owned the land beneath most of his stores. But his real estate development did not end with the creation of the first “cash and carry” grocery stores, nor did it end with his death in 1942.

Hill had three children: H.G. Hill Jr. and daughters Frances and Elizabeth. H.G. Hill Jr. took the reigns of the family business and achieved even more significant growth.

The heavenly estate now known as Hill Place – across Harding Road from the entrance of Belle Meade Boulevard – was his front yard, and he lived in the house in the center of the development, now owned by recently retired Hospital Corporation of America CEO and Chairman Milton Johnson and wife Denice.

Hill Sr. and Hill Jr. were philanthropists, both contributing significant money through the years to the George Peabody College for Teachers. The Johnsons have continued the trend by recently donating $10 million to Belmont University.

Across the street from Hill Place on Post Road are four homes owned by Hill descendants. Frances Hill, the daughter of the original H.G. Hill and sister of H.G. Hill Jr., married Wentworth Caldwell, which is why those homes are called Caldwell Acres. One sold last week for $2.9 million.

Frances Caldwell gave birth to a daughter, Anne Caldwell, who married William Langley “Red” Granbery. They had four children, Langley, Hill, Elizabeth and Jimmy Granbery, who now serves as chairman and CEO of H.G. Hill Realty, the company founded by his grandfather.

Wentworth Caldwell had bought the original house that was constructed in the late 1890s and burned in the 1920s, only to be reconstructed shortly after its fire. Caldwell serves as chairman of the Hill holding company, says Jamie Granbery, whom you will learn more about later.

The house that sold for $2.9 million, 4727 Post Road, was constructed on the Caldwell Acres property along with houses for the other three siblings. In case all of this Hill/ Caldwell/ Granbery thing isn’t confusing enough, the property was co-listed by Pilkerton’s Jamie Granbery – the wife of the aforementioned Jimmy Granbery – along with David Dingess of Keller Williams, who, as you might have guessed, is married to the former Elizabeth Granbery, the granddaughter of H.G. Hill.

Now to the house. Situated on 5.3 acres carved from the original Wentworth Caldwell estate, 4727 Post Road was built by the prestigious Ramsey Daughtery Builders in 1973. It has five bedrooms, four full bathrooms and two half bathrooms in 5,809 square feet.

Jamie Granbery and David Dingess noted in their remarks that the French design has a slate roof, gunite pool, 10-foot ceilings on the main level and 9-foot ceilings on the second. For those who are saddened to have missed an opportunity to own a property once owned by one of Nashville’s most storied families, they should fear not.

Next week, one of the adjoining properties will hit the market for the first time at the same price, and it will sell for that price or more. There is no DNA test required. Buyers may come from a family other than the Hills.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty, LLC and can be reached at richard@richardcourtney.com.

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