Williamson County homebuyers look to east, south

Friday, April 26, 2013, Vol. 37, No. 17
By Linda Bryant

Kurt Steckel, a Realtor at Keller Williams, says Crockett Woods is a good alternative to Brentwood or Franklin because buyers can get more house for the money.

-- Photo: Lyle Graves | Nashville Ledger

Realtor Jeremy Pittman had an experience in January he hadn’t had since the housing boom of the mid-2000s. He put a house on the market in the Spring Hill area that immediately received multiple offers and sold within a week.

Then it happened again. And again.

“From there, things just seemed to skyrocket,” Pittman says. “February really took off, and March and April never looked back.’’

Spring Hill, a city of about 30,000 people located in both Williamson and Maury counties, isn’t the only thriving real estate pocket in the area.

Nearby Thompson’s Station is “popping,” says builder Gary Loebsack, owner of Loebsack Homes and an agent with Silverpointe properties. The small town of about 1,200 borders Spring Hill and is surrounded by large swaths of potentially developable land.

A drive down Columbia Pike near Thompson’s Station and Spring Hill tells the story. Signs for local and national builders dot the highway. Construction companies building in the area include, among others, Goodall, Centex, Fox Ridge, Ole South, The Jones Company, Pulte and Beazer.

New jobs, new homes

In the center of all the action are two businesses: Mars Petcare and Shelter Insurance, growing corporations that are bringing in new jobs.

Mars is building a much-ballyhooed $88 million innovation center at 4530 Columbia Pike. Shelter Insurance is in the construction phase of a $5 million state headquarters on 3.2 acres in Tollgate Village, a single-family subdivision in Thompson’s Station.

Realtors say Tollgate Village alone is a fitting symbol for the area’s promise. A victim of the recession, the planned community went into default in 2009. But when the market picked up again in 2011, the development was purchased by Dock Street Communities. Today, it’s bubbling with new construction.

“Employment drives the housing market,” Pittman explains. “We have new jobs and new companies and the city is continuing to grow. There is no end in sight.”

Nolensville takes off

Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station are in southern Williamson County, but one town in the northern part of the county – Nolensville – also is booming with new construction.

Kurt Steckel, a Realtor at Keller Williams of Nashville/Franklin who also works at custom building company Crockett Woods, says Nolensville is attracting buyers who may have previously chosen higher-profile towns in Williamson County such as Brentwood and Franklin.

“Nolensville is laid back and a little slower paced,” Steckel says. “You get more house for the money, and bigger lots. Nolensville is also accessible to Davidson County and many buyers like that fact.”

Loebsack said many buyers become smitten with the slower pace once they actually drive out and experience them.

“People come out and see that they can get more square footage and more amenities,” he says. “There are several new schools, and there’s still a lot of room left to grow. You are still within a 15 minute drive of Cool Springs.”

Steckel, Pittman and Loebsack all agree that the same house in Brentwood or Franklin would cost $30,000 to $100,000 more and is almost certainly on a smaller lot.

Half-acre to one-acre lots are not unusual in southern and northern Williamson.

Loebsack says an $80,000 lot in Thompson’s Station would cost an additional $40,000 in Brentwood or Franklin

Will the boom continue?

Steckel says there’s a bit of caution in the area since the recession is still a fresh memory, but he’s hopeful.

“2010 was a disaster for real estate in the area,” he explains. “But by the end of summer 2011, we started to get back on track.

“Now it’s really taking off. We’re selling quickly and getting multiple offers.”

Loebsack explains he’s having a similar experience.

“I’m having very good luck selling,” he says. “Most of my houses (new custom homes) sell within six weeks. Activity is incredibly high compared to what it was a year or two ago.”

Most of Loebsack’s listings are in the mid-to-high $400,000 range, but he’s quick to point out that the area has a diverse stock of new construction on the market – from the $200,000 to $1 million and more.

“Some people are transferring back to the area to go back to work for GM,” Loebsack says. “I’ve worked with clients from Kansas City and Denver.”

Thompson’s Station planner Wendy Deats says new construction in the area slowed to a trickle during and after the recession, but confirms that new construction is on the upswing.

“Thompson’s Station has seen an increase in building permits this year with most of those permits being residential in nature in our subdivisions – Tollgate Village, Bridgemore Village, Blackberry Estates and The Fields of Canterbury,” Deats adds. “I am not sure if the recovery will last; only time will tell, but it definitely looks good so far.”

Pittman is planning for the busy times to continue and has hired an assistant.

“Almost all of the new build subdivisions have empty lots available or are opening new phases,” Loebsack said. “There is also plenty of raw land available to develop.”

Steckel says that there’s also room to grow in Nolensville, but notes that many subdivisions are close to selling out. He expects to see developers buy more land for new subdivisions in the near future.