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6 Chattanooga neighborhoods to watch

This house is currently for sale in Highland Park. (Photo: Todd Henon Properties)

Wanna be on the leading edge of what’s trending in the Chattanooga real estate community, what’s next on the coin of the realm, the tip of the spear?

Technology corridors (thank you, Zach Wamp), VWs (not your mom’s VW bug or Vanagon), an Innovation District, the country’s fastest internet (thank you to Harold DePriest and Joe Ferguson) and a host of other things have turned Chattanooga into now what is just a plain ol’ cool place to live!

Along with the positive reputation and growth come real estate questions: What and where is the next X on the map for those who have a real estate interest? Here are six areas to watch and be aware of as our community continues its dynamic growth and enjoys its positive national reputation (all due respect to Walter Cronkite, circa 1969).

Southside and wonderful Main Street
Wow, if you can get it … It’s getting pricier by the minute. It doesn’t take long to find single-family homes selling for over $175 per square foot. Will it continue its growth? I suspect so. It certainly hasn’t shown any signs of turning down lately. What seem to be the biggest challenges right now for homebuyers in the 37408 ZIP are low inventory and price points moving north.

Amazing. Highland Park’s wonderful, neighborly, front porch culture is leading the charge in downtown growth. Still available are some stunning properties that speak of Chattanooga’s historic past while embracing its proud new identity!

Broad Street
Gotta love Calvary Chapel. Ethan Collier and his vision, bravery and the product he is building—well done. With the down-river expansion and completion of the Riverwalk, I can’t help but think and be excited about growth in the Broad Street area and its beautiful older sister community of St. Elmo. These areas are well-deserving and have been patiently waiting on their turn … it’s time!

Red Bank
What a longtime favorite. Red Bank is a workhorse, a community that has worked hard and is becoming a ZIP code of desirability. With its proximity to the North Shore, charming streetscapes, nostalgic homes and reasonable pricing, it’s no small wonder that the inventory is low and the future bright. Check it out.

As a friend of mine used to say, ”Turn your hat around backward and hang on … We are gonna go fast”—growth, growth and more growth. It takes vision, great planning and progressive minds to pull off this hat trick. What more can you say aside from a-ma-zing? Great schools, great employment base, great subdivisions, interstate access and scoot over.

The dark horse, the sleeper, the big dog on the porch … Brainerd! Yes, it’s becoming “midtown.” We are getting ready to watch something pretty special in the land of the levy. City, county and community leaders, those with vision, hope and love, have kicked this can on down the road, and they are putting words into actions. It’s coming and it’s going to be something special. Go grassroots!

And there are more … from Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain and Lookout Valley to Hixson, Soddy-Daisy, East Ridge and Collegedale, there are hotspots galore and plenty of options for those with inquisitive real estate minds. Reach out to a talented Realtor and run them through their paces. You will be pleased with the opportunities our wonderful city and region have to offer those wanting to be a part of the real estate community.

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Unique Properties: A look at some (more) gems in the Chattanooga real estate market (with photos)

Chattanooga is one-of-a-kind in many ways: its stunning mountain scenery, rich history and endless outdoor opportunities so near to its downtown Riverfront.

The Scenic City’s real estate opportunities also reflect the originality of this gorgeous city. Take a look at some of Chattanooga’s unique properties that are currently on the market:

Estate escape

A 2,000-foot-long meandering driveway, 50-plus acres, a dream garage, spring-fed pond, barn, swimming pool, equestrian fencing, indoor sports court—this beautiful home boasts remarkable privacy, 10-foot ceilings, character-rich moldings, built-in bookshelves, solid wood doors and endless hardwood floors, along with dozens of other noteworthy details and amenities. The property has meticulously kept pastures and fencing, a rolling hardwood ridge, and is bordered by the year-round watershed known as Sugar Creek. This stunning property is located approximately 20 minutes from Hamilton Place Mall.

Downtown and historical

This Duncan Avenue home, recently renovated, on one of the most desirable streets in the historical Highland Park area, is sure to please. The four-bedroom, two-bath home is a winner from start to finish. Gorgeous refinished hardwood floors, fully updated and remodeled bathrooms and kitchen, 9-foot ceilings, large sun-filled living and dining rooms, and—most importantly—a front porch that encourages and embraces the special lifestyle of the Highland Park District’s renaissance make this a special place in the heart of it all.

Waterfront wonder

This property holds potential at every corner, from creating a family tract to be passed down through generations to an incredible development opportunity with valuable waterfront and multiple lake access points. Two homes on a breathtaking 96 acres are included in this sale, which features no neighbors and an abundance of privacy! These 96 acres sit at the confluence of Chickamauga Lake, the Tennessee River and Possum Creek, with more than 1,000 feet of water frontage and a topography that is gently rolling with a mixture of scenic pastures and rolling woodland. This one will take your breath.

North Chattanooga jewel

New construction is somewhat unique and challenging to find in the North Chattanooga area, but this new home may be the exception to that rule. It’s on a quiet street in one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. It has three bedrooms, three and a half baths, hardwood floors, granite countertops, 9-foot ceilings, stainless steel appliances and a winter view. Always a rare find in this part of town is the two-car garage. This is a new construction home zoned for Normal Park Museum Magnet School… enough said.

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Investment properties: What you need to know before you buy

Flipping a house is a labor of love that will cost you lots of time and money. (Photo: TheShady88, Flickr)

The idea of investment properties has been big in recent years. The Great Recession of 2008 in many ways created a pivotal moment in time for investors, or would-be investors, to take advantage of an abundance of lower-priced properties and highly motivated sellers. TV shows such as “Flip This House” and “Flip or Flop” have made the process look easy and appealing.

There seem to be several types of investors in the real estate market. One type would be those who are road-worn, well-versed and who have earned their stripes from years of hard learning. These guys and gals are hardcore. They know their numbers, material costs and subcontractor costs like the backs of their hands, and it works for them … most of the time. Another type are the “Johnny-come-latelys” who have become “experts,” thanks to TV shows. Time will tell, and as my grandfather used to say, if “the cream will make it to the top.” (If you don’t know what that means, you are one of the Johnny-come-latelys.) This business of flipping houses has been around a long time, and it is not for the faint of heart or for those who “have a great idea.”

This process is not cheap nor is it easy, despite what success stories and television shows would have you believe. That’s not to say purchasing investment properties isn’t for you; it’s just imperative to know there’s more to it than pulling together some money, buying a property, painting it, selling it for a king’s ransom and retiring on some sunny isle.

Here are some things to know before you sign on any dotted lines.

You need a formula.
The wisest investors I know have developed formulas that work for them. They’ve learned from their mistakes, and they now have a formula, a special sauce, a secret recipe. Their individual formulas will take into consideration the property price, labor and renovation costs, overhead, transaction costs, holding time, and—then and only then—profit. Profit will be, as the veterans will tell you, what’s left over. You see, the future selling price of the property is already determined; it will be defined by what the market will bear and no more. Know your numbers, know your numbers, know your numbers.

Be pessimistic.
In most aspects of life, you need to “think positive,” but that may not serve you well in this arena of investment properties. Without question, it will cost you more than you initially think, and it will certainly take you longer than you first thought and you’ll say, “Jeez, that’s not the way it looked on television.” So don’t be optimistic going in that everything will go according to plan. It never does in the construction world and it’s not going to be different with your project … Be a pessimist and be prepared; it will pay off.

Employ others.
Whether you have one investment property or 20, you need the advice of others: a great bookkeeper, a great attorney (oh, yes, you do need one … either now or later!), a great team of subcontractors (mediocre will ultimately cost you), a great real estate professional (you will be grateful for their involvement). Build yourself a great team of advisers and reap the benefits of their experience. If you plan on keeping the property in your portfolio, consider a property management company. Tenants don’t pay rent and sinks leak, and that may not be part of the investment property process you want to deal with, so get someone on your side who will. They will be worth their weight in gold bullion. You and your insurance agent need to get very close, as they will help protect all your assets as you build your kingdom. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” … hmmmm. Build a great team by employing others.

Do your research.
It’s obvious that you need to know the neighborhood and marketplace when you’re considering an investment property, but what you need to know doesn’t stop there. You should have at least a basic understanding of construction costs: plumbing, electrical, drywall, insulation, painting, landscaping, roofing, lighting, all that and more. If all that is unfamiliar to you, you aren’t ready to jump into the deep end. Investigate pricing with your subcontractors; develop a mentoring relationship with someone who has been there and done that. If you can’t walk through a potential home and understand what it will cost to replace the knob-and-tube wiring or change out the galvanized plumbing, you still have some homework to do.

It takes more than money.
Being an investor can be rewarding, but it can be painfully expensive when it goes wrong. Cash flow is king, so have some financial margin built into your business plan. Be flexible. Don’t hesitate to pass on a project if you are not comfortable with all the numbers. Be patient. It’s a process: Plan on answering phone calls on the weekends and plan on deals falling apart. The learning curve is deep, but patience will serve you well. Jump in, hang on and forge ahead!