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Curb Appeal Essentials

We’re almost halfway through the summer real estate season, with many folks still looking to relocate to Eastern Middle Tennessee before school starts, while a number of current homeowners are in the process of either downsizing or upsizing to different properties.

And while the housing market continues to be brisk and, overall, favorable to sellers, it’s always wise for those listing a home to take smart steps to maximize their property’s value before putting it on the market.

That includes (maybe even begins with) an age-old essential: curb appeal. It’s no secret that a first impression makes a huge difference—whether it’s the thumbnail photo of a listing taken from the street, the first gallery image that pops up on realtor.com, or the initial gander that prospective buyers get when they pull up to a home for a showing or an open house.

With that in mind, here are some quick tips for increasing curb appeal, culled from several of our favorite go-to sources. Some of these are common sense and might seem like no-brainers, but you can’t go wrong by reviewing the basics and then running with them toward even more creative and inspiring plans.

From Candace Barone, a Master Gardener volunteer in Florida:

— Consider the value boost: “According to Bankrate.com, the average home can increase in property value by 15-20% with a well-designed landscape.”

— Start with a full, honest, nothing-is-a-given assessment of your current curb-view aesthetic. For example, “Allowing dead or compromised trees of any size is not only an eyesore but can be a costly mistake should it fracture or fully uproot.”

— Make a plan. “Start from the highest elevation on your property and work your way down to organize the work that needs to be done.”

— Trim or remove dated hedges or shrubs. “Often the original shrubs installed by the home’s developer become landmark plants that are seldom pruned correctly.” Sometimes they grow too high and block natural light from streaming through the home’s front windows.

— Spread the landscaping love around your front areas. “Consider the ground around your mailbox if you have one, install window boxes, and select portable containers” to arrange in different spots.

— Keep up with weeding and mulching. Those tasks, done regularly, “promote garden-wide health of your plant investment and help retain moisture for the roots to thrive.”

Budget-friendly ideas from HGTV:

— Repaint your front door to “add some brightness and revive the look of your entry.” A gallon of paint will run in the range of $35 or less.

— Identify a visually alluring space for new growth. “Start small with a few fast-growing trees and remember to water them often in the first year or so and fertilize them in the spring and fall.”

— Get artistic. “Wall art is not just for interior spaces. Give your home’s exterior some personality by hanging a piece of wall art.”

— Replace the mailbox, especially if it’s on the worn or shabby side. “The price of a new mailbox starts at around $20, and a post and concrete won’t be much more.”

— Clean and wash. “Give your home’s exterior surface a good spit-shine and polish to make it look fresh and well cared for. Rent a pressure washer and clean the driveway, walkways, fences, gutters, siding and whatever else looks grungy.”

Beautifying ideas from Better Homes & Gardens:

— Update old hardware and fixtures. “House numbers, the entry door lockset, a wall-mounted mailbox, and a light fixture are all elements that can add style and interest to your home’s exterior curb appeal.”

— Add comfy, colorfully pleasing porch seating. If you’ve got room, “Invite guests to pull up a chair and stay a while with welcoming porch furniture. Look for seating with skids to help prevent damage to your surfaces. Add the cozy feel of a living room with rugs, throw pillows, and end tables.”

— Install (or refresh) outdoor lighting. “Low-voltage landscape lighting significantly impacts your home’s curb appeal while also providing safety and security.”

— Hang a wreath (or other decorative greenery). “Whether placed on your front door or beside it, a wreath is a simple way to personalize your entry.”

— Replace old gutters and downspouts. “If your home has an older gutter system, odds are it’s also suffering from poor gutter maintenance. Peeling paint, rust spots, drooping, and other problems indicate repair or updating is needed.”

Many more helpful ideas and insights are available with a few clicks and scrolls, of course. We hope these few we’ve shared will whet sellers’ aesthetic appetite and inspire them to evaluate their home’s curb appeal and update it where it will be the most beneficial.

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.

Summer Water Fun for You and Your Family

News flash: it’s hot outside.

As the summer of 2024 moves into full swing, residents of Wilson, Smith, and Dekalb counties are looking for ways to cool off and enjoy some watery fun with their families. From the pool to the splash park to the lakefront and beyond, our beautiful region of Tennessee is blessed with a wide range of possibilities.

Here are some of the best options we know of within the communities that EMTAR members serve and in nearby locations as well.

Mt. Juliet:

Cedar Creek Recreation Area
This popular locale on Old Hickory Lake includes a sandy beach with a swimming area and picnic spots. Cedar Creek Campground offers 60 sites and limitless options for activities like boating, hiking, fishing, and relaxing on the swim beach. A picnic shelter located in the day use area may also be reserved on weekdays throughout the summer.  (Cost: $5 per car.)

Ava’s Splash Pad @ Charlie Daniels Park
1075 Charlie Daniels Pkwy
This public facility is a ton of fun, especially for the little ones.

Looking WAY ahead, Mt. Juliet plans to build a 14-acre recreational and aquatic center along Clemmons Road, with hopes of opening within four years. Not much good for this summer, but something to look forward to!

For more Mt. Juliet water options, visit the Parks & Facilities page here.

Lebanon:

Jimmy Floyd Center – Pools
511 N. Castle Heights Ave.
Indoor and outdoor pools, swim lessons, and more. Memberships available.

Don Fox Park – Wading Pool
416 Baird Park Circle
The park has four pavilions equipped with an electrical outlet, a grill, and eight picnic tables including a handicap-accessible table. There are 61 other picnic tables throughout the park, along with 17 other grills, a wading pool, and a walking track.

Laguardo Recreation Area
Located on Old Hickory Lake, Laguardo is a great day-trip destination. It offers a playground, boat ramp, and sandy beach to keep the kids and adults entertained. Also ideal for bank fishing. (Cost: $5 per car.)

Dekalb County:

Dekalb features the sprawling Center Hill Lake and its wide variety of water-related activities, from boating to swimming to fishing.

For more general information about the area beyond Center Hill, visit the county’s Parks and Recreation page here.

Smith County:

The Town of Carthage announced recently that its public pool reopened on June 8. The pool had been repaired and refilled. Among other fun stuff, it offers water aerobics, pool parties, and season passes.

For more details about these and other Eastern Middle Tennesse pool and beach destinations, visit Nashville Fun for Families here.

Additional water-fun opportunities a bit outside of our area and across Tennessee include:

Nashville Shores — 4001 Bell Road, Nashville
More Info

Wave Country — 2320 Two Rivers Parkway, Nashville
More Info

SoundWaves — 2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville
More Info

Boro Beach — 2310 Memorial Blvd., Murfreesboro
More Info

Brentwood Splash Park — 920 Heritage Way, Brentwood
More Info

Franklin Splash Park — 1120 Hillsboro Road, Franklin
More Info

NOOGA Splash — 2389 Gold Point Cir N., Hixson
More Info

Dollywood’s Splash Country — 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge
More Info

Wild Bear Falls Water Park — 915 Westgate Resorts Rd | Gatlinburg
More Info

Wild WaterDome Waterpark — 190 Gists Creek Rd | Sevierville
More Info

On a separate but related note, for any of our members’ clients who are interesting in adding their own pool to a property, the checklist here from Wilson County Codes & Zoning is a helpful resource to consult for those who live within the county.

No matter where and when you choose to jump into the water, have a fun, safe summer, and stay cool out there!

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.

TREC Real Estate Opportunity for High School Students

Note: As we share the following news, the deadline to apply for our EMTAR Scholarship is approaching—Friday, June 14! The scholarship is for students who were a high school senior in 2023–24 and are planning to attend a college, university, or trade school this fall. More details and the application are available here. Please spread the word to any families of high schoolers in your network. Thanks!

EMTAR has always championed opportunities for our members to learn, grow, and thrive in their real estate careers. We do this through ongoing education, networking, legislative and regulatory advocacy, awards and celebrations, and much more.

We also are committed to providing tools for prospective new REALTORS® who might wish to explore the field professionally. In addition, we are dedicated to encouraging our community’s youth and teens in ways such as the EMTAR Scholarship program noted above and through other avenues that inspire them to succeed and achieve as they grow into adulthood.

Along those same lines, our friends at the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) are proud to offer high school seniors the opportunity to study real estate through the Tennessee High School Senior Real Estate Licensing Program, a scholarship program in conjunction with Kaplan Real Estate Education. 

Important Update: As of the publication of this blog, overwhelming demand among 2024 grads has led TREC to suspend applications and create a waitlist. To reserve a place on the list, fill out the form here. Waitlist participants will be selected on a first-come, first serve basis on or around October 31.

This groundbreaking licensing program provides the base education required for the pre-licensing exam for qualified individuals to become licensed real estate agents in Tennessee. Students who successfully complete this training will get a jump on their careers.  

In addition, students will be able to complete the entire program at their own pace and will have six months from their date of enrollment to complete their courses. Kaplan’s engaging online courses walk students through everything needed to take the national and state real estate licensing exams.

Students can also complete exam preparation courses to reinforce key concepts, review questions, and track their performance.

Highlights of the program include: 

  • Tennessee 60-Hour Real Estate Principles Online Course
  • This is one of two required courses to complete before sitting for the Tennessee real estate licensing exam. This course provides the fundamentals of Tennessee real estate.
  • Tennessee 30-Hour Course for New Affiliates Online Course
  • This is the second required course to complete before sitting for the Tennessee real estate licensing exam. This 30-hour online course covers the topics required by TREC for new affiliates and builds on the fundamentals that are covered in the Tennessee 60-Hour Real Estate Principles course.
  • Interactive Study Group Live Webinars
  • Join Kaplan’s expert faculty and fellow students for a lively discussion of topics related to the required online courses. These webinars are designed to keep students on track to finish their education, reinforce key concepts, and provide opportunities for engaging interactions.
  • National and Tennessee Real Estate Exam Prep
  • These online courses combine solid industry principles with the latest state-specific information students need to pass the national and state portions of the licensing exam.

To learn more, visit this link, and again, if a high schooler you know is interested in this year’s program, they may submit the form here to be added to the waitlist.

We would love to see some of the participants in this vital TREC program eventually become EMTAR members who serve buyers and sellers well and help to strengthen our community!

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.

Celebrating 2024 National Homeownership Month

In June of each year, EMTAR joins Tennessee REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to promote the benefits of homeownership and recommit to creating opportunities for future homeowners as we mark National Homeownership Month.

In 2024, as this important month unfolds, many of us are engaged in the busy summer real estate season. As we work closely with sellers and buyers across Wilson, Smith, and Dekalb counties, it is good to reflect on why we believe in the power of homeownership and in helping these folks in our communities to achieve the American Dream.

The month is marked by a number of spotlights and opportunities. NAR offers a wide array of insights that zoom in on the importance of homeownership. NAR has a main webpage here with tons of insights and resources to help members become more aware of Homeownership Month.

To begin with, this year’s presidential proclamation begins:

Owning a home is about more than putting a roof over your family’s head — it is part of the American Dream. For generations, it has been a pathway to the middle class, an opportunity to build community and to pass down wealth to your children. But too many Americans today still struggle to buy a home. This National Homeownership Month, we recommit to giving every American a fair shot at that dream. . . .

As another example, NAR’s First-Time Buyer video episodes are available to watch. Purchasing a first home isn’t easy, but the determined buyers featured in these NAR programs are up for the challenge. Watch—and get inspired—as real estate rookies discover creative pathways to homeownership by following the lead of an agent who is a REALTOR®.

In the realm of advocacy, America’s tax law can and must do more to promote homeownership, build stable communities, and boost economic growth. NAR is advocating for the following bipartisan tax bills and solutions:

  • The More Homes on the Market Act (H.R. 1321), which would decrease the equity penalty and incentivize more long-term owners to sell their homes.
  • The Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (S. 657/H.R. 3940), which would attract private investment to build and rehabilitate owner-occupied homes.
  • The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 1557/H.R. 3238), which would encourage creating and preserving affordable housing.
  • Support small business by preserving the 199A qualified business income deduction and keeping taxes on business income lower for independent contractors and pass-through business owners.
  • Support commercial real estate investment by preserving 1031 like-kind exchanges.
  • Incentivize homeownership by increasing the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction and eliminating the marriage penalty.

NAR is also advocating to ensure equal access to professional representation and support fair housing. Priorities include:

  • Ensuring veterans maintain access to professional representation and can compete in the market by allowing VA buyers to compensate their professional representative directly.
  • Supporting the Direct Seller and Real Estate Agent Harmonization Act (H.R. 5419) to ensure real estate agents maintain their independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
  • Supporting the Fair and Equal Housing Act (H.R. 4439) to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.
  • Serving as a founding member of the Black Homeownership Collaborative and supporting the 3by30 initiative, with the goal of adding three million net new Black homeowners by 2030.

Read more here about NAR’s priority issues.

Here in Tennessee, we are also keeping a close eye on state and local legislative and regulatory activities to ensure that our government leaders consider the high value of homeownership as they make decisions and cast votes. Learn more about how EMTAR is part of those efforts here.

These are just the beginning, of course. Many other homeownership materials and resources are only a click or two away. (You’ll find more of them here and here.)

In closing, let us say a hearty Happy National Homeownership Month! We are grateful that for our REALTOR® members, every month is really Homeownership Month, because you are purposeful and passionate about helping buyers and sellers navigate their closings all year long.

So as we celebrate and mark this extra-special month, we also celebrate you!

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.

Staying Strong: A Word from 2024 President Stacy Gee

We are sharing the following message from President Stacy Gee, and prefacing it with a note of thanks to her and to our entire volunteer leadership team for the positive difference they make for our EMTAR members. We know how busy REALTORS® are, so we are especially grateful for those of you who give so generously of your time and energy to make our Association—and our community—better and stronger. Thank you! (Visit this page to learn more about our volunteer leaders.)

Dear Fellow EMTAR Members,

A while back I entered my name in an online activity called “All Girl Names Tell a Story.” The results revealed that those of us named “Stacy” tend to love our family (so true!), are not fans of self-centered people (also true), and that if you bump into a Stacy, you can be sure “she’ll give you all she’s got” (very true—if I sign up, I’m not only in, I’m all in!). But the result that stood out to me most was this: “Stacy means: She survives every storm.

I love that, because it reminds me that I’ve got what it takes not only to survive during the hard times we all face, but to thrive and come out even stronger on the other side.

And that leads right into the message I want to share with you today: As you know, we are facing some “storms” these days, things like economic uncertainty, political divisiveness, war and unrest, inflation, a tight housing market as demand continues to outpace supply, and significant shifts in the real estate industry that will impact how we as REALTORS® do business.

One of those changes that we are talking about right now is a decision by Realtracs to update the requirements for access to its MLS starting in 2025. (You can read more about that important development here.)

Another is the broader impact of the recent NAR lawsuits settlement, which will have far-reaching implications that we are just now beginning to learn about and think through. (The EMTAR blog here has more details about the settlement.)

Not only that, but beyond our professional lives, many of us are facing personal storms as well—sickness or another physical challenge, family struggles, the loss of a loved one, and more.

And then there are just those days when you wonder why you even got out of bed—you know the ones I’m talking about: The coffee burns your lip, an angry driver cuts you off in traffic, a showing gets canceled, an offer on a property comes back far from what you were hoping it would be, and then, just when you think the worst is over, it starts pouring down rain right after you walk out of your hair appointment.

Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m always positive, even when the clouds roll in and the thunder starts rumbling. I look for the bright side in just about every situation. But sometimes that’s really hard to do, right? (I see y’all raising those hands.)

After one especially tough day not long ago, when everything seemed to go wrong and I was worn out, a friend shared a Facebook post reminding us to “hang in there, tomorrow is a new day.” That might sound simple, but it hit me at just the right moment. It made my night, and it shifted my perspective as I started looking forward to the promise of the next day, with its fresh opportunities and blessings.

In light of all of this, I want to remind you that you have more than enough of the “stuff” you need to survive every storm, to weather every difficult day, to overcome every obstacle, and to meet every challenge head-on. Especially during those times when it feels like nothing is working the way you need it to, keep in mind that tomorrow will be a new day.

I think it’s also good to remember that we’re all in this together, and we can (and should) lean on and support each other every chance we get. That might mean mentoring a newer agent to share your hard-won insights and expertise, or it could mean reaching out for help from someone you know is down the road from where you are in your career.

It also might mean staying engaged in the community and in the industry—looking for ways to give back, to volunteer, to brighten someone’s day, to make things better, to serve others in big and small ways. When we do that, it almost always puts our problems into perspective and lifts our spirits to face them with renewed vigor.

In closing, let me emphasize that it is my great honor and privilege to serve alongside you as your 2024 president and as part of an amazing board of directors. As a leadership team, we are all about exploring ways to be “your partner in success” as a REALTOR® and to stand strong on behalf of property owners, buyers, and sellers, as well as our communities and neighborhoods.

We have so much going for us, and we want to keep it going. Thank you for the opportunity to serve and to share this message with you!

Appreciatively,

Stacy Gee
2024 EMTAR President
Benchmark Realty LLC

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.

Home Shoppers: 111 (!) Reasons to Find a Buyer’s Agent

Source: Realtor.com

[BIG hint: Skip to the very bottom of the blog for a much simpler way to shop for a home.]

At EMTAR, we often look for ways to express the high value that our REALTOR® members bring to property transactions throughout Wilson, Smith, and Dekalb counties, whether they are working with buyers or sellers. We appreciated the following list created by our friends at Realtor.com that shines fresh light on all that REALTORS® do to add value to (in this case) the buyer’s experience, and we wanted to share it with you. Big thanks to our members for everything you mean not only to your clients and prospective clients, but also to our community and our Association.

So, you’re ready to buy a home. Here are your next 111 to-dos (1).

Get Informed — Do Your Research
1. Research the real estate industry and legal services to understand what’s available to you, including the entire process and necessity for legal representation.
2. Achieve proficiency in federal and state fair housing laws that protect your rights. You want to be sure that you’re not being denied the opportunity to make an offer on a home or secure financing based on your race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and/or family status.
3. Research local and national down payment assistance resources. These programs can help make your home purchase more affordable.
4. Check your eligibility for down payment assistance programs.
5. If you’re a Veteran, research home services and loan programs available to you.
6. Also if you’re a Veteran, determine whether you qualify for a zero-down VA home loan. Making a down payment is a significant hurdle for many homebuyers. Programs like these can open the door to homeownership, for those who know about them and qualify.
7. Learn about local home prices, inventory levels, and market demand in your desired area. If you are in a hotter market, high demand for homes may affect your buying process and offer strategy.
8. Ensure that all personal and financial information remains confidential to mitigate risk of identity theft. Research the steps that you can take to protect your identity when buying a home.
9. Throughout the process, know the risks of posting home search details on social media to avoid being targeted for fraud.
10. Do some research on what home features are currently popular to help identify your preferences and how this may affect the value of the home.

Set Homeownership Goals and Budget
11. Obtain a copy of your credit report, including your credit score, to assess where you stand, and ensure you have time to dispute errors and improve your score. The better your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved for a mortgage and receive a better rate.
12. Consider all your homeownership wants and non-negotiable needs. You may need a certain number of bedrooms based on the size of your family, or a first-floor bedroom and bathroom if you plan to age in place.
13. Set your budget and be mindful of the complete cost of homeownership. Consider the purchase cost of the home and any ongoing living and maintenance expenses. Those ongoing expenses may include but are not limited to real estate taxes, heating, AC, water, yard and appliance maintenance, repairs, homeowners association fees, and commuting costs.
14. Assess your financial ability to purchase a home. The typical rule of thumb is that your total monthly housing payment (mortgage, taxes, insurance, etc.) shouldn’t be more than 30% of your gross monthly household income, but individual situations may vary.
15. Assess your desired market’s compatibility with your budget based on current income and other considerations.
16. Professionally advocate for yourself throughout the entire process. To do that, you should promote and defend your interests while keeping emotions in check to ensure you get your desired outcome.

Start Your Home Search
17. Establish and adhere to a schedule for house hunting, mortgage approval, and closing to meet your desired timeline. If you miss any milestone deadlines, you could be at risk of losing your down payment or losing the home for purchase.
18. Learn how local markets could affect your buying and owning process. Fewer homes for sale, future development plans, school ratings, access to transportation, and community amenities are all elements that may affect demand in a given market.
19. Scout listings and online marketplaces for suitable properties.
20. Set up real-time alerts on home search marketplaces to get notifications when matching homes hit the market, and for open houses and price reductions.
21. Compare properties to your wants and needs list to ensure they align with what you’re looking for.
22. Tap your personal network to uncover additional properties of interest that are not yet publicly listed and may become available for sale soon.
23. Contact homeowners in desired areas to see if they are considering selling. Gather information about any homes that might be for sale but are not actively being marketed.
24. Virtually preview properties that you’re interested in.
25. Select homes for viewing that align with your specific needs.
26. Schedule multiple in-person home viewings by contacting each home’s listing agent.
27. Schedule separate appointments at times that suit the listing agent but may not always suit you.
28. Periodically reevaluate your needs and refocus your property search, as necessary.
29. Explore all available resources to learn more about prospective neighborhoods. Be sure to speak to local experts who understand the neighborhood and will give you honest feedback.
30. Tour the amenities, schools, and points of interest, and test commute times in your chosen search area.
31. Cross-reference local crime registries for the neighborhoods you are searching.
32. Educate yourself on what to look for in property disclosures of home listings while you search to make informed decisions. Required property disclosures vary by state and may include, but are not limited to rights of way, upcoming special assessments, whether the home is in a flood zone, past termite damage, and the presence of lead paint.
33. Stay current with the listing months of market inventory. As with days on the market, this indicates how competitive a given market is and should inform your offer.
34. Consider measures of home value beyond price per square foot. These include neighborhood, proximity to work and community amenities, and community development plans. Be sure to consult with a local expert to get the most comprehensive information.
35. Research municipal services and other relevant neighborhood information.
36. Be informed about potential neighborhood negatives such as noise levels, venues, or operations that could impact your property value.
37. Check applicable zoning and building restrictions if you plan to rent out your home or add a unit to generate short-term or monthly rental income.
38. Understand public property and tax information for potential homes. It’s important to be informed about the possibility of future tax increases and property assessments, which will affect the property taxes you owe from year to year.
39. Gather and consider important data on utility availability and costs. For example, you’ll want to confirm if the home has good high-speed internet access.
40. Research any environmental factors and risks that could affect your home, such as flooding, wildfire, heat, air quality, and noise. Some of these factors will affect the cost of ownership. For example, if the home you purchase is in a flood zone, you will need to obtain flood insurance.
41. Narrow down your top home choices for a closer look before considering making any offer.

Prepare Financing
42. Analyze your finances to determine the total down payment and closing costs you can afford.
43. Gather and assess quality lender resources. Ask friends and family for recommendations.
44. Consider at least three mortgage lenders during the pre-approval process. Mortgage rates, terms, and eligibility may vary from lender to lender.
45. Familiarize yourself with the mortgage pre-approval process. Pre-approval means that a lender has verified your income, credit background, and other factors and has provided a conditional commitment for an approved mortgage amount. With pre-approval, your offer will be considered far more seriously.
46. Prepare and collect personal financial information like pay stubs, credit card statements, and other existing loans/debt, and share that information with the lenders you’re considering.
47. Collect and compare multiple financing options. Beyond traditional mortgages, look into lesser-known alternative options like seller financing or rent-to-own programs.
48. Explore various financing options to find the best fit for your needs. Many people use a conventional, fixed-rate 30-year mortgage, but mortgages with other terms (e.g.,15- and 10-year fixed rate, adjustable rate, and assumable) might also be options.
49. Coordinate with your lender to discuss discount points, which you can pay to lower the interest rate on your loan.
50. Analyze loan estimates. Loan duration, size of your down payment, fees, and other loan terms can affect your overall mortgage costs.”
51. Obtain a pre-approval letter from your lender, which is more comprehensive than pre-qualification. Pre-approval is a written commitment from a lender that stipulates the amount they will lend you for a home purchase.
52. Carefully review the pre-approval letter from your lender to understand its contents and ask necessary questions.

Making Your Offer
53. Review statistics to see what percentage of the list price sellers in your area are currently receiving. This will help you decide whether to offer the asking price, or adjust your offer below or above the asking price, to make your bid more competitive.
54. Consider the current, local average days on the market to gauge property pricing and market competitiveness. Fewer days on market indicates greater demand, which means you may need to raise your offer or offer additional incentives to make your offer more competitive.
55. Pay for a professional comparative market analysis (CMA) before making an offer to ensure it’s competitive. A CMA is a report that details recent home sales, local market activity, and sales prices to help you craft a successful offer.
56. Research independent home valuation information from online resources like Realtor.com to assess an offer price that considers the sale of similar homes in the area. It’s important to make an offer that’s in line with local market conditions. You don’t want to overpay for a home, or make an offer that’s so low it won’t even be considered, so it’s good to talk to an independent adviser who has local market knowledge.
57. Consider hiring a real estate lawyer for legal representation as you build your offer and for legal due diligence as you review contractual documentation.
58. Review a sample sales contract to prepare to make an offer. This document outlines every facet of the transaction, but it may not include everything you want in the transaction or from the seller, so don’t assume everything is there.
59. Understand common contract contingencies and the importance of including protective clauses in your offer. These may include but are not limited to your ability to secure financing that covers the appraised home value, inspections (home, radon, lead, etc.), closing date, date of possession, and owner lease-back terms.
60. Learn about any purchasing incentives that you might be eligible for. Home sellers may offer concessions like a pre-paid homeowner warranty, closing costs, or allowance for home improvements/repairs as indicated by a home inspection. You will need to negotiate these as your own representative.
61. Ensure your offer will stand out as the most attractive in the current market. Be ready to compete—many homes today are receiving multiple offers and bidding wars are common.
62. Craft an offer that is well-positioned to be accepted, and submit it to the seller’s agent. An offer typically includes how much you are willing to pay for the home, how much earnest money you can provide, when you want to close on the home, and the deadline for the seller to respond.

Negotiations and Offer Acceptance
63. Identify and prioritize your main goals for contract negotiations.
64. Familiarize yourself with negotiation best practices. Be mindful of how your body language and facial expressions can influence a successful negotiation.
65. Develop a negotiating strategy to secure the best terms. In addition to price, consider terms such as repairs, closing costs, or the timeline for closing.
66. Negotiate the best price with the seller’s agent. The seller’s agent will be negotiating on the homeowner’s behalf. You will be negotiating with a professional who likely has extensive experience in this area, and you may be at a disadvantage.
67. Be prepared for multiple-offer situations. Don’t get discouraged, and have your negotiation strategies ready.
68. Consider using offer strategies like an escalation clause, which raises the price you’re offering by a certain amount over the price that another buyer is offering; offering flexibility on move-in/possession date; or waiving various contingencies.
69. Explore optional contingencies, and understand their advantages and disadvantages. If you agree to waive the inspection contingency, for example, you are accepting the risk of purchasing a home that may have myriad defects or require additional funds to repair or bring up to code.
70. Be aware that all known material defects should always be disclosed to you. Know what questions to ask, and ensure you receive and comprehend all required disclosure forms by state and federal laws. These forms vary by state.
71. Agree to final terms with the seller, and sign the contract. In some states an attorney may be required.
72. Verify the final offer is signed by all parties.\
73. Prepare your lender for listing agent calls. The agent representing the home seller will contact your lender to confirm pre-approval and arrange other settlement details. These details will likely favor the home seller, since that agent is representing their interests, so you may want to participate in those calls to negotiate on your behalf.

Facilitate Closing
74. Coordinate communications effectively among all parties, including your lender, the seller’s agent, the closing attorney, and any additional third parties.
75. Seek additional guidance for transactions involving short sales, foreclosures, or bank-owned properties. These transactions often involve additional title, ownership, and financing considerations, and they may be as-is—meaning, the properties may be damaged or require costs for repairs that the buyer is accepting as a condition of purchase.
76. Estimate the gross out-of-pocket cost of completing the transaction. This may include, but is not limited to, closing costs, a title search, financing points (to “pay down” the mortgage interest rate), and transfer taxes.
77. Acquaint yourself with flood insurance. If the home you purchase is in a FEMA-identified flood zone, you must obtain flood insurance as a condition of ownership. You may also consider adding flood insurance to your regular home insurance policy, because most regular policies do not cover damage from flooding.
78. Learn about title insurance, and consult a qualified insurance broker. Title insurance covers any pre-existing title problems that you may discover after you’ve purchased the home (e.g., tax liens, unpaid/outstanding mortgages, previous ownership claims).
79. Fully investigate your options for a home inspector, title company, appraiser, and other services. Forgoing a home inspection is not advised as these professional inspectors will provide a comprehensive assessment of a home’s current condition and risks.
80. Create a list of required and optional home inspections, including environmental, roofing, and mold. This will help you determine what inspection contingencies to include in your purchase offer.
81. Ensure that necessary property surveys are ordered. A property survey will help you understand where your property begins and ends, and determine any potential issues—such as easements or encroachments—before you take ownership of the property.
82. Discuss any concerns arising from the home inspection. Use any negative findings from your home inspection report as leverage for repairs or credits.
83. Track and meet all contract deadlines. Depending on the terms of your offer, these may include deadlines for inspections, final financing/loan, down payment and earnest money deposits into escrow, title searches, and settlement date.
84. Order the appraisal. Confirm whether your lender will accept an independent appraiser or require an appraisal management company to conduct the appraisal.
85. Question the appraisal report if it affects your financing. Check for errors like square footage, inadequate home comparisons, or incorrect descriptions of the home or neighborhood.
86. Order the title search. A clean property title means the buyer and lender agree there are no claims on the property that could become an issue after ownership is transferred.
87. Regularly contact your lender to ensure the loan process is on track to meet the closing requirements.
88. Ensure any necessary funds, like earnest money or down payments, are received by the stated deadlines to avoid any risk of the seller terminating your contract.
89. Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale. Missing or late paperwork can cause delays.
90. Check addendums and alterations for agreed-upon terms.
91. Take note of the location and details of your closing meeting.
92. Confirm and communicate the closing date and time to the seller’s agent, noting any changes.
93. Schedule and conduct a final property walk-through. Create a comprehensive checklist of your concerns regarding the home, and then confirm that any agreed-upon repairs were addressed or fixed by the seller.
94. Confirm the clear-to-close status, indicating all documents and conditions to approve your loan have been met, with your lender.
95. Review your closing statement. It explains the terms of the mortgage, the projected monthly payments, and how much your fees and closing costs will be.
96. Double-check all taxes, dues, and prorations related to your purchase.
97. Request the final closing figures from the closing agent. This is the total amount of money that you will have to bring to the closing table.
98. Review your title insurance commitment carefully to ensure all information is accurate.
99. Be aware of wire fraud risks, and verbally verify all wiring instructions with the seller’s agent before transferring funds. Get the detailed instructions from your closing company, and be leery of any messages you receive that request changes to the original instructions.
100. Provide receipt of escrow deposit to the seller’s agent/broker to verify this financial step has been completed.
101. Gather all required forms and documents for closing. Typically, you’ll need a photo ID and a cashier’s or certified check (or receipt of a wire transfer).
102. Perform any remaining closing activities to complete the transaction.
103. Review all closing documents with the closing agent or attorney. Be prepared to sign a ton of paperwork.
104. Distribute final documents to all involved parties for their records. You’ll want to keep this important paperwork safe.
105. Verify receipt of all keys, access codes, garage door openers, and manuals for all equipment and appliances.

Post-Closing Activities
106. Prior to moving, consider rekeying your locks and changing access codes as an extra precaution to safeguard your home from anyone who may have had access prior to your ownership.
107. Remember to transfer all utilities and services to your new residence so you do not incur costs on your former residence. This ensures everything is up and running in preparation for your move-in date.
108. Turn your home inspection report into a maintenance to-do list.
109. File claims with your homeowner’s warranty company as needed. A home warranty is a policy that covers the cost of major repairs or appliances.
110. Stay engaged and proactively follow up on any pending items or concerns post-closing. Keep a running checklist handy to ensure you stay on top of any potential warranties, including their expiration dates.
111. Arrange for the move-in day in your new home by contacting movers. Buy yourself a bottle of champagne.

Congratulations, you’re a new homeowner now! Shew. Take a four-hour nap.

  1. Actual services or to-dos will depend on the needs of the buyer and the transaction—not all 111 things will need to be done in every transaction.
  2. Based on a 2023 proprietary survey among recent home buyers and sellers.

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.

Burger Wars Heating Up

News of In-N-Out’s Arrival—Joining Whataburger, Cookout, and Others—Brings Sizzle to Eastern Middle Tennessee’s Fast-Food Scene

Remember when the Coke vs. Pepsi debate raged from the 1970s up into the 2000s? Billy Joel sang about it in his classic song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (“rock ’n roll, the cola wars, I can’t take it anymore!”). One Nashville-area top executive at hospital owner HCA, having fielded fevered complaints when the company’s headquarters was considering a switch from one cola provider to the other, lamented to employees: “I didn’t anticipate so much passion and energy over sugar water!”

Well, while the cola wars have mostly cooled, the burger battle is blazing as hot as ever, and the front has arrived here in Eastern Middle Tennessee, especially in light of the news that West Coast favorite In-N-Out plans to open one of its first Tennessee locations—in fact, only its second or third location east of the Mississippi River—in Lebanon.

What a Debate . . .

Already, popular Texas-based chain Whataburger has beefed up its Tennessee presence with two area locations, one in Lebanon and another in nearby Hermitage (along with recently opened or planned additions in Gallatin, Madison, Murfreesboro, and other hot spots).

Add to that the success of North Carolina-based Cookout (whose area footprint is anchored by its bustling Lebanon location right across from Whataburger, a half-mile or so north of I-65), along with other joints that specialize in burgers, fries, sodas, and shakes—and the grill is fired up for a lot of mostly good-natured (but often passionate) discussion about who dishes out the best patties and fixin’s.

“Does any of this really matter?” you might ask. “I mean, come on—we’re talking fast food here.”

It’s a fair point. As our members know, real estate is an increasingly complex profession, and REALTORS® today are navigating a bevy of challenges: a vibrant housing market keeping us on our toes, competition for buyers’ and sellers’ attention, mortgage rates that continue to inch upward, laws and regulations to abide by, continuing education (CE) to secure, not to mention industry changes on the way resulting from the recently announced proposed NAR lawsuits settlement.

All of that said, a case can be made that, yes, it does matter. After all, tons of Californians (and others from out West) continue to make their way eastward to the great state of Tennessee, and our communities in Wilson, Smith, and Dekalb counties are among the hottest, most appealing destinations for them to relocate to and purchase property. To many of them, In-n-Out is a reminder of home. For others, Whataburger holds a special place in their culinary hearts. And Cookout has exploded in recent years as a favorite eatery in the South and beyond.

What’s more, we know that amenities that tend to draw new residents don’t begin and end with the “big” ones that come to mind, such as housing availability, good schools, recreational activities, enriching cultural attractions, fair taxation, and a tone of friendliness and hospitality. Those items are foremost in the minds of prospective property buyers, of course, but the draws also include the “little things” like convenient, familiar places to grab a quick-but-quality bite after work or on the way home from a child’s sports practice.

Lettuce Consider In-N-Out

In-N-Out is poised to make a spicy entry into the mix. The buzz surrounding the almost-mythic chain’s 2023 announcement that it would launch its Eastern U.S. operations with a headquarters in the Nashville area (20 miles south in Franklin), along with plans to open several area restaurants, was a loud one, drawing attention from Governor Bill Lee, multiple news-media outlets, and tons of posts and comments across social media. Lots of people were (and are) talking about it, and that level of conversation tends to seep into the minds of those considering a move to a particular city or town.

As the Tennessean reported on April 1, 2024, “The well-known West Coast burger brand has included Lebanon in its expansion into Middle Tennessee with a newly approved site plan to build on 3.45 acres on the corner of South Hartmann Drive and Franklin road. A drive-thru is included.”

It will be “a 3,885-square-foot restaurant on vacant property in front of Home Depot,” according to an earlier Tennessean article on March 5, which also noted that Lebanon Mayor Rick Bell and Economic Development Director Sarah Haston “have made adding restaurant choices in the city a priority.”

The newspaper went on, “[Mayor Bell] spoke in support of the restaurant before a unanimous planning commission vote passing the site plan, saying In-N-Out is ‘one brand we wanted,’ and that it ‘fits our values,’ pointing to Bible verses on packaging such as wrappers and cups. In-N-Out is in the pre-development phase and Vice President of Store Development Mike Abbate said ‘it’s still too early to say’ when a restaurant in Lebanon could open. Once construction does start, the build generally takes eight to nine months, Abbate said.”

For now, anticipation about In-n-Out will build even as already-established restaurants like Whataburger and Cookout continue to vie for fast-food buyers’ appetites. The extent to which the burger battle will make its way into REALTORS®’ conversations with clients remains to be seen, but odds are the aroma of searing sandwiches wafting into nostrils and salivary glands all across our communities will not go unnoticed.

Where there’s a grill, there’s a way.

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.

April Marks Fair Housing Month

*EMTAR Issues Fairhaven Challenge to Members ~ And You Could Win Big*

Each April, REALTORS® commemorate the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and reflect on housing discrimination and segregation, past and present.

EMTAR is no exception. As community leaders who make a profound positive difference, our REALTOR® members throughout Wilson, Smith, and Dekalb counties have an opportunity to be a part of equitable and inclusive change. Fair Housing Month signifies a recommitment to advancing opportunities and expanding homeownership for all. We are here to “Reflect. Repair. Renew.” Because That’s Who We R®.

As the month unfolds, here are several resources available that you might choose to explore:

EMTAR Members: Take the Fairhaven Challenge

Also in celebration of Fair Housing Month, EMTAR is encouraging our members to engage in NAR’s Fairhaven Challenge. 

By visiting Fairhaven online and obtaining your “Recognition of Completion,” members will qualify for a chance to win FREE 2025 EMTAR Dues (local portion) for next year’s billing cycle. For every multiple of 20 members who participate, 1 lucky person will win. If 100 EMTAR members take the Fairhaven challenge, 5 names will be drawn and awarded FREE 2025 Dues (local portion), etc.

This challenge is estimated to take about an hour online and could save you $251 next year! This challenge is OPEN TO ALL EMTAR REALTORS®.

Note: Recognition of Completion certificates must be sent to info@emtar.com.

More Details About Fairhaven

In November 2020, NAR launched this fair housing simulation training for REALTORS® that uses the power of storytelling to help members identify, prevent, and address discriminatory practices in real estate.

Inspired by real stories, this innovative online experience has agents work against the clock to sell homes in the fictional town of Fairhaven, while confronting discrimination in the homebuying process. Learners also walk in the shoes of a homebuyer facing discrimination. The training provides customized feedback that learners can apply to daily business interactions.

We hope you will take the Fairhaven challenge!

No matter how you participate in fair housing efforts, EMTAR encourages our members to recognize Fair Housing Month within your brokerages and with your clients, and to join with us as we continue to champion the availability and affordability of housing options for everyone in our communities.

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.

Updates for EMTAR Members on the NAR Settlement

*Updated April 9, 2024*

By now our EMTAR members are likely well aware of the NAR settlement agreement announced March 15. As the dust settles a bit, we wanted to provide an update on what the settlement includes, how it may affect you as a local REALTOR®, and the impact on the buyers and sellers you serve throughout Eastern Middle Tennessee.

News of the settlement proposal took the industry by surprise, but our leadership immediately began to think through how EMTAR can and will support our members, your clients, and the protection of private property rights as it unfold.

While the proposed settlement is just that—a proposal that will require court approval and take effect over a period of months—we know it’s important to take steps now to prepare for what we anticipate.

For starters:

As with any changes in our industry, we all want to learn the facts and assess the future. You as a REALTOR® have the opportunity to thrive as these changes develop. Here are several areas you can focus on right now:

Understand Buyer’s Representation Agreements. The proposed settlement calls for those agreements to be required before showing any property.

Listing agents, communicate clearly how the buyer’s agent can be paid, how sellers can take part, and the potential impact to the seller.

Make buyer consultations a part of your business (if you don’t already) in the same way you’ve done with sellers. Have a well-prepared presentation that defines your value and your fee.

Sharpen your mindset. View this proposal in light of the opportunities it presents to grow and thrive.  

Now, more details about the agreement:

While the settlement is subject to court approval, the proposal would resolve claims against NAR; more than one million NAR members; all state, territorial, and local REALTOR® associations; all association-owned Multiple Listing Services (MLSs); and all brokerages with an NAR member as principal that had a residential transaction volume in 2022 of $2 billion or below. 

As part of its initial announcement, NAR said, “The agreement makes clear that NAR continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) cooperative compensation model rule (MLS Model Rule) that was introduced in the 1990s in response to calls from consumer protection advocates for buyer representation. Under the terms of the agreement, NAR would pay $418 million over approximately four years.”

While the agreement would cover a majority of REALTORS®, it does not cover brokerage firms with residential transaction volume above $2 billion in 2022, despite NAR’s effort to include them. However, for those companies, the settlement provides an avenue to pursue inclusion in the release but does not obligate them to do so.

Next, here are two primary changes that are likely to result:

Offers of compensation moved off of the MLS
NAR has agreed to implement a rule that prohibits offers of compensation in the MLS. Offers of compensation could continue to be an option consumers can pursue off-MLS through negotiation and consultation with real estate professionals. In addition, sellers may offer buyer concessions on an MLS (for example—concessions for buyer closing costs). This change is set to go into effect in mid-July of 2024.

Written agreements required for MLS participant buyers
NAR has already championed the use of written agreements for years. In the settlement, NAR has agreed to require MLS participants working with buyers to enter into written representation agreements. This change also is expected to take effect by mid-July of 2024. 

Finally, here are several steps we are taking as your local association to help support you during this time:

Tennessee Forms Updates
As noted above, NAR has agreed to require MLS participants working with buyers to enter into written buyer representation agreements. In light of that, we will collaborate with our state association, Tennessee REALTORS®, to ensure that EMTAR members have access to the forms you may need based on the new requirements. Also as noted, this change is likely to go into effect in mid-July 2024. For the moment, we don’t have a specified date for forms changes, but we will stay on top of this and make any adjusted forms available to you when the time comes.

Changes to the Realtracs MLS
We’re also staying in touch with Realtracs about changes the MLS will need to make in light of the settlement. As you read above, NAR has agreed to adopt a rule that prohibits offers of compensation on the MLS. Consumers could continue to pursue those offers off-MLS, through negotiation and consultation. In addition, sellers could offer buyer concessions within an MLS (e.g., buyer concessions for closing costs). We don’t have a target date for Realtracs changes, since the settlement is pending court approval, but we will communicate to you on this as any changes emerge.

MLS Webinar, Wednesday, March 27, 1:00 PM
Realtracs will hold a webinar Wednesday, March 27, at 1:00 PM, on the proposed NAR settlement. Brian Schneider, Realtracs’ legal counsel, will discuss the settlement’s implications and field questions. The webinar is open to all Realtracs customers (which includes EMTAR) and will be recorded. Please register here.

CE and Professional Development Opportunities
As your partner in success, EMTAR continually seeks to make continuing education (CE) and other professional development available to you.

Among other things, the NAR settlement proposal underscores that negotiation skills will be more important than ever. We are working on local courses, as well as connecting you with national and other course opportunities. Please check our EMTAR education page and stay tuned for new classes as they become available.

For one, EMTAR is providing FREE ABR® designation classes, and while the first class in April is at max capacity, we will be providing more opportunities. Please keep an eye on our Upcoming Courses page.

As another option, throughout 2024 NAR is making the popular Accredited Buyer’s Representation (ABR) designation course, typically $295, available at no cost. Take the first step toward earning your ABR designation at become.abr.realtor.

For More Information…

If you have questions about the settlement, you may visit NAR’s central resource at www.facts.realtor (you’ll need to log in with your NAR credentials) and/or visit any of these resources:

The Truth About the NAR Settlement

Tim Hur Fortune magazine Op-ed article: “90% of homebuyers have historically opted to work with a real estate agent or broker. Here’s why that’s unlikely to change, according to the National Association of Realtors”

30-Minute NAR Video Update

NAR Settlement Fact Sheet

NAR Settlement Announcement

Fostering Consumer-Friendly Real Estate Marketplaces

Kevin Sears on Real Estate Today Podcast Discussing the NAR Settlement

Kevin Sears: Video Update from the Road in Wyoming

Thank you for your patience and perseverance as we navigate what the NAR settlement means and the effects it will have moving forward. We greatly appreciate you and the difference you make as an EMTAR member and a valued part of our community!

What Are the Hottest Home Paint Colors?

Spring is springing outside, which means all the colors of the rainbow are blooming on flowers, trees, shrubs, and lawns. The same is true on the inside of homes as many sellers work to brighten (or darken) their walls in preparation for the spring and summer home-buying season.

Several recent articles have shined timely light on some of the hottest, most trending color choices, as well as colors that experts recommend avoiding when updating a house in preparation to put it on the market.

For example, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) blogged last week about “Colors to Avoid When Selling a Home,” noting that, “Adding color is a hot trend in home design lately, but be careful which color you choose.”

Among other insights, the blog’s author, Melissa Dittmann Tracey, cited results from the home remodeling site Fixr.com in its Paint & Color Trends 2024, flagging “the most off-putting colors to home buyers.” The not-so-appealing colors included:

  • Red: 53%
  • Lime green: 53%
  • Bright yellow: 40%
  • Mustard yellow: 19%
  • Pink: 10%
  • Turquoise: 9%

The blog also noted, “Instead of splashing interiors in bright hues, home stagers and designers say they like to use color strategically to warm up a space and even make it appear more spacious.” For example, “61% of experts recommend using warm neutrals—like beiges and whites—to help make small spaces appear larger.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the Tennessean ran an AP article in its Sunday Real Estate section titled “Far from Gloomy: Darker paints create a cozy, more welcoming room.” Author Kim Cook wrote, “Dark hues have a bad rap as gloomy and depressing. More likely, they’re bringing the good vibes, all year long.”

The darker colors she mentioned as popular include Greenblack, as well as hues such as deep indigo, Dock Blue, Basalt, Goblin, Adventurer, and Jewel Beetle (most of those by British paint maker Little Greene, which has recently branched into the US).

One home design expert, Noz Nozawa, selected the “deep, fruity Wine Red” to be BlueStar’s 2023 Color of the Year.

The article did advise balancing light and dark if a homeowner chooses to paint the walls a darker shade, by adding touches such as well-placed mirrors, lighter furniture and décor, and other brighter-leaning accents (rugs, curtains).

HGTV, in its 2024 Color Collection of the Year, spotlighted several lighter paint shades (Softer Tan, Pearly White), along with the richer, darker Persimmon. It wrote, “Relaxing neutrals and layers of texture persuade us to slow down and unwind. Plush, upholstered bedframe, headboard and gently curved bench beckon us to a favorite restorative space.”

Meanwhile, Good Housekeeping, in a blog titled “12 Trending Paint Colors for 2024, According to Design Experts,” wrote, “When choosing a hue, it’s important to consider the lighting, the color of your existing furniture, and the mood you’re trying to set. Lighter hues, like creamy white, silvery gray, and muted pastels, help create the illusion of a larger, brighter interior. Meanwhile, darker shades, like deep purple, warm red, and moody blue, make a bold design statement and create a cozy and intimate atmosphere.”

Among Good Housekeeping’s top 12 colors were Medium Blue, Rich Brown, Earthy Green, Warm Red, and Dusty Pink. (See the full list here.)

Finally, Better Homes & Gardens published a post headlined “Every 2024 Color of the Year We Know So Far,” highlighting the fact that “Soothing earth tones, deep moody hues, and various shades of blue are among the most popular colors this year.” Its favorites included Satin French Blue, Peach Fuzz, Blue Nova, Thermal, and Skipping Stones. It also joined HGTV in highlighting Persimmon as a hot color choice.

In the end, paint-color selections might also be influenced by geography (coastal areas vs. mountains, for instance), neighborhood patterns, target-buyer preferences, and many other factors. 

The NAR blog concluded with a good reminder not only for paint colors but for other aspects of preparing a home to sell: “The latest trends may call for attention-getting colors, but . . . ‘a trend today is not necessarily the trend that buyers are yet ready to embrace. They need to have certain exposure to a new trend before they fall in love with the new trend. While these trends are great for interior design, they need to be used in a more moderate way when selling a property.’”

About EMTAR: Chartered in 1969, our Association’s 1,300+ REALTORS® are a proud part of the 36,000+ members of Tennessee REALTORS® and of the 1.5 million+ members of NAR, all working to serve the public and protect the rights of America’s property owners. EMTAR members are known not only for their unmatched real estate excellence and high ethical standards, but also for being generous, hospitable, others-focused, loyal, hardworking, and eager to help wherever and whenever help is needed.