Housing Report: Strong First Quarter but Future Unclear


Tennessee’s housing report showed the state “did experience a strong first quarter of 2020,” but the report’s author cautions that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic disruptions that followed won’t be clearer until subsequent reports.

The MTSU Business and Economic Research Center’s statewide report for the first quarter “shows promising results,” with home sales increasing overall from the previous quarter and home prices up from the previous year across the state, noted report author Murat Arik, director of the BERC at Middle Tennessee State University.

However, COVID-19’s impact on initial unemployment insurance claims — up 381.6% from the previous year and 339% from the previous quarter — “is unprecedented” and the true impact of economic shutdown measures that began in mid-March weren’t captured in this report, Arik noted.

“Tennessee also experienced more significant negative growth for multi-family permits, both annually and quarterly, than either the United States or the South,” he added.

The most significant positive outcomes were Tennessee’s mortgage and real estate transfer tax collections, which increased 41% and 30% over the previous year, respectively. Single-family housing permits have increased by 24.7% over the year, marking the third consecutive report with annual increases in single-family housing permits, Arik noted.

Mortgage tax collections had not grown at this level since the second quarter of 2015, while real estate tax collections in first quarter “were at the highest growth level since BERC began quarterly reporting,” Arik noted.

See the full report at https://mtsu.edu/berc/docs/HousingTN-Q1-2020.pdf.

Other highlights:

• In home sales, Knoxville and Memphis saw closings increase by 2.9% and 3.5% respectively from the previous quarter, while Nashville’s closings dropped 1.4%.

• In home prices, all Metropolitan Statistical Areas across saw prices increase year-over-year, with the most significant increases in Clarksville (9.4%) and Morristown (8.8%). The least significant of these increases was in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA (4%).

BERC’s report is funded by Tennessee Housing Development Agency, or THDA. The quarterly report offers an overview of the state’s economy as it relates to the housing market and includes data on employment, housing construction, rental vacancy rates, real estate transactions and mortgages, home sales and prices, delinquencies and foreclosures.

The Business and Economic Research Center operates under the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU. For more information, visit http://mtsu.edu/berc/.

About THDA

THDA is the state’s housing finance agency and is committed to expanding safe, sound, affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Tennesseans. This is achieved through a robust home loan program, competitive funding for local nonprofit and municipal agencies, and the administration of nine federally funded programs. THDA publishes research on affordable housing and THDA programs and beneficiaries. THDA also coordinates state planning for housing through the Consolidated Planning process, annual Action Plans, and annual Performance Reports. See http://thda.org for more information.