KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you live in or around Knoxville, you’ve likely seen the rise in house prices. Numbers from the Federal Finance Housing Agency rank them among the fastest growing in the country.

FFHA’s House Price Index shows prices in Knoxville increased 17.8% compared to last year, the eighth largest spike compared to other metros in the country. The index reports a 5.9% uptick within the first few months of 2021.

It’s making the existing affordable housing problem, and supply shortage, even more dire, but local realtor Kanika White is hoping to put a dent in the impact on families through a simple piece of advice: “don’t sell grandma’s house yet.” It’s an initiative she recently started for those who could benefit from the current market.

White has noticed a couple of things going on in a handful of Knoxville neighborhoods: prices going up, homeowners unsure where they fit into all the competition, and missed opportunities.

She wants to be part of the solution; mitigating displacement, while spurring revitalization. Basically, she hopes to help connect property owners, who want to keep their homes, to the right resources to make upgrades or repairs, and increase their wealth while keeping their houses. If progress isn’t made, and property values continue to soar, she predicts more displacement.

“If we don’t get in front of that now,” she said. “We will still continue to see racially and financially segregated communities.”

For those wanting to sell, she wants to help ensure they get top dollar. Whether it be empowering them by finding a lender, contractor, or investor, she has seen small changes lead to big offers. White also finds resources for those struggling with credit issues or lack of up-front cash for refinancing or renovations.

“Let me help you figure out a way to get as much money out of that house as possible and keep that wealth for you and your family,” she said. She also advised potential sellers not to be quick to accept cash offers. She said they should connect with experts, such as herself, to make sure their payout is maximized.

For those waiting to buy, White advises against holding out for a bubble to burst. She doesn’t subscribe to the theory that we’re experiencing a housing bubble, but rather thinks the climb in pricing will be around for at least the next five years. If you can afford a mortgage, given interest rates are still low, she recommends buying.

Ultimately, she believes public policy is needed to solve the issues with supply and demand. Given the cost of new construction, she explained, it isn’t feasible for many contractors to build housing without adding a premium to the price tag. White believes subsidies could help ensure new construction at an affordable price.

More houses for sale helps to meet high demand, which she said would help to stabilize prices; however, she wants to make sure a seller, investor, and next potential buyer all walk away from the deal with a fair result.

“I want to see Knoxville as the city that’s known for being on a hill. like, we’ve done things completely different here. we use systems and policies that truly empowered people and that balanced the scale without taking anything from anybody else.”