HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – A study by Middle Tennessee State University found home prices are increasing around the country, but one portion of East Tennessee is experiencing the largest uptick in housing prices in Tennessee.

The Morristown area, as noted in the report, saw a 8.1% increase from 2018, making it the “most significant” for any metropolitan statistical area.
The reason for this, explained by a local leaders, is summed up by one word: Inventory.

More people want to live in the Morristown area and there is not enough new construction to meet the growing demand. As a result, existing homes are selling for more.

Marshall Ramsey, Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce President, explained the area as a “hub” for eight surrounding counties.

The hub, servicing the area with options for dining, shopping, medical services, is also a source of jobs.

Ramsey noted more than half of their workforce live outside the county. He credits the increase in housing costs to steady growth they’ve experienced in manufacturing jobs, which now make up more than 25% of total jobs.

This year, Morristown saw 550 new manufacturing and industrial jobs and more than $163 million in new investment. Five-year projects show they’ll gain 3,000 news jobs and $600,000,000 in new investment, in manufacturing alone.

The area, home to 109 manufacturing companies from more than a dozen other countries, is also home to 14 city, county, and state parks.

Ramsey believes those “quality of life” investments help some of their growing workforce want to not only work, but also raise a family, in the area.

“People think of economic development as industrial. That is one spoke of the wheel, but you have housing, healthcare, retail, there’s a lot of other spokes that need to be in place for that wheel to function,” he said.

Coty and Brittany Burton remember navigating through the red-hot sellers’ market in Hamblen County, when they bought their home three years ago.

They hoped to start building a family and made offers on multiple houses, but came up short a few times because of the competitive market. When they found the home they now own, the two knew they needed to offer more than asking price and be more aggressive, to hold the keys.

The two, now parents to a 16-month-old, hope more people will make the decision to buy a home in the Morristown area. Brittany works in human resources for a manufacturing company, which started in January 2019. In that time, she said they’ve created 230 positions, and they still have a need to fill many more.

Coty, a real estate investor, manages rental properties and flips houses. He aims to finish them in like-new condition, but finish them sooner than a new build.

“We’re bringing these older houses, building them to new construction standards, so you’re still getting a similar quality of house to help fill that need,” he said.

While flipping houses can be risky, Coty said his sell in a matter of hours, mostly above asking price.

Brittany, a Morristown native, also believes her community is good for raising a family.

In addition to the growing number of jobs, she also credits the entertainment and dining options, the networking opportunities for young professionals, and a strong system of parks and schools in the area to the increased interest.

“Seven, eight, years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for me to see our engineers want to live in Knoxville or live in Johnson City, and drive and make that commute to Morristown. Now, when we’re recruiting young professionals, more and more of them are saying they want to nest here, they want to build or buy a home and make this their home for their family,” she said.

Their advice to home buyers: Be fast, find a good realtor, be flexible, be willing to put in work to make a house your dream home.