With more companies offering extended remote-working options for their employees, home buyers are pushing out farther and wider into once-rural exurbs far from city centers.
The exurbs around Nashville have been particularly busy since March 2020.
“We’re seeing the biggest growth in exurbs in Williamson County,” consistently ranked among the 20 wealthiest counties in the U.S., says Jenny Telwar, managing broker, Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty based in Nashville. “It’s one of our most active markets.”
“This is where we’ve seen our craziest market—the houses selling in a day or a weekend with 30 offers, the US$200,000 over-asking bids, and buyers waiving everything under the sun,” she says. “It’s like a faucet was turned on, and it’s never stopped gushing.”
Williamson County, which is 30 to 40 minutes from downtown Nashville, “has always had demand, but we’ve never seen a market like we’ve had in 2021.”
One recent buyer closed on a new-construction home in April 2021 for US$1.6 million and turned around and sold it in a day for US$2 million in July.
Nashville has seen a steady stream of national companies looking for an expanded presence in the city, she says. “Most of the buyers I’ve worked with are from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, and throughout New Jersey. We expect to see even more.”
Tennessee’s Trousdale County is another high-performing Nashville exurb. Prices there rose 17% from January 2020 to August 2021, Telwar says, and pending sales in Hartsdale, the county seat, shot up 63% in the same period.
Trousdale, which is about 90 minutes from downtown Nashville, “isn’t a commuter pocket,” she says. “It’s more retirees who want to be close to good health care.”
Other Nashville exurbs with strong recent sales include the Tennessee cities of Columbia, Franklin, and Murfreesboro. From January 2020 through August 2021, pending sales rose 23% in Murfreesboro and 50% in Columbia, “which is a rural, rural area,” Telwar says.
She expects 2022 to be another strong year. “The buyer drive is still very, very strong,” she says. “People love Tennessee—the low taxes, the green spaces, the slower pace.”
Plus, there’s a lot of land still to be developed. “The entire Middle Tennessee corridor has a ton of potential. We’re optimistic.”
The greater Austin, Texas, market has also been thriving. Since the suburban market is so competitive, people have been moving further afield, says J Kuper, a third-generation agent and broker/owner, Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty.
Exurbs around Austin that are doing quite well include Lakeway, “which has been hot for some time;” Dripping Springs, which is due west of Austin; and Cedar Park, which is due north, he says.
Not long ago, the Dripping Springs and Cedar Park markets were both considered “very small subsets” of the outlying area, but “now they are borderline considered part of the Austin market,” Kuper says.
New builds have been big in Cedar Park, Kuper says, driving up prices. And residents of Dripping Springs feel like they live in a small town, but are still very much connected to Austin, he says.
For the greater Austin market, sales are up almost 15% compared with September 2020, and “that was a record-setting month then,” he says. Year to date, sales are up almost 21%, and the average price is up almost 25%.
Like Nashville, many corporations have moved to Austin in recent years, he says. “Their workforce is completely happy to be part of the greater Austin community. They are OK with living 30 or 45 minutes from town and being a commuter,” he says.