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VOL. 119 | NO. 61 | Tuesday, April 5, 2005

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Memphis Joins National Second-Home Trend

Downtown Develops as Second-Home Site


The Daily News

When the National Association of Realtors recently reported a record number of second-home purchases across the country in 2004, some might have been surprised to find Memphis in the middle of the trend.

And the activity is less about Memphians buying homes along the Gulf Coast or near Pickwick Lake, but is centered more on second-home purchases in the city, particularly in Downtown.

Were seeing that every day, absolutely, said Tom Davis, director of sales for Henry Turley Realtors. Theyre saying, The action is Downtown. Were seeing ourselves go Downtown a lot. Why not? We dont really need this big house anymore; we want to be in a mobile type of situation. So lets give Downtown a try. We see that all the time.

Weekend properties. A record 2.82 million second home sales were reported in 2004, up 16.3 percent from 2.42 million in 2003, according to NAR.

And in Downtown Memphis, more residents of surrounding communities are purchasing weekend properties.

David Tester, an affiliate broker with Marx & Bensdorf who is marketing The Residence at Hunt Phelan Estate, a new condo development at the Hunt Phelan Home at 533 Beale St., has noticed the trend through inquiries from potential buyers.

Probably a third of the interested parties would use the property as a second home, he said. I think the proximity obviously to the FedExForum and to Downtown in general is a very, very strong drawing card. Thats why they look at it.

Across the region. Inquiries on the property have come not only from residents of East Memphis, Germantown and Collierville, but surrounding West Tennessee communities such as Jackson, Milan, Humboldt and Brownsville. Mississippi and Arkansas residents also have looked into the condominium property situated just east of the arena.

And many are interested in the property as a second home. Tester is not surprised.

Because of the nature of the project and the location, we felt like the profile of the buyers would certainly include that type of buyer, he said. I think were also seeing a profile of people, and this is probably in the upscale rental market as well as the condominium market, who do have large homes or farms or businesses in rural areas and want to have a place in the city. Kind of a reverse thing of those of us who live in the city and want to go to the country for the weekend.

Downtown explosion. Kendall Haney, owner of Kendall Haney Realty Group, also is not surprised.

I think the excitement Downtown, especially to the Memphians, has been real exciting and they want to be a part of it, he said. And the rates are low, and they can afford to do so. I dont know, but maybe they had their money elsewhere and just pulled it out and put it in real estate because of the rates.

Ive been doing this 21 years and it really has never been that way. There really hasnt been anywhere in Memphis to do it up until Downtown came along. Ive just seen it probably in the last 18 months, especially when Downtown began building up, condo-wise.

Vacation properties. Of the total number of homes purchased last year, 13 percent were vacation homes, according to the NAR report. That high tally really isnt being seen in Memphis, though, as vacation home buyers mostly tend to head to water and sand.

I havent personally had anyone quote this as a vacation home, Davis said. I had heard from a developer that they had someone interested in trying to do a timeshare-type situation, but they werent sure if it would work out. I think that might be a little farther down the road for us, but certainly as the Beale Street district develops more, that opportunity could come up. But I would say the majority of ours is still people that are looking to live in Downtown full-time or live in Downtown part-time and know that they have a good solid investment while theyre doing it.

Back and forth. Some Memphians have sold their homes to move to vacation locales such as Destin, Fla. And some of them are coming back to Memphis to buy a second home.

Im closing one that they bought a house in Biloxi, Miss., on the Gulf, Haney said. And they moved down there, but there is nothing going on as far as activity. Its in a resort-type area. So they are buying back in Memphis, a condo here as a second home where they can commute back and forth. He works out of his home.

They wanted to get away from the city, got down there and got bored. Theyre going to spend half the time here and half the time down there.

Broadening the base. Davis said the trend is making an impact on development.

Were having people buy a place Downtown to live in part of the year, and theyre going to be living in another locale out of state, whether it be the mountains or the beach or whatever, another time of the year, he said. And were having people move from Arkansas and Mississippi and deciding to move to Downtown Memphis and commuting back to their jobs in Mississippi and Arkansas and choosing to live Downtown instead of their smaller locales. It really opens up the market a lot. I think with all the different opportunities that have happened, its opened up a lot of opportunities for the developers to build a wide range of product, and I think thats what we need to make sure we do broaden the base of product.


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