• The Nashville Ledger VOL. 36 | NO. 25

    The sales of the week focus on two trends that evolved during the boom years in Nashville real estate from 1992 through 2006. Once feared extinct, the practices of major renovation and restoration of upscale, historic homes and the demolition of unattractive, small dysfunctional homes in the affluent neighborhoods are once again flourishing. The sequestered contractors are now coming out of their walk-in closets.

    The first sale is a home located at 3622 Central Avenue in Historic Richland-West End district off West End Avenue. The home was renovated by George Degerberg, who emerged in the late 1990s as a pioneer in the renovation of upscale, high dollar historic homes fetching unheard of prices for the era.

    In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Degerberg partnered with his Realtor wife Virginia, an award-winning real estate broker with Village Real Estate Services, in providing Nashville with a missing piece of the real estate development puzzle, as there had been no infill development, and major renovators and contractors were intimidated by the often misunderstood Metro Historical Commission. In the era of McMansions, there were historic addicts jonesing for elegant homes in older neighborhoods.

    Degerberg purchased the property at 3622 Central for $375,000 in 2003 as a hit for his refurbishing habit and performed a major overhaul with updated plumbing, wiring and HVAC systems. He also provided state-of-the-art kitchens and bathrooms while retaining the charm of the existing house. He sold the house in 2005 for $1,050,000. The Nashville market peaked in 2006, so the $1,050,000 price tag was among the top sales in the history of the neighborhood at the time.

    Last week, listing agent John Fairhead of Village Real Estate Services guided his seller through the sales experience along with the unassuming, quiet, yet wildly successful Barbara Moutenot, who represented the buyer. Moutenot, also with Village Real Estate Services, is developing a reputation as an upper-end dealer whose name seems to adorn every sale of that type in the city.

    Moutenots’ buyer paid $1,225,000 – $209.22 per square foot – for the home that the owners had purchased in 2005 for $1,050,000. So, Historic Richland-West End can be placed in the economically recovered column.

    The term “tear down” is generally regarded as a negative term by preservationists and architectural purists, while “functionally obsolete” is a term used by appraisers and others who may evaluate the same structures.

    There are homes in the suburbs that were built with one goal – house families and provide shelter, functionality and comfort during the child-rearing years. Many of these homes are inhabited by the original owners and boast the original plumbing, complete with rusted galvanized plumbing, archaic and soon-to-fail HVAC systems, knob-and-tube, sometimes-uninsurable wiring, and a floor plan designed for a family with two and a-half children and a stay-at-home mom who marveled at the beauty of the Harvest Gold appliances and pink and blue tiled bathrooms. A majority of these homes have gone cold turkey on updates, repairs and modifications.

    The home is markedly similar to the house across the street and has the same floor plan as the houses on either side, with slight modifications to the exterior front elevation. If these houses were to be placed for sale by the owners, the home would be devalued by the expense required to update all the mechanical systems, the cost to remove the carpets and refinish the floors, new appliances, new cabinets, new roof and replacing and repairing the rotted wood. In short, the lot is worth more than the lot with its structure.

    The selling process is not for the faint of heart, and subjecting a person to the rigors of preparing a home for the market place and the emotionally and psychological abuse that accompanies each skipped showing – a continuous stream of negative feedback from agents that actually show the house, the negotiation of offers that appear to be unreasonably low and an inspection report that rivals War and Peace.

    Therefore, there is a place for builders like the renowned HR Properties, a partnership of Scott Haley and Jack Raney, who have been buying tear downs for 15 years and constructing high-quality homes on more than 125 of these homes-turned-lots.

    Such was the case at 4514 Beacon Drive in Forest Hills, just a Peyton Manning toss from Belle Meade. John Brittle, King of the Wild Infill, a developer and real estate broker with Village Real Estate Services delivered the lot to HR. As is their practice, HR rewarded JB with the listing. The home would have not commanded the $305,000 price tag as a stand-alone product, and the seller was not forced to endure the sales process.

    Teri Worthington of Fridrich and Clark Realty represented the buyer, who paid $1,457,357. The price reflects upgrades requested by the buyer, as the house was originally listed for $1,195,000. The sales price breaks down to $288.50 per square foot, as new construction is generally priced at a higher price per square foot than existing construction.

    HR Properties consistently builds well-designed, high-quality homes. Their successful, time-tested formula includes 10-foot ceilings on the first floor with nine-foot ceilings upstairs. A first-floor master with walk-in closets is standard, along with a screened porch and fireplace near the expansive kitchen.

    As most of their homes are sold prior to completion, the buyer is able to choose finishes such as cabinets, appliances, wall and floor coverings, as well as landscaping and any variety of upgrades that boost sale price higher than list price.

    With prices hovering close to $300 per square foot, Forest Hills can join Richland-West End, Whitland, 12South, East Nashville, Green Hills, downtown high-rises, Oak Hill, Bellevue, Belle Meade and its surrounds, and Hillsboro Village among the recovered.