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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“Just What Does It Take To Become Adopted?”

Most everyone in Wears Valley knows something or at least a little something about Wears Valley Ranch. Founded approximately 20 years ago by Jim and Susan Wood, the Ranch’s story is nothing less than miraculous, and if you are really interested in how the land was given to the Ranch (one lady owned the land as well as more land adjoining the National Park), there are several short books which tell the story. Just let me know, and I will be glad to give you one of those books.

“Just What Does It Take To Become Adopted?”

The first year we lived here, we were trying to start up a small restaurant (“Mountain Tymes” for those of you who may remember). One day a big white man walked into the door of the restaurant with a cute little black boy (Preston). They looked like Mutt and Jeff. It turns out that both of Preston’s parents had died leaving him basically as an orphan. The white man knew Preston through a sports league in Birmingham and also knew of the fine ministry performed by the WVRanch (becoming home to children from bad situations but not bad children). On that particular summer day when I met him, Preston was arriving to make Wears Valley Ranch his home.

Preston lived at the Ranch and graduated from St. Andrews School there a few years ago. He is presently attending Lee University, and is now the adopted son of Jim and Susan Wood. How did that happen?

One day Preston was riding along in a car with the Woods as they were discussing their plans to adopt two brothers and a sister from Romania. Preston listened with interest as Jim and Susan excitedly shared with him their plans to bring these siblings to Wears Valley and add them to their family (the Woods already had three biological sons of their own).

Preston thought for a few minutes and then asked Jim and Susan this question: “Just what does it take to become adopted?” Taken by surprise the Woods immediately answered Preston’s question not only with words but with actions. They began the adoption process, and today the Woods family consists of Jim and Susan, their three sons, two daughters-in-law, two grandchildren and another due next month, Stephen, Elizabeth and Peter (Romanian siblings), and Preston. Truly a family made by God.

The Ranch children continue to thrive. I am honored to know several who have reached adulthood and are productive and successful young adults. Preston is one of those. There are also several younger ones presently “at home on the Ranch.” Would you like to get to know some of these precious children? Would you like to support the Ranch in its endeavors? If so, please let me know. It would be an honor to show you around the Ranch, introduce you to the Woods, the children, the house parents, and the staff members who all work so diligently in behalf of these children.

And, by the way, there is now an active non-denominational church located on the Ranch property. It is Christ Covenant Church. Jim Wood is the pastor, and Sunday services are at 10:30 a.m. Come any time!


One of my most pleasurable activities is visiting on my front porch with friends and neighbors. Many of these folks are just like me, people who have fallen in love with Wears Valley and have bought property here, whether it is to live here full-time, part-time, or as an investment.

And then there are “the locals,” the dear folks who befriended and welcomed my family and me when we chose to make the Valley our home over twelve years ago. I can still remember when the late Ina Bryan and our “new friend” Judy Roland (formerly of Georgia) came up to the porch for a visit. Ina had never seen the Valley from the angle of our house, and I really enjoyed her pointing out to me various peoples’ homes and farms.

On another visit with Ina, I asked her if she grew up here (in Wears Valley). She said, “Oh, no.” That surprised me since I had assumed she had lived here her whole life. Naturally, I asked her, “So where did you grow up?” And Ina quickly replied, “Happy Hollow.”

Now Ina’s answer really made me stop and think. In my mind Happy Hollow was a part of Wears Valley just the same as say the Thunder Mountain neighborhood is. But not to Ina…when she grew up here it was a long ways from Happy Hollow to Wears Valley!

Pondering our conversation later, I really understood Ina’s perspective. I, too, grew up in a little small town in rural Mississippi. When we had the opportunity to go to the next town over (10 miles away), that was a real treat. And if you went on a weekday, you must really need to do or get something badly. No one ever drove that ten miles unless there was an important reason to do so!

Some rural areas like Wears Valley and Happy Hollow have seen a lot of growth; others like my Mississippi hometown have not. What has not changed, though, and the major reason I am honored to call Wears Valley home, are the people like Ina and W.B. Bryan. Wonderful, salt of the earth folks who have blessed me by being my “friends and neighbors.”

About Fran: Fran Troxler, husband David, and their 5 children moved to the Valley in Jan. 1999. The children have attended Wearwood Elementary School and Gatlinburg-Pittman High School. Fran is the owner of East Tennessee Realty Group. She lives in the Hideaway Mountain Subdivision off Little Cove Road.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Real Estate for sale in East Tennessee

Few were braced for a market correction lasting this long. The latest Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller index shows that prices have hit a new market low, values declining back to levels not seen since 2002 nationally and in some regions, prices are back to levels not seen since the 1990’s.

And just like the stock market, when prices decline to a level which represents value, it is indicative that it is indeed the time to buy before home prices begin to creep upward. And in the East Tennessee market, we believe that to be the case. Naturally we can only guestimate the exact bottom of this market but for a long term purchase, the real estate buyer who pulls the trigger NOW and makes that purchase is going to be happy they capitalized on the downturn and took advantage of solid values in the marketplace.

Enters the upturn.

16 million new housing units will soon be needed to meet population growth and shifting demands, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies in its latest annual "State of the Nation's Housing" report.

Predictions are that we will see distressed properties taper off and our market begin to revive itself. As more inventory decreases, real estate prices will steady. Once the inventory lessens, prices will begin to inch upwards as supply and demand takes a reverse role. With the evolvement of many Baby Boomers retiring and looking to relocate to specific regions of the U.S. (East Tennessee being among the top 5 choices) – this has and will continue to provide a steady stream of buyers into the market place as there is a definite migration pattern occurring in certain areas of the U.S, primarily East Tennessee.

Over the longer term, the number of younger households is set to rise sharply, supporting growth in the population that fuels growth in both new renters and first-time buyers. The report also predicts a need for greater housing units for several reasons. For example, the report projects demand for 1 million new homes a year is needed to meet population growth in the coming decade. The report also predicts a surge in smaller homes, estimating that 3.8 million baby boomers will be looking to downsize their homes within the next decade. Also in adding to the increase in housing units needed, Immigration growth, the need to replace existing homes, and demand for second homes will contribute to rising demand, the report notes. Therefore, researchers conclude at least 16 million new housing units will soon be needed.

We have witnessed a shift in the East Tennessee housing market to accommodate the demand for long term rental housing, especially in and near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Sevierville, Tennessee, as well as other areas like Knoxville, Tennessee. East Tennessee Realty Group averages upwards of 10 calls per day from prospective lease tenants looking for long term rental property in the Sevier County, Tennessee area. Sadly, most stories are the same. They come from the Northern region where industries have taken a punch resulting in job loss, and the loss of housing. They come to this area seeking employment and new start but can't buy due to the blow to their credit thus, they are forced to rent.

East Tennessee Realty Group has been soliciting property owners of vacation property to convert their property to long term rental, especially those that may be experiencing a higher vacancy rate. We are also encouraging investors to pursue long term rental property. East Tennessee Realty Group offers full property management services from marketing to background checks for absentee owners. We are taking the necessary steps to transition with the ever changing market and continue supporting our growing clientele and customer base. Customers know where to turn for help with their real estate needs as East Tennessee Realty Group covets the reputation for going above and beyond the call of duty to take care of our clients and customers.

If you own a property and would be interested in converting it to long term rental we would be glad to work with you. If you are looking for a solid real estate investment, we encourage you to consider the long term rental market. Contact East Tennessee Realty Group for more information 865-774-7764 or email to: info@easttnexperts.com


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

1 in 4 mortgages are underwater

Earlier this week, it was pointed out that Diana Olick’s technically accurate, but misleading post about the Housing Unoccupied Rate was incorrect. (US Homeowner Vacancy Rate is 2.7%, Not 11%).

Today’s statistics lesson is from an error at HuffPo. It begins with the statement “Nearly one in every four homeowners across the country owe more on their home than it’s worth.”
That’s actually incorrect. It is based on the assumption that every home has a mortgage. What the author should have written was “Nearly one in every four homeowners WITH A MORTGAGE owe more on their home than it’s worth.”
We see this exact error all the time in the real estate/mortgage industry.

Here is the actual data source: Over 30% of homes are owned outright, without any mortgage. The 2009 Census data shows that of 76,428,000 million occupied homes, there were 50,300,000 homes with some form of mortgage, and 24,206,000 houses owned free and clear — that is about 31.67% of homes.

Back out the unencumbered homes, and you end up with the figure that homes with mortgages that are underwater are about 17% of all homes — a little less than 1 in 6. (You can get this data from this Census page: Go to the spreadsheet marked “Mortgage Characteristics.”)

UPDATE: The crack team at HuffPo immediately corrected this. Nice!

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Sevier County Commission development regulations

Friends of Wears Valley

Example of development the Friends of Wears Valley oppose

Example of what developers have done to ruin the scenic vista outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited park in America.

John Edwards February 6th, 2011

Sevier County Commission approved a set of regulations this past December that will govern future developments on many of the mountains and hillsides in the county.

Read the full article here: