How hard is it to buy a home in Knoxville? Buyers share advice


When it comes to home ownership, Cana Johnson and Chantel O’Neal have different histories.

Ultimately, their motivations are the same – improve their family’s quality of life and stay in Knox County. But when they started searching for new homes, both had to face the harsh realities of Knox County’s wild real estate market

Johnson, who has been hunting for a home for seven months, and O’Neal, who bought her first home after a short but stressful search, told Knox News about their experiences to highlight what other homebuyers could expect. 

How Johnson maneuvers in the market

At the start of her search, Johnson was optimistic, but she quickly realized how hard it would be to make her dreams come true in Knox County’s housing market. 

“When I first moved to Knoxville, I lived with the projects. So to go from the projects to potentially have a $300,000 home, I was really proud of myself,” Johnson told Knox News. “I was so excited, and then it turns out, $100,000 is nothing in Knox County. That was discouraging to realize. There are people buying houses for $300,000 in cash like it’s nothing, and I was clearly out of my element.”

Johnson, like many others looking to buy, had to switch up her strategy when it came to putting an offer on a property. She suggests others hoping to buy a home submit an offer as soon as they can, even if they haven’t seen the house. Then, if the offer is accepted, homebuyers have their foot in the door to make a decision about buying the house.

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Johnson also advises others in the market to ask for a home inspection. Although it could cost her hundreds of dollars, Johnson said she’d rather pay the price than forgo a home inspection like other buyers, especially those from out of state, to avoid issues down the road. 

“It’s potentially a waste, but at least you potentially have a home,” Johnson said. 

Another thing Johnson has learned while home hunting is when to cut her losses in a sellers’ market. She’s currently trying to close on a house that sits on 11 acres and needs major renovations. It is listed for $250,000. Johnson is awaiting an appraisal and hoping it’s not lower than the price of the property. If it is, the home will go to the next buyer in line. 

“We tried to negotiate on some repair expenses with the sellers. Their response was, ‘You can take it as is or we’ll give it to the next person behind you,'” Johnson said. “So, out of fear of losing the property, we just took it as is and chalked it up as a loss because as much as I would like to think that it’s all talk, it’s not.”

Although Johnson’s search has lasted longer than most people’s, her experiences aren’t uncommon. Johnson was outbid by out-of-state buyers who could offer cash….

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