March townhome prices set new benchmark

Don Fenley 

March’s condo-townhome sales burst onto the spring market with a 36 percent price increase and sales that doubled from the previous month.  

Last month’s $204,750 median price was the housing market aha moment of the month. The price has increased every month since November last year, but this is the first time it has been in the $200,000 price range.   

Although March’s 36 sales were double the February total, they were not of record prestige. The peak was in March last year with 46 sales.  

There’s little doubt that condos and townhomes are making a new footprint in the region’s moderating market. The number of new townhome permits – for sale and built to rent – has steadily increased for buyers in both the first-time affordable buyer class and the scale-back empty nesters. It has become a recommended target for builders and investors who want to tap into the number of apartment dwellers who want a little more space, that don’t like someone living above them or with a one-wall separation and one that offers some personal outdoor space. 

The condo and townhome market is also eyed as a solution to the region’s affordability and work force housing concerns. Work force housing is typically identified at 80% to 120% of a community’s median wage. That means a regional approach to the issue is a best practice for a benchmark price. The consumer target is the ranks of middle-income workers such as police officers, firefighters, teachers, health care workers, retail clerks and the like. Workers who need workforce housing may or may not always qualify for housing subsidies via the Low-income Housing Tax Credit or Housing Choice Vouchers.  

Affordable housing is a mortgage or rent that does not consume more than 30 percent of a person’s or family’s income. Affordable housing is not code for housing vouchers.  

Even with March’s price increase, the median townhome sales price is a little more than $30,000 below the overall single-family median price.  

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at