That didn't last long.
In December 2009, Middle Tennessee's top home sales came in at an average price of $2.7 million each — the highest we have ever recorded. A month onward, we're back to the reality of a badly bruised residential real estate market.The average price for the houses in this month's column (which marks the second anniversary of "Headline Homes") is a paltry $1.39 million. And it would be even lower if we stretched out to the usual 10 homes we include. We would have had to include an $825,000 sale to get to 10. We have decided to include just the eight area sales over $1 million.
Two years into this little exercise in gawking at the rich and famous, we feel able to draw one conclusion from the monthly fluctuations this column has observed: They tell us a little, but not much, about the local economy and housing market. "Headline Homes" prices, like the stock market, bottomed out in late winter or early spring 2009 and have posted a general upward trend since then — punctuated by hiccups. January was, if nothing else, a hiccup.
The one constant has been that folks buying in at the $1 million-plus stratum tend to be interesting. Our lead home this month goes to a high-level international executive previously based in Switzerland. A former American Idol contestant, now a successful country performer, is the buyer of house number two. And a former Titans linebacker is the seller of the third house on the list.
Largest single-family home transactions recorded in Davidson and neighboring counties in January 2010, ranked by dollar value:
1. 1115 Crater Hill Drive, 37215
Buyer: Jenny Gregg Saad and Suhail Konstantin Saad
Sale price: $1.9 million
Sellers: William E. Bickley and Cynthia Renee Bell Bortscheller
Sellers' agent: Steve G. Fridrich (Fridrich & Clark Realty)
Buyers' agents: Rhonda Brandon and Robin Thompson (Worth Properties LLC)
The Saads are putting down roots in Forest Hills after living in Europe for many years. According to a personal website, Jenny Saad is a Tennessee native. She is a pilot who has worked for several corporate aviation companies.
Suhail Saad was recently named vice chairman of the board of SwissInso LLC, a developer of solar energy solutions based in Lausanne, Switzerland. From 2001 to 2008, he was global head of business development for tobacco giant Gallaher PLC, where he oversaw more than $4 billion worth of acquisitions. Previously, he served as senior director for international business development with RJR Nabisco in Geneva. A Belgian national of Lebanese and Austrian ancestry, he is fluent in English, French, German and Arabic.
2. 4102 Sneed Rd., 37215
Buyer: Julie Boos, trustee for the Pretty Little Peacock Trust
Sale price: $1.435 million
Builder/seller: C. Rogan Allen
Seller's agent: Amanda Wachtler (Pilkerton Realtors)
Buyer's agent: Cindy Lockhart (Crye-Leike Realtors)
Rogan Allen, son of the late and legendary WLAC DJ "Hoss" Allen, is starting to specialize in building luxury homes for musicians, it would appear. Working with architect Sharon Pigott, he built a striking Green Hills home that Kings of Leon bass player Jared Followill bought in November. Now, a few blocks away, he has sold this spec home to country singer and American Idol darling Kellie Pickler.
Some disclosure seems appropriate here. This column regularly names celebrity buyers of homes when their identities can be confirmed, and we are more often than not able to learn who the real buyer is when a trustee makes the purchase. We find that other parties will inevitably make such info public soon after a star buys a place, and we know there is public interest in who is buying the most expensive homes in town. We hope we have not made too many celebs too unhappy, but we do as we must.
Here's the complication in the case of Pickler's buy: The author of this column lives immediately across the street (in a decidedly un-"headline" home, to be sure). He and his family recently met Pickler while sledding the icy bunny-slope between our homes. Amid a close-knit neighborhood where residents, their kids and their pets regularly mix and mingle, the politic thing would be not to mention who the real buyer is on this one. (We have already seen the Gray Line short bus outside the Followill home.)
But life, as Rodney Crowell memorably sang, is messy. "Headline Homes" is treating this transaction like any other we would cover. That's what the job demands. Going forward, though, neighborly consideration will be more important than the pursuit of any celebrity scoop.
3. 5255 McGavock Road, Brentwood, 37027
Buyer: Paula A. Duvall
Sale price: $1.375 million
Sellers: Peter A. and Lindsay D. Sirmon
Agent for both sides: Andy Beasley (Brentview Realty Co.)
Ex-Tennessee Titan linebacker Peter Sirmon, who retired in 2006 after seven years in the National Football League, unloads this property after listing it in December 2008. Sirmon is now an assistant coach at the University of Oregon, his alma mater.
Paula Duvall is an agent with Fridrich & Clark Realty who had a $3.9 million sale that headed our list for May 2009. Daniel P. Duvall is married to her and is co-borrower on $375,000 in seller financing provided by the Sirmons. The place sold at a $120,000 discount to its original listing price of $1.495 million.
4. 108 Church St., Franklin, 37064
Buyer: Elaine J. and F. Perry Ozburn Jr.
Sale price: $1.36 million
Builder/seller: Steve Hulen Construction LLC
Agents: none of record
Perry Ozburn is a former honcho of what is now OHL Logistics. Like other buyers in downtown Franklin's Brownstones development, he and his family appear to be buying a city place while retaining their country place — which in the Ozburns' case includes land in the family for more than two centuries on which they have now given a conservation easement to the Land Trust for Tennessee.
5. 129 Bay Drive, Hendersonville, 37075
Buyers: Bjorn R. and Janet V. Svedin
Sale price: $1.35 million
Sellers: Stephen L. Young and William D. Stalker
Sellers' agent: Russell Parrish (Parrish & Associates)
Buyers' agent: Vicki McCloud Groeger (Re/Max Choice Properties)
Bjorn Svedin owns Van Vending Service Inc. in Hendersonville.
6. 4208 Wallace Lane, 37215
Buyers: Adrienne and Richard D. McRae III
Sale price: $1.31 million
Builder/seller: HR Properties of Tennessee
Agent for both parties: Gerald Langley (Brownstone Properties)
Another new build in the Trimble/Wallace/Sneed area of Green Hills cracks the $1 million mark.
7. 719 Brownlee Drive, 37205
Buyers: Adrian and Alice Rodriguez
Sale price: $1.195 million
Builder/seller: Richard L. Cammeron
Seller's agent: Linda Seaton (Keller Williams Realty)
Buyers' agent: Steve Dukes (Benchmark Realty)
Dr. Adrian Rodriguez practices with Nashville Skin and Cancer.
8. 9229 Carrisbrook Lane, Brentwood, 37027
Buyers: Robert S. Montano and Roseann Maikis
Sale price: $1.167 million
Builder/seller: Legend Homes LLC
Doug Herman is president of Legend Homes.
Check out www.tinyurl.com/headlinehomes to see Headline Homes for every month since January 2008—an ongoing chronicle of life at the tippy-top of the local real estate market. And be sure to send your tips about Nashville-area home activity to email@example.com.