How to find a house in Knoxville, TN
Entry updated April 24, 2012 at 9:03 a.m.
Note: We've moved to Winston-Salem, NC! Our house is now for sale!
Knoxville is an easy enough city in which to live. It's cheap, most folks are nice and life is generally relaxed. But whats it like finding a house in Sunsphere City?
My wife and I, being home-buying n00bs, had the chance to find out with our (fingers-crossed) recent find in Fountain City, just north of downtown Knoxville.
Knoxnews.com, the Web site of the Knoxville News-Sentinel, offers a well designed, innovative approach to finding a home for sale in Knoxville. The site allows you to filter listings based on your criteria, which automatically adjusts the map showing updated homes in a defined area.
Home-finding resources for Knoxville
I work for Scripps Interactive Group, which means I know more than enough about home listings available though the Web site of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. This online resource culls both multiple listing service (MLS) listings and newspaper classifieds into a site that's easy to use. I especially like the way that you can filter the listing criteria, which also adjusts the map display.
Another resource I used extensively was the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors' (KAAR) Internet Data Exchange Program. This complex name really denotes a basic listing application that pulls from the MLS database, and displays data similar to that of knoxnews' service.
I especially like the KAAR's interactive map, which displays available listings for the area of town you're looking at. Also useful is the ability to save your favorite listings, rate them, and write notes.
Unfortunately, as my wife and I learned the hard way, the available listings are always current. And they don't show whether an offer is pending on the house.
We used KAAR service as a starting point for drive-bys.
Here's how I rank the resources used:
- Driving around neighborhoods
- Print classifieds
How to find a neighborhood
Knoxville's lack of established neighborhoods is probably its greatest flaw. Fortunately, there are a few great ones such as Sequoya Hills, Island Home, North Hills and Fountain City, all of which are located within bike-riding distance to downtown.
West Knoxville is home to mostly mindless subdivisions and new construction with little to no history or character. There are diamonds in the rough, but they're few and far between.
My definition of a great neighborhood means the following:
- Sidewalks or streets with little through traffic
- Walking distance to local eateries or other businesses
- Walking distance to parks
- Walking distance to schools
- Homes with distinct characteristics (not planned communities)
- Connections to other neighborhoods, not just isolated pockets of housing
- Historical significance (bonus)
Honestly, this was the hardest part of the home search because there aren't many resources available for researching Knoxville neighborhoods other than talking to long-time residents. Fortunately, our Realtor Suzy Trotta has compiled a number of neighborhood reviews on both her blog All Around K-Town, and the Knoxville-centric group blog Knoxify.
The real estate section of knoxnews also features a number of neighborhood descriptions.
Summary and other tips
If you're looking to find a house in Knoxville, here are the resources I'd recommend:
- Realtor: Suzy Trotta
- Mortgage lender: Kristin Abouelata
- Home inspection: Volunteer Home Inspections
- Listing service: KAAR IDX and knoxnews
- Neighborhood information: All Around KTown's Neighborhood of the Week and Knoxify Neighborhood Guide
If you want information about my experiences finding a home in Knoxville, or just have a question about any of the resources I mentioned, please post a comment or contact me directly.