Written By: Sarah Koenig Wagner
Jody Neubauer has been part of Holli McCray’s team since the early days when they were operating out of the back room of the Keller Williams building in Bearden. He transitioned to the real estate industry in 2012 from a restaurant management role. And with him, he brought an abundance of skills that have proven to be invaluable to the growth of HMG. I was able to speak with Holli and she had this to say about Jody… “I will forever be grateful to Jody for taking the risk of leaving a stable job to come work with us when there was very little to guaranty at the time”… “He’s been such a huge reason for our success over the years. His loyalty, consistency, expertise, and contagious personality have been integral in building the culture of our firm”, said McCray.
I recently interviewed Jody who offered some interesting insights about himself, his job, and the Knoxville real estate market…
Sarah: Hi Jody! Thank you for sitting down with us for a little real estate Q&A. Before we get started, can you tell us what you do for the Holli McCray Home Marketing Group Real Estate Team? How long have you been with HMG and why do you like working there?
Jody: Hello. My name is Jody Neubauer and I’m a “Listing Team Coordinator”. I’ve been with Holli McCray since 2012. My major task is to research values of homes in the area, lead generation (reaching out to past and new clients, both buyers and sellers), addressing incoming calls, maintaining contracts and inventory, and conducting follow up. There are so many reasons I like work here. The main reasons I’ve stayed with Holli McCray is that I love the team collaboration, the people, the transparency in how we conduct business, our respect and support for each other and our clients. We are all leaders on the team and are consistently voted the number one team in the area. We know what we’re doing and we love doing it together.
Sarah: Are you from the Knoxville area originally? What made you choose Knoxville for your home?
Jody: I’m from South Texas originally, the Rio Grande Valley area. My step-father worked for the FAA and transferred our family to Knoxville in 1984. My parents eventually left, but I chose to stay here. When I got married, my wife and I moved to Nashville, but I really missed the outdoors and activities that Knoxville had to offer, so we moved back. Knoxville is a perfect fit for me, not too small, not too big. There’s been a lot of growth in the area, but it hasn’t lost its character. The people are real nice—it’s an ideal location for a family. The change of seasons is beautiful and there are so many outdoor activities you can do here.
Sarah: In the last six months, the world, in general, has changed drastically due to COVID. How has the real estate market been affected? What are the biggest changes you’ve seen?
Jody: The real estate market itself hasn’t been compounded by Covid locally, but what I have seen is the cost of goods increasing, construction supplies are harder to come by, and there have been delays in shipping those materials. Agents have always been able to work remotely and continue to offer virtual tours. Our listings are always available on our website, so you can preview photos from the comfort of your own safe space. We always work with the buyer or seller’s comfort level, so in-person visits can also be arranged using masks and distancing. The pandemic has altered how we conduct business but hasn’t stopped us from doing it. Overall real estate inventory is trending downward across the country (meaning there’s not a large number of homes on the market), but we continue to deal with moves that are necessary due to job transfers, deaths, divorces, etc.
Sarah: How are home values determined ultimately determined? What aspects are most important to home appraisers? What are the automatic deal breakers? Can you walk us through the process step by step?
Jody: Several factors come into play. There’s a difference between what I do and what appraisers do. Appraisers look at upgrades compared to other homes to determine values. What I’m looking at is the marketability of the house. So I’m looking at things from a buyer’s perspective, influenced by demand. I start my research at the subdivision level, including a two-mile radius surrounding the property, and zip codes. Home values are continuing to increase due to high demand and low inventory. Bad locations are always deal-breakers, and foreclosures in the area can also bring values down. It’s like they say “location, location, location” really does matter.
Sarah: What can a seller to do boost their home values?
Jody: In this market, you really don’t have to do much, but if you really want to boost your value right off the bat, it’s always curb appeal. First impressions really do make a difference and get you the biggest bang for your buck. Upgrades are important but modest—you don’t want to overshoot your neighborhood. Keeping your home clean and well maintained is more important than staging or decorating.
Sarah: Do you think now is a good time to buy or sell your home? Why or why not?
Jody: NOW is the best time to sell your home. With inventory so low, you have very little competition. For buyers, interest rates are low right now which can also be a plus. But if you’re in the position to sell now, I definitely recommend you do that and rent short-term while you’re looking for your new home.
Sarah: What advice would you give to a first-time home buyer or seller looking to make a move in the year ahead?
Jody: Your first step should be meeting with the HMG team and setting up a game plan. HMG can walk you through the process and hold your hand. We know every house and every client has different needs. Don’t spend money before you know you need to. Our agents can keep an eye out on inventory and let you know when’s the best time to make a move. We have two teams, listing partners and buying agents, that can work for you simultaneously, saving you time and money. Our agents can also be on the lookout for your ideal home before it comes to the market.
Sarah: Are there any specific areas in Knoxville you feel are outstanding opportunities?
Jody: Investment properties are harder to find right now, there are not too many opportunities for flippers at the moment. Mountain properties, just outside of Knoxville, are exploding in the market due to the pandemic and the desire for social distancing. Buyers are paying top dollar for these properties and choosing to rent them out year-round. South Knoxville used to be a harder area to sell, however, it’s been recently revitalized with bike trails, movie theatres, and small businesses. Downtown has also seen big changes within the last five years adding revitalized shops and restaurants. I would consider both South Knoxville and Downtown as up and coming areas.
Sarah: In conclusion, is there anything you could share with our HMG blog readers to give them an inside scoop on Knoxville’s real estate market?
Jody: Knoxville has seen incredible changes in the last ten years. We have fantastic breweries and restaurants that have made Knoxville home. We used to be referred to as the “chain-capital of the world, but now it’s great to see so many local businesses on the rise. Knoxville is known for its Southern hospitality—we have a little bit of something for everybody. It’s a great town for investing in—we have the University, affordable housing, mild seasons, and lots of outdoor activities. Knoxville was also voted one of the “top ten great places to retire”, and in my opinion, I can’t say enough about the area—it’s just a fun place to live!
Sarah: Thanks again Jody, for taking the time to answer our questions!