Showings of houses for sale in the Middle Tennessee area are near a three-year high, signaling an improving real estate market, according to a Brentwood-based company that schedules home showings. “We are the first ones to see the change in the market,” said Debbie Chamberlain, director of The Appointment Desk. For the last two weeks the service that books real estate showings in the midstate has been receiving at least 500 calls a day, she said. The Appointment Desk is receiving around 900 calls each day over the weekend. “They are not at all what we expected,” Chamberlain said. “We were just stunned.” Chamberlain said the purchase contracts from these increased showings will be written within the next two weeks, which would mean an upswing in the housing market. This news is a relief to area real estate agencies. Homes sales in Rutherford County alone were down 30 percent in 2008 from the previous year. December home sales were down 24 percent from the previous year. January homes sales are down 31.5 percent from the same month in 2008. But, local real estate offices are reporting an increase in call volumes and showings over the past several weeks. “Our front desk phone is ringing more than it has in months,” said Dan Austin, managing broker of Bob Parks Real Estate’s Northfield office. “We are real optimistic about it.” Pending contracts also have increased. Austin suggests that consumers are now deciding to purchase a new home because they believe interest rates and home prices have reached their low. Interest rates currently hover around 5 percent. Steven Dotson, president of Red Realty, agrees that his offices have been busier in the last three weeks then they have in at least six months. “If we can convert all of that activity into contracts we will be in good shape,” he said. Dotson expects closings to begin picking up toward the end of February. “March should be a pretty good month for closings,” he said. John Jones Real Estate also has seen an increase in showings in the last few weeks, confirmed Joe Hafner, the agency’s managing broker. But, he said the company has recently adjusted the prices of some of its listings and changed its marketing, which could have caused the increase in showings. Erin Edgemon can be reached at 869-0812 and at

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