published Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Atlanta home builder entering Chattanooga market

Paran Homes is breaking a long-held status quo with its entry into the Chattanooga housing market.

The Atlanta-based firm is building 50 single-family homes in Soddy-Daisy, Ooltewah and Collegedale, marking the first entry of a regional builder into the local housing market.

"To my knowledge, this is the first [firm] that we've had come in to develop homes," said Teresa Groves, executive officer at the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga.

A handful of out-of-town firms have worked on single-family homes around the city, but they typically have ties to Chattanooga. Paran's recent purchases of 50 lots represents the biggest investment in the home building market by a major regional builder.

Southern Land Company, based in Franklin, Tenn., was recently named head developer over the Black Creek Mountain Community development going up at the feet of Aetna Mountain. But Southern Land Company CEO Tim Downey got his start in Chattanooga during the 1980s and worked on residential developments like Ram's Gate, Legends, Rosemere and Emerald Valley.

And off Highway 58, at a spot overlooking Chickamauga Lake, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based developer began working on a subdivision of single-family homes called Windward Preserve nearly a decade ago before the housing recession caused the project to go belly-up.

But the developer's leaders -- Rick Wheat and Jeff Ritchie -- were from Chattanooga and Soddy-Daisy, respectively.

Jason Farmer, RE/MAX agent representing the Paran homes, said the company's entry into this area is "a big compliment to Chattanooga."

"It's a cool thing," he said. "It's a testament to our city."

Farmer said the interest of a big, out-of-town group reflects well on the local housing market, showing that if things haven't fully rebounded from the housing bubble crash, they're at least looking up.

And the homes that Paran is building are higher-scale, in the $275,000 to 300,000 price range.

Farmer said clients and potential buyers that he has interacted with are "excited about the quality, the price and the floor plans."

"They're also really excited about the availability," he said.

Because Paran Homes -- a relatively young company, born in the latter 2000's -- has built and sold so many houses like the ones here, Farmer said buyers also get a "relatively easy and painless pre-sale process."

"[Paran has] done it enough where they've got it down," he said.

And although Paran is not a local company, Groves said their choosing to build in Chattanooga still has positive financial impact.

"An out-of-town developer will use local [subcontractors] and buy supplies," she said. "It helps in that sense."

Groves said she too sees the local housing market on the mend, although it has a shorter ways to go than other, larger city markets which suffered greater losses during the housing crash.

And she doesn't see Paran's entry into the Chattanooga area as necessarily pre-empting an influx of more large, non-local builders.

"Normally, they look at the size of cities," she said.

And Chattanooga in her opinion is still a smaller city, gaining some attention and interest, but not yet large enough to lure in all of the big boys -- which is OK for now.

Groves, although excited for what Paran is doing and what others may do here, still roots for Chattanooga's local builders to get in on the market rebound.

"We hope that our builders will be able to do a lot of the work," she said.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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