MAJOR HOME SALES
• This Riverview home at 1609 Edgewood Circle with 11,000 square feet sold in November from Gordon Smith III to Billy Oehmig for $4.15 million.
• Riverview home at 1513 River View Oaks Drive, a 9,085-square-foot home with four acres near the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, bought in June by John and Georgia O'Brien for $3.2 million.
• Harrison lakefront home, 6200 Clark Road, with 7,710 square feet, bought by Luap Property Holdings LLC in April for $2.8 million.
• Dunlap farm, 450 acres with 6,000-square-foot home at 2859 Henson Gap Road, sold for $3.6 million at the end of 2008.
• Ooltewah home with 10,949 square feet and 199 acres at 7230 Sylar Road, sold for $3.25 million in February 2006.
• Battery Place riverfront home at 641 Battery Place, 6,400-square-foot home bought by Henry Luken for $3 million in May 2002.
• Riverview mansion at 1649 Minnekahda Road with 17,591 square feet of residential and utility buildings bought by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in 2000 for $2.4 million from former Wheland Foundry President Gordon P. Street Jr.
Sources: Hamilton County Register of Deeds and Assessor's Office, Chattanooga Multiple Listing Service.
While the economy sputters along, a growing number of million-dollar homes are selling in Chattanooga.
Last week, a North Chattanooga home in the Riverview neighborhood sold for more than $4 million. Realtor Jay Robinson, who was involved in the sale, said it is the most expensive residential resale transaction in Hamilton County history.
The sale is one of three multimillion-dollar sales in the past six months, according to Hamilton County property records.
And Realtors say the last 12 months have been good for luxury real estate, following several sluggish years.
"I think it's an encouraging sign for the overall local real estate market," said Jack Webb, a Realtor with Crye-Leike who was part of a $3.2 million home sale in Riverview earlier this year. "I don't think this would have happened three or four years ago. But I don't think everything is back to normal."
Many people are selling and downsizing, but as more first-time buyers enter the market with $150,000 and $200,000 homes because of favorable interest rates, more homes in the upper echelon have been purchased, as well, said Robinson. In the last year, he sold more than $55 million worth of property, market penetration data show.
Some sellers of the $150,000 homes purchase homes for $300,000, and those sellers then get dream homes on the lake, said Robinson.
"Everyone stair-steps up," he said. "It creates a ripple."
Chattanooga Realtors are listing 87 homes with sales prices of at least $1 million, including four homes with a bigger price tag than the house that sold last week.
The home at 1609 Edgewood Circle in Riverview, which sold for $4.15 million, was purchased by Billy Oehmig, who is returning to Chattanooga where he grew up, according to records with the Hamilton County register of deeds.
Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. Robinson said he is very private.
Oehmig is the son of one of three Oehmig brothers who came to the Scenic City from Cincinnati in 1914. His father, "Von" Oehmig, founded Southern Distributors and was the founding member and first chief executive of Commerce Union Bank.
Billy Oehmig, who still has family in Chattanooga, went to Baylor School and has been on its board of trustees. His business profile with Forbes magazine says he is an advising partner with private equity firm The Sterling Group, based in Texas.
The home had been owned by Gordon Smith III and was not listed for sale when it was purchased. Robinson said he scouted the house for Oehmig, and the owner agreed to sell. The home sits on 1,000 feet of the Tennessee River and is 11,000 square feet with 16 rooms. It also includes a guest home.
Another home, built by Jack Lupton in Riverview and formerly part of the Lupton estate, sold this summer for $3.2 million. Webb and Sue Markley, both with Crye-Leike, were involved in the sale to John and Georgia O'Brien. John O'Brien is a partner in a health care financial company called Contemporary Healthcare Fund I.
Neighborhoods on Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain and Riverview have historically begged the highest price tag, said Webb. The sales in Riverview just happen to be some of the highest in county history.
But the properties were special, too, he said.
For example, the home at 1513 River View Oaks Drive, bought by the O'Briens, has family crests on the fireplaces and a mural in the dining room, handpainted by a man who also painted in the White House.
"Sometimes things happen in real estate that are not always indicative of the overall market," Webb said. "That doesn't mean that all the homes in Riverview are nicer and better than the homes on Lookout and Signal."
Contact staff writer Joan Garrett at jgarrett@times freepress.com or 423-757-6601. Follow her on Twitter at @JoanGarrettCTFP.