Just an idea for our songwriters out there: it's time to write the next version of D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

Can’t you just hear Tammy Wynette singing instead, “M-O-R-T-G-A-G-E?”

After all, the city needs a song to unite behind, as everyone looks at their paychecks and wonders why plenty of people can work in Nashville, they just can’t afford to live here.

Brittaney Scott can sympathize; even with a master’s degree and a full-time job, she couldn’t have afforded to buy a house in Nashville without Habitat for Humanity.

“I don't think it was frustrating. I think it was a reality check,” Scott said.

It’s a reality check that even veteran realtors like Richard Courtney, who has sold homes in the city for more than 40 years, didn’t see coming.

“I just think it was an avalanche and it was unpredicted and now here we are,” Courtney said.

So what brought on the sticker shock?

You have to go back to late 2009, when Nashville was on the tail end of a recession. The next kick in the pants was a massive flood in May 2010.

Buying an affordable house in Nashville was no problem. Then, a little TV show called “Nashville” hit the air in 2010. Suddenly, the entire country saw us as more than just...well, country.

“That brought us more exposure than we ever had,” Courtney said.

And all those tourists needed place to stay, and investors saw green. After all, affordable housing makes for great AirBnBs.

“Some condos on Jefferson street sold for $450,000 to a person who has never been to Nashville and never intends to come to Nashville,” Courtney said.

Obviously, $450,000 condos as affordable housing is like a bad joke.

News4 consulted experts and determined for the average family of four in Nashville, an affordable house is around $260,000. And that’s with no debt.

And if you like bad jokes, then finding a family of four with no debt is pretty laughable too. But guess who hasn’t been laughing for the past seven years about Nashville’s real estate? The good people of California and chunks of others on the East Coast, along with all their companies. They took a good look at their taxes, and at our lack of an income tax, and packed their bags for Music City.

“Now we're getting people from the northeast and the west because of financial situations in those areas,” Courtney said.

Which brings us to today. Studies that show firefighters, police and medical assistants are all facing housing burdens in Nashville.

“I think it's a major crisis,” Courtney said.

And nobody finds that funny.


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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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