Chattanooga made a list of top 10 real estate markets to watch in 2012. (Photo: Staff)

Inman News named Chattanooga one of the top 10 real estate markets to watch this year.

And local real estate agent Brandi Pearl Thompson said her first thought after seeing the list was, “It’s about doggone time.”

Chattanooga is No. 5 on the list, between Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa, and Peoria, Ill.

According to Inman and locals in the real estate industry, a low unemployment rate, high affordability and a high out-of-state in-migration, meaning the area is drawing many out-of-towners to the area to live, add to Chattanooga's appeal.

“The market is getting bombarded with people wanting to move in,” Thompson said. “Relocation is huge. That has increased rent rates, and it’s driving people to purchase homes.”  

Thompson said she is working with people relocating from places such as South Carolina and Massachusetts.

Anne Marie Wheelock, affiliate broker with ReMax Renaissance, said she is working with a couple from North Carolina who want to grow old in Chattanooga.

“People that have never heard of Chattanooga are now seeing us pop up in national magazines, repeatedly,” she said.

Thompson said that the fact that Tennessee doesn’t have an income tax is also attractive.

Median sales price is also a draw, real estate agents said.

“The median sales price is very appealing because it means that most of the homes in the area are within reach,” Wheelock said. "Depending on where you want to live, you can get a lot of house or a lot of convenience for $125,000.”

The foreclosure rates are low because Chattanooga’s economy has remained relatively stable, and the scenic views don’t hurt either, she also said.

“Chattanooga’s real estate market has an advantage in that we are not like the big cities that are flooded with foreclosures, high prices and unreasonable expectations,” Wheelock said. “Larger cities have taken more of a hit because booms of opportunity came and went, and so have the residents.”