Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT) – Some first-time home buyers are running into roadblocks in what realtors are calling a heavily saturated housing market in East Tennessee. According to US Federal Housing Finance Agency, Tennessee saw a significant spike in home appreciation within the past year.

A group called The Housing Fund offers financial assistance through its Shared Equity Program, with the goal of creating affordable housing. The group provides private loans to low to middle income families or individuals.

“I hear so many locals say, I’ve lived in Nashville, or I’ve lived in Knoxville or Memphis all my life. I have been preparing for home ownership for so long. Now I can’t even afford it without someone outbidding me,” said Marshall E. Crawford Jr., President and CEO of the Housing Fund.

Through Housing Fund‘s Shared Equity Program, homebuyers participating in the program are only required to pay 1% of the purchase price, with 25% coming from the housing fund. FirstBank is said to take care of the remaining 74%.

Once the owners join the shared equity program, this home will remain an affordable unit for the next buyer.

On Thursday, FirstBank announced it was committing $10 million to the fund, which will provide more families with the opportunity to have their own homes.

“It’s an investment to maintain affordable housing. We’ve seen a lot of appreciation in homeownership over the past year and affordability is becoming an issue,” said FirstBank Chief Financial Officer Michael Mettee.

Other East Tennessees are exercising other options to build generational wealth, such as selling their homes.

Knoxville mother Torie Cotner bought her West Knox home four years ago but now wants to be debt free. After consulting with her realtor, Betty Cooper with Realty Executives, their final solution is to sell what they thought was their forever home.

“With the way the economy is and in this market, we can come out on top. Whether it’s buying other homes and renting them out, or investing,” Cotner said.

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