Headline homes: Nashville's top 10 sales, January 2008

[Correction: Turnberry Homes, mentioned at item 8 below, is not "the" developer of The Governors Club, as initially reported. It is one of several homebuilders active in that and other luxury developments locally.]

If builders can sell spec mansions in the dead of winter, things can't be all bad.

As NashvillePost.com introduces a new monthly feature on the 10 priciest home sales of the month in and around the city, two facts become immediately clear:

Houses are still moving, at least in the highest stratum of the local residential market. Builders offering spec houses at $1 million and up are finding buyers, and the supposed freeze-up of jumbo mortgages did not keep a majority of the buyers listed below from financing their purchases (though most put down considerable cash).People who pay north of $1 million for a house tend to live interesting lives. We have sketched out a few bio details on each buyer here in order to prove that assertion.What follows are the basics of January 2008's top single-family residential transactions in Nashville and its contiguous counties, as best we can determine from combing public records. Some of these sales closed in December, but all deeds recorded in January were part of our search.

1. 9539 Sanctuary Place, Brentwood, 37027

Buyer: Bishop Joseph W. Walker IIISale price: $2.42 millionBuilder/seller: Chapman Homes LLC

Bishop Walker is pastor of Nashville's Mount Zion Baptist Church, which was founded in 1866. Since he took over at Mount Zion in 1992, at the age of 24, the congregation has grown from 175 to more than 20,000 members, according to the church's Web site. Mount Zion now has three locations.

2 (tie). 4511 Harpeth Hills Drive, 37215

Buyers: Clint & Lacey NewmanSale price: $1.95 millionBuilder/sellers: John M. & Jennifer K. Carter

This deal appears to have been a swap of sorts, as sellers the Carters bought the Newmans' home (see below) after John Carter built this one on spec. Clint Newman is a Nashville dentist, and Lacey Newman is a real estate agent at French Christianson Patterson & Associates.

2 (tie). 4301 Esteswood Drive, 37215

Buyers: Dick & Anne RagsdaleSale price: $1.95 millionBuilder/seller: Old South Development LLC and Jeffry N. Kinman

Dick Ragsdale has founded and taken public three different healthcare companies, including Nashville's Community Health Systems. The Ragsdales still own their home in Forest Hills' gated Northumberland development. That property, appraised for taxes at $2.77 million, is not currently listed for sale.

4. 414 W. Brookfield Drive, 37205

Buyers: Jim & Dara DicksonSale price: $1.9 millionSeller: Missy Rodriguez

Jim Dickson is president of insurer Direct General Corp. and was previously a senior officer of Nashville-based First Acceptance Corp. Dara Dickson, daughter of Elan-Polo Inc. President Joe Russell, is president-elect of the Junior League of Nashville. Barbara Keith Payne of Harpeth Co. was the buyers' agent. Rodriguez is a Realtor herself with Shirley Zeitlin & Co. (Clarification: We initially reported that Claudette Smith of Zeitlin represented the seller, but despite the fact that she was listed as agent, Payne reports that she was not involved.)

5. 4311 Sneed Road, 37215

Buyers: David & Mary HeadSale price: $1.75 millionBuilder/seller: C. Rogan Allen

David Head was named president of restaurant chain Captain D's in 2006, but previously kept a home in Florida. Builder Rogan Allen has reshaped the Sneed/Wallace neighborhood with numerous high-end homes that have replaced aging duplexes and ranch houses. He sold this spec house almost immediately after completing it.

6. 405 Powder Mill Road, 37205

Buyer: Hope TurnerSale price: $1.7 millionBuilder/seller: Albertine Co.-Nashville LLC

Dollar General heir and music entrepreneur Cal Turner III paid for this Hillwood-area home under the terms of his divorce from Hope Turner, finalized last month. The final decree also calls for him to pay her $10 million in cash. There's no alimony, though, and he keeps his collections of vintage cars, Civil War memorabilia and wines (including bottles purchased via bankruptcy court, for $1 million, from the legendary cellars of the late and lamented Wild Boar).

7. 4302 Wallace Lane, 37215

Buyers: Joe & Jamie SchimentiSale price: $1.53 millionBuilder/seller: HR Properties of Tennessee LLC

Joe Schimenti is with the Nashville operations hub of Vermont-based Yellowstone Insurance Exchange, a risk retention group providing liability insurance for community hospitals. Jamie Schimenti is a science teacher at Meigs Magnet Middle School — and is quite possibly the only person mentioned in this article who has an asteroid named after her. Builder Scott Haley's HR Properties closed a dozen sales of $1 million-plus Davidson County homes in 2007.

8. 4415 Forsythe Place, 37205

Buyer: SunShine Trust (for Michelle Branch)Sale price: $1.35 millionSellers: Eric & Leah Bentley

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Michelle Branch bought this Belle Meade home several months after selling her house in Calabasas, Calif. for $2.94 million. Branch, who is 24, bought a condo in Nashville's Werthan Lofts in 2006. Seller Eric Bentley is division president for the Middle Tennessee operations of Turnberry Homes, which builds homes in The Governors Club in Williamson County and other luxury home developments locally. Leah Bentley is an agent with Pilkerton Realtors.

9. 3917 Trimble Road, 37215

Buyers: John M. & Jennifer K. CarterSale price: $1.25 millionSeller: Clint & Lacey Newman

As noted above, John Carter is a builder of high-end spec houses in the Nashville area.

10. 213 Ennismore Lane, Brentwood, 37027

Buyers: Jian Wei & Wei LiSale price: $1.21 millionBuilder/seller: Mike Ford Custom Builders LLC

Dr. Jian Wei is family practice physician affiliated with Southern Hills Medical Center. An M.D./Ph.D., he has co-authored a number of research papers.

Know of a big home sale in January that we missed? Got info on agents involved with any of these deals? Send a note via the byline link above, and we'll update this story.

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