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Summit 86 was voted one of the Top 10 Rentals in 2020 by

Featured Article

You Should See the View from Up Here

East Tennessee is the Place To Be

Tennessee homeowners already know how good they have it, but word is getting around. In January, U-Haul ranked the Volunteer State as having the highest one-way growth rate for folks packing up and joining the influx of homeowners wanting to take advantage of the financial benefits, the vast outdoor playground, and, for some, the incredible views from atop the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Now that Amazon announced Alcoa as the location for its newest $200 million fulfillment center, bringing more than 800 jobs to the area, locals can bank on more movers coming this way in 2022. 

Brian Carroll, owner of Evergreen Design & Construction, moved to East Tennessee from Florida after the wildfires in 2016 to be a part of the rebuilding process in the Smokies. In the last four years, he’s built upwards of 30 houses for folks who lost their personal homes and rental houses, taking his own approach to design. 

“I just built a house for a client using 150-year-old reclaimed wood and with all Wolf and Viking appliances,” says Brian. “I build custom, high-end homes, and I just have a different mentality about it.” 

Brian leaves the stereotypical log cabins to other builders and opts instead for innovation. Clean lines, open spaces, windows everywhere there can be a window. The view, after all, is everything. 

Barret Hagen of Greensboro, NC agrees. When he and his wife, Dr. Christine Hagen, visited Gatlinburg a few years ago, they saw quickly that real estate was undervalued, and there was a noticeable lack of luxury vacation rentals.

“I felt like there was enough tourism there that there had to be someone who didn’t want a log cabin. I designed Summit 86 and Brian built it,” says Barret, owner of Hagen Engineering. “We’re not even trying to bridge the gap between log cabin and modern. There’s a lot of glass, which isn’t typical in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area. If we have a view lot, we’re focused on the view. I want you to feel like you’re a part of the mountains from inside the house.”

Initially, the Hagens planned to move to East Tennessee once their daughters, Maisie and Lucy, graduated from high school, but after visiting last summer, they decided not to wait. They bought property on Loudoun Lake, Dr. Hagen secured a position at Blount Memorial, and Barret drew up plans for their new home. 

“I love the fact that we’re going to be in SEC Football Country. My wife went to Georgia, and I went to Auburn. It’s only a problem for our marriage one day a year,” says Barret, laughing. “Moving to Tennessee is moving to a place that’s familiar. I get a breath of fresh air every time I’m there.”

The Hagen family likes adventures on their own vacations, like skiing or scuba diving, so investing in East Tennessee rental property falls in line with wanting to provide vacationers with luxury but also easy access to the adventures they want to go on in the Great Smoky Mountains. 

“My goal was to build a house that would remind you of resorts,” says Barret. “If you’re splitting the house with other families and couples, you don’t want to split the views.”

Jenn and Scott Osborne of Hershey, PA, are on the one-way track to the Volunteer State, too. As an executive with Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Scott’s travel schedule brought him regularly to East Tennessee and quickly fell in love with the area. Jenn always wanted to invest in rental homes, and the opportune time finally came last year after meeting Brian and deciding to work with him. 

“He has such smart ideas. Brian puts his heart and soul into it,” she says. “The area is attractive to us. Pigeon Forge is like Ocean City, Maryland, which is where we grew up. But I like that you can get away and be in the mountains. By the end of the year, we should have four properties. It started out as an investment thing, but my husband wants to retire there in about ten years.” 

The Osbornes spent Christmas and New Year’s in their A-frame house with friends from Alabama. The ease of access to the mountains is one of the things that pulled the Osbornes into investing.

“Everything is so easy. We fly into the Knoxville airport and just love the ease of it. There’s not enough things you can say about it,” says Jenn. “It draws us there. People are happy there and they want to go where they can get everything.” 


  • The Hagen family will be moving to East Tennessee this summer. (L-R Maisie, Barret, Lollie, and Lucy)
  • Summit 86 is managed by Mountain Vibe Vacations.
  • Summit 86 was voted one of the Top 10 Rentals in 2020 by