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Real estate market shifting to favor sellers

Plentiful buyers, inventory shortages boost home sales

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Sharon Rhoades of McCabe Realtors opens blinds in a room Friday while showing a home to DeKalb couple Phyllis and Dan Anderson. This was the second visit to this home for the Andersons, who are looking to move into a ranch home in the DeKalb area.

DeKALB – Phyllis Anderson was eager to leave her home for another one. 

The 66-year-old DeKalb resident and her husband have lived in a two-story house on Mattek Avenue for the past 35 years. It was a beautiful home and they both kept it that way, she said. But they want to move to a ranch house so everything would be on one floor. 

They put their home up for sale in early April and found a buyer within 24 hours. After the first buyer fell through, they put it up for sale again and found another buyer in two months. Anderson said she found this spring was a good time to sell the home.

“I think things are starting to sell and prices are going up,” Anderson said. 

After years of falling home values and rising inventories as a result of foreclosures made it a “buyer’s market” in real estate, local market conditions are beginning to shift to favor sellers, real estate professionals said.

The DeKalb area has seen an increased demand for homes, said Laura Boyer, vice president for the DeKalb Area Association of Realtors. But many local agents say buyers are finding fewer homes for sale than in the past, Boyer said.

“We know we are working with buyers who just can’t find what they are looking for,” Boyer said.

Buyers are also waiting for the perfect home to choose. A typical buyer will look for a modest home that is clean, comfortable and easy to maintain, she said. 

Sharon Rhoades, a real estate agent with McCabe Realtors, 120 W. Hillcrest Drive, DeKalb, said low interest rates are enticing more people to buy houses.

The interest rate for an average 30-year mortgage loan is in the range of 4.25 to 4.5 percent, said Chris Galor, mortgage loan officer for the Bank of America. Last year, rates were around 3.75 percent. Galor said he was refinancing people’s loans from five years ago, which carried rates in the range of 5.5 and 6 percent.  

Buyers should make sure they have good credit and can make a down payment, Rhoades said.  

Data from the National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index shows a slight uptick in national home-buying activity this spring. In April, contract signing went up 0.3 percent from March. Home contract activity is at its highest level since April 2010, according to the Realtors’ association.

The Realtors’ association uses a Pending Home Sales Index to measure housing contract activity based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condominiums and co-ops. The information is based on a large national sample and typically represents about 20 percent of transactions for existing home sales, according to the Realtors’ association. 

Increased home sales are expected to raise national home values to their highest level in five years because of inventory shortages, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors’ association.  

For those who have been waiting to list their homes for fear of taking a big loss, this might be the right time to test the market, Boyer said. Buyers are plentiful and seeking to take advantage of the interest rates that remain near historic lows, she said.

“We have a lot of sellers that have been waiting for the pricing to increase,” Boyer said. 

The interest rate has increased slightly for 30-year mortgage loans because of drastic hits to government bonds, and Galor said he doesn’t think they will go lower. 

Galor has worked on several loans for homes in DeKalb, Sycamore, Aurora and Genoa. He said the average home loan has been for about $150,000. 

Measuring how successful the housing market DeKalb is hard to gauge, Boyer said. She said the DeKalb Area Association of Realtors has the largest representation of real estate brokers in the county, and she can look at the market in DeKalb and compare it to other areas to see if more homes are being sold. 

However, judging how well the housing market is based more on word of mouth and what real estate agents are saying about how fast homes are being sold, she said. She said the market time for home sales would be an indicator.

Rhoades said she thinks the housing market has been better than in the past two years and the economy is recovering. Agents at McCabe Realtors have been busier lately, she said.

“We are seeing change in our market and we like that very much,” Rhoades said. 

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