DeKALB – Lindy Arnett has seen as little as one day of vacancy in the homes she has rented out in the past four years.
Arnett and her husband, Robert Walters, decided to invest in real estate after retiring from careers in information technology. They bought two homes in the Heatherstone subdivision in DeKalb and have rented them for four years.
“That we can get people into those houses as renters means the [real estate] market is very good,” she said.
The market has been good not only for investors such as Arnett and Walters, but it’s been showing improvements overall in DeKalb County. The county joins several others in Illinois that have shown rising home prices, shorter market times and more home sales since the housing bubble burst in 2008.
In DeKalb County, combined sales of attached and single-family homes has increased by 34 percent this year, with 142 units sold thus far, according to data provided by RE/MAX, an international real estate company. An attached home shares at least one common wall with another home, while a single-family home does not.
For attached and single-family homes in DeKalb County, the average market time, which is the amount of time between when a home is put on the market and when it’s sold, decreased by 42 percent in August. It had been taking an average of about three-and-a-half months for a home to be sold, down from about six months in August 2012.
The median price for a home in August this year was $123,750, which is close to $3,000 less than the median price for a home in August 2012.
Although home prices still are down from their peak levels, there are definite signs of recovery in the county, said Laura Boyer, president-elect of the DeKalb Area Association of Realtors. Boyer also works as a managing broker for Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell.
There is a need for more homes to meet the demand because prices have been good, she said. Buyers who have held off on buying a home before are seeing this as the best opportunity to buy because interest rates on mortgages are low and home prices are, too.
“We think buyers are jumping off the fence because prices are increasing, but prices are historically low,” she said.
A September RE/MAX analysis of the Chicago real estate market and seven counties surrounding it showed median home sales prices up 18 percent from August 2012. The average market time in August averaged 93 days, down from 139 days in August 2012. The number of home sales totaled 11,601 units this year with a median sales price of $200,000.
The counties studied under RE/MAX included Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.
Alison Rosenow, managing broker with Sycamore-based American Realty, said she thinks the DeKalb County housing market is a little behind the market in other counties, but it is slowly improving.
She said another sign the market is improving is that home sales and foreclosed properties are coming in close to the list prices. Low inventory has led to some bidding wars, Rosenow said.
“Sometimes you’ve got multiple buyers going for the same houses and creating multiple offers,” she said.
Boyer said inventory is a little less than what is considered good, which is a six-month supply. The county has gone from an eight-month supply to a four- or five-month supply this year, she said.
Rosenow has helped Arnett and Walters find the properties they currently have and helped them turn them into rental properties. Right now, they are renting the properties but if the market improves they might sell them.
Arnett said it was important that prices are going up and not how many homes are being sold.
“If housing prices continue to go up, we may sell [them] and if the interest goes up, we may sell [them],” she said of their homes.