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County’s real estate market improving

Buyers are available, but inventory is low

Winter is an excellent time to be a home-seller: Buyers who are willing to trudge through the snow are ready to commit to a new home.

That’s how Laura Boyer, president of the HomeTown Association of Realtors, explains it. The association was formerly known as the DeKalb Area Association of Realtors in Sycamore.

“Sellers think they need to wait until spring, but that can bring more competition, and that can reduce the demand,” Boyer said.

Throughout DeKalb County, buyer demand is spurring on new construction because not enough existing homes are on the market. In the past year, sales and home prices have increased, while the number of new listings haven’t kept up.

“We have buyers, but we don’t have enough homes for them to choose from,” said Boyer, who works as the managing broker for Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell in Sycamore.

The real estate market is showing continued improvement since the housing bubble burst in 2008.

A report by Midwest Real Estate Data shows a 4.7 percent increase from November 2012 to November 2013 in new listings of detached single-family homes in DeKalb County. In the same time period, 18.8 percent more homes were sold, while the number of homes listed for sale dropped 17.7 percent, the report shows.

Home prices have continued to rise, as well, the report shows. The median home price for single-family, detached homes in November was $131,000, up from $122,000 the previous year. Average market time has declined from 164 days to 120.

Similar percentages can be found when looking at statistics for attached, single-family homes.

Nancy Edwards, managing broker/owner of Elm Street Realtors in Sycamore, said the county’s real estate market struggled in 2012 with high foreclosures and short sales, and declining prices. But in 2013, foreclosures and short sales sitting on the market were sold because buyers understood these transaction better than they did in previous years, she said.

“In addition, many banks have increased the values of these homes by improving them,” Edwards said. “In turn, this is keeping or increasing home values higher.”

Both real estate agents agreed the lack of existing homes on the market has spurred new construction.

Sycamore officials issued 30 new construction permits for single family homes last year, up from 13 in 2012, said John Sauter, director of building and engineering. They issued permits for 39 multifamily units in 2013, up from 17 in 2012.

Jim Work of Silverthorne Home Builders said it’s a misconception that building stops in the winter.

“We have crews out working right now,” Work said.

Boyer agreed construction is picking up.

“I definitely see our builders getting busier,” she said. “This is good news for the economy in general.”

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