Real Estate investment is about quality of life

2013-11-17T07:00:00Z Real Estate investment is about quality of lifeMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent
November 17, 2013 7:00 am  • 

If you’ve ever searched for homes online and entered your contact information in order to see more details on a listing, then you probably receive updates and newsletters from real estate agents.

Since I’m always curious about what’s going on in the local market, I receive quite a few, and I try to read them all. One that I received late last week from Joe Gambril and Jeff Augsburger of the Brothers in Brokerage Team at Source One Real Estate in Crown Point piqued my interest – why would real estate brokers be sharing information on adding an addition versus selling a home that doesn’t meet current needs and buying a new one that does?

“I believe that the continued upticks in the market are a good indicator of things to come,” Gambril, who shares his extensive background in construction management and real estate as a mentor to new agents, said. “Since we have a grim reminder close in our rear view mirror of what can happen when markets turn, I believe that it puts us all in a more responsible place when it comes to investing our money, whether it be in real estate or other investments.”

He made the point that some people love their current location and would prefer to make a few updates to their existing home over moving. That’s why he was sharing details of a survey by the National Association of Home Builders that found the top four reasons homeowners remodel is to obtain more space, avoid buying a new home, enjoy more amenities and adjust to lifestyle changes.

“Updating your current property can not only improve the appearance of your home, but also enhance its value, add to your quality of life, and appeal to future prospective buyers. Before you dive right into an extensive remodeling project, you should thoroughly assess your current space,” he advises.

“People often overlook unused space that they may already have in their home. That empty attic, space above the garage, or the side porch your family rarely uses can be transformed into an extra bedroom or family room for a fraction of the price a complete addition would set you back. If adding a completely new space is what you want, make sure it is financially feasible before you proceed. Figure out if you have enough in the bank to finance an addition, or if you will need a loan. And be sure to check with your local zoning and building laws before you set your heart on that new sunroom or three-car garage. It’s also a good idea to contact a local REALTOR® to see if an improved value supports adding to your home in your neighborhood.”

When you connect the dots from the fact that owning and remodeling a home in Northwest Indiana is a good investment right now – the surge in buying and selling activity this summer was a significant step toward economic recovery – that means it’s also a great time to make a move.

“Absolutely. There are still many housing options available to buyers based on tastes and budget. Moreover, seller’s still understand the purpose of intelligent pricing versus wishful thinking,” Gambril explained. “The increase in sales across the board is due to many variables, however I believe reasonable seller expectations is the largest variable and will continue to be a large contributor to successful sales into 2014. Some niche areas throughout Northwest Indiana have seen a better increase in home values over others, but I would say overall the median and average values in Lake and Porter have not met any huge milestones making it still a great time for buyers to buy.”

According to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS® (GNIAR) current active single family listings remain just over 4,600, while sales of single family homes for the last year have exceeded 8,000.

“As long as the active single family housing supply stays well below the sales, I believe we will see a migration to a, dare I say, a seller’s market for single family homes by mid 2015,” Gambril said. “While inventory from absorption of single family homes has diminished the inventory of available homes, we are still experiencing many buyers and sellers alike that are ready to stick it out and move forward with their plans. That’s not to say that they will over spend and pay more for a home than sales statistics support.

“New construction inventory remains low with only about 100 new single family spec homes available in our MLS which covers Lake, Porter, Newton, Jasper and LaPorte counties. Scattered site homebuilders are still very cautious to taking on the liability of building homes without a sale first during a market that is rebounding. The lack of new single family inventory in 2013 has been a driving factor for presold sales – especially for the largest pool of buyers who are looking to spend between $200-300,000 on their new home - and the source of many of the success stories that are out there for home builders. There are also a lot of good townhome and condominium buys out there right now because supply of existing and competing new units remains high.”

Demonstrating the strength of new housing in Crown Point for example, Gambril said Building Administrator Joe Cash anticipates the 156 single family permits they issued in the city so far this year (with a month and a half left to go) will surpass last year’s total of 167, which was up substantially from 107 in 2011.

“It’s important to note that the commercial real estate market seems to have increased its heart beat as well,” Gambril noted. “Leasing of larger office, retail and industrial have all been getting notable activity throughout the commercial brokerage community. The state of Indiana has been working to reposition itself over the past few years to be an attractive affordable place for all businesses to thrive, and 2013 represented a good start to seeing those benefits. Some notable examples are construction and leasing within the Purdue Research Center in Merrillville, the 3rd phase of the Crown Point Sportsplex is nearing completion with the expectation to draw more national tournaments and ancillary businesses, which increases demand to live there and therefore, will have a positive future effect on home values, and Schererville has had the biggest bump in “big box” retail activity north along Route 41.

"In a market like ours where retailers and developers are weighing every decision with the utmost criticism, this most recent retail development solidifies Schererville’s place to support national retailers. I believe it will be a very good thing for home values in Schererville and the surrounding areas of St. John, Dyer, Highland, Munster and Griffith.”

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