Whether you envision a tranquil place where you can take refuge after a long day, a place where friends and family are always welcome, a yard that’s perfect for endless hours of playing catch or simply relaxing in the shade, there is one thing that’s the same no matter who is dreaming – in the end, a house must be a “home.”
Right now, there are many people out and about hoping to discover their next dream home.
“The market has been rapidly improving for almost a year now,” Bill McCabe, broker/owner of Century 21 Executive Realty in Schererville, said. “During the height of the recession, we had a supply of homes over 22 months which was determined by the current inventory divided by the number of homes selling per month. Anything over 4-6 months becomes a buyers market and prices tend to stabilize or fall. During the last year and especially this winter and spring, we saw levels fall to under 6 months and well under that in several towns. That stabilized prices, and we are actually beginning to see appreciation again in many towns.”
“Prices have definitely bottomed out and with interest rates hovering around 4%, we’ve been seeing a steady stream of buyers in our office since the holidays,” Herm Hoge, broker/owner along with his wife Kris of RE/MAX Realty Associates in Munster, said. “I’ve been in the business for over 30 years, and I really believe there has never been a better time to buy a home. Lots of people tend to get hung up on price, but the truth is the purchase price is just one ingredient of what the buyer pays for a home. Locking in at today’s low interest rates is far more important than a savings of $1-2,000 in the purchase price because you live with the interest rate for 30 years. Historically, when we see prices this low, interest rates are high so payments are inflated. That’s certainly not the case right now.”
Because the real estate market is continually changing, and buyers are becoming more sophisticated, more sellers are seeing the importance of pricing their property for the market. Homes listed for sale at market value are definitely selling in the shortest amount of time and for the most money.
“Homes that are priced to go are winding up with multiple offers and ultimately selling at asking or a little more. You need to evaluate the comps and consider how they are going to appraise,” Judy Appel, an Associate Broker at Prudential Executive Group Real Estate in Valparaiso who has been an Accredited Staging Professional since 2008 and professional photographer since 1974, said. “For most buyers, it all starts when a listing goes online, it has to be gorgeous. So before that, I provide my sellers with a list of recommendations, things that can be perked up. Then, I help them rearrange the furniture and bring in a few props. The goal is to allow buyers to envision themselves in the space and not distract them with your personal items. Right now I have a deal in the making for a home that was priced so well we had 10 showings right out of the gate.”
“Buyers today definitely want a home that’s turnkey,” Hoge added. “First-time buyers are driving the market and that’s important to them. People are more confident in general, and we’re seeing more of those move up buyers who are ready to go to that next tier. We’re working with a couple who have been in their current home for seven or eight years now. It’s in the $150,000 range. They now have two kids and have been considering a move for about two years. They want to take advantage of the low interest rates while they can and are seeing how well properties are selling. Even those that aren’t in the best condition are selling if they are priced right. But the good ones are going in one to two weeks in this market. I’m looking forward to a really strong year.”
“First time buyers and investors remain a big part of the market. But an increasing number of move up buyers are returning to the market. With their existing homes easier to sell, they are looking for newer homes. We have seen a great improvement in that market, and it is most evident in the average sales price. Since more expensive homes are selling, it is pulling the average sales price up,” he said. “We’re also seeing a big return to new housing this year. With the limited number of homes built during the recession, the market is tight on homes less than 5 years old.
But, we are seeing builders return to the market, and they are reporting good sales.
I represent a lot of land developments. We have probably sold more lots in the last 6 months than in the prior 3 years combined. All in all, it’s returning to a great market in Northwest Indiana.”
For those people ready to make their move now, it’s important to be prepared - especially if you're in one of the tighter markets.
“I have definitely seen a lack of inventory in Crown Point first hand,” Anita Frame, broker/owner of Frame Property Network in Crown Point, said. “Buyers have to be ready to move on a house if they are interested. I was working with some first-time homebuyers, who, after missing out on a home due to a multiple offer situation and then losing out on another home because they didn't respond fast enough, finally found their home on the third attempt. Buyers have to be ready to make an offer by having a lender pre-approval, while agents have to be easily accessible to help their buyers in these situations.”