CHAMPAIGN — The real estate market is so hot right now that some homes are being sold before they even hit the market, according to the president of the Champaign County Association of Realtors.
“I’ve got buyers ready, willing and waiting, and it’s difficult to even get into a home,” Liz McDonald said. “Oftentimes buyers are buying homes sight unseen.”
While she doesn’t necessarily recommend that, it’s almost inevitable with home sales high and a limited inventory.
About 664 homes were for sale in Champaign County in mid-March, according to the local real estate association, down from 773 around this time two years ago and down from 1,285 in March 2016.
Meanwhile, 150 homes were sold in February, up 12 percent from the previous February, and the median sale price also rose 12 percent.
“We haven’t really had a typical home cycle in over a year, so the listings we typically bring on throughout the year didn’t come on, mainly because of COVID,” McDonald said. “Now that we’re in the early spring market here, we still aren’t seeing the inventory we need.”
Low interest rates are making it attractive to buy homes right now, she said.
“People can buy a house … oftentimes for less than they can rent a house,” she said.
The biggest inventory crunch is for homes under $300,000.
“Millenials are making up the largest share of homebuyers, and at a price point in our local market that is very affordable for that age group,” McDonald said. And “we’re not able to put up a lot of new construction at that price point.”
She said inventory for high-end homes is also lower than normal.
Deana Gauze, the Champaign County Association of Realtors 2020 Realtor of the Year, said her sellers are getting premium sale prices.
“As a sellers agent, I’m excited for the opportunity to bring a new property to the market, because I can assure my sellers top dollar and best terms, to enable their quick relocation,” she said.
Because of this, she tries to act quickly for her clients that are buyers.
“As a buyers agent, I’ve been vigilant in monitoring all potential homes coming to the market to determine if the home might be a good fit for my buyers,” she said.
To improve inventory, McDonald said the market needs more sellers, as mortgage rates are expected to remain relatively low.
“We can’t predict when that will change. We’re still fairly early in the market cycle. Historically, April, May and June are months when a lot of listings come on the market,” McDonald said. “I think with more people being vaccinated in town, sellers are being more comfortable” letting people into their homes.
She said selling a home is ultimately a personal decision.
“There’s so many factors, whether it’s a change of jobs, growing families, shrinking families,” McDonald said. “There’s not really anything that we as real estate brokers can do except to educate. If you’ve been thinking about it, it’s a great time to raise your hand and start the process.”