“Optimism” hasn’t been associated with real estate much in the past few years. Russ Bergeron, CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), the Chicagoland’s multiple listing service, said, “I can’t remember feeling this positive about the prospects for a new year since the middle of the last decade.”
“We’ve had reports from some of our brokers that 2012 was a banner year, so for some it is easy to be confident regarding the real estate marketplace going into 2013,” related Bergeron. “However, as excited as I am to see our customers achieve this level of success, it’s important to understand where the market is, and what we really have to be optimistic about.”
Recent numbers show that in the Chicagoland marketplace, although sales have increased, most areas have not seen corresponding price increases. Even though we have a smaller inventory of homes for sale, distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) are still a drag on the pricing side of the equation. To illustrate, the average sale price in a “traditional” sale is nearly $300,000, short sales about half of that, and foreclosures near $100,000. There is a demand for housing but sellers have not bought into that sentiment. A few months of increased prices, no matter how small, should spur some sellers off the fence to test the waters.
“A good sign is that the number of ‘traditional’ (non-distressed) sales has increased year over year,” continued Bergeron. “On the flip side, bank owned post-foreclosure (REO) properties are closing in much greater numbers. As there is still a great deal of foreclosure inventory, I think because of the judicial process here in Illinois we will see a constant flow of distressed properties being processed through the market – at least for the next two years.”
Another market that is getting a lot of interest is rentals. Even with affordability increasing, tight credit and lack of down payments make it tough for people (especially first time buyers) to get into the housing market, so a rental is the only way to go. Having an already large urban rental market, MRED has not seen the meteoric growth in the rental market as seen elsewhere. Increases being seen in rental activity are in the suburbs.
“It is very gratifying as an owner of a real estate company and as a real estate professional working with consumers to see the market turn the corner to everyone’s benefit,” said Rob Schaid, MRED President and Broker-Owner of RE/MAX Plaza of McHenry, Richmond and Wauconda, Illinois. “Based on the metrics we’ve seen for much of 2012, I’m very optimistic that the arrow will continue to point up in 2013.”
“I feel if we keep on the current course, the growth we have been witnessing over the past year or so will continue,” added Bergeron. “It will be a while before we could use the term robust, but we have the basic framework in place. Housing is up, which spurs job growth, which in turn feeds back into the housing side. Keeping interest rates down and inflation growth under control can only continue to promote the slow, steady growth we have enjoyed. So yes, I’m optimistic too.”