Editor’s note — This is a new advice column by local real estate agent Randy Butler that will appear periodically in The Times-Gazette.
My father told me the story of when he purchased an almost new home in the early ‘60s for a whopping $16,000. My grandparents were very upset. Why would anyone ever pay that much for a home? They came to our new house worried that “the boys” would not have food to eat or clothes for school since my parents made the foolish decision to buy such an expensive home. There was just no way they could afford that! I guess they must have made it since my mother still lives there today some 50 years later. Yes, things are just a bit different today.
This coming February will mark my 13th year in real estate. During that time, I have seen many different ups and downs in our local market. About anyone that’s in my business will agree that the housing crunch from 2007-09 is a time frame that none of us want to ever repeat. About 80 percent of all homes sold were bank owned. Looking back, I have no idea how I made it through that while keeping all my stuff.
The market has changed drastically twice so far just this year. In January we saw an influx of ready and willing buyers, (more than I have ever seen), and the homes available could not keep up with the demand. This obviously drove the prices up a bit. Our average home prices were around the $90,000 range. Now, the average home price is between $100,000 to 125,000. That’s quite a jump. Selling prices have ranged from $9,400 all the way up to the highest at $547,000.
Now, we have the same scenario, but with fewer buyers looking to purchase. There is still a shortage of inventory in all price ranges.
I have always been big on tracking numbers. It’s good to know how things are today versus a year ago. Or, even today versus yesterday. There’s no way to see change, good or bad, unless it is measured. I found some interesting facts. As of this writing there are 280 active listings on the Multiple Listing Service for Highland County, 73 of which are currently under contract with buyers awaiting a closing. That makes a little more than 200 available properties for sale. The real interesting fact is that there have been 400 properties sold this year alone. Simple math tells me that we are not listing new homes quicker than the old ones are selling. Anyone looking for a home right now will attest to the fact that there’s not dozens of homes to choose from at present like there have been in the past.
Today, about any home that is priced right is selling and selling fast. Homes that normally would take a year or so to sell are gone quickly. Some that do sell now would not have sold at all in times past. This is a plus for the hard to sell homes. An average sell time a couple of years ago was about six months from start to finish. Today, most homes are under contract within the first three to 30 days of the sign going in the yard, if it is priced correctly.
If you do find your dream home in today’s market, my advice is this: You had better have your loan approval ready and have your realtor make an offer quicker than a “toupee comes off in a hurricane.” Back in the day buyers would go home and think about it for a few days. Now, the home you look at today and will buy tomorrow, could be the same home someone else looked at yesterday and will buy today.
We have come a long way in real estate since the ’60s. That very expensive home my parents purchased for $16,000 and got in way over their heads had a payment of $128 per month. How did they ever do it?
Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.