Housing sales are up in the Rockford area for the fifth straight year, as is the average selling price. Conor Brown is the CEO for Rockford Area Realtors. He said, "The average sales price record that we've kept is $149,000."
He said the sales and price increases are cause for celebration, but he also expressed concern for the lack of housing stock for first-time home buyers.
"We've actually been seeing our lowest inventory numbers since we started keeping records in 1998." He continued, "That's proven to be a bit of a challenge to buyers, and I can say it's a little bit of a stressful situation for sellers who want to go on to their next home."
Brown cited the three main reasons that surround home buying or home selling: crime, schools, and property taxes. He said the outlook for 2020 is promising and that low interest rates and the mild weather have influenced the strong start.
Brown also said national and world events influence sales. "It's a presidential election year. Sometimes people put off a big decision around that. Or around a convention or the summer Olympics."
From a real estate perspective, the Rockford region covers Winnebago, Boone and Ogle counties; and Brown said the region has outpaced Illinois and national markets in terms of sales and pricing. Not only that, there has been a 2.3% drop in distressed property sales. Brown says fewer foreclosure sales help increase home equity in the region.
Transform Rockford aims to improve the social and economic well being of the community. Their executive director is David Sidney. He was especially pleased that the number of distressed properties fell for the sixth year in a row. He said, "Only 7% of sales are distressed properties. That's a very good place to be as a region. Of course, we want to see that number go down."
Brown emphasized that the good numbers reflect several years of consistent improvement. He said, "We've done our best to climb out of the bottom of the recession."
Brown spoke to the economic impact of real estate sales. He said, "Every time you have a residential real estate transaction, there are literally tens of thousands of dollars that go into that investment. Realtors, attorneys, mortgage lenders, contractors all benefit from the investment. Overall it's a very positive thing for the economy."
In terms of actual jobs, Brown said his association has more than 850 Realtor members, most of whom live in the three-county region. He said, "We also have a number of local mortgage companies and attorneys and affiliates who are integral to the real estate transaction."
For people who are interested in buying or selling, Brown had advice.
For buyers, he said, "I would encourage buyers to work with a local lender -- someone you can meet face-to-face. Get preapproved. Then meet with a Realtor. That Realtor will want to show you houses you can afford so when you go out on the market, you are prepared to buy."
For sellers, he advised, "If you don't already have a professional connection with a Realtor, then treat it as a job interview. Interview three different ones from three different offices. Each one will bring a unique take on what what your home value is and what it will take to get it up to snuff so you can sell it."
As for those who want to sell without a Realtor, Brown said, "We understand people want to try it first on their own but we track the statistics nationally and a lot of people leave money on the table when they go this route."
For more information, visit the Rockford Area Realtor's website.