Housing market stirs to lifePublished 7:16pm Sunday, February 12, 2012
Niles area homeowners might have a reason to smile for the first time in a while.
Single-family residential home prices and sales are trending upward for the first time since the housing bubble burst around five years ago.
According to market statistics compiled by the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, the average price of a home sold in the Niles area increased from $84,490 in 2010 to $85,596 in 2011. That’s a change of a little more than $1,000.
Home sales saw a slight jump from 442 in 2010 to 446 in 2011.
The statistics are for the market area encompassing Niles, Brandywine, Buchanan and Galien school districts.
Local real estate experts say the numbers are encouraging, but we aren’t out of the woods yet.
“We are still down from the peak years of four or five years ago, but, over the last four to six months, at least at our office, we are seeing things improve,” said Roger Tracey, of Remax/Modern Realty in Niles. “My guess is that it will take four to five years before we get back to where we were.”
Niles Realtor Paul Crouch, of Cressy and Everett Real Estate, said area home prices are being held in check by the large number of foreclosures on the market. This week, Crouch saw what he considers a good bank-owned home listed for $30,500. The same home sold for around $100,000 in 2005.
“A third of the sales are bank-owned properties and what that has done is make buyers think they can offer 50 cents on the dollar to just anyone,” Crouch said. “It’s a good time to buy, but not a good time to sell.”
Crouch said a lot of the bank-owned properties are being sold to investors, who are either holding onto them or flipping them. He believes it will take two more years before the market stabilizes.
Vicki Graybosch, owner of Community Mortgage in Niles, said she is seeing an increase in the number of qualified buyers looking in the Niles area.
“I’m not sure what is happening in the job market,” she said, “but it looks like we are seeing a lot of young people with good jobs that are looking to find their first homes.”
Graybosch predicts the local housing market will have a full recovery in about 18 months. At that time, she said, we will start seeing new construction, something that has been lacking in the area for quite some time.
Niles has had only three new homes built since January 2008, and all were Habitat for Humanity homes.
Thirty-five new homes were built in Niles Township in 2007, 22 in 2008, five in 2009, four in 2010 and eight in 2011.
There were 18 new homes built in Buchanan Township in 2007 and just seven in 2011. Buchanan saw two new homes built last year, up from one in each of the previous three years and down from three in 2007.
The Edwardsburg/Cassopolis area saw a large increase in the average price of homes sold from 2010-2011, according to Edwardsburg Realtor Renay Suseland of Cressy and Everett Real Estate.
The average price of a home sold in that area for 2010 was $118,955. Last year, it jumped to $149,210, an increase of more than $30,000.
Suseland said the large change could be attributed to the sale of multimillion dollar homes on the area’s lakes.
“Diamond Lake had a good year last year, and that can bump your prices,” she said. “It doesn’t take a whole lot of those sales to skew the numbers.”
That being said, Suseland believes the market is stabilizing.
“I feel a lot more optimistic than I did in 2009,” she said. “We saw a huge improvement in 2010 and 2011 over the few years after the recession hit.”
Home sales in Edwardsburg/Cassopolis held steady at 176 in 2010 and 177 in 2011.
Tags: Niles real estate trends