First Posted: 10:43 pm - February 14th, 2016
By Casey S. Elliott, Urbana Daily Citizen
Property sales are looking up, with fewer foreclosures in the pipeline in both Champaign and Logan counties, officials say.
Realtors in both counties are also seeing a positive outlook in their markets. These trends mirror national trends in home sales.
Sales of existing homes improved in the third quarter of 2015, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data. Purchases of new single-family homes were up 11 percent over the previous year. And, the median price for homes sold increased 5 percent for new homes and 5.1 percent for existing homes in 2015 over 2014.
In Champaign County, there was a 51 percent increase in overall real estate transfers from 2014 to 2015, according to figures provided by county Auditor Karen Bailey. The average sales amounts increased for residential properties from $90,689 in 2014 to $92,387 in 2015. Also increasing were the number of commercial or industrial real estate transfers and agricultural real estate transfers.
Urbana Realtor Lee Henderson of Henderson Land Investment Company said 2015 has been a good year for sales.
“Our company hasn’t seen real estate activity like we saw in 2015 since 2005,” she said.
Henderson said irresponsible lending from the banking industry started to affect her business in 2005, when more people seemed to owe more on the houses than they were worth. That led to more foreclosures as the real estate bubble burst and the Great Recession kicked in.
“When we had properties on the market, we couldn’t sell them,” she said, adding many homeowners who were “underwater” – or who had mortgages higher than the value of the home – also had a number of penalties for non-payment that they could not meet.
“Having gone through all that, this past year, finally we saw people be able to sell their homes,” she said. “Now we’re seeing the values (of properties) inching up.”
Henderson added she has seen in increase in interest in condominiums instead of single-family homes, and those prices are increasing because of demand.
Logan County’s real estate is similar to what is going on in Champaign County, Bellefontaine Realtor Doug Zimmerman of Zimmerman Realty said.
“We’re steady,” he said. “2015 was a great rebound year, compared to the years before.”
Zimmerman said he’s not seeing as many bank-owned (or foreclosed) properties as he did in the past few years, and he’s seeing fewer still on the market for 2016.
The worst year for Logan County was 2009, with the economic collapse, he said.
Logan County Auditor Michael Yoder said he thinks, anecdotally, that 2015 was better than 2014 in Logan County.
“It’s not gigantically better. The number of transfers has been pretty constant between the years,” he said. “The amount paid for properties is up slightly. It wasn’t like a whirlwind increase, but it is an upward direction.”
Yoder added he thinks foreclosures are dropping and agricultural property values seem to be leveling.
“The train is starting to move,” he said.
Property and values will likely change in 2016 for both counties, as it is a triennial update year. That update requires auditors to compare sales data from the past three years and compare it to existing values in the system, Bailey said. If there appears to be an increase in the amounts of residential homes, it may increase the values of residential properties. The opposite happened at the last triennial update in 2010, when property values decreased.
The state will review its rates for agricultural land in the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program in 2016, which may mean changes for owners of that land. The rate changes, if there are any, won’t be known until the end of 2016, Bailey said.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.