By Matt Sanctis
Construction firms and real estate agents see signs that the region’s housing market has improved, including higher prices and fewer foreclosures in Clark and Champaign counties.
Clark County saw a roughly 11 percent increase in the number of single-family homes and condos sold in the first half of this year compared to 2014, according to area real estate experts.
And the average sale price for Clark County homes hit $100,378 from January through May, an increase of about 6 percent compared to the same time last year, said Elaine Stevenson, president of the Springfield Board of Realtors.
“It affects everybody,” Stevenson said. “For buyers it means the rates are still down and homes are still affordable, and for sellers it means the buyers are a little more aggressive than they have been. Along with that we see the trickle-down affect for lenders, inspectors and all of the building industry. It’s good economic news.”
Falling home prices and foreclosures played a key role in the Great Recession.
In Clark County, 479 homes have been sold between January and May this year, Stevenson said, up from 432 at the same time last year.
In Champaign County, 156 homes have been sold through May this year, a roughly 8 percent increase from the same time last year. The average sale price for homes and condos in Champaign County has been about $117,000 so far this year, a roughly 12 percent increase compared to the same time last year, Stevenson said.
Overall however, construction and total property sales remain relatively flat in Champaign County compared to last year, according to information from the Henderson Land Investment Co., which has offices in Urbana and St. Paris. A recent newsletter from the company showed all sales were down slightly compared to last year, including homes, commercial properties, farms and vacant lots.
“Our sale values are higher, the number of sales is pretty comparable to last year,” said Stephen Henderson, co-owner of Henderson Land Investment.
Some area construction firms have started to see more new home construction for the first time since the Great Recession, said Dan Kegly, president of the Building Industry Association of Clark County and owner of Dan Kegly Construction.
“I’ve seen a pretty good uptick in construction,” Kegly said. “I’ve had a lot more phone calls this year for new homes and we have a few more contracts than I thought we would at this point. I don’t know if that’s due to the fact that we have less builders in the county now or if it’s just an overall general increase.”
Stevenson also noted more of her clients are interested in building their own homes as well.
“For the first time in a long time I have clients who are building,” Stevenson said. “I haven’t seen that for quite some time.”
Construction had been flat since about 2008, but picked up this year, said Mark Overholser, owner of Overholser Builders. The company is now building single-family residences in the Simon Kenton Farm area off Derr Road, mostly in the $250,000 to $275,000 range. The first phase of the project includes eight homes and a second phase is expected to begin in the next few months, he said.
“People have had a wait-and-see attitude and I think they’re finally figuring now is the time,” Overholser said.
The time a home sits on the market is another sign the market has improved, Stevenson said. Last year, Clark County homes stayed on the market for an average of 120 days, but that figure is down to 107 days so far this year.
Foreclosure rates are also down in both Clark and Champaign counties compared to 2014, according to information from CoreLogic, a firm that tracks mortgages and other information.
There could be several factors contributing to higher sale prices locally and across the state, Henderson said.
“People feel a little more comfortable with their jobs and employment and security, and they’re willing to take a higher risk than they were with the uncertainty in the economy,” Henderson said. “Then the number of foreclosures is less than it was and that’s taking away the depressed homes and putting better homes on the market.”
The Springfield News-Sun provides unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties. For this story, the newspaper spoke to area real estate agents, contractors and national experts about the housing market in the region.
By the numbers
432 — single family homes and condos sold January through May 2014 in Clark County
479 — single-family homes and condos sold January through May 2015 in Clark County
6.1 percent — Increase in average sale price in 2015
120 days — Average days on market in 2014 in Clark County
107 days — Average days on market in 2015 in Clark County
Source: Springfield Board of Realtors