DIGGING DEEPER: ‘Seller’s Nightmare, Buyer’s Dream?’

If you’re looking to buy or a sell a home, your success may depend on where you live in the Tri-States.

Consider Macomb, Illinois. Some buyers are saving thousands of dollars on homes as the market struggles following the Illinois budget impasse.

Just outside Macomb city limits is the Georgetown subdivision with a look reminiscent of the colonial era. However, also part of the landscape — lots of "for sale" signs. 

"I think there are currently 13 to 14 houses out there on the market right now," real estate agent Steve Silberer said.

He said a few years ago, townhomes in the Georgetown subdivision would have gone for $90,000 on average, but today some are selling in the $50,000 range. That’s the kind of deal Dewayne Blair got on a townhome in the subdivision back in August.

"It’s like I couldn’t pass it up," Blair said. "It was too good of a deal."

However, for many deals in this buyer’s market, there’s a seller losing out. 

Clothing store owner John Nelson put his home on Franklin Street in Macomb up for sale last November.

"It’s been on the market close to a year now," Nelson said. "(I) definitely would have expected more showings over the summer than what we’ve seen. Since April, I’ve only had four showings."

"A normal inventory in Macomb would be like 129, 130 listings," Silberer said. "We’re right around 210 now. It’s the most I’ve seen in my history of doing real estate in Macomb."

He said the average time homes for sale are on the market in Macomb is about 195 days or six and a half months. Some homes are on the market longer than that. 

I’ve got some houses that sat for two years. (I tell them to) Just to hang in there, it’ll happen.

Silberer acknowledges the solution is often dropping the price. That’s exactly what John Nelson did. 

"Just this last week, (I) lowered the price again," Nelson said. "I’m not in a have-to-sell situation. Again (I’m) just downsizing, so (I’m) being patient with it."

"If I had a house on the market and I had to sell it, I would probably think there’s a crisis, there’s no doubt about it," Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said.

Macomb has seen a drop in home prices, extra inventory and there are several vacant homes. You can see a few vacant homes close to Western Illinois University.

"I’ve said it more than once. that as Western goes, so goes Macomb," Mayor Inman said.

That certainly plays into the housing market. Illinois’ more than two-year budget impasse ended just a few months ago and many Illinois universities are still feeling the effects of declining enrollment.

At WIU, enrollment is down nine percent overall this year. It’s also down roughly 15 percent for this year’s freshman class. After more than 100 layoffs at the university in spring 2016, WIU officials said they brought back most of those employees, but nearly 30 others were laid off. Some moved to find work. Fast forward to 2017, WIU is taking steps to retain and recruit students.

The university said there are also efforts to hire more employees.

"There are currently numerous searches underway for a variety of academic, administrative, and civil service positions," Assistant Vice President of Advancement & Public Services Darcie Shinberger said. 

Mayor Inman hopes the university’s efforts, the end of the budget impasse and other economic factors will help turn Macomb’s housing market around.

What I’m optimistic about is that we do have a budget in place now.

Inman said the city is using nearly $2 million, including grant money, to demolish 30 blighted homes, improve infrastructure in the city, and rehabilitate homes on Macomb’s south side.. And he said even though Macomb experienced a downturn similar to this 40 years ago, there’s a significant difference today. 

"Our manufacturing community is doing extremely well, extremely well," Inman said. "Thanks to folks at Pella, NTN Bauer and Whalen Manufacturing, our manufacturing is going gangbusters. There is a lot of expansion."

While Macomb is experiencing a buyer’s market, real estate agents in other Tri-State markets say they’re seeing a very different picture. 

Carla McEnte, the president of the Southeast Iowa Board of Realtors said inventory in southeast Iowa, is extremely low. 

The president of the Quincy Association of Realtors, Alan VanDeBoe, said Quincy is also seeing lower inventory this year. He said home sales hit a record $108 million last year and the market is on pace to do the same or exceed that in 2017. QAR covers mostly homes in Quincy and Adams County, but also some properties in northeast Missouri.

VanDeBoe said right now the Quincy area leans more towards a seller’s market that’s evened out in the last year.

Quincy realtor Jackie Weisenberger, with Happel, Inc. agrees. She said inventory in the Quincy area is lower this year than in past years and homes for sell are on the market an average of three and a half months. That’s almost half the length of time homes are on the market right now in Macomb. VanDeBoe credits a bigger market and Quincy’s economy. 

The Multiple Listings Service database shows a fairly consistent median home sales price over the last five years in eight northeast Missouri counties. Those counties include Clark, Lewis, Scotland, Ralls, Marion, Monroe, Shelby and Knox.

But Debbie Kendrick, president of the Mark Twain Association of Realtors, thinks the biggest issue in northeast Missouri is low inventory. She said there needs to be more available housing programs.

"I’m not talking about apartments," Kendrick said. "We need more single-family homes."

Kendrick said she, along with realty representatives across the state, meet with lawmakers annually in Jefferson City to discuss issues and needs. But she said the northeast Missouri area is not very vocal on these issues.

"Our local community leaders could help by putting more emphasis on the lack of housing," Kendrick said. "Then Jefferson City might hear our cry."

Kendrick said there needs to be more programs like the Self Help Housing Program.

"Unfortunately, right now all eyes are focused on making sure we get a First Time Homebuyers Tax credit back into the budget," Kendrick said. 




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