ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Local monthly housing statistics for February show a market trending from a buyer’s to seller’s market at the start of the traditional spring home buying season.
The housing recovery continues as Rockford Area Realtors sold 223 properties in February, the most homes sold in February in five years, up 4.7 percent from 213 homes sold in February 2012.
February sales were up from 213 homes sold in 2012, 173 in 2011, 212 in 2010 and 180 sold in 2009. The previous February sales high was 2008 when 267 homes were sold. Including February, year-over-year sales have risen a remarkable 19 out of the last 21 months, one of the longest sales runs in local housing history.
The three-month average sales price was also up from last year, rising 2.5 percent from $94,907 in 2012 to $97,272 this February.
“Agents are excited, as typically January and February are very slow,” commented Steve Bois, CEO of Rockford Area Realtors. “The sales volumes we’re seeing are impressive and with foreclosure sales slowly drawing down, there is some expectation over the next year that prices might start to move upward in a sustained fashion.”
Winnebago, Boone and Ogle counties now have less than a six-month supply of homes on the market, a 5.72 month supply to be exact. Inventories below six months typically point to a seller’s market.
Bois said inventory is especially low for houses in the $90,000 to $160,000 range “and that’s where many buyers want to buy.” Active residential listings fell from 1,897 properties in January to 1,833 properties in February. This is the lowest inventory of homes since December 2003 when 1,829 homes were on the market.
Other key indicators point to conditions that will motivate more new home sellers to enter the market. With fewer homes on the market, rising home prices, 30-year interest rates averaging 3.53 percent in February and lower unemployment rates, Bois said there will be faster sales for homeowners to look forward to and increased competition for buyers.
“Right now a number of new sellers are trying to get ahead of the spring market by listing their homes in March, before too many others get into the market,” Bois explained.
“That’s a smart strategy, given that we’re down about 500 homes from our normal inventory.”
Bois said that Realtors are now seeing home sellers adjusting their home pricing strategies. He said, “These days we’re pricing homes for the current market, not the 2005 market. This means we’re seeing sellers set realistic expectations based on current market conditions. Most sellers appreciate this dose of reality, it helps them sell their homes quicker.”