Friday, April 7, 2023

Plenty of buyers, not enough homes

Spring home-buying season is just getting underway, but there’s just one problem — not enough houses to buy.

The inventory of homes on the market has dropped to the lowest level Champaign County Association of Realtors President PJ Trautman said he’s seen in 15 years.

“I think sellers are struggling with it,” he said. “If I were to sell my home, where am I going to go?”

Many homeowners may also be staying put because they’re locked into mortgage interest rates that are better than they could get now, he said.

It’s going to take an increase in the housing inventory to pull the housing market out of its slump, the local Realtors group said Wednesday.

There were 130 homes sold countywide in February, down 20.2 percent from February 2022 home sales. Not only that, sales prices were also down last month, and, on average, properties sat on the market longer.

The median Champaign County home sale price in February was $158,000, down just 9.2 percent from $175,000 the same month last year. And the average home sale price of $193,594 was down 9.5 percent from $214,088 a year ago. Homes took an average 66 days to sell, compared to 48 days a year ago.

Despite what data is showing, Trautman said Realtors are seeing more competition among buyers for available properties, with some homes getting multiple offers that drive up the prices. Skewing the numbers from February somewhat are some stagnant listings emerging from winter, he said.

“We do have some things that are over-priced, and not as marketable, and not going as fast,” he said.

What can be expected to sell fast are newer listings that are priced appropriately, Trautman said. Also being grabbed fast by buyers are homes selling for under $250,000, he said.

One trend Trautman said he’s seeing is more buyers in the $400,000 to $500,000 price ranges — what has been the threshold of the luxury market — than ever before, with more buyers pushing their budgets despite higher interest rates.

Another trend is sellers with more equity in their homes, he said.

Unlike in 2008, when some homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth, “we’re seeing tons of people with more equity,” he said.

Trautman said Realtors are also seeing some landlords taking advantage of the demand by converting rentals to homes for sale, and he’s hoping more will do the same to further boost the inventory.

For those prospective buyers shopping online listings, Trautman said working with a Realtor may yield some additional possibilities, because the local Multiple Listing Service has a private listing section accessible only to Realtors.

The inventory shortage in Champaign County is similar to what’s going on statewide.

There was an 11.4 percent decline in homes on the market last month compared to February 2022, according to the trade group Illinois Realtors. Statewide, the number of homes sold this past February was about 25 percent lower than the same month a year ago.


This article is written by Deb Pressey from The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to