Economic concerns related to the ongoing pandemic apparently have not scared off Peoria-area home buyers.
Peoria Area Association of Realtors president Jason Catton believes COVID-19 is playing a role in the market’s surge.
“We started seeing more pendings maybe in May, when the stay-in-place first started, and I think it did slow things down for a little bit,” said Catton. “So, we're probably seeing a little bit of a lag in the market. But we're actually up 14% from where we were last year at this time.”
Third-quarter closings increased 28% from last year, with each month of the quarter topping previous highs dating back to 2007 – when the association began keeping records.
Catton points to low interest rates, increasing desire to move out of shared residences like apartments, and a growing number of first-time homeowners as having contributed to the boom.
“I think there's just a lot of different elements,” he said. “I don't think we can contribute all to one, but it’s a lot of different things happening and people wanting more flex space in their houses now because they're home more.”
Closings in the region set a third quarter record at 2,210, and the area's median sales price climbed nearly 6% to $127,000. Catton admitted the figures are a bit unexpected, considering COVID-related health and safety precautions.
“It’s very, very surprising, actually. I think when (the shelter order) first came out, a lot of us were not quite sure what the outcome of the year was going to be,” he said. “But we were considered essential workers, and so we're able to continue to do our job. So we found new ways to do our jobs.”
Some of those ways include virtual appointments and open houses becoming common practice.
The surge has resulted in a 40% drop in inventory from a year ago, with just a three-month supply. Catton said the two factors go hand-in-hand.
“It's kind of a domino effect. Whenever you have your house on the market and somebody buys it, then that person becomes a buyer,” he said. “So (sales) just rolled in late this year, but we're definitely ahead about where we were last year.”
Catton says the fourth quarter appears to be off to a strong start as well, with September showing a 49% increase over a year ago.
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