The suburban real estate market is showing no sign of letting up with demand growing and prices continuing to move up, according to statistics released this week for the month of February.
In the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors' region of 200 communities in DuPage, Lake and suburban Cook counties, 1,962 single-family detached homes were sold in February, up 5.2 percent from the number sold in February last year, according to data provided by Midwest Real Estate Data LLC.
The median price went up almost $30,000 to $229,250 from $200,000 in the same month last year, and number of single-family homes that went under contract in February soared a whopping 17.3 percent.
Experts anticipate a continued aggressive sellers market -- fewer than six months of available inventory -- through the spring.
"I am excited to see where we are right now. Yes, we remain in a sellers market, which is bringing up prices and reducing time on the market. 2017 has started out incredibly strong with new construction beginning and additional properties now coming on the market, which should result in an easing of the inventory shortage. I expect good movement and activity heading into spring and summer," said Catherine Terpstra, president of the MORe board of directors.
A seller's market is defined as one in which there are more buyers than homes for sale. Since supply is less than demand, homes will be higher priced and more attractive to sellers in the market.
Terpstra said she's seeing spring new construction getting an early start, as well as municipalities and lenders offering various incentives for buyers -- particularly first-time homeowners. The construction and incentives look to take some pressure off the suburban housing market.
MORe offers a few tips for buyers to navigate this tight housing economy.
"In this market, buyers really need to have done their homework and have their preapproval mortgage letter in hand," says Terpstra.
• Do your research. Drive by homes before your Realtor takes you inside so you're certain it has the curb appeal, neighborhood and look in which you're interested.
• Work with a preferred lender. A tight market is not time for an unresponsive lender. Buyers need to move quickly to secure a deal. Work with lenders with a track record of success.
• Ask your Realtor for "real-time searches" through MLS. These ongoing searches pull up new listings nearly immediately and give buyers the chance to jump on a new property right away.
• Work with your Realtor to craft an appealing offer that might give you the edge over other buyers, such as offering a higher down payment, more earnest money and forgoing closing cost credits or other contingencies. Straightforward offers tend to be the most appealing to sellers in a multiple-offer situation.
• Consider offering an uneven purchase price that can give a slight advantage in a dual-offer situation.
"Bottom line is this a really great spring market and if you're looking to buy or sell now is the time to jump in," says Terpstra. "I think we're going to see lots of great activity on the horizon for suburban real estate."