Not all data websites are created equal, especially when it comes to the local real estate market.
That’s one assessment in a check with two of St. Joseph’s busiest Realtors, who have studied the relative utility of statistics collected by online real estate marketplaces as well as the relevance of figures that measure local housing activity.
A recent report from the St. Joseph Regional Association of Realtors depicts a nearly 9 percent growth in home sales for the year so far, amounting to just over $173 million. The association’s report also conveys a 5 percent decline in housing sales for October, to $13.9 million from the $14.7 million in the same month last year.
Charlotte Sollars, who sells real estate for Coldwell Banker, said business has been good as the year winds down. A slowdown is to be expected, she said, with weather playing a role in diminishing interest in purchasing a home.
Sollars tagged one specific issue that’s a current irritant for all Realtors.
“Our inventory is way down,” she said, even as calls go out for additional listings. “It’s a seller’s market. It sells and it sells quickly.”
One other phenomenon Sollars sees at work in St. Joseph’s real estate scene: If a piece of property is too high, it just won’t sell. People have become much more adept at doing their own personal homework in poring over price and other comparisons, she said.
However, one potential pitfall is found in the proliferation of real estate websites that dole out everything from types of houses up for sale to community profiles on crime and education. In the most general terms, the home values found on such sites can be woefully inaccurate, according to Sollars.
“Their information is not updated,” she said.
Her recommendation is to rely on Realtor.com for the most useful information when looking for a house to buy.
Don Evans, who sells real estate for Keller Williams, said the firm’s performance is tracking consistently with the association’s latest statistics.
“We’re on a pace to have our best year ever,” he said.
Evans termed the lack of listings as an ongoing problem for all companies, and he sees no reason to expect any change with 2018 about to dawn.
Homes in a range of $150,000 to $300,000 are the top sellers, he said. Those homes with very high or very low prices tend to not move at all, he said.
“There’s still a pent-up demand,” he said, adding that whatever properties go on sale are immediately snatched off the market.
The upcoming merge of the association with its Kansas City counterpart should provide a boost, Evans said.
“That’s going to open up a lot of doors,” he said, with additional sales occurring in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The project to create a single terminal for Kansas City International Airport also will have ripples into St. Joseph’s housing scene.
Sollars envisions the new year as allowing those who are turning a profit on the stock market to pursue a home. Low-end buyers, by contrast, will keep struggling to come up with a down payment.
While interest rates remain favorable, Sollars said the change of a percent or two can make a major difference in real estate affordability.