Terri Hunt is optimistic about the housing market in the Chicago area. The Realtor with RE/MAX Suburban in Schaumburg had a very busy spring -- the best since 2008.
Sales didn't slow down until late June when seasonal events like graduations, weddings and vacations began keeping people out of the market, she said.
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"I expect it to pick up again in late August or early September, the way it traditionally does.
This spring the agency saw more multiple offers on houses than Hunt had seen in years.
"If homes showed well and were priced right, they were selling quickly, some within a week of listing," Hunt said. "Even some of those that have been on the market a long time were selling.
"During years when the market was good I would sell two to three homes per week. It was almost back to those levels this spring, especially with the unusually warm weather."
"The key is that a home must show perfectly and be priced exactly on the money. It is important, for this reason, that homeowners use a Realtor who knows the marketplace well," she continued.
Hunt, for example, has been suggesting that her sellers consult with professional house stagers to make their homes stand out against the competition.
"I have been working with stagers and it has made a big difference for my clients. Those who are spending the money for these services are getting their homes sold and they are also getting a good price," she stated.
How does the Chicago market compare to the rest of the country?
"I have heard that some other areas of the country were not as affected by this downturn as we were and are coming back sooner. But other places, like Florida, Arizona and Las Vegas, were hit even harder than us. Unfortunately, for awhile Illinois was one of the top states for foreclosures and that is still hurting our real estate market.
"It is all a matter of supply and demand. As foreclosures and short sales get cleared out, things will improve. But the foreclosures are still out there and so is the shadow inventory of properties held by banks but not yet on the market. I hear that the banks are currently taking measures to shorten the amount of time it takes to process a short sale, for instance. That should help some."
Is any particular sector of the market recovering more quickly than others?
Single-family homes are definitely selling quicker than condominiums and townhouses, Hunt said.
"People are currently able to purchase a single-family home for the same price as a townhouse, so many are opting for the larger property. The fact that many condominium and townhouse owners fell behind in their condominium fees and mortgages also hurt many of those developments, making it hard for prospective buyers to get mortgages to buy now."
Are first-time buyers with no home to sell taking advantage of the low prices and interest rates?
Many such buyers have been shopping and buying, she said.
"They have been waiting for the right time and property to come along and they are finally buying, taking advantage of the low interest rates and the fact that there are great houses available."
The other buyers out there, Hunt said, are people who sold their homes and chose to rent for awhile. Many of them now seem ready to purchase.
What needs to happen for the residential real estate market to permanently recover?
"I have been in the real estate business since 1986 and I sold new construction for two years before that. No one expected this crash to happen, but we are dealing with it as best we can and when we run into a problem, we try to find a way around it.
"Demand for homes is starting to increase now but there is still a decent supply of short sales and foreclosures out there which are dragging down the entire market. People still ask if there are any available, hoping that they can grab a deal.Those need to be cleared out of the market for a more normal atmosphere to return."
Hunt can be reached at (847) 961-5000 or TerriHunt.com.