Suburban homebuilders gear up for a steady spring housing market
Suburban homebuilders are counting on a strong and steady spring housing market. They're opening new communities, the economy is good -- and buyers are confident about the future.
Leading economists and real estate experts predict that the housing market in the Chicago area will continue to grow.
The housing market is improving, said Lance Ramella, president of Housing Trends LLC in Geneva. Ramella projects a 3-percent growth this year and a real breakthrough in 2019. At a recent breakfast meeting, builders said they're off to a good start and slightly above last year at this time.
A lot of builders are pushing out into the collar counties -- Kane, Kendall and McHenry -- because that's where entry-level buyers can find homes priced under $300,000, Ramella said.
Although its projection is modest, the builder is optimistic. "We've had a fantastic first month, and we're looking for a good year, absolutely," said Anna Shodeen, director of marketing for Shodeen Homes. "We've had very qualified homebuyers who have done their homework and know what they want. They're ready to buy. Interest rates are good, and it's a bit of a boom right now."
Shodeen offers several active townhouse and single-family home communities in the West suburbs and in Wisconsin. New floor plans are attracting buyers at Blackberry Creek in the charming town of Elburn, where an on-site elementary school and nearby train station makes Blackberry Creek a desirable spot for families with children.
West Point Builders
West Point Builders also stepped into the year with a good January. "We've had a lot of interest in West Point Gardens in Elgin and our new Ashcroft community in Oswego," said Pat Curran, president of the company.
Ashcroft features 91 single-family homes and 240 maintenance-free townhouses with two-car garages starting at $189,990 near the historic downtown, new aquatic center, parks, bike trails and quality schools.
Built around the 12-acre Meier Park, West Point Gardens was designed to bring people together. The private gardens, large front porches and unique architectural designs present an authentic, old-fashioned look that is appealing to buyers. Residents love sitting on their front porches and watching the kids in the front. Some people have sunset parties where they gather on someone's porch, visit with each other, and watch the sunset, Curran said.
K. Hovnanian Homes
The year looks good for K. Hovnanian Homes as it plans to open four new communities this year. "We're building models at Maple Hill in Mundelein, and we were overwhelmed with the amount of enthusiasm there. We had a great turnout, and it's great to kick off the year with that kind of response," said Andy Konovodoff, president of the company.
"We're ahead of plan, and traffic is up. I just received the traffic report, and even with four days of snow, we did well."
The builder recently opened its new Ontario model at Parkside of Libertyville, a luxury townhouse community that features an urban lifestyle with suburban conveniences, and where residents enjoy Libertyville's vibrant downtown area.
Kim Meier believes it's going to be a strong year for KLM Builders. The economy is good, the tax cut gives people a few more dollars in their pockets and there's a lot of consumer confidence, he said. "This all bodes well for new construction and also our kitchen and bath remodeling company. We're selling new homes and remodeling older homes. People are ready and willing to jump in and buy a home or upgrade their existing home."
KLM Builders offers a wide range of new home communities, including custom ranch and two-story homes at Thousand Oaks in Spring Grove, where homes are nested on secluded, wooded, one-acre homesites. Several communities offer two-story homes for first-time buyers and a lot of ranch designs that are especially appealing to empty-nesters. A new model is opening soon at Whispering Oaks in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, featuring ranch and two-story homes.
"We are excited to get the year started ahead of our expected sales pace," said Cheryl Bonk, vice president of sales and marketing for M/I Homes. "We expect the year to be brisk in sales and are pleased to see the activity so early in the year."
The builder has several active townhouse communities in Naperville and in the South suburban market with communities in Joliet, Channahon and Shorewood that range from entry-level to move-up single-family homes. All townhouses can be three bedrooms or two bedrooms with loft.
Merit Home Builders
The builder has seen an increase in traffic at its two communities in St. Charles and Addison, said Jay Dula, executive vice president of Merit Home Builders. "Buyers are definitely out there and feeling confident in the market. In the last 60 days we've written five contracts, meaning people are feeling good about purchasing a new home. Unfortunately, though, we're dealing with some people who see the value on their existing homes below what they expected."
The Enclave at Mill Creek in Addison offers new ranch designs and maintenance-free living just minutes from I-355 and I-290, yet tucked into natural surroundings. The Reserve in St. Charles offers luxury ranch and two-story living on estate homesites among ponds and prairie grasses.
North Mark Homes
North Mark Homes, a division of Revco Ventures Inc., is poised for an outstanding year, said Jeff Pelock, president of the company. "Traffic has been up even through the winter months when it's normally a little slower. And we've had a lot of success already in January and February with a lot of traffic. We're in the preconstruction phase at Springfield Pointe in Bloomingdale, and our local signage is bringing people in even before we've started our full campaign."
Situated adjacent to Stratford Square Mall, the community features ranch and two-story homes with two- and three-car garages and some premium lake-view lots. Six distinctive designs can be modified with flex spaces as add-ons to make the home larger, and there's a wide selection of options and upgrades.