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Columbus-area home sales are on pace for their best year since the 2008 recession, and homes less than 10 years old or in the $200,000 to $225,000 price range are selling the best, real estate professionals say.
Oct. 9, local real estate agents had sold 709 homes this year, putting Bartholomew County on pace to break 900 units. That would be the highest annual tally since 2007, when 990 homes changed hands.
At the end of August, the number of homes for sale in Bartholomew County was up 4.4 percent compared with a year earlier, according to the most recent report of housing activity compiled by the Indiana Association of
There are about 500 properties currently for sale in Columbus in a wide array of price ranges. As of Oct. 9, there were 21 homes available at $500,000 and above, and 113 were listed for less than $100,000.
James Pell and his wife, Siow Fang Tan, are trying to sell their four-bedroom, 2½-bath home at 3305 Woodland Parkway for $319,900. The couple realize the volume of homes on the market has risen in recent months, but they’re hoping for a quick sale
“We’re showing it about three times a week,” Pell said.
One advantage that the 2,630-square-foot home may have competing for buyers amid a suddenly crowded field of other properties is that it falls within the Parkside Elementary School zone.
Realtors say Parkside, on the city’s north side, north of Rocky Ford Road and west of Central Avenue, is one of two elementary school districts in Columbus that tends to attract the most prospective buyers. The other is Southside Elementary School on the western fringe of Columbus, located near the
They’ve lived in the home for 10 years but had to put it on the market in advance of a family move to the West Coast.
“If we were going to stay in Columbus, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” Pell said.
The home is nestled in a neighborhood with mature trees, quiet streets and it sits on a 0.62-acre lot.
“Our target market includes younger families and perhaps retirees, too,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vicky Gelfius, a Realtor who represents ReMax in Columbus, said she expects the pace of sales to slow a bit starting in November as the holiday season approaches, which is a normal occurrence as cold weather arrives.
She said there is a shortage of “good properties” in the $200,000 to $500,000 price range, and there’s a need for more new construction in that broad niche.
“We’re also seeing the availability of a few more rental properties. Last year, Cummins was doing a lot of hiring, and you couldn’t find a rental property,” Gelfius said.
Overall, though, the housing market is brisker in Bartholomew County than at any time since the 2008 recession.
“We’ve had a steady climb,” Gelfius said. “And homes are selling faster. Average days on the market is less than 100 days, and that’s a healthy level.”
Evidence of a rebound
The more buoyant market for home sales is holding true to form in virtually all parts of Indiana.
Statewide through the first eight months of the year, the Indiana Association of Realtors said, sales were up 17.8 percent to 52,216 homes sold. And the average sales price statewide had risen
4 percent compared with a year earlier.
In Bartholomew County alone, the median sales price of homes for January-August was $145,000, up 3.6 percent compared with a year earlier. Sales totals for the county in August were particularly strong, the Realtors association reported. There were 93 homes sold in August here, up
12 percent from the same month in 2012.
The rebound has been welcome news to real estate agents and sellers.
From 2007 to 2009, local home sales fell by about one-third as the recession took hold. But since then sales totals have been on the mend.
Statewide, the Realtors association said the number of pending home sales has increased 23 consecutive months across Indiana as a whole, and the median sales price of homes has gone up 21 months in a row.
August 2013 also represented the 26th consecutive month of year-over-year gains in the number of closed home sales, the association said.
Modestly priced homes — those that tend to attract a bigger percentage of first-time buyers — have been slowest to rebound in the Columbus area, statistics show. In 2007, local real estate agents sold 265 homes that cost less than $100,000. This year’s sales for that price range are projected to remain significantly below 200, Realtors said.
Homes between $50,000 and $100,000 are sometimes difficult to finance with banks, often because the properties are in poor condition, said Jenni Hash, a Realtor with Home Marketing Specialists who works extensively in Bartholomew County. Lenders are reluctant to lend money on lower-priced homes that need any repairs, she said, and that factor has delayed or even sunk potential home sales.
“Banks are more picky about the home’s condition — in some cases even more than the borrower’s status,” Hash said. “If the property’s not right, it can kill the whole deal.”
Candi Hester, an agent with Century 21 Breeden Realtors, said buyers probably have the toughest time finding new homes with four bedrooms and two or more bathrooms for $250,000 or less. Older homes in that category can be found, Hester said, but new ones tend to be priced around $300,000.
Hester and other Realtors said most buyers want “move-in ready” properties, and they tend to prefer homes that are no more than 10 years old.
Homes sell more quickly if buyers “stage” them nicely and price the properties fairly, Hester said. Staging includes having good photos of a property and creating a marketing presence on the Internet.
Most out-of-town buyers planning a move to the area for a new job will conduct research on the Internet before they contact a real estate agent, Hester said.
Reporter Boris Ladwig of The Republic contributed to this story.
Home sales data
Here are Bartholomew County’s January-August home sales totals as compiled by the Indiana Association of Realtors.
Jan.-Aug. 2012 599
Jan.-Aug. 2013 604
Median sales price
Jan.-Aug. 2012 $140,000
Jan.-Aug. 2013 $145,000
Source: Indiana Association of Realtors
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