Whether you’re a young couple searching for a starter home or a long-standing resident looking to sell, the real estate market can be a tough place to find sure-footing. In an ever-fluctuating arena, we asked four real estate pros to deliver us their insight for buyers and sellers in 2018.
Jeanne Sommer, owner and broker of Century 21 Alliance Group, forecasted that real estate markets in Northwest Indiana are expected to grow both in volume and pricing. However low inventory, a hurdle for buyers across the country, is a problem echoed in the region. Especially for individuals on a budget- which often throws a wrench into the plans of young couples looking to settle down.
“In Northwest Indiana, it is especially difficult to find affordable housing and homes for first-time home buyers and empty nesters who want to downsize,” Sommer said.
Sommer cited that in 2017, the average sales price in Northwest Indiana was $180,200, with some areas straying above the average. For communities such as Valparaiso, St. John, Munster and Crown Point, potential home buyers will need to contend with higher prices across the board.
Yet on the flipside, there’s hope for those looking to put their house on the market. With fewer developments and spec homes, Sommers said the inventory in some price ranges are as low as 15-30 days, with some homes receiving multiple offers the same day they are put on the market. Thus, she said, the low-end market will continue to experience a high demand with low inventory below the $200,000 price range.
Tim McColly, managing broker of the McColly Highland & Winfield offices and Director of the McColly School of Real Estate, said it’s is good news for homeowners who are looking to upgrade to a higher price-range house.
“Since there is no new construction focused on first time buyers, [for homes less than $250,000] inventory will remain scarce, and there will continue to be upward pressure on prices,” McColly forecasted. “With high end properties [homes over $400,000] though, it is still a buyers' market in most areas. For buyers looking to move up, they might find strong demand for their existing home, while finding more negotiating room on the home they are purchasing.”
Sommer concluded that until new construction focused on first-time buyers opens the door for more options, she sees 2018 to mark a seller’s market.
“It will remain a seller’s market for at least another year or two until new developments are made available,” Sommers said. “The good news is that because of our location and affordable housing compared to Chicago, we are finally seeing an influx of people from Illinois. We have seen this in both Lake and Porter County, and that trend will continue as people discover Northwest Indiana.”
Lynda Anderson of Boulder Bay Realty is optimistic about what the market means for sellers right now.
"It is very common to be in a multiple offer situation for the seller, so, the buyer needs to be in a position so their offer is better than others," explained Anderson.
Owner and broker of Realty Executives Premier Mike Tezak, originally from Illinois, moved to Indiana in 1996. Tezak is seeing other fellow Illinois residents making the same move now more than ever before.
“I would never think about moving back,” Tezak said. “Illinois can barely keep its head above water and their solution is to tax their residents. We didn’t used to see a huge migration from Illinois, but our market is seeing more and more over the past year or so. After this next tax increase, I do see the demand to move to Indiana increasing immensely.”
The South Shore Line’s plan to add a double-track commuter train stretching between Chicago and Northwest Indiana is also sure to attract Illinois residents long term into the state with the promise of a quick, convenient commute.
Tezak commented that while inventory is at a low point, as Sommer pointed out, variables like the Amazon Headquarters possibly moving to Chicago or Indianapolis is bound to create a relocation buzz.
He also pointed out that as general cost of living continues to rise, so does the price of construction- ultimately driving prices up for those looking to build a home or remodel- which hopefully will be eased by tax breaks.
“I believe the tax bill actually has helped, and will help more over the next year or two, as it takes full affect” Tezak said. “People are keeping more in their paychecks and are actively looking to spend it by putting it back into the economy.”
However, in the world of the housing market, nothing is quite for certain- except for the fact that region residents love their communities.
“Will the market adjust?” Tezak mused. “It’s a tough question, because any world event could affect the answer tomorrow. All I can say is the market is great and Indiana is great place to live and raise a family.”