The Herald Bulletin

March 27, 2011

Local real estate market steady

Realtors say signs in first months of ’11 bode well for year

By April Abernathy
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Madison County realtors said 2010 didn’t see much of an increase or decrease over the previous year. Instead, reported numbers were “steady,” said Tom Seal, president at F.C. Tucker/O.C. Clark.

Seals reported seeing the number of units for sale down a little, while average sale prices for homes have stayed about the same, if not gone up.

“In 2010 and looking into the future, it is a really good time to buy,” he said. “And I’m not just saying that because I’m in the industry. With interest rates at 5 percent or less for 30-year mortgages — while historically 7 to 8 percent was good — and a steady inventory, it is a good time to buy.”

In general, Seals said, the market in the county looks “pretty positive.” There are good investment homes at affordable prices and the cost of living is significantly less here than it is as residents get closer to Indianapolis.

Rich Sharp, active realtor and one of the owners of Prudential Indiana Realty Group, said listings may be down but that business is still steady and positive.

He said the reason average sale prices increased in 2010 over 2009 could be traced to the kinds of homes being sold. The area saw fewer small foreclosures selling.

“In 2009 we were selling a lot of homes in the $10,000 to $15,000 range,” Sharp said. “Last year we were selling less of those and more in the $20,000 to $40,000 range. That makes the average sale price go up.”

That phenomenon is both good and bad for the community, he said. Selling moderately priced homes allows those homeowners to buy in higher price ranges. But it is also good, Sharp said, to sell the very inexpensive, bank-owned homes.

“In the end, we want to help everyone. If we can sell a $5,000 home or a $500,000 home, it doesn’t matter.”

Both Sharp and Seals said signs in the first two months bode well for this year.

“I am already seeing signs that this year is going to be better,” Sharp said. “In our office, we had a really good start to the month of March, a decent February and January was about the same as last year. And that appears to be the story for most of the offices in the county.”

He said the county, as most of the country, has seen a steady decline over the past several years. Stopping that trend — which seems to have happened — is a good sign.

“We have stopped the decline and will begin to see a steady increase,” Sharp said. “It won’t be a huge increase but it will be steady.”

Seals said home ownership may be on the rise as the cost of home ownership here is on the decline, especially when compared to renting.

“There is a pent-up demand out there for people that want to move,” he said. “They may not necessarily move up, but a lot of people have a little cabin fever. Now is the time when people are out looking.”

Sharp said the ups and downs seen in Madison County aren’t unique to the area.

“I think there is a lot of discouragement in our county,” he said. “People seem to think it is just our county, but I think it is state and nationwide right now. I’ve been in the real estate business for 37 years and seen my share of ups and downs. The downs always turn around and come back. That’s what is going to happen again.”

Contact Abbey Doyle, 640-4805, abbey.doyle@heraldbulletin.com.