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Local real estate moving fast during pandemic

Local real estate moving fast during pandemic

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When talking real estate now, two words often pop up — “seller’s market.”

In the COVID-19 pandemic, with social distancing part of the new norm, all types of properties are moving fast in Walworth County.

Why? Welcome Home asked three area real estate agents — Diane Krause, of @ Properties; Sal Dimiceli Sr., of Lake Geneva Area Realty; and Janis Hartley, of Keefe Real Estate.

Note: The following Q&As were edited for length and clarity.

Diane Krause

Welcome Home: Would you agree that it is now a seller’s market?

Diane Krause: Yes, this is a seller’s market. Today’s market is the strongest it has been for many years. The competitiveness of this market has been fueled by the lack of inventory and low interest rates. Several factors have led to the lack of inventory. Prior to the pandemic, Southeastern Wisconsin saw a spike in sales to consumers moving north from Illinois to escape the ever increasing taxes and now it is the vacation home buyer looking to get away from city living. Multiple Listing Service data states active listings are 15% below last year. I am seeing homes that have been on the market for months and/or years now receiving accepted offers. Today is the perfect time to list if you are looking to get the maximum price for your home.

Welcome Home: How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the current local market?

Diane Krause: The pandemic has created an interesting twist. The shutdown caused by COVID-19 has pushed many people to move to their second homes in Wisconsin or purchase a second home to distance themselves. The uncertainty of the larger city shutdowns has lured buyers to seek refuge in more rural areas, and the abundance of outdoor recreational activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and beaches is a welcome escape. Sales in June were up 10% over last year even with an average sales price 12% higher. Most of these consumers are absolutely coming from Illinois and looking for getaway homes.

Welcome Home: What types of properties are selling most right now?

Diane Krause: There has been a surge of second home sales around the Geneva Lake area, but the primary home sales have been equally as active. The reason behind this activity is due to a culmination of buyers looking to move away from the more populated areas for a vacation getaway, families moving to our area looking for a small town place to raise their children concerned about the increased exposure to the virus in larger school systems, and the semi-retired individuals who have committed to commute an extra distance with the ultimate goal of making Wisconsin their forever home.

Welcome Home: Where do you see the market six months from now?

Diane Krause: I see the real estate market thriving in 2021. The current lack of inventory will not go away quickly, which will keep home sale prices stable entering into next year. If the economy stays healthy and interest rates remain low we will again see price increases in the summer. Traditionally, we see home sales slow down heading into the winter. However, this is no traditional year, and I feel the current market trend will carry over to next year.

Sal Dimiceli Sr.

Welcome Home: Would you agree that it is now a seller’s market?

Sal Dimiceli Sr.: Presently, I have to say it is 70% a seller’s market and 30% a buyer’s market — 70% a seller’s market due to the fact that inventory is low. In regards to why 30% is a buyer’s market, cash is still king and queen. Buyers will always have the leverage of being financially capable and allowing sellers to move on. Presently, the National Association of Realtors is forecasting there is not going to be enough properties for sale to meet the demands, making it more of a seller’s market.

Welcome Home: How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the current local market?

Sal Dimiceli Sr.: The coronavirus has impacted the current local real estate market very much. The fact is sellers want to get away from densely populated areas, especially areas like Illinois and densely populated cities in Wisconsin, because there is nothing better in social distance than moving to a less populated area. It just makes common sense that there is less traffic, less people in the stores and neighborhoods, meaning there is less opportunity for the virus. When you look at the overall numbers of infection in Walworth County verses highly populated cities or Illinois, Walworth County is much safer.

Welcome Home: What types of properties are selling most right now?

Sal Dimiceli Sr.: Throughout Walworth County, all types of properties are selling. We are having one of the biggest booms in lakefront sales. We have homes priced from $200,000 to $400,000 that get multiple offers and move off the market quickly. Also, properties of a wide range of value, all are having great sales activity. Once again, I contribute this to Walworth County being a much safer place to live during this pandemic and a great place for quality of life for families.

Welcome Home: Where do you see the market six months from now?

Sal Dimiceli Sr.: The market will continue to be very strong for the next six months and for years to come. Even before the pandemic, the densely populated areas of Chicago and the suburbs were coaxing people to leave those types of areas for a much better lifestyle of truly living life. The virus has just dramatically increased that pace of seeking sanctuary, peace of mind.

This is also why new construction in this area is at an all-time high and will continue to be strong for years to come. Walworth County has beautiful areas offering spacious and healthy living. One example of this is Trinity Mountain Estates, only a few minutes from the beautiful waters of Lake Geneva, where you can obtain beautiful pristine acreage for the same price it would cost you for a mere quarter-acre in Illinois.

Janis Hartley

Welcome Home: Would you agree that it is now a seller’s market?

Janis Hartley: The statistics show this is clearly a seller’s market. In many Walworth County neighborhoods, properties are selling within an extremely short time, at or over asking price, and with multiple offers at times. The demand continues to exceed supply.

Welcome Home: How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the current local market?

Janis Hartley: We had pre-existing, pent-up demand due to low inventory during and at the end of 2019. New buyers were waiting to enter the market after the new year — normal for the first quarter. However, once COVID-19 hit, those buyers stayed on the sidelines with the buyers from 2019. Then, the demand increased again starting in May, when buyers from out of the area decided to move to “safer” and less populated Walworth County. Add to this the current and recent political situations and buyers are reexamining their core values and exiting the cities for country living.

Welcome Home: What types of properties are selling most right now?

Janis Hartley: Virtually any property that is priced at market is selling. There is low inventory in almost every niche market, including lakefront properties, residential areas and country estates.

Welcome Home: Where do you see the market six months from now?

Janis Hartley: I predict the market will continue to be strong and inventory will continue to be low until early next spring. The presidential election will have some impact, but ultimately as long as interest rates stay low, and buyer confidence is high the market will continue to flow. At some point, the usual flux and flow of any market — stock or real estate — will readjust and I see that happening in early 2021. This correction should have occurred earlier, but the economic situation overall due to COVID-19 and the political climate have created an “artificial” market, extending the run on real estate.

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