The coronavirus has cut deeply into the Bloomington-Normal economy. But one area that seems to be chugging right along is the local housing market.
The number of sales was up 3.9% through May compared with the start of 2019, according to the Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors (BNAR). And in a sign that the busy summer selling season is still busy, pending sales were up 12.3% at the end of May.
“With more people working, schooling, or just being at home in general, it’s really not too much of a shock that they’re considering moving into something bigger that can accommodate their needs that have evolved during this situation,” said Penny Wilson, president of BNAR. “People still need to move, even during a pandemic.”
The pandemic has prompted all sorts of new precautions, including for those showing or visiting homes. The National Association of Realtors has offered extensive guidance, for example, on how to safely show homes. That includes encouraging buyers to use online screening to limit their number of in-person showings, avoiding shaking hands with clients, not touching any surfaces in a home, and wiping down the key and lockbox after the visit.
There have even been a few offers made in the Bloomington-Normal area without the buyer having visited the home in person, Wilson said.
The average price of a home sold in BNAR’s territory is $169,787. That’s down 2.3% from this time a year ago, but Wilson said that’s because there’s been a 25% increase in sales in rural communities in McLean, DeWitt, and Livingston counties, where homes are cheaper. Prices in Bloomington-Normal alone are actually up about 6% through May, Wilson said.
Prices were flat in 2019, when the pace of sales slowed 7.5% for the year. At the time, real estate agents blamed low inventory. That’s still the case, Wilson said.
“It’s still a case of supply and demand. When there’s a high demand and low inventory, it makes for a great seller’s market. When homes are in the sweet spot of price, and condition, and area, they’re hitting the market and selling within hours,” she said.
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