February 8, 2011

Home Sales Down/Peoria Market Stable

By Eric Shangraw

February 8, 2011 Updated Feb 8, 2011 at 9:03 PM CDT

There may be some encouraging economic news and it comes from the housing sector.

Although the housing market in central Illinois is still down, the average price for a home actually increased last year.

Home sales in the Peoria area were down 4-point-4-percent in 2010.

Nationwide, home sales were at their lowest level in 13-years.

News 25's Eric Shangraw has more on the factors keeping the Peoria market buoyant.

Josh Riekena and his wife just moved into their new $300,000 home in time for their second baby. His Realtor helped him sell his previous 30-year old home for $170,000, or 93% of what he was asking for the house.

"He allowed me to price his home right where it should be priced to sell for top dollar in less than two months," said Realtor Mari Halliday. "And he also improved his house to make it show better," she said.

Realtors say Riekena is an example of the majority of sellers in the Peoria market. He's employed. And didn't sell his last house under financial distress.

Despite strong profits and growing stock value at Caterpillar, which helps stabilize the local market, Realtors say out of town buyers are still looking to steal property at a lower price. That impacted 2010 sales volume.

"We did face the fact that many people in the home buying market looked nationally and saw that offering what we might term as "low-balling" offers did affect the rate of sales," said Peoria Area Association of Realtors President Michael Maloof.

What does the year ahead look like? Peoria Realtors say their phones are ringing for more showings. They are seeing more traffic at open houses. That kind of activity leads to sales.

Mortgage lenders have fingers crossed for a better 2011.

"We've already seen an increase in our pre-approvals that we are seeing for January compared to a year ago," said CEFCU Vice President of Mortgage Lending Mark Hoffmire. "And we are also seeing more purchase volume in process than we have in the last two years. January doesn't make a trend for the year, but we are off to a good start," Hoffmire said.

The Wall Street Journal reports most Americans believe the housing market has reached its bottom. From Josh Riekena's vantage point, the Peoria housing market looks good.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.