CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – As mortgage rates and home prices rise nationwide, the housing market has proven to be stressful for buyers, sellers and realtors. The Champaign County Association of Realtors just released its April sales report, and President Stefanie Pratt said May was a generic month for real estate.
In Champaign County, homes sold faster in April than at the same time last year. But the number of homes sold fell by 10%.
Pratt has worked in real estate for 19 years and she said it was a very unique time for everyone involved.
“You can look back at our history of recessions and food inflation, but this is the worst it’s ever been. So, are we going to make it and everything will be fine? I wish there was a crystal ball and someone could give a definitive answer, but you ask five different people and you get a very different answer,” Pratt said.
Locally, she said the main difference lately is a change in purchasing power. In other words, the past two months have brought a steady rise in inflation. Thus, people today are less able to afford a house than a few weeks ago. This slows down the market, and it leads many people to think that they are saving money by renting rather than buying a house.
“It’s not cheaper to rent. In fact, sometimes it’s equaled or cheaper to buy. You at least have your own buying power, but you want to make sure you’re doing it right and not overpaying,” she said.
The cost of building materials and gas also impacted house prices. While several factors remain rather unpredictable, Pratt said she doesn’t expect mortgage rates to continue to soar.
“We don’t expect them to go above 6% interest rates, which are still good, they’re still not in double digits,” she said.
She said real estate agents are used to a six-month market, but over the past two years sales have accelerated. And now she said recent market changes may remind buyers of how things usually work.
“But new buyers never knew what we’re dealing with. Heck, we haven’t experienced what we’ve been dealing with for the past two years. Nobody did.
His biggest advice to buyers? Pratt said going through a local lender can connect you with city and community programs to help you through the process.