• by Kirk Gaw

More Evidence Of Walkerton Area Housing Shortage

Recently, Mark Peterson ran a story on WNDU revealing more evidence that demand is outweighing supply in St. Joseph County. According to his report real estate professionals in South Bend say there is now a shortage of homes on the market and that "there are about 16 percent fewer homes on the market this year, compared to the same period a year ago."

"With interest rates and the unemployment rate low, would-be buyers are said to be chomping at the bit when a new listing appears?"

“There's times where they're selling in hours, I mean so it’s listed and within just a few hours you have multiple offers. I mean people are going through, we had somebody made an offer, not even seeing the house,” said Jim McKinnies, President Elect of the Greater South Bend-Mishawaka Area Association of Realtors.

Figures provided by McKinnies show the median sales price of a home in St. Joseph County now stands at $129,900, up nearly $20,000 from 2015 figures, and is up another 3.5 percent this year alone.

“In June, we had the greatest amount of buyers visiting our website ever, 90,000 buyers just in the month of June,” said John De Souza. “Many homeowners don't realize just how much appreciation their home has gained in the last year or two.” In some cases, sellers have been offered so much more than their house had traditionally been worth, that the deals fell apart after the bank did an appraisal. and denied a loan in the agreed upon amount.

While many homeowners have traditionally set an asking price above what they thought the market would bear—with a mind to settle for less in the end, McKinnies says that doesn’t appear to be the most effective way to approach today’s competitive market. “Sometimes you asking for more money doesn’t get you more money. Sometimes asking a more aggressive (lower) price will get you competition which will drive the price up and net you more money.”

McKinnies recommends that homeowners find out what the value of their homes would be, even if they’re on the fence about selling. “Having a realtor come out do a walk through and let them know what their home would bear in today's market, it may be eye opening.” (Mark Peterson - WNDU)

Another news bureau at ABC 57 in Elkhart, Hayley Fixler recently reported that in Elkhart County right now, the success does come with a unique set of problems.

"The housing shortage is rampant in Elkhart County. With the RV industry, obviously people have got good jobs, so they're able to move up and afford their first homes," explains Kim McKibbon, the Executive Officer of the Builders Association of Elkhart County.

Homes for sale are being snatched up. And that leaves families with one option: to build a new home.

Is there really enough housing supply for buyers in Walkerton?

But this popular trend is turning out to be just too much.

"It ends up being a domino effect for Elkhart County, because they just can't keep up with the homes," says McKibbon. "With the housing shortage right now, I'm told the average wait time for builders is September or October before they can even start thinking of a new house."

She says it's a good problem to have, but it's still inconvenient for those wanting to settle down.

"It's good news, bad news because builders can't keep up with the demand," she adds.

And while the demand is high, there's a lack of a workforce to help hammer out the difference.

The robust economy in the area is bringing new families who fill in much needed positions! In Walkerton we have JF Cardno, Hiler Industries, Masonite, Polygon, and Plas\ Steel hiring each week! Walkerton continues to have a reputation for good schools, and plenty of rural living. Agriculture continues to sustain the area too! New housing continues to be built at Walnut Crossing, and Indian Trails. Dogwood Estates is already full. Lots of empty lots in and around downtown Walkerton continue to pocket neighborhoods. Plenty of older housing stock is in desperate need of rehabilitation. The commercial district of downtown Walkerton is on the verge of providing loft apartments, and creative office space!

Available commercial property in Walkerton outlined by Kaser Realty.

One day restaurants will be a short walk for residents seeking entertainment! Plenty of commercial space is available for entrepreneurs seeking to spread their wings. Clearly, there isn't enough apartment housing for the growing senior citizen population looking for low- maintenance. Assisted Living is barely in existence in the town! Young starters, and professionals seeking apartment housing are not having it easy between Walkerton, Koontz Lake, and surroundings. The question remains? Do we have enough housing stock to choose from for those seeking the Walkerton lifestyle? Are our developers able to keep pace with demand?

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