As 2020 saw a slowdown in a variety of businesses and markets, the local housing market in Clark and Champaign counties didn’t miss a beat.
With the housing market driven by inventory, the only thing that has brought sales for last year only a couple houses sly of 2019 sales in Clark County was that there weren’t enough houses on the market for sales to keep soaring, says Brock Bowen, a realtor with Team Horne-Bowen:Coldwell Baker Heritage. Bowen just started his second term as president of the Springfield Board of Realtors.
Bowen says homeowners looking to sell but thinking they should wait out COVID-19 issues shouldn’t worry. The market locally hasn’t suffered because of the pandemic and thrived during 2020.
“We’re looking for a prosperous 2021 also,” Bowen says, adding that with interest rates as low as 2.5 percent, buyers are looking to make a move.
And, sellers looking to move to a new home come springtime should start planning now, he says.
“January and February is the time to get your home ready and on the market,” Bowen says.
With a typical 30 day closing time and many homes in Springfield and Clark County carrying a 30-day occupancy after closing, Bowen says looking for a move-in date 2 months in the future is common.
“Now’s a good time to reach out to your realtor,” he says.
Sellers should also get to know their realtor and feel comfortable having open, honest communication about their personal feelings or concerns about COVID-19, Bowen says.
For example, if it’s important to a seller that potential buyers wear masks and use hand sanitizer while touring a home, those conditions are up to the seller’s discretion. Bowen says local realtors are working hard to meet people where they are and to make plans that work for both buyers and sellers to feel comfortable.
“We want people to know that it’s still safe to get out and see houses. It’s still safe to sell your home,” he says. “A seller can choose the guidelines that work for them.”
Another thing that hasn’t slowed down during the pandemic, Bowen says, is the local board of realtors connection with state and national realtor organizations.
He emphasized the importance of finding digital means to stay connected in 2020 and brainstorm with realtors locally and in other markets to find best practices to continue serving clients throughout the pandemic.
This open communication and a mission to move forward with providing continuing education opportunities for local realtors were invaluable to local success, Bowen says.
In addition, he says the Clark County Board of Realtors did not limit their role as a lobbying body to work toward making logical positive changes regarding issues local homebuyers face. On typical years, the board holds fundraisers to raise money that helps support lobbying for these issues.
“We’re a small board, and this year we’ve been blessed we were still able to raise more than $10,000 for that,” he says.
The local board also pursues a philanthropic effort each year. In 2020, the board donated to the Springfield City Schools Backpack Buddy program, which provides meals for kids in need to be fed during weekends.
“There are lots of hungry kids out there, and we need to make sure as a community we keep doing what we can to help,” he says.
Bowen says the board will once again focus on a key word for this year – invest.
“Invest in our community. Invest in our relationships. Invest in our business,” he says. “We’re looking to figure out new ways to get our realtors involved in the community. We want to invest in people because we’re in the business of helping people invest in their future and in their lives.”