Housing market varies from location to location

Staff reporter

Marion County taxpayers recently received their property valuation notices with many experiencing increases.

The doom and gloom of the housing market is being reported on television, radio, and some newspapers.

Nationwide it is considered to be a buyer's market with some areas reporting housing sales all but stalled.

So, how is it in Marion County? Are houses selling?

Actually in some parts of the county they are.

Just like selling property, location, location, location seems to be the primary factor with patience by the sellers.

Hillsboro real estate agents reported no changes in sales to a banner year so far while those in Marion and Peabody aren't as optimistic.

Glenn Thiessen of Fast Realty, Inc. of Hillsboro, reported sales are constant.

"Since the first of the year, (the housing market) is doing phenomenal," he said, "especially in Hillsboro."

Thiessen has houses for sale primarily in Hillsboro and Marion but noted the market isn't quite the same in Marion.

"Marion's market hasn't quite picked up yet," Thiessen said.

For Thiessen, houses in the $60,000 to $80,000 range are the faster-moving properties. He noted there are fewer houses on the market right now because sellers are realizing that prices are down.

"It's a buyer's market right now," he said.

Typically Fast Realty has between 20 and 30 properties in the two towns. Right now the realty company has 21 listings.

The time of year definitely is a factor for him, noting his active selling time is between March and August.

"If it's priced right, it will sell right away," Thiessen said.

On the other end of the spectrum is Charles Kannady of Kannady & Associates of Marion.

He commented that last year was probably one of the lowest markets he's seen.

"So far this year we don't have the number of houses for sale or selection as before," Kannady said.

He continued that prospective buyers will look at the whole package — mortgage payments, insurance, and taxes. Increased property taxes doesn't help his case.

So, what would help the housing market?

"We need more new housing and tear down the older, dilapidated houses," Kannady said.

For Shreves Avery of Marshall-Avery Realtors of Peabody, business isn't booming in Peabody either.

"We used to have relatively inexpensive housing in Peabody and people were willing to live in Peabody and commute to Wichita," he said. With the inflated gas prices, this all but prohibits some of those commuters.

For the Peabody-based real estate agent, there are not as many houses for sale as in the 1980s but more than in the past few years.

In a recent survey as part of the city's comprehensive plan update, Avery said he was surprised with the number of vacant houses in the city.

"There are probably 20 houses for sale and 70 houses are vacant," he said. "In a community of 600 residential units, it makes you wonder why."

The houses listed with Avery-Marshall Realtors have been for sale for a year.

"No one is even looking," Avery said.

He also noted that valuations of houses in Peabody have doubled during the past five to seven-year time period, which isn't helping sales.

So, what's the answer?

"We need to consider ourselves as a bedroom community," Avery said. "We need to draw people to our community, despite gas prices, and the Main Street program will help to create that."

Delores Dalke of The Real Estate Center of Hillsboro, said she hasn't seen a big change in the past few years.

"There are not as many properties on the market as a year ago," she said. She continued that she wasn't sure if that had to do with changes in that people aren't moving right now or the economy.

Dalke said the sales of real estate have remained fairly constant, selling one house that was only on the market for eight days.

As long as the seller lists the house at an appropriate price, it probably will sell.

"I'm not sure if the time of year has much to do with sales," Dalke said. "There have been some of our best years in December and January, and sometimes June and July have been good."

Dalke also noted that hardly any commercial properties are selling right now.

Lyle Leppke of Leppke Realty & Auction of Hillsboro, sells some residential properties in towns but most are rural listings.

"We don't see the fluctuations (in Marion County) as in larger towns," he said. "Our market doesn't take off and drop off as other markets."

For him, winter is a slow time of year and anticipates sales will pick up with spring.

He has sold more houses in Marion than he has in quite a while.

"The market in Marion was as good as I've seen it in quite a while," Leppke said.

He hasn't seen much of a difference in the number of houses on the market, but noted "upper-market" houses sold quicker this past year than ever before.

"Markets become slower in larger cities because of employment," Leppke said, "which doesn't really affect us. Our market is based on a local market instead of a Boeing or some other larger company."