After a slow 2017, Realtors in Huntingdon County are counting their blessings — and their successes.
“2018 was a good year,” said Huntingdon County Board of Realtors president Tim Schrack of Schrack Realty, Huntingdon. “2017 wasn’t a good year for Schrack Realty, but also the board in general.”
According to Schrack, in terms of comparison, 2018 sales were up about $7 million dollars from 2017.
“That’s pretty significant,” he said, noting 2018’s dollar volume came in around $29,548,692, while that number was $22,507,385.
While grateful for the success, Schrack can’t pinpoint the reason for the increase.
“I don’t know what to attribute it to,” he said, noting interest rates were not much better than in 2017. “One of the things I saw was that, especially in the spring, we saw a number of expensive properties sell, some of which had been on the market for years.”
Schrack said some of the success might be attributed to consumer confidence.
“I’ve talked to other businesses that also had good years,” he said.
Even as the weather turned, Schrack said sales have continued.
“We’ve been busy over Christmas and New Year’s,” he said. “We always sell, at Schrack, one or two houses over (the holidays), but I think we’ve put four or five properties under contract in that period in 2018.”
Comparing 2017 and 2018, Schrack said he never saw the market energize in 2017 after the seasonal slowdown in January and February.
“The year before that, (in 2016), we saw a boost in early March, but that never happened in 2017,” he said. “Early March was fantastic in 2018 and I’m hoping for the same thing in 2019.”
Schrack said it’s possible that talk of rising interest rates led to a slow market in 2017, but he noted the prices of homes also were generally higher, as well as the number of listings in 2018.
Huntingdon County Realtors listed 324 properties in 2018, compared to just 274 in 2017. The average home sold for $136,800 in 208, while that price was $117,840 in 2017. In addition, homes were on the market an average 199 days in 2018, compared to 151 days in 2017.
“Across the country, 2017 was a relatively good year across the country, but in this county, it was not,” said Schrack, who was pleased to see a change in the market last year and noted Schrack Realty’s June closings made for the best month in 10 years. “The bottom line is, 2018 was not just a good year, but a significantly good year.”
Looking ahead, Schrack said he’s optimistic about the new year.
The National Association of Realtors predicts mortgage rates will get up to 5 percent by the end of the year. They’re looking for a flat line year,” he said. “I’m hopeful for 2019. I don’t think it will be as good as 2018, but I’m cautiously optimistic it will be close.
Schrack said mortgage rages are currently between 4.75 and 5 percent, depending on the term of the mortgage and the lender. He said homebuyers appear to be keeping their lending business more local these days.
“Half or more of our sales are financed through some form of local or semi-local lender in Blair, Centre or Huntingdon counties,” he said.
Schrack also noted the sale of the home benefits the local economy in many ways, as new homeowners look to furnish a home or make improvements.
“I would be willing to bet your hardware stores, paint stores, etc., also had a good year in 2018,” he said.