Realtors, buyers sold about housing demand

By TONY RAAP
Herald Staff Writer

After their second daughter was born, Chris and Lauren Guth decided they needed a larger home for their growing family.

But after scouring the real estate listings, the Jasper couple realized there weren’t many homes on the market, particularly in their price range.

Last week, when a three-bedroom, ranch-style home went up for sale in Red Oak Estates on Jasper’s southwest side, the Guths didn’t waste any time. They were the first to look at the home, and two days later, they made an offer. The sale will be finalized by mid-March.  

“Something this size with a basement that’s move-in ready, there wasn’t a lot of options,” said Chris, a 32-year-old credit analyst at German American.

Dubois County has a shortage of affordable housing. Moderately priced homes between $100,000 and $200,000 are in high demand, and even duplexes and apartments are hard to come by.

The housing squeeze isn’t expected to let up. According to a recent survey by Dubois Strong, the county’s economic development group, 836 local manufacturing jobs will be created in the next three years. The group is working with real estate agents, developers and builders to create more housing for workers who move to the area.

“There is definitely a need,” said Judy Gosman, a real estate broker with RE/MAX Realty Plus in Jasper. “It’s all supply and demand, and we have demand.”

Housing statistics show that 256 homes are for sale in Dubois County, up slightly from 247 last February. There were 298 homes on the market in February 2012. The median sale price last year was $114,000.

When the housing bubble burst in 2008, it wasn’t uncommon for a home to be on the market for 180 days or longer. Now, the average is closer to 100 days, said Linda Schroering, owner of Century 21 Schroering Realty in Jasper.

She said high-end homes stay on the market longer because fewer buyers fall into that price bracket. Low-end homes also languish because they often aren’t in good condition. Homes that fall somewhere in the middle sell the quickest.

“Anything that’s decent that comes on the market” sells right away, said Schroering, who noted that a 4 percent interest rate on mortgage loans has helped spur home sales.

Most couples want a three-bedroom home with 1.5 to two bathrooms. The Guths also wanted a finished basement, where they could play with their daughters, Sophia, 1, and Olivia, 5 months. At about 3,000 square feet (including the basement), their new home is more than twice as large as their first, said Lauren, a 30-year-old accountant at Buechlein & Associates.

“This really fit what we were looking for,” Chris said.

Chad and Ashley Erny were surprised how quickly their home sold. Within hours of listing their house on the market, the Guths and four other potential buyers had scheduled appointments to look at the Sunshine Drive property. They sold because they’re planning to build a new home.  

Schroering said sales have been brisk across the county. Homes in subdivisions are selling quickly as well as those on the outskirts of Jasper, Huntingburg and Ferdinand.

Apartments, duplexes and town homes also are filling up. Jeff Schitter oversees 18 rental properties in Jasper, Ireland and St. Henry, all of which are full.

“Sometimes I don’t even have to advertise,” Schitter said. “Just word of mouth.”

Doug Kutzgar, general manager of Ewing Properties in Jasper, said that for some rentals, there is a waiting list.

“When someone is moving out, within a few weeks we got someone else moving in,” Kutzgar said.   
Bart Kerstiens, owner of Premier Property Management in Jasper, said the city will need to add 20 to 25 new apartments a year to keep pace with demand. But for that to happen, the city will have to rezone more property for multifamily housing.

“We all know we need them,” Kerstiens said of adding more apartments.

Mike Cummings, Dubois Strong’s interim president, said the group will form an ad hoc committee of developers, contractors and city and town officials that will examine the county’s housing issues.

Contact Tony Raap at traap@dcherald.com.  
 




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