Grand Rapids Realtors say housing inventory is tight as homebuyers get active

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - "Want to sell your house?"
It's becoming a standard greeting for Terry Westbrook, president of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.

The shortage of homes for sale is giving local Realtors headaches as the improving economy brings homebuyers back into the housing market, Westbrook said on Monday, March 25.

"We're hearing time and time again from our members that we've got buyers," said Westbrook. But finding the right house can be difficult and buyers must be ready to act, he said.

Last month, homeowners in the greater Grand Rapids area put 1,198 houses on the market, down 6.6 percent from February, 2012, according to GRAR statistics.

The average house that received a pending sales offer last month was on the market for 67 days, compared to 87 days in February, 2012. While a 90-day supply is normal, a 60-day supply is "scary," Westbrook said.

The shortage of homes on the market has resulted in higher home prices despite pressure by lenders and appraisers to keep prices from shooting up, Westbrook said.

The average home sold for $141,180 last month, a 12.3 percent increase over February, 2012. So far this year, the average home has sold for $137,082, a 22.3 percent increase over the first two months of 2012.

Despite the increased interest by buyers and higher prices, Westbrook said many homeowners are reluctant to list their home because they are still "under water,' meaning they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth in the current market.

Westbrook said he also is hoping the onset of warm weather will push more homebuyers into putting their house on the market.

Realtors also are seeing more interest from buyers in building a new home to suit their desire for a new home, Westbrook said.

Many of the buyers are finding attractive lot prices in subdivisions that faltered in the past five years, Westbrook said.

But those lot prices and builder quotes also are rising as the demand for housing increases, he said.

See the article online at mlive.

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