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'You can't afford to wait' with home sales in Mitchell

Demand exceeding inventory, realtors say

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A sale pending sign in front of a home in Mitchell. Homes are a hot item in Mitchell at the moment, with demand exceeding local inventory, according to local realtors. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

If home is where the heart is, it seems a lot of people are following their heart to Mitchell.

For sale signs dot the front yards of houses throughout the community, with many already sporting updates that a sale is pending. In fact, of the 56 homes listed for sale in Mitchell, 40 are considered sale pending, leaving only 16 homes unattached to a buyer as of Friday morning, according to Micah Volmer, responsible broker for Fischer Rounds Real Estate in Mitchell.

And homes continue to sell quickly, with the average number of days on the market for homes in Mitchell having dropped to under 80 in March after being just over 120 in December, according to the Mitchell Board of Realtors .

Local realtors are saying it's one of the strongest sellers markets they’ve seen in years, and it’s being driven by a number of factors, including low-interest rates, costs of new construction and shortage of homes for sale.

“It’s definitely a seller’s market,” said Craig Tischler, a broker associate with Exit Realty in Mitchell. “That’s due to a few things — shortage of inventory, low interest rates. That all contributes to the plague of limited inventory.”

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Low-interest rates are making it enticing for buyers to get into the market. With rates on a 30-year fixed interest mortgage hovering around 3.25 percent, borrowing money for a home is cheaper than it has been in many years. Combine that with Mitchell being a commercial hub in the region, and it’s a mixture that makes the community appealing to many demographics of homebuyers.

“It’s kind of all around, between families moving from their first home to their second home, or people from out of state looking to move to South Dakota to people moving out of their homes into smaller homes on the other end of the market,” Tischler said.

Janet Fritzenmeyer, owner of Crane Realty in Mitchell, agreed that there is currently a lot of competition amongst potential home buyers.

“It’s a variety of people moving into the community for employment while some are moving out of the community for employment,” Fritzenmeyer said. “And there are some families upgrading to a newer house while taking advantage of those low interest rates. There’s a lot of that.”

While interest rates are more favorable for buyers than they have been in some time, technology has also improved enough over the last decade to affect homebuyer mentality. With the arrival of COVID-19 and the rise of the work-from-home office model , some people are looking to relocate from more urban centers to places like South Dakota, which offers lower crime rates, no state income tax and a lower population density.

They can now do that and still maintain their positions at out-of-town or even out-of-state companies.

“That stands out more than in the past,” said Chuck Mauszycki Jr., co-owner of Mitchell Realty. “I think it’s been coming, but it’s definitely here now. Better technology, better internet speeds. It certainly is a big part of it for buyers.”

The last 10 years has seen a general shift in Mitchell from a buyers market to a sellers market, said Volmer. Homebuyers used to have more of a choice, but now they are in competition with other buyers in the mix and fewer sellers offering up houses for sale.

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“I would say it’s different now because we’re in a sellers market. Ten years ago, we were in a buyers market. There was a lot more inventory, sellers were more tactical when they put their home on the market so they would stand out,” Volmer said. “The biggest change was with the buyers. Then, you’d be able to show a handful of listings to one client to see what they liked and didn’t like, and more often than not they’d get it. Now, a new buyer may be able to see one or two homes and are forced to decide which they like.”

And at that point, the buyer isn’t even guaranteed to get their first choice. It can make for a stressful situation for buyers who are jumping into one of the biggest purchases of their lives.

“It’s taken some of the joy out of buying a home for some of these buyers,” Volmer said.

Navigating a home purchase or sale can be an overwhelming experience, especially for those who are going through the process for the first time. Preparation and research is key to finding the best deal and being ready for when the chance to close a deal comes around.

Fritzemeyer recommended potential buyers get in contact with experienced professionals. Crane Realty is sponsoring a home buyers seminar April 20 that will feature a speaker from the South Dakota Housing and Development Authority. The event, which is free of charge, will be held at Holy Family Church in Mitchell.

“It’s very educational and it goes over the South Dakota housing program and will touch base on the importance of establishing good credit. That’s one of the best things (buyers) can do, as well as talking to their lender to see what they qualify for,” Fritzemeyer said.

With competition for homes as tight as it is, the more legwork done prior to getting started, the better.

“Nowadays, you can’t afford (to wait). Talk to the bank and lock in your interest rate. It’s highly recommended you have that ready to go and ready for your realtor. If you find a house you like, you’re going to compete with other buyers, so you have to have that information ready for the seller. It’s critical,” Mauszycki said.

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Realtors also encourage sellers to do their research, if not outright contacting a realtor to help them through the process. While people may go through a home sale a handful of times in their lifetime, realtors go through the routine much more frequently and can be a wealth of information on the subject.

“People may be going through this for the first or second time, but we go through this on a weekly basis, buying and selling in this crazy market,” Volmer said. “Some don’t know what their house is worth and are undervaluing themselves, or they have no idea how to handle multiple offers. Buyers don’t know how to compete with other buyers and set themselves apart.”

While nothing lasts forever, the current trend is expected to continue at least into the near future. Realtors say the situation in Mitchell mirrors what is happening around the region and around the country. Interest rates have climbed slightly in recent weeks, but are still favorable for buyers.

And the appeal of home ownership is very much alive and evident in the competition for homes in Mitchell, Tischler said. And now is as good a time as any to consider taking the leap into purchasing a home.

“They don’t make any more land. Real estate is a permanent investment that they can take advantage of, live in and utilize,” Tischler said.

Related Topics: REAL ESTATEMEMBERS-ONLY
Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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