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Real estate agents see brighter tomorrow for home values and sales

Jim Karges

Jim Karges

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JOLIET — Jim Karges believes the local real estate market has hit rock bottom and it appears to be on the upswing.

He should know. Karges has been a real estate agent for 35 years and his office is No. 1 for sales in Joliet and Shorewood.

Karges said he personally did $10 million in residential sales so far this year, almost double the $5.4 million he did last year.

And Karges thinks home values will start to increase again after a long slide that saw them drop 45 percent since 2006.

“I truly feel we’re at the bottom because when you have so few good listings ... supply and demand dictates values are going to go up,” he said.

By good listings, Karges means listings that aren’t entangled in short sales, where homeowners need their bank’s approval to sell.

“In this market, considering the sale prices combined with the incredibly low interest rates, you can purchase a home, and in the vast majority of cases, have a lower payment than you would if you rented the same home.”

That’s not to say it hasn’t been a rough couple of years for real estate agents. Karges said home values dropped more during this recession than during one at the beginning of the 1980s when interest rates were a sky high 17 percent to 18 percent.

He has seen a lot of agents leave the profession. But most of the ones who left were people who got in during the boom years, he added.

David McClintock, CEO of the Three Rivers Realtors Association, has seen a 41 percent drop in membership.

Prior to the recession and the housing market crash, the association, which includes agents from Will and Grundy counties, has 1,700 members; now it has 1,000.

The housing crash wasn’t the only thing that hurt the real estate ranks, however, McClintock said. New education and testing requirements that became law for real estate agents in 2011 also deterred many from continuing their careers in a down market, he said.

“It caused attrition,” he said of the new license requirements. “That and the market place in general caused attrition.”

The length of the housing crash also has taken its toll.

“I don’t think that when this hit anyone expected it to last as long or as deep as it did,” McClintock said.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, McClintock added.

“Overall, the members are busier and there seems to be pent up demand to purchase and sell,” he said.



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