What does the hot real estate market mean for buyers and sellers?

Fort Wayne has been consistently ranked as one of the most affordable places to live, and that includes housing. But not all homes are getting a second look from local and out-of-town buyers.  Lynn Reecer, REALTOR®/Broker on The Lynn Reecer Team with Encore Sotheby’s International Realty, has her finger on the pulse of trends in the local housing market. 

Lynn Reecer represents both buyers and sellers. To get a snapshot of the current market and what’s hot, Reecer looks to one buyer persona as an example. The Millennial consumer is getting established in their career and looking to put down roots at the same time. Many are ready to purchase their first home or upgrade to a nicer one.

But unlike their parents who maybe wanted a three or four bedroom home in the suburbs complete with a yard, younger buyers are wanting something that comes with less maintenance.  So in this case, bigger isn't always better.

According to an article from CityLab, "a quarter of Millennials prefer urban housing, such as condos or townhouses, over the detached suburban homes that were the Boomers’ preferred habitat."

Similarly,  Reecer says villaminiums ("villas" for short), are on some Millennials' short list. A villa is a single, detached home within an area designated to operate as an association to provide common association maintenance, community space and business affairs. The villa lifestyle requires minimum effort or involvement by the homeowner. That’s because, typically all lawn maintenance and care, snow removal and other tasks are handled by the homeowners association.

If you ask Reecer, this preference is symptomatic of the changing nature of work in general.

“In previous generations, you had more time to do yard work. But now you're connected all the time. People just don't know really how to get away from work.”

Millennials, intrigued by the lure of a simpler lifestyle, are on the hunt for a home that can serve them now and into the near future. 

“I've seen young people who purchase villas or condos and they have their first or maybe second baby and then they move out for a while, to a bigger house,” she says. 

Reecer fit that profile herself at one point. 

“We lived in Covington Creek, when we first moved here. I had two babies and then we moved out and had a third baby. We lived in a house with a yard for several years. As soon as the last one left the house, we went back to Covington Creek.” 

A listing for a Covington Creek condo

While villas are in short supply in this market, she says project homes are not. It’s common for her clients to purchase homes in Covington Homesteads and Covington Creek and make them their own through substantial interior renovations. 

This trend represents a blind spot on the part of some local sellers, who expect to get top dollar for their home from the outset. They may keep up with critical maintenance tasks, like replacing an aging HVAC unit, but too often they overlook a critical factor. 

“I say, “we don't wear the same clothes we were in the 1970s or 80s,” she says. “We don't drive the same cars. We don't use the same golf clubs. People don't understand why some people don't want to buy their house when everything in it looks like the clothing we wore in 1975. So in order to maintain your property’s value, you need to keep the look and feel up to date as well.”

A kitchen transformation

Reecer says modern-looking homes are marked by a few features inside. The open concept is still popular — buyers don’t want a home that has a clear division between the kitchen and the family room. Homes with hardwood and luxury vinyl flooring are sought after. And kitchen and master bathroom renovations can pay dividends for sellers looking to move their property faster, she says. 

Speaking of pace, Reecer says a few neighborhoods are having a moment right now. Lakeside Park, North Anthony Boulevard, and Southwood Park have been on younger buyers’ radar for the past few years and she expects that momentum to continue this year. And it's predicted that home values in and around West Central will continue to increase with the redevelopment efforts associated with Electric Works

Regardless of location, Reecer has some advice for buyers and sellers: There's no "right" time or way to hack the market. The right time is when it makes sense for you to make a move — literally. 

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.
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