Area Properties owners talk trends in local real estate

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021 ~ Updated 9:50 AM

Becky Harding, left, and Lori Fowler, owners of Area Properties Real Estate.

Mirroring national trends, the local real estate market had a banner year — and it’s expected to continue into 2021.

Lori Fowler and Becky Harding, co-owners of Area Properties Real Estate — River Region, attribute that to various factors, from COVID-related motives to low interest rates. As a result, their 16 agents have had a busy year adapting the way they sell homes, and several local trends have emerged.

One thing Harding noted is an increase in rehabbing homes.

“I have seen an interest in revitalization of various neighborhoods. I’ve seen this in cities when new construction costs go up, and now we are seeing this here,” Harding told B Magazine. “It is cheaper to rehab a house than to build one.”

Tariffs, supply and demand and COVID delays are the reasons for increased supply costs, she said.

“In the last six months, the price of a two-by-four tripled. Therefore, it’s just hard for people to build right now.”

It’s likely COVID has caused people to evaluate where they live and often decide to relocate closer to family, Fowler said. However, COVID has decreased the overall availability of homes on the market. Fowler says this is going to be an issue going forward in 2021.

“We can’t find houses to match with buyers,” she said. “The inventory is so low.”

A contributing factor creating a huge boom of buyers is low interest rates, Harding said.

“People can afford to buy up because they have more buying power,” she said.

And it seems more people are moving into the area than moving out.

“People from out of state are buying homes here — people from California and New Jersey. We’ve had people buy second homes here from St. Louis,” Harding said. “They’re making the choice to come to a small town, for a slower way of life.”

The coronavirus pandemic is responsible for changing the way many of us live. The ability to work from home, not wanting to be in crowds and spending more time in your home made many city residents flock to smaller towns or change their living arrangements.

“They want a slower pace, “ Harding said.

According to USPS data, over 15.9 million people have moved since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and our region is feeling this strong uptick in demand.

One of the most unique things they have seen during the pandemic has been selling houses sight unseen by the client, via FaceTime.

“Use of the latest technology is more and more common now than ever before. We pivot and adapt to meet our clients’ needs,” Fowler said.

Area Properties isn’t just in the business of residential real estate. They handle commercial sales and leasing for clients.

“We always enjoy seeing new businesses come to town,” Harding said.

“Also, we feel rewarded through helping a client expand from something as simple as a home business to lease a bigger space, or possibly purchase one,” Fowler added. “We enjoy helping businesses grow in that way by connecting them with real estate that’s right for their specific business.”

Throughout the real estate surge, the agents of Area Properties relied heavily on their relationships with local bankers, who were busy navigating the piles of mortgage loan paperwork coming their way.

“Having those relationships in place is crucial to our success,” Harding said. “They just give great service for our clients throughout the entire mortgage process.”

Fowler said it takes a team made up of realtor, buyer, seller and lender to make a transaction run smoothly, and with local banks: “We get quick responses and personal interactions. We help their business and they help our business.”

Fowler emphasizes when someone is new to town, it’s important to integrate them into the community. Area Properties prides itself on making sure a buyer is immediately making connections with community groups, schools, churches and shopping in our local stores to the potential of them purchasing another home or starting a business.

“Sometimes people that feel alienated don’t stay in town,” she said. “We want everyone who moves here to love it as much as we do.”

“We enjoy showing Cape off. We are proud to be in business here and encourage others to invest in our community,” Fowler said.

Having witnessed a lot of changes throughout their real estate careers, both Fowler and Harding are optimistic about the future.

“I truly believe Cape is on the cusp of exploding,” Harding said.