Last month, the 15.2-acre estate in Lake Forest owned by retail heir Marshall Field V sold for $6.2 million, marking the largest transaction for a property in Lake Forest in three years.
It’s a sign of the times. With nearly half of the population of Illinois and the country fully vaccinated, real estate brokers on the North Shore told The North Shore Weekend this week that they’re beginning to see a slight increase in interest from potential sellers who feel the health crisis is behind us and are prepared to make moves they had put on hold.
“Inventory of single-family homes has decreased over the past year in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff by as much as 75 percent,” says Brad Andersen, Principal Broker with Griffith, Grant & Lackie Realtors in Lake Forest. “This decline in available homes for sale combined with unprecedented demand has caused the median sales price of homes to increase between 8 to 15 percent.”
Andersen says that in the current environment, many consider it the best time to place a home on the market. As a result, he expects to see an increase of available homes over the course of the summer as vaccination rates continue to rise and those who held off selling now feel more comfortable opening their homes to the public.
“We have had discussions with many sellers, especially those most vulnerable to COVID-19 because of age or underlying health concerns, who are now just beginning to consider their options,” he says. “We do feel there is an opportunity to take advantage of market conditions, but we also feel this market will continue to evolve as new information becomes available.”
Andersen adds that he’s hesitant to make predictions about the market going forward, but every relevant data point suggests the market will be robust for some time to come.
“We expect a very short-term slow down as people will need to make decisions about school registration very soon, but once the summer holiday season ends, we expect strong activity to remain through the end of the year,” Andersen says. “Personally, I have not been as optimistic about the market since the very early 2000s.”
Joanna Koperski, a broker with @properties in Lake Forest, echoes this theme. She is strongly encouraging prospective sellers to do so now.
“This is an obvious great opportunity for property owners to reconsider entering the market at their earliest opportunity,” Koperski says. “All of the present market variables point to sellers accomplishing their goals to their best advantage—prices are higher, the market is moving fast, sales occur quickly, multiple offers are common.”
While the market is currently favorable to sellers, Koperski says it might not last forever and if sellers wait, they could miss an opportunity to cash in.
“This is most definitely a seller’s market, geared toward their advantage,” she says. “It’s a perfect opportunity for a property owner’s success but comes with a strong caveat—with the current economic trends, there is no guarantee that this favorable sellers’ market will last much longer. Sellers should move into this market as soon as possible before interest rates rise.”
Some sellers, though, are willing to risk the wait as long as home values are still rising, which is contributing to the ongoing challenge of limited inventory.
“I am actually seeing that most of the people that were thinking of moving have now decided to wait,” says Marcia Lyman, with Engel and Völkers in Winnetka. “They are appreciating their homes more than ever and realize that in order for them to get that next house they are going to be paying a premium.”
Lyman says most of her potential sellers and buyers are empty nesters and are not in any hurry to move.
“They have decided to wait it out and get their homes ready at their own pace so that when the time comes for them to put their house on the market, the work will be done,” she says.
With the summer vacation season upon us, Winnetka @properties broker Colleen McGinnis sees the tight market continuing into fall.
“I believe that the summer will remain tight for several reasons. First, typically folks on the North Shore take vacations. They leave the area for their second homes, their fishing camps, and for other recreation opportunities,” McGinnis says. “Second, after COVID-19, I believe that even more will be heading out.”
Even in sellers’ market, for those that remain and are slowly coming around to the idea to putting their homes on the market, McGinnis has some advice.
“I do not recommend just throwing your house on the market since most of the competition has been cleaned and staged,” she says. “The homes that have traded in recent years have been decorated and remodeled with today’s amenities.”
McGinnis also says given all the complexities that come with selling in a market with high buyer demand the choice of the right realtor is vital.
“Clearly, we are in a fastpaced market and in order to compete, homeowners must choose a realtor who gives a clear direction as to what needs to be done,” McGinnis says. “It is important to listen to the homeowner and to hear their concerns and then work together to make a great first impression.”
Laurie Field, a realtor with Engel & Völkers in Chicago, says she also sees the hot market continuing through summer in part because potential sellers are still biding their time even as the pandemic recedes.
“I feel pretty confident the market is going to continue to be hot through the rest of the year,” Field says. “I have met with sellers who want to downsize but would prefer to take their time getting their home ready to list.”
Field says sellers don’t want to feel rushed when making such an important decision.
“While they know the market is very active right now, that is not motivating them to list before they are ready,” she says. “They’re absolutely fine listing at the end of the summer or in the fall.”
In sum, the tight market and the lack of inventory that’s driving it doesn’t look to end anytime soon.
Says Jamie Roth, with Engel & Völkers in Highland Park: “I’m seeing a very slight uptick in listings but not enough to be of significance on the low inventory situation we’re in.”