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Local home sales, prices picking up



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September 07, 2011 - By Joe St. Henry

Review Editor

Over the last several months, to the delight of local real estate agents and home sellers alike, sales in the Village of Lake Orion and Orion Township have picked up significantly.

"Houses are selling much quicker than in the past," said Shirley Coronado, a real estate agent for Century 21 Town & Country who specializes in the Lake Orion market. "Statistically, I guess it's still considered a buyer's market, but it's behaving like it's a seller's market.

"We're seeing houses receive multiple offers and sell in days, maybe a few weeks, rather than months or years."

In July, a total of 56 homes were sold in the township and village combined, as compared to 35 homes during July 2010, according to Realcomp II Ltd., the Farmington Hills real estate information company.

The median price for homes sold in the village this July was $152,500; in the township, $127,500. This compares to $111,500 in the village last summer; $118,000 in the township last July, Realcomp also reported.

Christine Porritt, owner of Beacon Real Estate Company in Lake Orion, said multiple listing services report year-to-date (YTD) home sales in Lake Orion and the township during 2011 stand at 343 through August, up from 275 during the same YTD period last year.

"The perfect storm is forming in the area to prompt sales," Porritt said. "In the past, many prospective buyers in the area were just looking or they were most interested in trying to steal a home at a great price. These days, buyers are ready to buy and offering fair prices."

Sellers who held out for the market to rebound are now putting their homes up for sale, she said.

As in the past, the key to selling a home quickly anywhere is to price it competitively to reflect today's market conditions, Coronado said. "As long as seller recognizes true market value of home, we're seeing offers fairly quickly on those in clean, showable condition."

Coronado explained home buyers are looking for granite countertops, lots of closet space and master suites with private, updated bathrooms, in particular.

Given the free fall in all home prices in recent years, older homes that have not been updated with the above amenities struggle to appeal to today's homebuyers, the Century 21 real estate agent said. The fact is new homes in the same price range sell quicker, she explained, noting there is especially strong interest in ranch homes.

Porritt offered additional advice to homeowners looking to sell. "They should take a hard look at their homes and make those improvements they have been postponing," she stressed. "A well-cared-for home is a sure fire winner. Add some sparkle, de-clutter and spruce up the grounds. Lastly, price your home correctly . . .There are buyersin the marketready to buy."

Both realtors agreed foreclosed homes in the area are affecting appraisals and selling prices, but their impact was much stronger during the previous couple of years.

Tighter mortgage-lending rules also make the home-buying process more complex these days, Coronado said, saying underwriters are now very "picky". "You hold your breath with every transaction," she said. "Nothing is for sure until the closing. This can be frustrating for everyone."

Coronado also pointed out while state equalized assessed values of homes in the community may have officially dropped again this year - by 9.44 percent, according to Oakland County this does not reflect current market activity.

"There is a lag time between what takes place in the market and what the county reports by up to a year," she offered. "It isn't reflective of current market values . . . I'm very optimistic."

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