Home sales down 19.6 percent for the year, slowly recovering
Though the housing market hasn’t regressed substantially since last year, homes are taking longer to sell and are being sold for slightly less money.
According to a Multiple Listing Service report prepared by Sally Domke, Jamestown Board of Realtors President and real estate agent at RE/MAX Now, the year to date total sales in the Jamestown area are down 19.6 percent from 2018, from 163 homes to 131.
In year to date totals from 2018 compared to 2019, new homes listed are down 14.3 percent, the median sales price for homes is down 9.37 percent, from $160,000 to $145,000, and average days a house remains on the market is up 25 days, according to the report.
According to Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index, as of March 2019, the median cost for a home in Jamestown was $149,400. The median for the entire country was $216,200, a 41.2 percent difference.
Austin Bauer, real estate agent at Keller Williams and former president of the Jamestown Board of Realtors, believes the drop in home sales could be from the increase of taxes within the county, particularly on farmland.
Jamestown’s city assessor Jamison Veil believes multiple factors play into the market shifting.
“A lot of variables that contribute to it,” Veil said. “It's hard to pinpoint it to just one thing.”
Bauer said people are still moving into Jamestown, but not as many. Out of those who are moving here, some are putting off the purchase of a house.
“A lot of people are renting while they look to buy,” Bauer said.
Dardis Realty owner Michael Schwartz also attributes the changes in the market to the economy.
“All the things that happen in the economy contribute to the housing market,” he said. “Businesses moving in and out, apartments being built, jobs being created … all these things have an effect on the people buying and selling real estate.”
According to Domke, as of July 12, 75 residential homes were listed in the city of Jamestown. That number climbs to 126 listings when including the rural area.
Bauer believes the conditions of homes play a vital role in the real estate agent's ability to sell the property.
“The condition of the house is important,” he said. “Most people want a clean house with no real issues.
“It also depends on what people are looking for when buying,” Bauer added. “The condition can be the breaking point for some people.”
Domke urges sellers to heed the advice of their real estate agent.
“If they are priced right, basically if the seller takes the advice of their agent and sets the sales price for their home according to the Comparative Market Analysis that the agent does for them, they tend to be more competitive in the market,” Domke said.
Another variable that played into the current state of the housing market was the lasting effects of the winter weather.
“Spring and fall are probably actually somewhat better than summer,” Domke said. “Buyers come out of hibernation first thing in the spring ready to shop.
“Winter in North Dakota tends to be really slow compared to a lot of the rest of the country,” she added. "Not a lot of folks want to slog through snow and cold to shop for a home unless they really have to.”
The springtime market likely got off to a slow start due to the long winter, Bauer said.
“Nobody wants to move when there’s snow on the ground,” he said. “Nobody wants to move when it’s 20 below.”
Bauer believes the housing market shouldn't be a concern.
“Many are jumping to their second homes from their first,” he said. “Interest rates on mortgages are extremely low right now."
Domke also remains optimistic. She said numbers are on the upswing since April.
“I feel like the housing market is pretty good at the moment,” Domke said. “Everyone I work with is certainly keeping themselves busier than ever.”
According to the US census, as of July 2018, the owner-occupied housing rate was estimated at 57.6 percent in the city of Jamestown, nearly 6 percent below the state’s rate.