By Lindsay Smith
If you’re planning on buying a house in Wichita next year, you should expect both slim pickings and a fast pace.
“The shortage of listings that we have available for sale is something that’s built up over a long period of time. This is not something that just started in the wake of the pandemic,” Stan Longhofer, director of the Wichita State University Center for Real Estate, recently told The Eagle.
“People who are interested in buying, they need to just recognize that they need to be able to move quickly.” The Center for Real Estate released its 2024 forecast in September. For Wichita, it predicts sales by the end of 2023 would have fallen 10.4% (9,470 units) from 2022, and continue the decrease next year to 9,390 units.
“Weaker demand and tight inventories are impeding sales growth in the Wichita area,” the forecast reads. As for sellers, Longhofer said buyers are more keen to put in offers on homes that are move-in ready.
“Sometimes sellers think that they’re in a world where … I can just throw anything I want out on the market and I’m able to, you know, get two dozen offers in a matter of a couple of hours and it doesn’t matter what the condition of my house is. [But] you have to make sure that your house is ready to go on the market that it’s well positioned and priced properly,” Longhofer said.
While it may have been easier in past markets to get multiple offers on houses that need extra work, that’s just not the case anymore, he said.
“There are homes that are sitting out there for extended periods of time because they’re not priced properly or they’re not really in move-in condition, and so sellers need to be prepared that the normal rules are applying once again,” Longhofer said.
WHAT IS THE REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK FOR SOUTH-CENTRAL KANSAS IN 2024?
WSU’s forecast also predicts home values to increase 4.2% in 2023, followed by a 3.4% increase next year.
Looking at November’s market data from the South Central Kansas MLS, home sales fell 3.9% compared to the same month last year. Homes sold in November had a median sale price of $208,500, up $5,000 compared to October.
While the real estate market changed vastly during the pandemic, Braden McCurdy, 2023 president of Realtors of South Central Kansas, said the new year will likely look a little more normal.
Longhofer, with WSU, said interest rates in the area have decreased some, however.
“It’s kind of returning to normal is the general message … we are returning to what it was like pre-COVID,” McCurdy said.
“Earlier this fall mortgage rates were peaking on their way up towards 8%. They never reached that level,” Longhofer said, “but over the last month or so, rates have been coming back down pretty sharply.”
The National Association of Realtors predicts interest rates to be closer to 6% at the end of the year, and this could mean a busy spring market, McCurdy said.
“If interest rates ease a little bit and things, you know, continue like they are, I think we’re gonna have good spring months,” McCurdy said.
So, do experts think 2024 will be a good year to buy a house? Longhofer said that usually isn’t the question people ask when starting their house hunt.
“[There are] two things that I think in terms of buying a house that I think households really need to keep in mind. No. 1 is, am I financially stable? Can I take on this long-term commitment, and [am I] confident that my job situation is solid that I can afford the monthly payments and that I can manage all of this?,” Longhofer said. “And then the second question is, am I locationally stable? When I buy a house, am I prepared to be there for at least … four or five years?”
Longhofer said if either of those questions are up in the air, it may not be the right time to become a homeowner.
This article was republished here with the permission of: The Wichita Eagle