By Maria Murzyn
In every corner of Oak Park there's likely a condo on the market, and some are priced very low. Why aren't they selling? Well, there are two main reasons.
First, it's about supply. There's an overabundance of units for sale, and the competition is fierce. Did you know that if not one more unit became active, it would take almost a year and a half to sell-off the existing inventory for the one and two-bedroom units available as of this printing? This is bad news for sellers, and, unfortunately, we are now in the traditionally "slowest" quarter for real estate activity.
But, people have to live somewhere, and rental rates are increasing dramatically, so why is demand so low? It's all about the mortgage. Not only is a mortgage difficult to obtain these days, but once secured, it's most often in the realm of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages and not conventional loans.
This can pose another problem for sellers and a big one for potential buyers because many condos in Oak Park are not approved for FHA mortgages. Many have a "first right of refusal" clause in the building's condo documentations, and it is considered discriminatory. There's much federal talk about making FHA loans more inclusive, but any changes are in the future.
So, what's a seller to do? If your condo building is FHA approved, includes parking, accepts pets, has central air conditioning (many of the older buildings in Oak Park do not), and/or allows rentals emphasize these advantages in your marketing efforts. If you are priced at market value and this may be a big "if," any of these features puts your unit in the forefront of the competition. As a real estate agent, I can't begin to tell you how often this information is not included, much less trumpeted in the official listing data.
Obviously, your budget is your guiding principle as a buyer, but, you, too, should consider these points not only for your convenience but also for your down-the-road re-sale value.
Yes, it's a buyer's market. The numbers don't lie. Close to half of the active 74 one-bedroom units are priced at $75,000 or less, and more than half of these do not include short sales. As for two-bedroom units, as of this writing there are 73 on the market, and almost 16 percent are listed under $100,000 — none are cited as a short sale.
With this kind of pricing level, we should be seeing buyer motivation. There are deals out there. They exist if you are a first-time buyer with an approved loan in your pocket. Or, perhaps you have a recent college graduate living in your basement or you're thinking about older parents you'd like to have closer, a condo that allows rentals could eventually pay for itself. Imagine getting your retirement home paid for before you leave the workforce.
If any of these criteria describes your situation, now may be the time for you to buy a condo in Oak Park.
Maria Murzyn works part-time for Wednesday Journal and is also a Realtor for Better Homes & Gardens Gloor Realty Company in Oak Park.