From housing boom to housing bust, Will County residents doing their best to pick up the pieces
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com May 26, 2012 8:02PM
Glenn Sharp, with Re/Max Ultimate Professionals, talks about a Plainfield home that is now going through the short sale process. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Median Home Prices
2007 2011 Percent decrease
Grundy $185,000 $131,950 -28.68
Kendall $230,000 $156,900 -31.78
Will $225,000 $160,000 -28.89
State $200,000 $137,500 -31.25
National $219,000 $166,100 -25.15
Source — Illinois Association of Realtors
Updated: June 28, 2012 12:48PM
PLAINFIELD — Moms jogged behind baby strollers.
A man kneeled near a tree as he manicured his lawn. Another walked his small, white Maltese dog on the sidewalk.
The neighborhood activity took place on a beautiful spring morning in Canterbury Woods, which is filled with lush landscaping, cul-de-sacs and a small park with swings and slides.
The subdivision is in a desirable location near Plainfield North High School, the Edward Medical Center complex on 127th Street and shopping galore on Route 59.
Canterbury Woods was built at the peak of the building boom when Will County was one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. When the bottom dropped out of the housing market, Will County became a leader in Illinois for foreclosures. That’s when home values began to sink.
A home for sale in Canterbury Woods illustrates the boom and bust of home prices here. The home sold for $315,000 as new construction in January 2006, said Glenn Sharp, a Re/Max Ultimate Professionals real estate agent, who is handling the property.
When the FedEx employee who bought the house was transferred, he sold the home in December 2007 for $309,900, which was below market value because a FedEx transfer company handled the deal, Sharp said.
The woman who bought the house was a civilian working with the military. She had the misfortune of being transferred in 2008, when the recession started and the home’s value began dropping, Sharp said.
“She rented it for one year, but the value continued to tank,” Sharp said.
She rented out the home for two more years hoping the market would recover. It didn’t.
Home values in Will County have been dropping steadily since the Great Recession hit in December 2008. The median price of homes, where half of the homes sell for more and half for less, dropped 28.89 percent from 2007 to 2011.
Prices fell because they were inflated when homeowners took out 100 percent loans on their homes, Sharp said.
“Nobody batted an eye as to all of the money people had invested in their homes,” he said.
Kathy Dames, broker/owner of Re/Max Ultimate Professionals, said at the height of the market, she would sell a home for $200,000.
“Six to eight months later, the value was $250,000,” she said. “You kind of wondered, ‘Where is it going to stop?’ 2005 to 2007 was crazy. People thought it was never ending by then.”
Prices have plummeted now for several years, and Dames said sales are starting to pick up now.
“Thirty-five percent of the people buying homes are investors. They feel we’ve hit bottom.”
Matthew Rittof, a real estate agent with Realty Executives Success in Shorewood, said an increase in the number of homes at the $150,000 level is luring investors and first-time buyers into the market, which will help sales, too.
“Yes, prices are down to 2002/2003 levels, and I think sellers are finally realizing this ... ,” he said. “The sooner sellers accept this, the faster their house sells. When I hear, ‘I’ll wait until the market comes back,’ I tell them it is back to normal levels. You can’t expect the market to go back to what everyone agrees was an inflated market in 2005/2006.”
Lending institutions, too, have to come to grips with the new prices, Rittof added.
“ Banks thought many of their (foreclosed) homes were worth more, and they had to realize the market wouldn’t sustain those prices,” Rittof said.
Short sale option
The Blue Iris Lane home is now valued at about $235,000, about $75,000 less than the current owner paid for it, which is 25 percent lower than when it sold as new construction.
“She owes more than $235,000 on the house — a lot more,” Sharp said.
The owner’s only option now is a short sale, which involves the lender agreeing to sell the home for the amount owed. The home was first listed for $285,000.
“We put it higher, then chop it $10,000 a week,” Sharp said. “We showed the bank we tried.”
Unlike many short sale homes, the four-bedroom on Blue Iris Lane is in good shape and is in immaculate condition.
“Half the time they take light fixtures and garage door openers with them,” Sharp said of homeowners headed to short sales. “And I’ve seen air conditioning condenser units taken. They don’t care, they’re taking their stuff. It’s considered personal property.”
The large volume of foreclosures and short sales is what is driving home prices down in neighborhoods all over America, Sharp said.
“It’s a little disappointing when neighbors ... watch a house like this with multiple owners and renters,” he said. “They’re watching their value decline very quickly.
“I try to educate people on their options on how to use the short sale option to get themselves out of the financial burden of these homes. We do everything we can to keep them out of foreclosure.”
The Blue Iris Lane home was built in 2005 by Pulte Construction.
“That was all part of the boom,” Sharp said. “New construction was the attraction back then and it was all over the place. ... People were coming out here and buying like hotcakes.”
The Blue Iris Lane home will be vacant soon. Renter Steve Miller, retired military, his wife, Cherylyn, active military, and their 8- and 3-year old sons are moving to the South because Cherylyn has been transferred. They’ll miss Canterbury Woods, though.
“It’s wonderful,” Steve said. “It’s probably one of the best neighborhoods and communities we’ve lived in our careers. ... If we were staying here, I’d buy the house.”
Sharp, who has been selling real estate for seven years, has seen mostly the down side of the business. But he’s hopeful the market will begin to turn around one of these days.
“It’s tough to see everyone having financial burdens,” he said. “People were used to making money on their homes. Now they’re trying to stop losing their homes.”