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A ‘for sale’ sign sits half-buried in snow at a home along Court Street near downtown Janesville on Wednesday. Despite recent snowy, frigid weather, national and local real estate analysts say Janesville-Beloit’s local housing market is among the hottest in the U.S.

JANESVILLE

A 1,900-square-foot Colonial on Janesville’s east side was in the midst of renovations when the owner put the house on the market this winter.

After just one day of showings—less than 48 hours after the two-story, circa-1935 home was listed—the owner landed an offer from a buyer.

In the current housing market, such a lightning-fast turnaround might not seem like an earth-shattering occurrence.

Except that it happened in late January, and showings happened during a winter storm that dropped 6 inches of snow on top of more than 10 inches of frozen snow that already covered the ground.

Despite the recent breathtakingly cold, snowy weather, local real estate agents say the housing market here has continued to move at a blistering-hot pace.

Two national analysts, Insurify and Realtor.com, say the pace of sales and clicks on online listings show that Janesville-Beloit is the 12th-hottest metro market in the U.S. for existing home sales, based on data gathered by the websites.

Janesville real estate agent Laurie Huml Eckert’s firm, Premier Realty, listed the Colonial that snagged an offer in just two days. Given the ongoing tight inventory of existing homes for sale, rock-bottom mortgage interest rates and pent-up demand in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns last year, Huml Eckert said it’s no longer an anomaly for homes to draw offers within a day of being listed.

Even in the depths of winter, strong demand and slim supply have made Huml Eckert reduce showing windows so she can cycle more prospective buyers through afternoon open houses.

“With showings, the rule of thumb always was an hourlong time frame to get through the house,” she said. “We’ve changed that to 30-minute showings because we were getting just an unbelievable amount of traffic. And then we actually had to shorten that to 15 minutes, so people are just scrambling in and out.

“It’s that kind of a market.”

Amid the current market heat, scores of new homes and hundreds of new rental units are being built in Janesville. Yet average sale prices for existing homes continue to march upward.

The average sale price for an existing home in January was $206,000—a 9% jump from the same period in 2020 and a whopping 27% increase from 2019.

Huml Eckert said the price increase hasn’t tempered the action among the biggest emerging demographic of home buyers. They’re second- or third-time Rock County homeowners who are selling their own homes and looking for others that are either larger or have upgraded amenities.

The trend is linked in some ways to a glut of home renovations that got underway as people found themselves homebound early last year. Some homeowners saw their recent home improvements as impetus to sell.

Now, Huml Eckert said, a wave of buyers who hunkered down through an initial economic recession and COVID-19 shutdowns in early 2020 have jumped back into the market.

That has added some midpriced homes to the market, and although not fast enough to dampen demand, it has further turned up the heat on selling.

Realtor.com and Insurify’s data shows that the average Janesville home sells in about 50 days—almost a full month faster on average than homes were selling during the winter of 2019.

That speed rivals the briskest spring and summer periods of the last few years.

Huml Eckert said the quicksilver market has ushered in some give-and-take negotiations she has never encountered.

In one recent listing, the seller offer a $3,000 credit plus materials as incentive to buy a home with a few unfinished renovation projects.

Still, midpriced homes aren’t cycling onto the market fast enough to clear demand. Huml Eckert said she and other real estate agents have growing queues of buyers who are hunting through listings daily in a quest to be the first to jump on homes for sale.

Buyers have begun to train themselves to have offers and counter-offers in the hopper a day or two after touring a home, if not the same day, she said.

To tender an airtight offer more quickly, a growing number of buyers are agreeing to forego a home inspection, Huml Eckert said.

Some who are selling their own homes while trying to buy a new home are taking out bridge loans so their own home sale doesn’t create a contingency that impedes an offer they’re making on another home.

It can be a daunting time for some, particularly first-time home buyers, Huml Eckert said.

“We’ve had buyers that have put in four or five offers and still don’t have anything,” she said. “It can be sad and frustrating for people, but it’s becoming more the norm.”

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