(WKOW) -- As businesses around the world have been forced to rethink their strategies, at least one industry is surviving, even thriving: the housing market.
"I'd say any of us in the construction industry feel pretty fortunate right now that we are so busy," said Daniel Lowery, division president at Tim O'Brien Homes. "Specifically within our within our business, we probably saw about a 40% increase year over year in our operation."
One of the biggest driving factors is space.
"Space in the right place, whether it's space from your neighbor, people coming out of apartments and wanting to actually get physical space on a home site," said Lowery. "Even larger bedrooms -- we've had a little bit more of a trend where people are building homes with [fewer] bedrooms, but bigger bedrooms, because they're finding they need to put an office for their kids in their bedroom. Offices in homes are certainly trending up."
A similar demand exists for those in the design industry.
"I think a lot of people are turning to us as designers to create that space without having to dictate the bedroom office or a certain spot," said Kim Mehlert, an interior designer at Nonn's Kitchen Bath & Flooring. She said multi-purpose space is in high demand. "How can we intertwine within their space, so that this doesn't necessarily see to permanence that still feels like a home."
Mehlert added, her clients are noting extra time at home as one of the driving factors for the redesign. "It's the little things that you don't notice until you've been staring at it often… People are putting money into their home, which we're seeing because of not being able to go away or get out. But we're also seeing people put money in their homes for resale value."
Real estate brokerage Redfin reports, American homes have gained $3.1 trillion in value during the pandemic. Plus, there's a record 24% decline in inventory attributed to remote work and low mortgage rates.
In January, Freddie Mac reported the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 2.65% -- the lowest level in the 50 years it's been keeping data.
"What we've saw in January in this first part of February is it was just like a complete reset," said Madison-area real estate agent Joff Pedretti. "I've heard of two different situations where sellers were able to get over $100,000 over the original ask price, so it's pretty impressive the types of things that are happening out there."
In Redfin's February 2021 specific data, new listings of homes for sale were down 17% from February 2020. Additionally, home prices continued to rise by 15%, and a record 43% of homes spent a week or less on the market.
Mad City Dream Homes collects data of the monthly new listings in Dane County. Only 440 new houses were listed in February 2021 -- the lowest total since records began in 2000.
"It's more competitive and more aggressive than I've even seen in the past few spring markets is what we're seeing right now. And it's in part because of the lack of inventory. There's just not enough. There's just not enough houses on the market right now," said Pedretti.
Only time will tell what happens to mortgage rates and how people will re-adjust to life once it's safer to leave the home, but for now the housing industry remains one of the lucky ones.
"The rates are still at such historic lows, that, you know, the lending, the purchasing power that you have, and the monthly, the monthly payments that you're buying a new home on still really are very affordable," said Lowery.
The following can help you stay competitive in the fast-moving housing market:
- Boost your credit score before applying for a loan.
- Work with an experienced lender to be pre-approved prior to searching for homes.
- Work with an experienced real estate agent who will be able to give you insider market knowledge and look for properties while you're fulfilling your other daily responsibilities.
- Be open to temporary housing if there's a gap in between when you leave your old home and new home is available.
- Make your offer standout with an offer letter and personal appeal like a photo.