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How the pandemic affected the Cedar Valley housing market for buyers, sellers, and agents

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WATERLOO-CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) - The housing market has changed drastically this past year due to the pandemic. Quarantines and working from home caused many to realize they needed a change, and wanted to make the move fast.

Increased demand and limited supply seem to be the common theme throughout the pandemic, and that holds true for the housing market in the Cedar Valley. There are instances where there will be more real estate agents available than houses listed on the market.

"I've been in the business 26 years and I've never seen what we're living in right now," Amy Wienands Real Estate Owner Amy Wienands said.

Due to the increase in construction costs, many who were planning to build their homes decided against it.

In the past year, some real estate agents have dealt with up to 20 offers on homes because of the lack of inventory on houses.

"You have to work hard right now. You have to work very hard," Oakridge Realtor and Owner Bethany Benner said.

Agents have had to think outside the box in order to get the best buyer for the seller when comparing all the offers that come in for each house.

"Paying for different prorated taxes, the sellers prorated taxes. We've seen people help people move, and others pay for moving expenses," Benner said.

At times, a more experienced agent will handle this situation better than one just making their way into the industry.

"I think what we're doing is just navigating through the offer process in a different way and that requires, in my opinion, some expertise," Wienands said.

The Northeast Iowa Regional Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service shows numbers of total listing up 10% from January to May, compared to the same time last year.

Wienands says in recent weeks things have started to shift back to a somewhat normal level. She says listings posted on their website haven't seen the same number of offers as in past months.

"It feels to me like things are starting to level out a bit in our market but definitely not the case across the country," Wienands said, "I always think that if you're ready to do something, nows the time to do it."

Whether you're buying or selling houses, some important information to note is the average time on the market for residential listings last year was 63 days while this year it's gone down to 56 days. The average sales price for homes has increased by 20% as well.

Those at Oakridge Real Estate in Cedar Falls suggest utilizing real estate agents, rather than selling a home by owner, especially during this time. Connecting with an agent can get more exposure to listings and reach more buyers, so the seller will be able to choose from multiple offers.

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