September 23, 2018
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Places We Call Home

Read the full feature in the May/June issue of Evansville Living.

While skylines define many cities, Evansville is distinguished by its vibrant and varied neighborhoods. Picking a corner of the city — or the greater Evansville area — for your stomping grounds is no small matter: beyond our brick homes, neighborhoods are our emotional anchors; they root our daily lives. Never mind the throwbacks insisting the only question about where to live is between the East and West sides. Evansville’s neighborhoods comprising the city’s 44.62 square miles of land appeal to all types of buyers, including those looking for their first home or last. In neighboring Warrick County, desirable neighborhoods have fueled population growth of nearly 14 percent since 2000.

Downtown continues to attract buyers lured by the promise of the city core. Brian and Crystal Wildeman, pictured on the cover with their daughter Adelaide, walking near their S.E. First Street home they bought five years ago, say they are “old souls who have a major soft spot for all things historic.” The Wildemans love the energy of Downtown and their amazing neighbors make it the ideal place for kids. “As our next door neighbor says with his usual Saturday morning greeting,” Crystal says, “‘Good morning; it’s just another day in paradise.’” Here, meet five recent buyers who have found their corner of paradise in the Evansville area real estate market.

Selling Evansville

Real estate agents help find the right buyers  By Nathan Blackford

All homebuyers are not created equal. Depending on age, income, wants, needs, and family size, the priority of homebuyers is all over the map. So for Tri-State real estate agents, the key is knowing what sells — and to whom.

“People buy lifestyles more than they buy home sites anymore,” says Janice Miller, broker agent for ERA First Advantage Realty, Inc. “They love outdoor kitchens, pools, screened in porches. They want to be able to walk to Starbucks or have a running track nearby. That’s young and old. That’s everyone. People are looking for a certain lifestyle.”

The Internet has changed the landscape of real estate, especially in the last decade. No longer do potential homebuyers start by contacting a real estate agent. Instead, they spend hours online searching for the perfect fit.

“It is a fairly sophisticated buyers group right now,” says John Pickens of Prudential Indiana. “About 80 percent of the people we deal with have gone on the Internet and they’ve already scoured the market. A lot of them have already driven by the homes they like before they even contact a real estate agent. They’ve done their homework.”

That’s not to say real estate agents don’t play a big role. The median price range for a home in Evansville is about $120,000, and real estate agents can help use that money to get the ideal size, shape, and location.

“When we go in to do our first assessment of a home, almost immediately we can pinpoint what type of buyer is going to purchase it,” says Carol McClintock of F.C. Tucker Emge REALTORS. “A two bedroom, one bath home; that eliminates some potential buyers. Or a five bedroom, three bath home; that eliminates other people.”

For first time homebuyers, the primary concern is usually the price tag. That’s not to say all first time buyers are looking for something inexpensive, and some millennials with high-paying jobs are seeking high-end living spaces. But first timer buyers almost are all young.

“First time homebuyers can be single people getting settled, couples who are thinking about getting married and want to cohabitate, or newly married couples,” says Pickens. “We have very few older people entering the market for the first time. Typically they are looking at the price, then they look at other criteria after that.”

One of the hottest markets in the Evansville area so far this year has been between $100,000 and $200,000. That price range is often associated with young families, who need space for growing children.

“Expanding young families typically double in price,” says John Briscoe, vice president of sales for F.C. Tucker Emge REALTORS. “So if they bought a home right out of college for $70,000 to $100,000, when they move up they double that price and double the square footage. They are usually looking for a three bedroom, two bath or a four bedroom, two bath.”

By the Numbers:

  • $123,361 - Average sales price of homes in 2013 in Vanderburgh County
  • $181,582 - Average sales price of homes in 2013 in Warrick County
  • 91 - Average days homes were on the market in 2013 in Vanderburgh County
  • 3% - Average home price increase from 2012 to 2013 in Vanderburgh County
  • 82 – Average days homes were on the market in 2013 in Warrick County
  • 5% – Average home price increase from 2012 to 2013 in Warrick County

But it’s not just about price. In fact, price isn’t usually the primary concern for young parents. Instead, it’s all about the school district.

“Schools are very important,” says McClintock. “People with children select a school district before they select a home. It is a very competitive environment. Very rarely will a family come in and just say they’ll live anywhere. They have already been online, they have seen the test scores, and they know what school they want. All the way down to preschool.”

Those second time homebuyers also tend to want a home that is ready to move into, because they often have little time left after work and family activities. But finding the right home can be a tough task, since most young families need to sell their old home before buying a new one.

“Some do move to the suburbs, in Warrick, Posey, or Gibson counties,” says Miller. “A lot of that now depends on where they work. If they work at Toyota, they go toward Gibson County. If they work at Mead Johnson, maybe they’ll look at Posey County. All of those areas are strong right now.”

Many couples whose children have moved away also look for a new home. That doesn’t always mean they want something smaller and cheaper.

“There are people who move down to the $150,000 to $200,000 range who want a low-maintenance life. They’ll go to a condo or an apartment,” says Pickens. “But on the other hand, there are people who have plenty of money and they’ve always had a smaller home, so now that the kids are gone they have extra money and they are looking for something a little bigger. A newer home with less maintenance.”

Older couples often prefer to have plenty of space, but with a different layout.

“We like to call it ‘right-sizing,’” says McClintock. “They are looking for something that might not be too much smaller, but might be on one level or a home where you could live on one floor with extra space upstairs for visiting family members.”

While urban dwellers are more common in other cities, Evansville does have its share of Downtown residents. Real estate agents say the Ford Center has played a role in that, along with other urban planning.

“That (urban dweller) market has started to become more popular here,” says Briscoe. “In the past few years, the city has invested so much to redevelop the Downtown and the condo market has started to become bigger. We anticipate the demand for Downtown living will increase dramatically as the plans for the Indiana University Medical School-Evansville come to fruition. So yes, there is a market for that. But the majority of our sales happen in suburban areas, just because that’s where more houses are for sale.”

The one thing that seems to define most urban dwellers is a lack of children. That creates an eclectic mix of young and old.

“What we see with the condos is one end of the spectrum or the other,” says McClintock. “There are millennials who are single or newly married. And then you have people who are 50 plus where the kids are gone. We are not seeing yet what you see in bigger cities, where people live in condos while raising families.”

Comments

Hi

People have varying reasons on moving to new places . Some would upsize because of a growing family, while some will downsize. Downsizing can be a little tricky since this will involve a lot of removal of items. But there are many blogs or forums that would help you make your move to a smaller house easier. People will share their experiences and learnings along the way, which could be very helpful.

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