QUINCY -- Home sales set a record in the Quincy area during 2017.
Alan VanDeBoe, president of the Quincy Association of Realtors, said sales of $125 million were recorded in 2017, up from $115 million the previous year.
"We set a record in 2016. That was the first time we had more than $100 million in sales. We topped that in 2017," VanDeBoe said.
Not only were sales higher by more than 8 percent, the number of homes sold, the average price -- $138,129 -- and, the median price all were higher. In addition, the average number of days on the market was lower.
"We feel like 2017 was an excellent year and we're hoping 2018 is going to continue along those lines. The tax changes, theoretically could have more cash in the pockets of buyers," VanDeBoe said.
Shelley Miller, senior vice president for mortgage loans at Mercantile Bank, also believes that low mortgage rates will help keep the housing market hot.
"Right now the rate is around 4 percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate loan. When rates are this low, people can afford a little more," Miller said.
At their lowest, interest rates were down around 3.5 percent a few years ago. But they're still far lower than traditional mortgage rates.
Mortgage rates averaged about 8 percent in early 2000. They did not fall below 6 percent until 2009.
Melissa Hess, coordinator of Quincy's YP program, is among those shopping for a home.
"It costs me more to rent than to own, so I'm in a hurry to find a home," Hess said.
She thought she'd found the ideal house not long ago, but learned just before closing that the home was in a flood plain and needed flood insurance.
"I had looked at about 20 houses and made an offer and went through the entire process before the appraiser found out about the flood insurance," Hess said.
Michael Seaver, director of inspection and enforcement for the city of Quincy, said new home construction was down somewhat in 2017. Seaver said 47 single-family homes were built in 2016. The number fell to 32 in the same category during 2017. However, the average construction cost rose from $188,000 in 2016 to nearly $259,000 last year.
New home builders also are finding it harder to locate building sites.
"The inventory of available building lots within the city's jurisdiction continues to diminish. The last rough estimate put the number at 60 lots," Seaver said.
VanDeBoe said the 2017 housing market was notable in some other ways. Homes priced at more than $200,000 had been slow to sell in recent years, but last year they sold well. He said inventories for homes priced between about $120,000 and $150,000 currently are low.