Housing market shows growth in Naperville; some experts still worry
By David Sharos For The Sun December 1, 2012 9:38PM
Chris Lesniak from Romeoville, works on putting down the base molding in the room of a new home being built by Oak Hill Builders in Naperville on Friday, November 30, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 3, 2013 6:26AM
Mahee Muskula, 43, rents a 4-bedroom, 1-bath apartment in Naperville with his wife and two children — a freshman at Neuqua Valley High School and a second-grader. But the family plans to build a custom home it hopes to move into by July.
With rents on the rise, he’s ready to buy, and he wants a new, 4-bedroom, 2-bath custom-built house so he can have the latest energy saving construction.
“Most of the homes in the size we want are 15 or 20 years old and I’m looking for something with more of the new emphasis on energy,” he said.
The family shopped around the western suburbs before settling on Naperville. The city showed one of the Chicago area’s most robust price growth in the most recent data, with the median sales price last month growing 4.8 percent year over year, and an average time on the market of 103 days — one of the fastest paces in the area — in the city’s 60565 Zip code.
“I did some research into the Naperville schools, and their ACT scores and other things are stronger than they were in the Crystal Lake-Algonquin area where we used to live,” Muskula said. “I looked at the Barrington area last year, but in the end, I wanted to move my family here.”
One reason Muskula cited is the opportunity to live with friends of the same culture.
“We have friends from India that have already moved here and that is another of the reasons we’re coming to Naperville,” Muskula said. “I like the ethnic diversity here.”
On the grow
The real estate market in Naperville has shown significant growth in the past year, with sales figures that have actually elevated it to one of the hot spots in the country. According to figures released in October from the National Association of Realtors, September home sales rose 24 percent in the nine-county Chicago area which includes Naperville, as opposed to a 1.7 percent decline nationally during the same time period.
But the future market in Naperville remains cloudy, some say, based on a number of political factors that could impact the economy as well as some physical limitations within the local market itself.
Nick Stanitz, 69, owner of Oak Hill Builders, which is currently constructing homes in Naperville in areas such as Ashwood Creek, Washington Woods and the Kenloch subdivision and the Paddocks development, said unlike some other builders “we never hit rock bottom.”
“There have been slow times that we’ve all faced, but right now, I’m in the process of building 16 custom homes in Naperville at prices that range from $650,000 to $1.5 million,” Stanitz said. “Most of my buyers are about 35 years old and up and are looking to upgrade from where they’ve been living.”
Stanitz argues that lack of open land in Naperville has sent many builders scurrying elsewhere or finding themselves out of business.
“Clearly the resale market will be where a lot of future sales will come as there is very little land here left, but some people in the higher-priced homes are finding that if their $500,000 resale property needs a roof and a furnace and new windows, they’re almost better off buying new,” he said. “With few exceptions, the $300,000 tract homes aren’t here anymore because there isn’t any land.”
Tracey Larsen, a broker with Ricke Realty based in Oak Brook, said clients coming to Naperville are drawn by the city’s reputation for good schools, accessibility to major highways, and the great list of amenities.
“Most of the potential buyers are looking to upgrade and because of the interest rates, some may be willing to over extend themselves a bit compared to a few years ago,” she said.