Local Realtors elect new leaders in steady market

Technology, home sizes, colors, prices and buyer preferences have all changed over the years but the role of a Realtor has remained pretty much the same.

Realtors counsel buyers and sellers through transactions, navigating all issues from showings and inspections to closing.

Local members of the Norman Board of Realtors recently elected new officers with Doug Bergman as president in 2020 and Lara Elliott as his successor in 2021. Peggy Wright currently serves as board president.

Members will gather at Lake Murray in October for their annual planning retreat.

“The greatest role that we play is keeping a market between the boundaries on price and encouraging the market to not get out of control,” says Bergman, a Realtor for about 15 years.

Central Oklahoma’s market has been steady and has not seen fluctuations like other metro areas.

“One of the great things about our market is it just rolls along,” said Bergman, of Vawter Real Estate. “We don’t have the wild swings in our market.”

That’s important because a home is often the largest purchase families will make in a lifetime.

Elliott, of Vanguard Real Estate, has worked in local real estate for about 20 years. She remembers her early days printing and copying listings for buyers. Technology consisted of facsimile machines, pagers and early cell phones.

“Buyers today usually have an idea what they’re looking for,” she said. “They sometimes know about listings before we do. It all happens very fast."

Some buyers can find and purchase a home without ever setting foot inside.

Locally, the number of new listings in Norman’s five zip codes were up nearly 8% in August compared to August 2018, according to information supplied by the Oklahoma City MLS.

Bergman said the continued low interest rates has tightened the market.

“Interest rates are as low as the year I was born, 1954,” Bergman said. “We’ve been able to maintain the long-term, low interest rates. Who knows how long it will last.”

Buyers moving to Norman or just investing in real estate here are often surprised by the value compared to where they are coming from.

“They can buy a lot more house here than where they are coming from,” Elliott said.

The average sales price in August of 2019 was $212,720, up 1.3% from August 2018, according to the MLS figures. There were 526 homes on the market compared to 524 a year earlier.

In Norman last month, a home listed by a Realtor on MLS sat on the market an average of 39 days. There were 224 new listings in August compared to 208 in August 2018.

Mirroring the national trend, the number of closed sales was down but pending sales were up nearly 20%. The National Association of Realtors on Thursday reported pending home sales were up 1.6% in August and 2.5% year-over-year.

“It is very encouraging that buyers are responding to exceptionally low interest rates,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a news release. “The notable sales slump in the West region over recent years appears to be over. Rising demand will reaccelerate home price appreciation in the absence of more supply.”

Nationally, Realtors are forecasting home sales to rise 0.6% in 2019 and another 3.4% in 2020. Housing starts are predicted to increase by 2% in 2019 and jump an additional 10.6% in 2020, which in turn raises GDP to growth at 2% in 2020.

The Norman Board of Realtors counts about 640 current members and another 79 affiliate members, according to executive director Robin Johnson. The agency moved into new quarters at 4211 28th Ave. NW earlier this year. The board hosts continuing education sessions, lunch and learn and other events at the office. Monthly programs often highlight trends in the community and inform Realtors about central Oklahoma. Charity events support numerous community causes.

“It’s not just about being a homeowner here, it’s about this being an awesome place to live,” said Bergman.

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