ILLINOIS — Rockford has been ranked as the top city in Illinois for new homebuyers.
The study was conducted by Insurify, a home insurance comparison site. Researchers looked at a number of factors including real estate demand, employment levels, and public school enrollment to come up with the best city in every state for first-time buyers.
“Rockford is so accessible, with such a variety of housing stock, and so many neighborhoods you can choose from,” said Conor Brown, chief executive officer at Rockford Area Realtors. “It really is kind of an attractive market for a first-time homebuyer who’s really tired of paying rent or living with Mom and Dad.”
Home sales in the region were up six-percent in 2020, to around 5,200 units. The area also set an all-time high for average sales price at around $151,000.
“It’s pretty much sizzling everywhere in the area,” Brown said. “We’re seeing such dwindling inventory across the region.”
A higher score was assigned to cities in the survey with higher public school enrollment and low unemployment rates.
“Rockford is known for its aerospace cluster, its logistics, everything that’s going on at the airport from UPS to Amazon,” Brown said. “There is just a lot of activity and opportunity for people to get jobs or change jobs within the Rockford market.”
High property taxes in the state appear to still pop up as a hurdle for some buyers, but there are mitigating factors.
“It is going to be a barrier for first-time homebuyers or possibly move up buyers when they’re seeing high tax bills,” Brown said. “I will say the fact that some of the purchase prices being a little bit lower, as well as low-interest rates, kind of help smooth some of those edges so that people can get into those homes.”
Brown has noticed a change in the type of buyer since the pandemic began.
“We’ve had a lot of people move to the city and our region from higher density, urban areas like Chicago or New York City,” Brown said. “They’re taking advantage of bigger homes, more space, the recreational aspects that are easily accessible.”
He credits affordable housing stock, great location, and cultural amenities as drivers of the increased interest.
“We are so accessible to Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago,” Brown said. “Just having an airport, like O’Hare, where you can fly anywhere in the world, basically, an hour from your doorstep is quite amazing.”
The Center Square – Scot Bertram
A radio veteran with nearly twenty years of experience, Scot Bertram is the General Manager of Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM, the student radio station at Hillsdale College. Bertram is also the co-host of “Political Beats” for National Review Online.