Mike Helland never thought he'd be a homeowner at the age of 22. But because the way the housing market was looking, he took a leap of faith.
"We wanted to buy now because it's predicted in the next five years that the housing market's going to go up, so maybe in a couple years if I want to go somewhere else and buy maybe a nicer house, the value of this should be up," says Helland.
He closed on his new home at the end of September, one of 355 other properties sold in Winnebago, Boone, Ogle counties that month.
Rockford Area Realtors CEO Steve Bois says, "There's been a pent-up demand for a long time, we're seeing that come out. Our interest rates are moving up, but they're still very low. We're seeing some impacts of our industrial expansion coming back in. Another good news in the marketplace is the unemployment rate dropped almost a full percentage point."
As a member of the Army National Guard, Helland got $10,000 in down payment assistance from the Welcome Home Heroes project to help with the cost.
"I ended up getting a pretty good price with the free money for being a veteran, I just took advantage of it when I could," say Helland.
His home was also a foreclosure.
"We have some lagging inventory on the foreclosed side of things, it creates great deals for buyers, but the bottom line is, foreclosures drag down the average price of homes, so as we clean up the foreclosed inventory, you'll see the average price of homes go up."
Already, that trend is starting to materialize. September home prices in the greater Rockford area are up for the fifth month in a row. The average price of homes sold in the last three months is around $113,000, up from $106,000 one year ago.