New numbers show how much an average home is worth in each Douglas County city; rural homes see values rise the most
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Whether it is to be nearer to where the deer and the antelope play or simply to be farther away from pandemic crowds, a home on the range seems to be growing both in popularity and price in Douglas County.
While there has been a lot of attention on the shortage of available and affordable homes in Lawrence, a new set of statistics from the Douglas County appraiser’s office shows that rural homes in the county are the ones that actually have seen their values rise the most.
The county recently calculated the median value for homes across the county and in all three of the county’s incorporated cities. It is no surprise that the highest-valued homes are located in rural Douglas County. That’s long been the case, as there are plenty of large homes in the wide open spaces of the county, and often the properties come with lots of land, which increases the overall value.
The more interesting part of the report is how quickly the value of those rural homes has been increasing. The median value of rural properties, as of the beginning of 2021, increased 9.8% compared with their median values in early 2020. That’s a much quicker growth rate than what was seen in Lawrence. In fact, Lawrence checked in at No. 4 out of 5 on the list of increasing home values.
Still, Lawrence homes saw plenty of increases. The median value of a Lawrence home increased by 5.9% during the year, which is strong growth but just not quite as strong as Eudora or Baldwin City posted.
Here’s a look at the complete breakdown, as compiled by the county appraiser’s office:
• Rural homes: $277,450 median value, up 9.8%.
• Lawrence homes: $208,800, up 5.9%.
• Eudora homes: $187,600, up 6.2%.
• Baldwin City homes: $182,300, up 6.1%.
• Lecompton homes: $129,280, up 1.5%.
A quick note about these numbers: These are median selling prices of homes in each community. Selling prices have been going up even faster than this in many areas, we’ve been reporting. Rather, these numbers are part of a broad study of housing values that look at not only the values for homes that are selling but also for those homes that aren’t on the market. How much homes are selling for certainly has an impact on these median values, but I didn’t want people to think that this is how much they should expect to pay if they are looking to buy a home in one of these areas.
One good use for these numbers, however, is to help homeowners determine what type of house they are living in. If you are living in Baldwin City, for example, and have wondered if your home is in the upper or lower half of home values in the community, these numbers should help you determine that.
Home values are rising, and real estate agents are bemoaning the lack of homes available for sale. It sounds like a recipe for a large spike in home-building activity in Lawrence.
It hasn’t, though. I figured a quick update on home building-activity in Lawrence fits in well here. The lack of new homes on the market is a major factor in rising home values. I’m still waiting on the City of Lawrence’s March building permit report, which will show us the full picture for the complete first quarter of 2021.
But I do have February’s report. It shows that through the first two months of the year city officials have issued building permits for 28 new single-family homes. That is a bit of an improvement from last year, when 23 permits were issued during the same period. That’s technically an increase of 21%. But when real estate agents have statistics that show the number of homes on the market currently is more than 100 units below historic totals, Lawrence has only five more new homes under construction than it did a year ago. That’s probably more meaningful than the percentage.
For even broader context, the 2021 numbers are well below the recent high of 40 permits issued during the first two months of 2017.
January and February aren’t the most active months for new home construction historically, so we’ll see if the March numbers show a bigger boost. But word in the construction industry is that skyrocketing lumber and materials costs are making it difficult to undertake new housing starts.
It is worth noting that other communities are seeing even worse numbers. The Kansas City metro area, through February, has seen an even slower growth rate in new home construction. The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City reports that single-family permits totaled 888 through February, an increase of just 58 new homes — about a 7% jump — for the entire Kansas City area.