Homes in the northern half of Washington County are in demand and are selling at a near record pace, according to Tina and Hayley Hershberger, realtors from Kalona Realty, Inc., Kalona.
At the time of this writing, there were eleven houses on the market in Kalona and seven already had offers on them. The other four had just been listed.
“I would anticipate the sale of homes in this area to remain good as long as interest rates remain low rate for fixed rate loans and with money being available to potential home buyers,” commented Tina who purchased Kalona Realty from Erma Ropp in 1992 after working in various positions with Farmers Savings Bank (now CBI Bank & Trust) for 14 years including home appraisals. She is now owner/broker.
“I’ve seen ups and downs in the housing market over the years,” she commented, “but I see continuing strong growth in housing in Kalona and other communities in Northern Washington and Johnson counties.”
One of the biggest changes in the real estate business has been the increase in documentation. “It originally required only a four page document,” Tina noted, “but now there is a lot more paperwork and disclosure documentation.”
In addition, realtors are required to do 36 hours of continuing education to be able to renew their realtor license every three years.
Another big change in the real estate business has been in marketing. When her daughter-in-law, Hayley, joined her as a realtor in 2014, she utilized the marketing skills she gained when she earned her Bachelors of Business Administration degree in Finance from the University of Iowa.
“We use a drone for taking photos and social media in the marketing of homes,” Tina pointed out. “It used to be that people would see a house in the newspaper and they would come into the office to find out more details.”
“Now we have all the details and photos on our webpage and Facebook page,” noted Hayley. “We post 24 to 48 photos taken with a digital camera as well as a drone. We can also give people a virtual tour of a house or the property. Drones are especially good to show property lines of acreages, etc.”
“We try to stay current or ahead of the curve of technology in the marketing of homes,” Hayley said. “We want to stay current with the demands of technology in our profession.”
Kalona Realty has been utilizing drones for the past three years to take exterior photos of residential and commercial properties.
“We hire a local firm to stage properties to give homes a more appealing look,” Hayley pointed out.
In addition to their own webpage and Facebook page, Kalona Realty listings are also on the Iowa City Area Multiple Listing and other national websites.
The utilization of webpages and Facebook has cut down considerably on foot traffic in the office at 221 1st Street (Bulltowne Plaza). “Prospective buyers can eliminate and/or select the houses they want to see by using our social marketing venues,” commented Tina. “They narrow down what they want to look at.”
“We are the only brick and mortar Realty office in northern Washington County,” Tina said. “And we work hard to earn the business of home sellers and buyers. We keep cost of homes sales low as we don’t charge processing or closing costs so we can keep our fees low.”
Kalona prices higher
“The average sale price of a house in our area (west of highway 218 and south of Interstate 80) in the January through March period has been around $153,446 but the average sale in Kalona has been about $171,957.” Hayley pointed out.
Both Tina and Hayley look for the Kalona housing market to remain strong. “We don’t have a lot of available houses or buildable lots,” Hayley said. “I anticipate that the lots in the new Valley View (along 12 Street, between H and J Avenues) will move fast.”
“Duplexes appeal to a wide variety of people ranging from people just getting started to older people who are downsizing,” she added.
When the city starts to develop the 54-acres between Highway 1 and Kreekside subdivision, the demand for both residential and commercial lots will be in demand, both agreed.
“We need more rental properties as we are continually getting calls for rentals,” Hayley said
“We have a unique community that continues to evolve and appeals to people wanting to live in a smaller community,” Tina said. She noted that the Mid-Prairie School District has always been a draw for potential buyers. The downtown revitalization and the new YMCA have also helped to stimulate more interest in Kalona.
“People come to visit, like what they see and want to move here,” Tina added.
“One thing that would help attract more people to our community is a bike trail connecting Kalona to Iowa City,” she said.
“Being able to drive golf carts in the city is also appealing,” she added, “but those people want housing east of Highway 1 for easy access to the downtown community.”
“We have a need for a mix of housing including single family, duplexes, rentals and condominiums as we grow,” Tina pointed out. Presently there is only one condominium housing in Kalona.
Besides being active as a realtor and real estate broker, Hayley is kept busy being involved in the Kalona Community. She is a member of Kalona First Responders as an EMT, Mid-Prairie Foundation Board, Holy Trinity (Richmond) parish council and is on the education committee for the Iowa City Multiple Listing Service. Recently she was selected to serve on the Kalona Committee for exploration of future use of the Shiloh property.
Hayley and her husband, Riley, have two children.
Tina has been involved in the Kalona Chamber, Kalona Rotary (serving as blood drive chair for a number of years), Mid-Prairie education and building committees, and United Fund. Now she has more time to spend with her four grandchildren.
Tina and husband Clayton have two sons, Riley and Austin and four grandchildren.