Home sales boom in Ogle County


OREGON – Nationally, there has been an increase in people moving out of cities and into more rural areas thanks to COVID-19 and the work-from-home environment.

People making that move have created something called a “Zoom town,” a take on boom town named after a popular video conferencing platform that has seen its use rise during the pandemic.

And you can add Ogle County to the areas being affected by this phenomenon. Home sales in the county have spiked, with one company in Oregon having a record year in 2020.

Rebecca Hazzard, Managing Broker/Owner with RE/MAX of Rock Valley in Oregon, said their sales in 2020 were about $75 million total. That is $25 million more than the total sales in 2019.

“We really had a perfect storm of crazy world events that you thought would have slowed people from wanting to move,” she said.

But the opposite proved to be true. After COVID initially slowed business to nearly a stop, Hazzard said by the middle of April, “Our phones were ringing off the hook.”

She said they saw a “huge” influx of people from the Chicago area moving to the county. She said some bought a second home, while others relocated their families to the area permanently.

There were also local people looking to move as well.

“Local people are wanting to move up into bigger spaces, suburban people are wanting to come out to areas that are less congested,” she said of the buyers.

She said some would call and tell her how much cash they wanted to spend and say that they wanted to close in two weeks and asked her to find them a home.

She said there are many things that people find attractive about the area.

“Lower taxes, parks, space, great schools,” she said.

Of course, they also wanted to make sure the area had good Internet connectivity.

Hazzard said that not one area of the county was more popular than another. She also said that they sold homes in all price ranges. The most expensive would have been the $600,000 to $800,000 range.

The sales have, of course, affected the prices of homes. In 2019, Hazzard said the median home price in Ogle County was about $135,000. Now it is nearly $155,000.

And all of this was accomplished in a very different environment to sell and buy a home. Hazzard said they used Zoom calls, FaceTime for showings and did a lot of electronic signings. She said more than once people called about a home and bought it without even touring it in person.

Hazzard said the entire staff of 14 agents at RE/MAX of Rock Valley worked hard for those great numbers in 2020. She said 2021 has started a bit slower, and that can be linked to the success of 2020.

“We need listings.,” she said. “We have buyers who lost out in the bidding wars from the 2020 season who have not bought a home.”

That low inventory means people are still looking, and prices could continue to climb. That is great for those who are retiring to Florida and selling their homes. But it is not so great for those who are still looking.

She said they will send our mailers and use referrals and other techniques to find more homes to sell. For anyone looking to sell in Ogle County, Hazzard does have a little advice.

“It is a great time to sell,” she said.