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Extreme weather challenges local real estate agents

The winter real estate market is always a little tepid, but experts say this year’s constant snowfall and subzero temperatures have made it downright frozen.

“I’ve seen a lot of conditions, but I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this,” said Elaine Stevenson, a Realtor with Roediger Realty in Springfield and president-elect of the Springfield Board of Realtors.

In her 16 years in the business, Stevenson said she can’t recalled a colder winter. It has induced some home-buyers to stay inside, though she said she’s been surprised that more of her viewings haven’t been cancelled.

But another consequence that few realize is the havoc this weather can wreak on those homes on the market, especially the ones that are vacant or are in foreclosure. Stevenson said her No. 1 rule for property owners is to have their water shut off, even if the heat is on, to prevent pipe bursts. It’s been known to happen, she said, and with temperatures dipping below zero this week it’s a problem on the top of every Realtor’s mind.

“They have the heat on sometimes, which is great, but the owners don’t always take into consideration that the electric might come off and the pipes burst,” she said. “That’s one of the main problems in this area that we have with vacant properties.”

Realtor Janet Mulcare goes a step further by trying to check her properties every few days, shoveling sidewalks and doing a walk-through to make sure no one’s broken into the home seeking warmth or items inside.

“People think we just list houses and boom! We sell them,” the Dayton agent said. “But, no, we are caretakers, too.”

It’s a job homeowner Ken Osmand Jr., who is selling a home in Dayton, said he truly appreciates.

“With the zero temperatures and trying to bring people in this time of year for a home, you know it is tough, but at least we’ve got it on the market,” he said. “Hopefully things go pretty good.”

The home market usually thaws out around mid-March. But after such cool sales this winter, Mulcare said she’s praying for a heat wave.

“All of us who are out making sure our properties are in good shape just want a chance to sell them,” she said.

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