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Topeka lures out-of-state buyers with charm, financial incentives

Choose Topeka incentivizing out of state buyers to relocate

Topeka, Kansas, the sunflower state’s capital city, is not quite as bustling and metropolitan as some of the state’s larger cities, namely Kansas City and Wichita. But according to local Prestige Real Estate agent Kylie Edington, that’s the selling point.

“You get a small town feel here,” Edington said. “Everyone says that the people are super friendly and it’s such a centralized location because we are still close to Kansas City and Lawrence and Emporia. You can get to the bigger areas within an hour. But we have all the shopping and restaurants you need here and we’ve had a lot of downtown revitalization.”

The attraction of Topeka’s big city amenities and small town vibe has driven up demand in the city, catapulting it to eighth place on Realtor.com’s list of the hottest housing markets in September.

While home prices in the city remain very affordable, especially compared to other popular metros, September’s median list price of $159,900 represents a 12.2% year-over-year increase, according to Realtor.com.

Agents told Realtrends that it’s a mix of local and out-of-state buyers driving the strong demand.

“We are seeing a lot of local first-time homebuyers and a lot of move-up buyers,” local eXp agent Karey Brown said. “We are also getting a lot of people from California. Most of our relocations are coming from California, but we are also seeing people from other places.”

Edington has seen similar trends with most of her out of state buyers coming from California, but she has also worked with several buyers from Las Vegas, Colorado and the East Coast.

The low home prices are certainly one factor driving interest from out of state buyers, but the city’s Choose Topeka program, which provides monetary incentives for homebuyers who relocate to the area, is another.

The applications to the program are open to both on site and remote workers who move to the area and 60 candidates will be selected each year for up $15,000 in incentive pay.

“I send the Choose Topeka program to all of my out of state buyers,” Edington said. “They are basically paying people to move here.”

Although the market in Topeka has let up a bit since its peak in the spring, local agents said it is still running strong.

“We are still having some homes get multiple offers, but we are actually starting to get to the point where a few homes are on the market long enough that we can actually hold an open house,” Brown said. “So it is definitely slowing down a little. Before you would just put it on the market in the morning and by evening you’d have 12 offers come in.”

Edington attributed the slowdown to typical seasonal patterns, but she said that for her, things have sped back up in the past few weeks. “November is shaping up to be my busiest month this year,” she said.

As the market has cooled the number of bidding wars has also dropped, slowing the rapid price increases.

“Earlier in the year I had a client put in an offer for $40,000 over asking and they still didn’t get it,” Edington said. “But now we are seeing things go for full list price or a little over.”

Like countless other metros nationwide, inventory is low in Topeka. According the Kansas Association of Realtors, statewide, in the month of September, the number of active listings was down 17.7% year over year.

“Inventory was a problem even before COVID,” Brown said. “But it became really pronounced when COVID happened and it has just been getting worse. I think lately, though we are seeing a few more listings as we are seeing some homes sit on the market for a few days.”

Due to low the inventory and continued strong demand, homes are not sitting on the market for very long.

“Our average days on market right now is about 13 and our median days on market is even lower,” Amanda Lewis, a local Coldwell Banker Griffith & Blair American Home agent said.

Looking to the future, agents expect the hot market conditions to continue into next spring.

“As long as nothing drastic happens with the fed raising rates overnight or something like that, I think we will stay steady at where we are at,” Lewis said.

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