Despite increased home prices and higher interest rates, housing market in Topeka still red hot


Roger Pettingell Sarasota Real Estate

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Interest rates are up substantially since the start of the year.

Housing prices also are up.

Despite that, there is no shortage of buyers for houses that go up for sale in Topeka and Shawnee County.

Abbey Wostal, president of the Sunflower Association of Realtors in Topeka, said the market “has been great.”

In fact, many buyers are having to make offers that are higher than the asking price of houses in Topeka and Shawnee County, she said.

“It’s been a fight for a lot of buyers,” Wostal said, “because there has been more buyers than what there has been inventory.”

It’s the ages-old case of “supply and demand,” Wostal said.

The Topeka real estate market may be slowing “a little bit” in part because interest rates are up in recent months, Wostal said.

On Jan. 1, one Topeka lending institution was listing its 30-year mortgage rate at 3.0% while a 15-year note was listed at 2,25%.

On Monday, the institution was listing a 30-year home loan at 5.5% and a 15-year loan at 4.75%.

In spite of the increase in interest rates and prices, Wostal said homes continue to sell quickly in Topeka.

She said Topeka prices are still a bargain compared to some nearby cities.

“Our prices are still great,” Wostal said. “Though it seems high for what we’ve been used to because it has gone up over the last two years, it’s still such a value for what you get here compared to even 30 miles away or 50 miles away.”

With the higher real estate prices, property tax valuations also have gone up in Shawnee County.

“No one likes higher taxes, myself included,” Wostal said. “Mine went up pretty steeply. But at the end of the day, our home values have gone up, too.”

Shawnee County Appraiser Steve Bauman says prices began to skyrocket around two years ago.

“The market exploded and our appraised values had to reflect that,” Bauman said Monday, “so they’ve been increasing quite a bit over the last couple of years.”

Bauman said property tax appeals nearly doubled from 2022 compared to 2021 in Shawnee County. There were around 950 appeals a year ago and more than 1,800 this year.

“Of the 1,880 appeals that we had,” Bauman said, “there were probably 750 adjustments — 39, 40 percent — which is about normal.”

Still, the number of appeals in 2022 is far below the approximate 8,000 that were filed in 1995, according to the Shawnee County appraiser’s office.

Bauman said the increased taxes on a $100,000 house that saw a 10 percent hike in valuation with no change in mill levy would be approximately $185, based on its location in Shawnee Count.

In spite of the increase in home prices and property taxes, Bauman says real estate in Shawnee county remains “affordable,” especially compared to nearby cities such as Kansas City.

Bauman said the median sale price for a home in Shawnee County from January to the first week of June this year was $185,000.

For those looking to buy a house in Shawnee County, Bauman has this piece of advice.

“It’s moving fast,” Bauman said of the Topeka and Shawnee County real estate market, “and if you’re interested in buying a house, you’ve got to move.”

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