A long-awaited turnaround in the Quad-City region’s housing market helped lift Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors to a record year for home sales in 2012 — just as the family-owned company celebrated its sesquicentennial.
“Nice way to end our 150th birthday year,” Caroline Ruhl, the company’s president, said of a year that produced record sales volume, revenues and number of properties sold.
The year-end results were announced Friday during the company’s annual awards brunch at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center, Bettendorf.
While crediting the company’s success to her agents and staff, Ruhl said in an interview with the Quad-City Times that the simple fact was “the market came back.”
“In January of last year, it was like someone opened the floodgates and it just continued all year.”
The company reported $807.53 million in total sales volume — an increase of more than 36 percent over 2011.
Residential sales volume in the Quad-Cities Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, was up 22 percent, including an 18 percent increase in the Illinois Quad-Cities and a 24 percent increase in the Iowa Quad-Cities.
Ruhl & Ruhl, whose other markets span eastern Iowa, Des Moines, southwest Wisconsin and the Galena, Ill., area, saw growth in all its markets but one — the Maquoketa/Preston/Bellevue, Iowa, area. There, Ruhl’s sales volume decreased 7 percent. But the other markets saw increased sales volume ranging from 4 percent in DeWitt, Iowa, to 30 percent in southwest Wisconsin.
A record number of properties sold were sold in 2012 — with Ruhl agents selling 5,168 properties as either the listing agent or selling agent. This was a 24.5 percent increase over 2011. Ruhl’s average sales price increased more than 9 percent from $142,843 in 2011 to $156,256 in 2012. In the Quad-City MLS, 14 percent more properties were sold.
Revenue in a real estate company is primarily gross commission income. Ruhl’s was up 34.2 percent in 2012.
Ruhl credited her agents for having the highest per agent productivity in the region — closing, on average, 18.12 transactions per agent. The national average, according to National Association of Realtors, is 7 sales per agent.
Ruhl & Ruhl’s market share grew in the Quad-Cities from 37 percent in 2011 to 39 percent last year — making it the largest residential broker in the Quad-Cities.
Although its own listings were up in 2012, she said “The biggest risk we have in 2013 is there won’t be enough inventory.”
“I don’t think people know the market has turned around,” she said, adding that for six years the economy and uncertain job market has stalled homeowners from putting their home on the market.
Last year, Ruhl & Ruhl agents listed a total of 3,696 properties — an 11 percent increase from 3,317 listings in 2011. But Ruhl said active inventory listed for sale in the Quad-Cities is down 14 percent.
The company’s sales force grew gained 11 agents, ending 2012 with 286 agents. In addition, 73 employees work for the company, equating to 51 full-time staff.
Ruhl agents sold 336 new construction homes or condos in 2012 — a 38 percent increase from the 243 sold the prior year. Regionally, its average sales price increased from $293,297 in 2011 to $313,157 in 2012. In the Quad-Cities alone, Ruhl sold 267 percent new homes or condos, which was a 17 percent increase.
Ruhl & Ruhl’s in-house mortgage company Shelter Mortgage, formerly known as 1862 Mortgage, closed $145.5 million in sales volume in 2012. That was a 56 percent increase over 2011’s sales volume of $93.12 million. It employs 14 people, including seven loan officers. She credited the growth to a surge in refinancing.
Ruhl told her agents that 2013 would be “a breakthrough year,” citing a new mobile app Mobile Ruhl, that was rolled out at the brunch, a new brand for the company and plans for a new website in the spring.