Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors posted record sales in 2018, and officials expect low unemployment and consumer confidence to continue to boost home sales in 2019.
The Quad-City based residential real estate firm reported sales volume of $917,973,157, up 3.7 percent from 2017.
The company announced the year-end results last Friday, as president Chris Beason and CEO Caroline Ruhl honored 234 award winners for accomplishments over the year. More than 300 agents, staff members and business affiliates celebrated at the Rhythm City Casino in Davenport, according to a news release.
"We are absolutely blessed to work with the best team in the industry," Beason said to staff members. "Our amazing team of knowledgeable, caring and committed professionals is what sets our company apart ... You all inspire us (to) lead from a place of passion and we appreciate the commitment you make every day — to better yourself, your business and one another."
Ruhl announced these other company results in 2018:
• Properties sold: Ruhl & Ruhl sold 5,429 properties in 2018, a 2 percent increase in transactions from the previous year.
• Revenue: In real estate, revenue is primarily gross commission income, which was $27,235,889, or an increase of 4 percent from 2017.
• New listings: The company listed 3,127 properties for sale, a 1.8 percent jump from 2017.
• Agent productivity: On average, agents closed 16.7 transactions, more than double the national average for agent productivity, according to the release.
• Staff: Ruhl ended 2018 with 325 residential agents and 65 employees.
• Ruhl Mortgage: Ruhl Mortgage closed $124,917,165 in loan volume, generated by 727 loans.
• Commercial sales: NAI Ruhl Commercial Company, a joint venture with Ruhl & Ruhl Relators, sold $127,548,404 in commercial real estate in 2018.
"I'd say (we had a record year) because we have great agents — agents who work harder and do more business per agent than most companies," CEO Caroline Ruhl said in an interview. "It's their commitment to great service that enables us to do so well."
She expects the boost in home sales to continue in 2019, especially with low unemployment and high consumer confidence. Ruhl said the Quad-Cities has so far avoided falling home sales and prices reported in larger metro areas.
"The National Association of Realtors and a lot of key economists in the real estate industry are projecting flat or down sales for the next year," Beason said in an interview. "But they have also said it's mostly due to affordability in major metros. In large metro areas, affordability is becoming a problem. But we haven't seen that here. Smaller markets like ours in the Midwest are projecting sales to be up."
Ruhl & Ruhl expects home values to continue to appreciate. In the region, homes appreciated from 2 percent to 4.72 percent last year, depending on the market and price range of the homes, according to the release.
But mortgage rates will trend upward, the company predicts. Ruhl said mortgage rates in mid-January are at their lowest levels since last April, and economists forecast rates to be higher than 5 percent by the end of the year.
Ruhl also anticipates the increase in home inventory to increase, especially for mid to high-end homes priced at $250,000 or higher.
"We expect buyers to have more homes to choose from this year," she said in the release. "There continues to be a supply and demand disconnect. More buyers for homes under $250,000, but more homes available over $300,000."
A family-owned company since 1862, Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors has grown to 325 sales associates, 65 employees and 11 offices, selling more than 5,400 homes in eastern Iowa, western Illinois and southwest Wisconsin. Ruhl & Ruhl is the largest privately owned real estate company in Iowa, according to Ruhl.