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Weather's right to buy a new home

<div>CHAMPAIGN -- Home sales around the country are on the rise and buyers in Central Illinois are feeling the push.&nbsp; <br></div>
CHAMPAIGN -- Home sales around the country are on the rise and buyers in Central Illinois are feeling the push. A nationwide trend of open houses is fueling that fire.

More open houses happen this weekend than any other time of year. For many potential home buyers, you can't beat the opportunity to see a house in person before sealing the deal.

That's one of the reasons Lindsay Aikman came to town for the weekend. She's planning to move back to the city after spending a decade in Brooklyn. Buyers said seeing actual floor-plans instead of just dimensions on paper helps them feel more at home.

"This is a family with young kids. I can tell from the toys," said Aikman. "They're the toys my kids have so you start to feel like, if they live here, I could live here. If that can fit there, my kid's crib can fit there too."

Buyers said it also gives them the chance to check out the neighborhood and everything else nearby. Home sales in Champaign and Savoy went up more than 7% in March over last year. Realtors said there are lots of good things about the Champaign-Urbana area that make it appealing to buyers.

"Champaign is such a diverse community," said realtor PJ Trautman. "It's very close and easily accessible to St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, any big city, but it also has that small-town charm and feel to it."

Experts said that trend could continue if inflation stays in check and mortgage rates stay low. New home construction is also seeing an uptick around the country. More than 900,000 home builders broke ground in February. That's up 27% from the same time last year.

Illinois home sales also increased more than 16% from last February. Couples are more likely to walk through open houses than single buyers. And buyers who are 65 years and older are more likely to to find their home through an open house than any other age group.
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