CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – As mortgage rates and home prices increase nationally, the housing market has proved stressful for buyers, sellers and realtors. The Champaign County Association of Realtors just released its April sales report, and President Stefanie Pratt said May is a wildcard month for real estate.

In Champaign County, houses sold more quickly this April than during the same time last year. But the number of homes sold decreased by 10%.

Pratt has been in real estate for 19 years, and she said it’s a very unique time for everyone involved.

“You can look back on what our history is of recessions and food inflation, but this is the worst it’s ever been. So, will we come out of this and everything will be good? I wish there was a crystal ball and somebody could give a definite answer but you ask five different people and you’re getting a very different answer,” Pratt said.

Locally, she said the key difference lately is a change in buying power. In other words, the last couple of months have brought a constant rise in inflation. So, people today are less able to afford a home than even a few weeks ago. That’s slowing down the market, and it leads many to think they’re saving money by renting rather than buying a home.

“It’s not cheaper to rent. Actually, sometimes it’s equaled out or it’s cheaper to buy. You’re at least having your own buying power, but you want to make sure you actually do it right and you don’t overpay too much,” she said.

The cost of construction materials and gas have also been affecting home prices. Even though several factors remain rather unpredictable, Pratt said she doesn’t expect mortgage rates to keep spiking.

“We’re not expecting them to go above six percent interest rates, which are still good, they’re still not double digits,” she said.

She said realtors are used to a six-month market, but over the past two years, sales have sped up. And now, she said recent market changes may be a reminder to buyers of how things usually work.

“But the new buyers never experienced what we’re dealing with. Heck, we’ve not experienced what we’ve dealt with the last two years. Nobody has.”

Her biggest piece of advice for buyers? Pratt said going through a local lender can connect you with city and community programs to help you through the process.