KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Heading into March, people looking to buy or sell a home are getting ready to wade into the housing market again.

The last three years have been so crazy that many people decided to just stay on the sidelines, keeping people out of their space during the worst months of a global pandemic.

Recent data in the last two months around the Kansas City metro has real estate experts optimistic about what could be coming when “for sale” signs start to pop up on front lawns again.

“We’ve come off two incredibly crazy years in real estate,” said Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes President and CEO Christian Barnes. “Probably two of, historically, the best years we’ve had in real estate.”

Now, Barnes says the market is returning to normal with more homes being put on the market and high demand kept in check by rising interest rates.

“It was kind of a healthy pause,” said Barnes, referring to higher rates that made it more expensive for homebuyers to get loans. “It freaked a lot of people out, but it was a healthy pause but now we’re starting to pick back up and see a normal market.”

Still, the frantic market has left a lasting impact.

The average price for a home in the Kansas City region has increased roughly 30 percent in two years, according to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes. It’s data showed the average price in 2020 at $241,014 but at $308,916 by 2022.

Those kinds of changes are what keep buyers like Bailey Stef from jumping into the Kansas City market feet first.

“I’m moving to the Kansas City area and if this is going to be my permanent place, I’m definitely going to buy again, but it’s, more or less, I’m just sort of traumatized by the loan experience before,” Stef said.

She bought and sold homes in 2019 and 2021 in the Las Vegas, Nevada area, experiencing the housing market at two drastically different times.

Recently raised interest rates is one of the reasons she’s slow to buy right now, trying to get a slightly better rate if she waits just a little longer.

“You definitely do pump the brakes because you’re like, ‘Why would I do that,” Stef said.

But, Barnes says even after the COVID-related housing market disruptions, the KC region is gearing up for what could be another hiccup. The new Panasonic electric vehicle battery plant in De Soto, and the demand it will place on the housing market, is already being felt from Johnson County to Lawrence.

“We’re already seeing demand on the land out there,” Barnes said. “Developers are trying to get every square inch of land out there to developed.”

Working for you, FOX4 asked Barnes what buyers should prepare for when they start looking for homes.

She says: Get pre-approved, work with a professional, and follow the 80% rule.

Pre-approval is important so you know what you can afford, but Barnes says also think hard about what you’re comfortable spending. It’s important to know if your comfort level is lower than what your bank account can handle.

Working with a professional helps you navigate the nuances of what can be a complicated and intimidating process.

The 80% rule reminds buyers to be comfortable getting 80% of what they want out of a home search. She says even new construction projects often don’t give buyers everything on their wish list.