Moving On Up: Home Sales Continue to Rise Around the Chicago Area

April 23, 2010

Great news for the Chicago real estate market: The sale of existing homes increased almost 50 percent in March compared to a year ago.

According to the Illinois Association of Realtors, there were 1,814 Chicago homes sold last month and only 1,212 sold in March 2009; a 49.7 percent increase. That makes March 2010 the seventh straight month of year-over-year increases.

And, the good news is not limited to the city. March sales were up in 54 out of 99 Illinois counties including Grundy, 19.4 percent; Will, 31.6 percent; Lake, 39.1 percent; Cook, 50.8 percent; DuPage, 51.8 percent; and Kane County, which saw a gain of a whopping 72.5 percent in sales compared to the same month last year.

About 44 percent of March home sales in Illinois were made by first-time homebuyers, thanks in large part to the tax credit.

The news about home prices wasn’t as positive, as the median sale price for a Chicago home fell 4.6 percent in March ($209,000) compared to last March ($219,000). In the Chicago area, the median price was $175,000; a decrease of 6.4 percent compared to $187,500 in 2009.

“Forecasts for the second quarter of 2010 suggest a modest rise in median prices in absolute terms,” said Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois. “There is increasing evidence that the housing market is stabilizing.”

In fact, each month this year has seen an increase; after 1,202 properties were sold in January, February posted 1,225 sales. March’s numbers made January and February numbers look more like March 2009 stats, and with the tax credit still available, I’ll bet April numbers are going to see gains as well.

So, the question has to be: Is that increase going to continue after the federal home buyer tax credit expires on April 30?

“Statewide and in the Chicagoland region we’ve seen double-digit sales increases for the past six months spurred largely by the tax credit and the strong buyer-market conditions,” said Mike Onorato, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors. “And the forecast for the next three months indicates this trend should continue.”

I guess we’ll see.

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