January housing sales up 2.6 percent over 2010

From press release

Rockford-area home sales started 2011 with sales up slightly over January 2010 with the average selling price remaining flat.

A total of 160 homes and condos were sold this January, 2.6 percent more than 156 sold last January. The three-month rolling average sales price was $117,520, up from the average price of $116,675 in December, and relatively flat with last January’s average price of $118,723.

“The small gain in home sales in January is encouraging given the time of year and coming off last year’s sales total,” said Steve Bois, CEO of Rockford Area Realtors (RAR). “We expect total sales for this year to be up versus 2010, and hopefully pull up the average sales price along with it.”

He added, “In 2010, we saw significant demand from first-time buyers, and we look for the spring market to release some of the pent-up demand from many who’ve put off their move up or relocation plans on hold as we recover from the recession.”

Meanwhile, affordability conditions look to remain high in early 2011, with mortgage interest rates staying low. The annual average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage on homes sold in 2010 was 4.69 percent, the lowest annual rate since stats have been collected, dating back to 1971. For the week ending Jan. 27 this year, mortgage rates rose to an average 4.80 percent, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Prime Mortgage Market Survey.

Another set of good news is that the local economy is showing signs of improvement.

December year-on-year unemployment rates fell in every Illinois county for the first time since data have been collected in 1974, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. In Rockford, unemployment dropped from 16.3 percent in December 2009 to 13 percent in December 2010.

“Demographic trends will also help support growing housing demand this year and in coming years,” said Bois. “Households will be growing at an average annual rate of 1.2 million to 1.5 million over the next five to 10 years. If this happens, we’ll also need a sharp increase in housing production to keep up with the demand.”

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