Optimal buyer market conditions linger in Illinois housing market

March 2, 2011

From press release

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Buyer market conditions remain in most Illinoishousing markets as low mortgage interest rates helped spur some early buying in January despite typical slower sales for the winter month.

More than half of Illinois counties reported year-over-year increases or no change in home sales for January. According to the Illinois Association of Realtors’ latest report, statewide total home sales (which include single-family and condominiums) in January 2011 totaled 5,489 homes sold, down 1.8 percent from January 2010 sales of 5,588 homes.

The median price in January 2011 was $136,000, down 6.2 percent from $145,000 in January 2010. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half sold for less.

Realtor Sheryl Grider Whitehurst, ABR, CRB, GRI, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors and the development and operations coordinator for Traders Realty in Peoria, Ill., said: “Despite all odds, weather and economic factors included, the Illinois housing market did show some resiliency in terms of statewide home sales off less than 2 percent from January 2010 and up 14 percent from January 2009. We are seeing more buyers taking advantage of the low mortgage interest rates while they are still here. Rising rates are an expected trend for the year, so optimal opportunities really are here for the first-time or move-up buyer who has steady income and good credit.”

Whitehurst added: “Nearly half of Illinois counties reporting posted median price increases or no change for the month; single-family homes both statewide and in the nine-county Chicago region saw year-over-year median price increases in January. However, sales of distressed properties continue to exert significant downward pressure on prices, especially for condos in the Chicago and suburban markets.”

In the Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), total home sales (single-family and condominiums) in January 2011 were down 2 percent, totaling 3,844 homes sold, compared to January 2010 sales of 3,921 homes. The median price in January 2011 was $158,000, down 9.7 percent from $175,000 in January 2010.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region was 4.80 percent in January 2011, up from 4.72 percent during the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Last year in January, it averaged 5.06 percent.

Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois, said: “The sales volume for the first month of 2011 was a fairly promising signal. Sales declined by a very small amount in January year-over-year and would have been higher than 2010 had the effect of the homebuyer tax credit been removed. Prices, however, are still being challenged by the volume of distressed properties on the market.”

Hewings added: “The rental market is heating up. Further dramatic increases in rents could push consumers back to the housing market and become homeowners. Although the nation and the state economies are still facing many challenges in their efforts to recover from the recession, the long-term trends continue to show that both are moving forward and adding jobs.”

In the city of Chicago, January total home sales (single-family and condominiums) were down 14 percent to 1,034 sales compared to 1,202 homes sold in January 2010. The city of Chicago median price in January 2011 was $170,000, down 12.8 percent compared to $195,000 a year ago in January 2010.

Mabel Guzman, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors and a Realtor with Envision Real Estate LLC, Chicago, said: “The city of Chicago in January saw slow movement of inventory, with 14 percent fewer homes sold in January 2011 over the first month of 2010. This differential was expected given the federal tax credit that incentivized the market last year, and will likely show the same through the early spring. A decrease in the median price of condos purchased in Chicago by 14.6 percent to $239,000 in January 2011 is indicative of the downward pressure distressed properties continue to have on our market, and the challenges buyers face in securing condo financing.”

More than half of Illinois counties reporting (53 of 92 counties) showed year-over-year home sales increases or no change for the month of January. Forty-four counties reported median prices increases or no change compared to January 2010, including Boone, up 6.5 percent to $122,500; Champaign, up 7 percent to $153,000; Madison, up 21.8 percent to $131,500; Rock Island, up 11.6 percent to $92,900; Saint Clair, up 46.2 percent to $119,900; Sangamon, up 2.9 percent to $119,900; and Vermilion, up 6.4 percent to $62,250.

Sales and price information is generated from a survey of Multiple Listing Service sales reported by 35 participating Illinois Realtor local boards and associations including Midwest Real Estate Data LLC for the period Jan. 1-31, 2011. The Chicagoland PMSA, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes the counties of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

The Illinois Association of Realtors is a voluntary trade association whose 46,000 members are engaged in all facets of the real estate industry. In addition to serving the professional needs of its members, the Illinois Association of Realtors works to protect the rights of private property owners in the state by recommending and promoting legislation that safeguards and advances the interest of real property ownership.

Find Illinois market stats data at www.illinoisrealtor.org/marketstats.

From the March 2-8, 2011, issue

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