For the first time ever, the Rockford housing market has scored year-to-year increases for 10 straight months.
Rockford Area Realtors sold 284 homes in March, 34.6 percent higher than 211 properties sold in 2011. The longest previous sales streak ran for eight months ending in October 2001 (since stats have been collected dating back to 1998).
“March marks a 10-month rise in Rockford-area home sales,” said Steve Bois, CEO of Rockford Area Realtors. “This remarkable string of sales gains shows that there are clearly more people in the market.”
Bois said strong market activity was supported by the 12,181 unique visitors who used the association website in March to look for homes, the largest number since the site was launched in February 2008 with 6,792 users.
The three-month rolling average price rose slightly from $94,907 in February to $95,920 in March.
Bois said housing activity and prices are significantly affected by employment.
“As goes employment,” Bois said, “so goes housing. Certainly, the economy is doing better these days. Job numbers have been up sharply three months in a row, leading to a jump in consumer confidence.”
Bois said that for 10 of 12 months in 2011, Illinois’ employment growth matched that of the United States, and exceeded that for the rest of the Midwest, stronger employment gains than Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri. Typically, Illinois lags the nation in economic measures.
Increased faith in the economy may soon be reflected in housing prices. For all of 2011, prices nationally fell 4.7 percent versus the previous year. Excluding distressed sales, home prices dropped just 0.9 percent. And looking at the last two months for which national figures are available, non-distressed sales prices rose 0.2 percent month over month in December 2011 and 0.7 percent in January 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors.
In Illinois, economic uncertainty has not kept residents from the belief that owning a home is a fundamental part of the American Dream, according to a new survey by the Illinois Association of Realtors. The survey of 600 homeowners and renters in the state revealed that 82 percent believe homeownership is a key goal for Illinoisans and that 34 percent believe prices will increase in the next five years.
“We’re seeing growing consumer confidence, historically low interest rates and attractive home prices,” Bois said. “It’s encouraging to see this data that show how important homeownership is to Illinois residents.”
From the April 11-17, 2012, issue