2012 Rockford housing sales hit five-year high

Staff Report

Rockford Area Realtors sold 3,815 homes and condos in Winnebago, Boone and Ogle counties in 2012, the highest total in five years. Total 2012 sales were 18.7 percent higher than 2011, when 3,213 properties were sold, marking the first year-over-year increase since the U.S. housing bubble burst in 2007.

Rockford Realtors sold 7,192 homes in 2006, the most ever. Sales dropped 18.7 percent to 5,844 homes in 2007, with successive drops each year through 2011. The 2012 number of 3,815 properties sold is close to the 2008 total of 3,978, the second year of the housing recession.

The housing market turned the corner in 2012, and there is no reason to believe that buyer demand will not maintain momentum throughout 2013,” said Steve Bois, CEO of Rockford Area Realtors.

The average three-month rolling price rebounded in December. The average price was $101,411, up 2.4 percent from $99,007 in November, and up 3.4 percent from $98,076 in December 2011.

Bois said he expects prices to continue to rise.

Housing pricing is determined by supply and demand. Demand will remain strong through 2013, while inventory has been dropping,” Bois said.

Local housing inventory fell to 2,010 properties in December, the lowest level in nine years.

Rockford Area Realtors also expect total housing sales to continue to increase, buoyed by first-time homebuyers and move-up sellers.

First-time buyers made up 39 percent of buyers in November 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors, approaching the historical level of 42 to 45 percent of the market for which they typically account.

Bois said there is “shadow demand” in the housing market, with an estimated 3 to 5 million young people, most in their 20s and 30s, who have been riding out the shaky economy by moving back in with their parents or staying with friends.

Now,” Bois said, “as they start to get jobs, they’re looking for their own places.”

Many experts believe move-up sellers will be the biggest surprise of the coming year.

Over the last several years, negative equity has prevented many of these sellers from moving up to the house of their dreams,” Bois said. “However, with sales and prices recovering, more and more of these sellers will realize that now may be their greatest opportunity to make a move to the lifestyle they’ve always wanted.

The signs of the turnaround are hard to ignore,” Bois added. “If the mainstream forecasts of economic growth this coming year are correct, Rockford-area housing will continue to navigate a slower-than-normal, but steady recovery track behind a recuperating U.S. economy.”

Following are Rockford market annual sales (properties sold) by year dating to 2008:

2012 — 3,815

2011 — 3,213

2010 — 3,341

2009 — 3,642

2008 — 3,978

From the Jan. 16-22, 2013, issue

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