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Pandemic could put brakes on Illinois real estate market

By Ken Bessler

CHICAGO – The coronavirus outbreak could put the brakes on the housing market in Illinois.

In February, homes sales were up 5% and the median prices increased 7 percent compared to the previous year.

Ed Neaves, president of Illinois Realtors, said its seller’s market.

“Not only are the houses selling in one, two or three days, but the offers are very high because the inventory is low, people are competing because of the lack of numbers of houses,” he said.

Neaves said he believes low-interest rates helped fuel the housing market at the beginning of the year. The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.47%in February. In February 2019, it averaged 4.37%.

Geoffrey Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois, said it is unclear how the pandemic will affect the housing market.

In the past, consumers have become very risk-averse when faced with uncertainties about the economy,” Hewings said. “The difference with the current crisis is the limitations on interactions and fear of infection. This may prove to have a very significant impact on the housing market over the next two to three months.”

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.

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