March home sales in Illinois best in four years;
median prices show signs of stabilizing

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois home sales posted the best March sales numbers in four years, and median prices snapped a 20-month streak of price declines, data released by the Illinois Association of REALTORS® show.

Statewide home sales (including single-family homes and condominiums) in March 2012 totaled 9,575 homes sold, up 21.1 percent from 7,904 home sales in March 2011. This was the best March performance since 2007 when 11,979 homes were sold.

The statewide median price in March was $130,000, even with March 2011. This is the first time the median price hasn’t decreased since June 2010. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

“There’s no doubt that these are strong numbers to open the spring selling season,” said Loretta Alonzo, CRB, GRI, president of the Illinois Association of REALTORS® and Broker/Owner of Century 21 Alonzo & Associates in La Grange Park. “To see such good sales numbers, coupled with a measure of price stability is encouraging news no matter what side of a real estate transaction you happen to be on.”

Alonzo said several factors are contributing to the March numbers. Foreclosures which were once bottlenecked in the court system are beginning to be resolved, interest rates continue to be at near-record lows and prices are attractive.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region was 3.99 percent in March 2012, down from 3.91 percent during the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Last year in March it averaged 4.86 percent.

In the nine-county Chicago Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), home sales (single family and condominiums) in March 2012 totaled 6,590 homes sold, up 23.8 percent from March 2011 sales of 5,323 homes. The median price in March 2012 was $151,850 in the Chicago PMSA, down 3.9 percent compared to last year in March when it was $158,000.

“There are encouraging signs in the market,” said Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois. “Sales volumes are up, time-on-the-market levels are down significantly from a year ago and prices appear to be stabilizing in Illinois although continuing to fall in Chicago. Further, in the last month there was a more even spread of sales prices compared to previous months where homes sold for less than $200,000 dominated the market.”

More than half of Illinois counties reporting (54 of 99) showed year-over-year home sales increases in March 2012. Sixty-seven (67) counties showed year-over-year median price increases including Champaign, up 5.8 percent to $137,000; DeKalb, up 15.0 percent to $115,000; Grundy, up 21.6 percent to $132,500; Kankakee, up 4.2 percent to $125,000; LaSalle, up 10.7 percent to $82,250; Madison, up 30.1 percent to $115,500; McLean, up 8.5 percent to $159,250; Peoria, up 35.6 percent to $126,750; Sangamon, up 11.9 percent to $126,500; and Saint Clair, up 5.9 percent to $90,000.

In the city of Chicago, March 2012 home sales (single family and condominiums) totaled 1,626, up 12.1 percent from 1,450 homes sold in March 2011. The city of Chicago median home sale price for March 2012 was $171,750, up 5.2 percent compared to March 2011 when it was $163,200.

“REALTORS® are continuing to see an increase in the number of buyers looking to buy a home today, as rents are going up and interest rates are at an all-time low,” said REALTOR® Bob Floss, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and Broker/Owner of Bob Floss and Son Realty. “While we are still closely monitoring the impact of distressed properties now and those that may enter the market in the coming year, continued stabilization of the market will ultimately come from buyers looking to make a long-term investment in a community with the dollars they invest today.”

Sales and price information is generated by Multiple Listing Service closed sales reported by 31 participating Illinois REALTOR® local boards and associations including Midwest Real Estate Data LLC data as of April 7, 2012 for the period March 1 through March 31, 2012. The Chicago 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 41,000 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.

Illinois Association of Realtors