SPRINGFIELD, IL – January 26, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Illinois housing markets show signs of stabilizing as low interest rates and the tax credit stimulus helped to reduce inventories through the end of 2009 while more markets reported median price increases in December. According to the Illinois Association of REALTORS® latest report, statewide total home sales (which include single-family and condominiums) in December 2009 were up 20.1 percent, totaling 8,197 homes sold compared to December 2008 sales of 6,823 homes, marking the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases statewide. The median price in December 2009 was $152,000 down 1.9 percent from $155,000 in December 2008. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half sold for less.
For the year, Illinois home sales were down just 1.5 percent to 107,503 homes sold compared to 109,195 homes sold in 2008. The year-end statewide median price for 2009 was $157,000, down 14.6 percent from $183,900 in 2008.
“Four consecutive months of sales increases and two months of median price increases in 40 to 50 percent of Illinois counties are all good signs that markets are stabilizing in some areas although the overall economy must improve to see a full recovery in the housing market,” said REALTOR® Mike Onorato, GRI, president of the Illinois Association of REALTORS® and broker-owner of Onorato Real Estate in Coal City. “In 2009, we saw demand primarily for lower-priced homes from first-time buyers in addition to short sales and sales of foreclosed homes. There is opportunity now for the move-up buyer to take advantage of the tax credit that ends April 30 and lower mortgage interest rates, which many analysts expect to rise by mid-year.”
Adds Onorato: “In the year ahead REALTORS® support continued programs to stem foreclosures and help people refinance or sell, as well as a focus on job creation and retention by state and local governments. As the economy improves so will the housing market.”
In the Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), year-over-year home sales were positive for the sixth consecutive month, up 33.1 percent to 5,752 homes sold (single-family and condominiums) in December 2009 compared to 4,320 homes sold in December 2008. The median home sale price for the Chicagoland PMSA was $183,000 in December 2009, down 10.4 percent from $204,200 in December 2008.
For the year, Chicagoland PMSA home sales were off slightly at -0.2 percent totaling 69,290 homes sold compared to 69,406 homes sold in 2008. The year-end Chicagoland PMSA median price for 2009 was $196,000, down 18.3 percent from $240,000 in 2008.
The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region was 5.04 percent in December 2009, up from 4.93 percent during the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Last year in December it averaged 5.19 percent.
“The continuation of positive changes in annual sales data recorded in the last three months of 2009 is forecast to continue through the first quarter of 2010 and there is evidence to suggest that median prices might be starting to inch upwards,” said Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois. “Illinois’ March 2010 median price is forecast to be just above the level recorded a year earlier but Chicago’s median price will be down by just under 8 percent.”
Adds Hewings: “Illinois has recorded 24 months of job declines since the recession began in December 2007. Nationally, four in 10 of those currently unemployed have been in this position for more than 27 weeks.”
Illinois’ official unemployment rate in December reached 11.1 percent (up from 10.9 percent in November) and remained above the national rate of 10.0 percent in December.
In the city of Chicago, December total home sales (single-family and condominiums) were up 39.8 percent to 1,768 sales compared to 1,265 homes sold in December 2008. The city of Chicago median price in December 2009 was $210,000 down 10.6 percent compared to $235,000 a year ago in December 2008.
For the year, city of Chicago home sales were down 7.4 percent to 19,401 homes sold compared to 20,946 homes sold in 2008. The year-end city of Chicago median price for 2009 was $225,000, down 22.4 percent from $290,000 in 2008.
“In the city of Chicago, December closed with nearly a 40 percent increase in units sold over the same period in 2009, indicating that the correction of the marketplace continues as distressed properties are absorbed by investors, and stimulus credit homebuyers continue to pave their way to making their purchases,” said REALTOR® Genie Birch, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and a broker associate with Koenig & Strey GMAC, Chicago. “We will continue to monitor closely the impact of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, as well as the evolving lending regulations, including FHA’s new guidelines, as we serve Chicago’s homebuyers in 2010.”
According to the IAR report, total home sales (single-family and condominiums) comparing December 2009 to the same month in 2008 were up in 50 of 99 Illinois counties; 50 percent of reporting counties also logged median price increases.
The following Illinois counties reported both sales and median price increases in the month of December: Champaign County sales up 16.3 percent, median price up 20.7 percent to $157,500; Logan County sales up 20.8 percent, median price up 14.1 percent to $85,000; Rock Island County sales up 1.2 percent, median price up 5.2 percent to $87,550; Sangamon County sales up 24.2 percent, median price up 33.0 percent to $128,000; and Tazewell County sales up 3.0 percent, median price up 1.6 percent to $126,950.
Sales and price information is generated from a survey of Multiple Listing Service sales reported by 37 participating Illinois REALTOR® local boards and associations. 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 50,000 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.
Mary Schaefer/Ann Londrigan