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January best for home sales since ‘07

State sales up 16.1 percent from January 2011

Published: Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 5:00 p.m. CST

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois home sales in January were the strongest for the month since 2007, according to data released by the Illinois Association of Realtors.

Statewide home sales (including single-family homes and condominiums) in January 2012 totaled 6,435 homes sold, up 16.1 percent from 5,543 home sales in January 2011. The statewide median price in January was $122,500, down 9.3 percent from $135,000 in January 2011. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Historically low interest rates and prices, along with a consumer and employment gains in the month contributed to the strong showing in home sales.

“Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, there are positives to this data, said Loretta Alonzo, CRB, GRI, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors and Broker-Owner of Century 21 Alonzo and Associates in La Grange Park.

“After years of standing on the sidelines, buyers are finding this is the right time to get into affordable housing. While sellers may not be getting all of the money they want for a house, they are getting traffic and interest at levels that haven’t been seen in several years.”

In January 2007, 8,584 homes were sold statewide. As the recession began to take hold in 2008, the number of home sales statewide dropped to 6,045. The weakest January in the past decade was 2009 when 4,809 homes were sold, according to the association’s data.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region was 3.92 percent in January 2012, down from 3.94 percent during the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Last year in January it averaged 4.80 percent.

In the nine-county Chicago Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), home sales (single family and condominiums) in January 2012 totaled 4,447 homes sold, up 15.7 percent from January 2011 sales of 3,844 homes.

The median price in January 2012 was $140,000 in the Chicago PMSA, down 11.4 percent compared to last year in January when it was $158,000.

Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois, said the Feb. 7 settlement between states and five large banks relating to foreclosure abuses could speed pending cases through the court system.

“Now that the major legal bottlenecks for processing foreclosed properties appear to have been resolved, it is likely that these properties will assume a significant share of sales in 2012,” Hewings said.

“This provides mixed news for the housing market; it is positive in the sense that the large backlog can now begin to be removed from the inventory. However, it is likely to continue to dampen any prospect of near-term housing price recovery.”

More than half of Illinois counties reporting (53 of 95) showed year-over-year home sales increases in January 2012. Thirty-nine (39) counties showed year-over-year median price increases including Effingham, up 2.7 percent to $131,000; Jefferson, up 2.1 percent to $85,000; McLean, up 3.2 percent to $152,000; Peoria, up 45.3 percent to $138,000; and Sangamon, up 0.7 percent to $120,750.

In the city of Chicago, January 2012 home sales (single family and condominiums) totaled 1,093, up 5.7 percent from 1,034 homes sold in January 2011. The city of Chicago median home sale price for January 2012 was $149,000, down -0.7 percent compared to January 2011 when it was $150,000.

“January gave 2012 a solid start in sales of homes in the city of Chicago,” said realtor Bob Floss, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors and broker-owner of Bob Floss and Son Realty.

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