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March Home Sales in Metro Chicago Real Estate Market Show Positive Direction But Still Trail 2010 Results

Elgin, IL, April 16, 2011 --( The metropolitan Chicago real estate market saw more homes sold and at higher prices in March than in February of this year, according to an analysis by RE/MAX of sales data compiled by Midwest Real Estate Date, LLC. Overall, however, the 2011 housing market still lags behind the brisk pace set during the first six months of 2010 when a federal tax credit helped stimulate sales.

“Compared to February, March sales rose 40 percent to 5,272 units,” reported Jim Merrion, regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network. “Sales prices also were higher in March, with both the average price and median price up about 5 percent from the February level. Of course, March sales traditionally are stronger than those in February. Over the last six years, the average increase in unit sales from February to March has been 42 percent, so what we experienced this year is fairly typical.”

According to Merrion, the local housing market is tracking close to expectations, and he anticipates even better results ahead.

“The improved affordability of homes has helped demand bounce back this spring after a winter season where cold, snowy weather had a negative impact on home sales,” said Merrion. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see sales in April and May come much closer to last year’s numbers than I expected at the beginning of this year.”

The percentage of home sales represented by distressed properties, including foreclosures and short sales, fell slightly from 51.5 percent in February to 49.2 percent in March.

With sales of 133 units, Kendall County was the only one of the seven counties in the metro area to see an actual increase in home sales compared to March of 2010 when 119 homes changed hands. The sharpest decline in sales was seen in McHenry and Will Counties, where sales were 25 and 24 percent lower, respectively, than they had been a year earlier.

For the metro area as a whole, home prices in March were noticeably lower than they were a year earlier. The median price (meaning half of homes sold for more and half for less) for a detached home was $173,000, down 8.9 percent from $189,900 a year earlier, while the median price of an attached home (primarily condominium apartments and townhouses) declined 24.4 percent to $132,000.

Even though sales were lower than a year ago, the market for detached homes continued to outperform the market for attached homes in most respects during March. Total sales of detached homes were 14.4 percent lower than in March 2010, while attached home sales were down 20.7 percent on the same basis, according to the RE/MAX analysis.

“We do expect more price stability to take hold as the spring market progresses and more buyers decide to move ahead,” said Merrion. “Given where homes prices are compared to a year ago and considering that interest rates for mortgages remain extremely attractive, the buying opportunities are exceptional, and we believe that message is getting through to many renters who are seeing new leases with hefty increases attached.”

RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network consists of 2,300 sales associates and 110 individually owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of brokerage services throughout the northern one-third of Illinois. Its and websites are leaders in consumer visits among real estate brokerage brands. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX LLC, a global real estate organization with 90,000 sales associates in 83 nations.

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Jim Nathan

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