RE/MAX Brokers Assess 2018 Metro Chicago Housing Market: Expect Fast Start, Modest Price Increases and Continuing Inventory Shortage

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An informal survey of leading RE/MAX brokers in the Chicago area suggests the local housing market won’t be radically different in 2018 than it has been in 2017 and should be buoyed by an economy enjoying solid rates of growth and job creation.

How will the Chicago-area housing market behave in 2018? An informal survey of some leading RE/MAX brokers suggests it won’t be radically different than 2017 and should be buoyed by an economy enjoying solid rates of growth and job creation.

Though local conditions vary, here are five trends likely to have a broad impact on the 2018 residential market in the Chicago area.

Fast Start to New Year

Numerous RE/MAX brokers say the market won’t slow down as much as it normally does in December and January unless the weather is exceptionally discouraging.

“I anticipate a steady stream of activity this winter, helped by low interest rates, and a good number of buyers concerned about higher prices next spring. Plus, we are seeing more job-related moves thanks to increased hiring,” said Kim Keefe of RE/MAX Plaza in Woodstock, Ill.

Cherie Smith Zurek of RE/MAX Unlimited Northwest in Lake Zurich, Ill., is telling sellers who take their home off the market for the holidays to list it again no later than the second week of January.

“The market does slow, especially at Christmas, but not as much as it once did,” she said. “With inventory low, buyers won’t wait long.”

Modest Price Increases

From Jan. 1 to Nov. 15, the median sales price of a home in the seven-county Chicago metro area was 5.8 percent higher this year than last, and RE/MAX brokers project a similar result in 2018.

“Prices rose noticeably during the first half of 2017, but then we saw real pushback from buyers,” said Bryan Kasprisin of RE/MAX Ultimate Professionals in Shorewood, Ill. “Buyers today can easily access detailed pricing data, and they use it. They know what happened to housing values a decade ago and don’t want to overpay.”

Continuing Shortage of Listings

Although the inventory of listings varies by area and price range, many suburbs have a surplus of luxury homes but not enough listings of $400,000 or less.

“We’ve seen about a 10 percent decrease in inventory over the last 12 months, which has created a shortage of homes, especially in the moderately priced and entry-level segments of the market,” reported Paul Wells of RE/MAX of Barrington.

A lack of selection often poses a double challenge for buyers, according to Matt Boemmel of RE/MAX Exclusive Properties, Chicago.

“Buyers can have a hard time finding a home that fits their needs, but even if they do, they may feel they haven’t looked at enough homes to make a good choice. So, rather than buy, they wait, which is too bad because there are good values available now that are likely to cost more in spring,” he said.

Remodel? No Thanks

One recent trend that intensified in 2017, noted RE/MAX brokers, was buyers’ strong preference for properties in move-in condition.

“A majority of buyers today want homes that are either updated or remodeled,” observed Barry Gaw of RE/MAX 10 in Oak Lawn, Ill. “No one wants to do any work. Either they don’t have the cash to remodel, or their lives are so busy they don’t have the time.”

According to Rita Neri of RE/MAX Premier Properties, Chicago, moderately priced homes are “flying off the shelves if they’re in good shape and competitively priced. That’s why painting and staging the interior is so important,” she said. “Everyone shops for homes online. If they don’t like what they see there, they won’t bother visiting the property.”

However, Roz Byrne of RE/MAX in the Village, Realtors, Oak Park, Ill., reports that her area is an exception to that trend.

“So many buyers come here because of our historic homes. Most understand that those properties will need work. So, the prospect of some remodeling doesn’t discourage them,” she said.

Sagging Demand for Large Homes

The large suburban homes so popular 10 or 15 years ago are attracting fewer buyers.
“People are less interested in McMansions with $18,000 tax bills and all the maintenance,” said Neri. “Move-up buyers today usually prefer homes of 2,500 to 3,000 square feet.”

Cindy Banks of RE/MAX Cornerstone in West Chicago, Ill., believes the lack of interest in large homes reflects the lifestyle choices of buyers now in their 30s and 40s.

“They prefer spending on other things, such as travel or technology, rather than a big house,” she said. “They’re also less inclined to buy houses suited for entertaining large groups, choosing to socialize at venues outside the home.”

RE/MAX agents consistently rank among the most productive in the industry. In 2016, RE/MAX Northern Illinois agents averaged 18 transaction sides. RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 and is continually growing. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of more than 2,250 sales associates and 105 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its mobile real estate app, available for download at, provides comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, a global real estate organization with 115,000+ sales associates in 100+ nations.

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Chris Calomino
RE/MAX Northern Illinois
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