March Puts Finishing Touch on Upbeat First Quarter in Metro Chicago Real Estate Market, RE/MAX Reports -- Home Sales Jump 48 Percent, Median Price Down Just 5%

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Home sales in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago real estate market turned in a notably improved performance in March to close the first quarter of 2010 and set the stage for what could be the best spring home buying season in several years, according to an analysis of sales activity by the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network.

Jim Merrion, Regional Director, RE/MAX Northern Illinois

Sales activity has increased substantially, and the price declines that we have been seeing for several years seem to be slowing

Home sales in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago real estate market turned in a notably improved performance in March to close the first quarter of 2010 and set the stage for what could be the best spring home buying season in several years, according to an analysis of sales activity by the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network.

March sales of detached and attached homes in the seven-county metro area totaled 6,266 units, up 48 percent from the 4,232 homes sold in March last year. The median price of a home sold in March was $185,000, a decline of 5 percent from the median price a year earlier, but 11 percent higher than in February of this year.

For the year’s first-quarter, home sales in the metro area were up 39 percent, with 14,334 homes changing hands, compared to 10,277 a year earlier. The median price of homes sold during the quarter was $176,000, which is 7 percent lower than the median price in March of last year.

“Sales activity has increased substantially, and the price declines that we have been seeing for several years seem to be slowing,” said Jim Merrion, regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network. This is good news going into the prime spring and summer months when most homes are sold.”

Homes sales for March were the highest they have been since 2007, and the same is true of the first quarter as a whole. While prices continued to slip, the rate of decrease has slowed. The 7 percent decline in the first quarter median sales price this year compares to a 22 percent drop when the first quarter of 2009 is compared to the first quarter of 2008.

“It may be premature to say that the decline in home prices is about to end, but we do seem to be headed in that direction,” Merrion said. He noted that the median sales price of detached homes increased in March in Cook, DuPage and Lake counties when compared to March of last year. The median price in Cook was up 8 percent to $167,101. In DuPage the median price was $271,750, up 2 percent from $266,000 a year earlier. The median sales price in Lake County increased 9 percent to $222,500 from $205,000.

The improvement in the median price was even more dramatic in the City of Chicago. Detached homes there sold for a median price of $140,053 in March, up 27 percent from the $110,000 median price in March of last year.

“Some of the improvement in median prices reflects the pickup in sales of more expensive homes,” said Merrion. “Last year, much of the activity in the market was concentrated at the low end, with upper-bracket home sales slowing dramatically. This year the upper-bracket segment of the residential market is seeing an increase in activity.”

Overall, sales of detached homes in the seven-county area were 43 percent higher in March and 36 percent higher during the first quarter than in the comparable periods last year.

The market for attached homes also showed improvement. The sales of these homes, which are primarily townhouses and condominium apartments, bounced up 59 percent in March and 46 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the same periods in 2009.

“The attached homes market really suffered last year, in large part because financing was difficult to obtain for units in new buildings or those with a fairly high percentage of rental units,” said Merrion. “It is extremely encouraging to see the pace of sales in this segment of the market rebounding so strongly. It’s a good sign for the entire market because many of those who will be able to sell their attached units will now turn around and buy something larger.”

Merrion noted that RE/MAX saw the rebound in home sales extend well beyond the Chicago metropolitan area.

“We have recorded significant gains every month this year, but the March increases were by far the most impressive, with transactions up 41 percent and sales volume climbing 33 percent for the entire northern Illinois region, which encompasses the upper third of the state,”he said.

RE/MAX is the leader in northern Illinois real estate sales and has been number one in the metropolitan Chicago real estate market since 1989. In 2009, the RE/MAX network in northern Illinois closed more than $6 billion in sales.

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Laura Ortoleva
RE/MAX Northern Illinois
847-428-4200
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