News & trendsMarket conditions

Chicago’s collar counties lead January home sales surge

by Joe Zekas on 2/14/12

The following market update arrived via a news release from RE/MAX Northern Illinois:

Home sales in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago real estate market continued their upward momentum in January, led by strong sales gains in five of the collar counties, according to an analysis by RE/MAX. Home sales for the month totaled 4,433 and were 14 percent higher than in January 2011. It was the largest January sales total since 2007 when 5,980 homes changed hands.

The combined sales of attached and detached homes rose at least 22 percent in five collar counties – Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will – while sales increased 7.3 percent in Cook County and 12.4 percent in DuPage County. In the City of Chicago, sales climbed 3.3 percent.

Much of the January increase stemmed from sales of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales), which totaled 2,272 units for the month and accounted for 51.3 percent of all home sales. A year earlier, 1,875 distressed units changed hands, representing 48.2 percent of all transactions.

January marked the seventh consecutive month in which metro-area home sales were higher than they had been a year earlier. Yet even as sales activity rose once again, home prices generally continued to seek lower levels. The median price of all homes sold in the metro area in January was $140,000, down 11.4 percent from the median sales price in January of last year.

“The fact that we are starting the year with a lower inventory of unsold homes than we had a year ago is a positive indicator that the market is stabilizing and moving forward,” said Laura Ortoleva, a spokesperson for the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network.

Detached Homes
Sales of single-family detached homes were 12 percent higher last month than in January 2011 in the seven-county metro market, with 2,845 units changing hands. The median sales price was $153,000 compared to $175,000 a year earlier. Distressed properties represented 50.8 percent of the total (1,446 units), up from 1,229 units during the prior January.

Detached-home sales were up in all seven counties, but the size of the increase varied widely, from a high of 43 percent in McHenry County to a low of 2.5 percent in DuPage County. The gains registered in the other counties were: Cook up 3.3 percent, Kane up 21 percent, Kendall up 40 percent, Lake up 22 percent and Will up 36 percent. In the City of Chicago, the number of detached homes sold was essentially unchanged.

While the median sales price for detached homes fell in six of the seven counties, DuPage County registered a 1 percent increase with a median price of $237,450, which was also the highest in the metro area. The median price also rose in Chicago, climbing 1.6 percent to $119,900.

Attached Homes
The metro-area market for attached homes (primarily townhouses and condominium apartments) recorded 1,588 unit sales in January, 17.4 percent more than in January of the prior year. Distressed sales accounted for 826 units, or 52 percent of the total. A year earlier distressed sales represented 48 percent of the attached market and totaled 646 units.

For all attached homes sold in the metro area during January, the median price was $115,000, 13.5 percent lower than in January 2011. However, the median price rose 5 percent in Lake County, 22 percent in McHenry County and 3 percent in the City of Chicago.

Sales of attached homes rose in six of the seven metro counties in January, including a 156 percent increase in McHenry County, where a total of 41 attached units were sold compared to 16 a year earlier. Changes in attached sales in the six other counties were: Cook up 13 percent, DuPage up 34 percent, Kane up 30 percent, Kendall up 33 percent, Lake up 25 percent and Will down 5 percent. In Chicago, attached sales rose 6 percent.

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