Strong 4th-quarter sales signal Chicago housing recovery

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

Home sales in the metropolitan Chicago real estate market delivered a clear message in 2012: the real estate recovery is underway, according to an analysis by RE/MAX.

In the seven-county metro Chicago area, home sales in 2012 totaled 89,039 units, up 27 percent from the 70,215 homes sold in 2011. It was the largest transaction total for any year since 2007 when 92,328 sales were recorded. Home sales statistics used in the RE/MAX analysis were compiled by Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC, the regional multiple listing service.

Fourth-quarter sales in the metro area totaled 23,318 homes, 34 percent more than in the same three months of 2011. The median sales price of $154,000 represented a 3 percent increase on the same basis. The fourth quarter also resulted in a sizable reduction in average market time (the average number of days that homes sold during the period spent on the market before a sales contract was signed), which shortened to 138 days from 171 days one year earlier.

The improved sales activity was evident throughout the seven-county area in the fourth quarter, with all seven counties generating at least a 24 percent increase in homes sold when compared to the same period in 2011.

Cook County, which accounted for 57 percent of all transactions during the quarter, had the most positive results. Sales activity rose 36 percent, and the median price was up 7 percent. Much of the gain in the Cook County median price is attributable to the City of Chicago, where the median price rose 13 percent to $175,000.

Distressed Sales
Distressed properties, whether sold through foreclosures or short sales, accounted for 41 percent of all 2012 home sales compared to 42 percent in 2011.

In the fourth quarter, distressed sales were 43 percent of the total, even as the median price of a distressed property sold during the quarter rose to $90,000, 6 percent more than during the same period in 2011. The median sales price for distressed homes was up in five of the seven counties during the fourth quarter, led by a 14 percent gain in Kane County.

Other counties recording gains in the median price of a distressed home were Cook, up 6 percent; DuPage, up 5 percent; Lake, up 10 percent; and Will, up 8 percent. The median price slipped 5 percent in McHenry County and 9 percent in Kendall County.

Detached Homes
Boosted by a 32 percent increase in the fourth quarter, sales of detached homes in the seven-county area totaled 56,389 units in 2012, 24 percent more than in the prior year. A trend toward firmer prices was evident in the fourth quarter when the $170,000 median price was 3 percent higher than during the same quarter in 2011.

Sales activity in the detached segment increased in all seven counties, both for all of 2012 and for the fourth quarter when measured against the comparable periods in 2011. In the fourth quarter, sales activity was up 32 percent in Cook and DuPage, 30 percent in Kane, 28 percent in Kendall, 33 percent in Lake, 35 percent in McHenry and 24 percent in Will. The City of Chicago recorded a 23 percent gain.

The 2012 fourth-quarter median price of a detached home climbed in four counties and Chicago when compared to 2011. The median price rose 3 percent in Cook County, 10 percent in DuPage County, 6 percent in Kane County and Chicago and 1 percent in Will County. In Lake and Kendall counties the median fell 3 percent, and it slipped 7 percent in McHenry County.

Across the metro area, the average market time for detached homes improved from 166 days in 2011 to 146 days in 2012 and dipped to 136 days in the fourth quarter of the year.

Attached Homes
Sales of attached homes (primarily townhouses and condominium apartments) rebounded strongly in 2012. For the full year, sales activity climbed 32 percent to 32,650 units, while in the fourth quarter the gain was 40 percent on sales of 8,560 units.

In both 2012 and 2011, 71 percent of attached-home sales across the metro area took place in Cook County. Nonetheless, the faster pace of attached sales was evident everywhere, with 2012 sales topping those of 2011 by at least 24 percent. Results were even better in the fourth quarter, where gains were as follows: Cook County, up 24 percent; DuPage County, up 41 percent; Kane County, up 33 percent; Kendall County, up 27 percent; Lake County, up 47 percent; McHenry County, up 62 percent; Will County, up 22 percent and Chicago, up 38 percent.

Fourth-quarter average market time for an attached home sold in the metro area was cut from 187 days in 2011 to 142 days in 2012, a 24 percent reduction.

Sales prices for attached homes showed renewed firmness in the fourth quarter, with the median price registering a solid 5 percent gain to $124,000.

The fourth-quarter median price was up sharply in Cook County and Chicago, where most attached units are sold. The median price rose 18 percent in Chicago and 10 percent in all of Cook County, while in McHenry County the median held steady. There were small declines in Kane County (down 1 percent), DuPage County (down 2 percent) and Lake and Will counties (down 3 percent), along with a 12 percent decline in Kendall County.

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