Three months, 201 sales

Our copy of Appraisal Research Counselors‘ 1st Quarter 2008 Downtown Chicago Residential Benchmark Report only arrived last week, so we’re just now getting around to reading its summary.

According to the report, 201 new and converted units sold in Chicago’s downtown area – comprising the Loop, New East Side, Streeterville, River North, Gold Coast, Near North Side, West Loop, River West and South Loop – between Jan. 1 and March 31.

That number doesn’t include information from the Chicago Spire, which just reported sales figures for the first time today. According to the Trib, Shelbourne Development Group has sold 352 (or roughly 30 percent) of the building’s 1,194 units since marketing began four months ago.

Even if all 352 of the Spire’s sales were made before the end of March, downtown would still be seeing the lowest number of first-quarter sales in the past 10 years. The previous low was in the first three months of 2003, when ARC recorded 775 contracts and reservations at new developments.

The 1Q ’08 numbers also represent an 83-percent drop from the first quarter of 2007, the ARC report says.

The reasons for these figures? ARC suggests a number of factors, including lack of consumer confidence, concerns that the market still hasn’t bottomed out, tightening lending standards and a simple lack of urgency to buy.

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