Chicago home sales rise 1.3% in August

By Mary Ellen Podmolik
Posted Sep. 23, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.

The local home sales market failed to regain its momentum in August after tumbling in July, according to new data released Thursday by the Illinois Association of Realtors.

Sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums in the Chicago area rose a scant 1.3 percent in August to 5,561 homes sold, but were still down 19.6 percent from the 7,008 homes sold in August 2009.

Within the city of Chicago, sales totaled 1,486 units, a decline of 6.4 percent from July and down 22.9 percent from August 2009.

Median selling prices for the area as a whole and for the city also fell, but the decline was more precipitous within the city, where the median sales price of $200,000 was 13 percent lower than a year ago. For the entire Chicago area, the year-over year decline in the median sales price was 3.9 percent, to $197,000.

The condominium market bore most of the brunt in lower sales. In Cook County,for example, August sales of single-family homes rose 15.1 percent from a year ago, but the 1,352 condo units sold was a 25.6 percent decline from August 2009. Homes aren’t selling unless they are priced very aggressively and many homeowners can’t absorb the loss they’d take, said Matt Garrison, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in Chicago. “Of the last 10 listing appointments I’ve had over the last 60 days, at least half of those people have not liked my [listing price] and haven’t listed at all,” Garrison said. “That means there’s a shadow inventory of people who want to sell but aren’t even bothering.

“I don’t know that there’s going to be much of a fourth quarter,” he added.

While all of the local counties except for McHenry County saw double-digit percentage declines in sales of all homes in August from a year ago, three areas saw year-over-year gains in median prices. In DuPage County, the median sales price rose 4.4 percent, to $248,000. Lake County saw a 14.4 percent rise, to a median selling price of $246,000. And in Will County, the median sales price rose 5.6 percent from August 2009 to $190,000.

The median price means the price at which half the homes sell for more and half sell for less.

The sales activity is a steep falloff from earlier in the summer, when home buyers rushed to take advantage of both low interest rates and federal homebuyer tax credits of up to $8,000 that originally were available to consumers who signed purchase contracts by April 30 and closed their transactions by June 30. Lawmakers later extended that deadline to September 30. In June, 9,085 homes were sold in the Chicago area. A month later, in July, home sales totaled 5,561 units.

“Many consumers clearly accelerated the timing of their purchases,” said Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the regional economics applications laboratory at the University of Illinois. “Rumors of further programs may place many potential buyers in a ‘wait and see’ mode especially if interest rates continue to remain low.”

The average contract interest rate on a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage last month was less than 4.5 percent, according to Freddie Mac. On Wednesday,  the Mortgage Bankers Association said that for the week ended Sept. 17, mortgage applications for home purchases decreased 3.3 percent from the previous week.

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  1. Lucid Realty Sep. 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Come on! They are down 22.9% in Chicago from last year. It’s a 10 year low. The government program was a failure. That should be the headline. And 40% of those sales were distressed properties. If you are interested you can see a long term trend of Chicago area sales and other real estate stats here:

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