Home sales in the seven-county metro Chicago real estate market posted their second consecutive annual increase in 2010, with 69,187 units changing hands compared to 68,999 in 2009, a modest 0.4 percent increase, according to an analysis by the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network of transaction data provided by MRED, LLC.
“The first and second halves of 2010 had distinctly different personalities when it came to housing sales,” observes Jim Merrion, regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network. “Sales during the first half of the year were much stronger than in the same months of 2009 thanks in large part to the homebuyer tax credit. Most sales targeted to qualify for the tax credit were completed in or before June. After that, things slowed down substantially, and sales numbers for the July – December period trailed those of 2009.”
However, Merrion believes the metro Chicago housing market is now emerging from some of its post-tax-credit lethargy.
“Sales were meaningfully higher in December than in either October or November, which is both unusual and a sign that the market is gaining traction,” he says.
Home sales in the metro area outside the City of Chicago were up 1.1 percent for the year to 49,305 units, while sales in the city dipped 1.3 percent to 19,946 units.
The divided nature of the 2010 housing market was also reflected in the difference between sales of detached single-family homes and sales of attached units, such as townhouses and condominium apartments.
Sales of detached homes totaled 44,599, 1.3 percent higher than in 2009. The average price increased 1.3 percent to $264,325. Sales in the suburbs were up 1.7 percent to 36,080, while sales in the city slipped 0.1 percent to 8,519.
In the attached homes category, the number of units sold fell 1.3 percent to 24,652, and the average price fell 2.6 percent to $234,924. In the suburban market, attached sales fell 0.5 percent to 13,225. City sales dipped 2.2 percent to 11,427.
“We had some major differences, both increases and decreases, when you compared sales on a month-to-month basis,” says Merrion, “but looking at the full-year performance of the Chicago area housing market, you’d have to say home sales over the last three years were essentially identical, with 2008 showing 68,128 sales, while 2009 and 2010 had 68,999 and 69,251 sales, respectively. That is a total increase in annual sales of just 1.6 percent, and I can’t recall another three-year period when home sales fluctuated within such a small range.
“Because that three-year span includes the entire period during which the home buyer tax credit was in effect, it is tempting to conclude, though hard to prove, that the tax credit effectively moved sales forward rather than generating a significant number of sales that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise,” he said.