The Great News Behind Chicagoland’s Disappointing Q1 Home Sales

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Though it may seem like the Chicagoland area saw a disappointing first quarter of real estate, some digging reveals encouraging trends.

On the surface, the Chicagoland real estate market had a disappointing first quarter in 2014, with total home sales falling 8.2 percent to 18,537; as with everything in the post-boom housing market, though, there’s much more than meets the eye, and that decline in sales masks arguably the most positive news to hit Chicagoland’s marketplace in some time.

The key is looking at the makeup of home sales in the first quarter. Of that 18,537 number, 7,516 were for distressed homes, and 11,021 were for non-distressed homes, according to MRED numbers provided to Crain’s. Compared to 2013’s first quarter – when distressed sales totaled 9,518 and non-distressed 10,730 – not only did non-distressed sales increase 2.7 percent, but the gap between distressed and non-distressed sales nearly doubled, which is great for a distressed housing market like Chicagoland’s. Indeed, according to Crain’s, REO sales fell 15.7 percent, while short sales plunged 31 percent.

So although home sales did technically decline over the last year, they became a whole lot healthier in the process, which is far more important in the long-term than any headline-grabbing statistical measurement.

See our graph below for a better idea on how home sales have progressed: