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Chicagoland Housing Jolts Back to Life in March

by Peter Thomas Ricci

This year had been a modest one for real estate in Chicagoland, but March has brought the marketplace back to life.

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Creative Commons 3.0: Payton Chung, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Full_chicago_skyline.jpg

After two disappointing months, the Chicagoland housing market roared back to life in March, with sales in the nine-county area rising 11.5 percent year-over-year in March, according to new numbers out today from the Illinois Association of Realtors.

Similarly, the median price for Chicagoland was up a whopping 16.6 percent year-over-year to $175,000, and Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, the director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory of the University of Illinois, said such increases are part of a larger trend throughout Illinois.

“March was an excellent month for the housing market with robust growth in both sales and prices,” Hewings said. “When adjusted for inflation, median home prices have recovered to 79 percent of their 2008 levels in Illinois and 74 percent of the prior levels in the Chicago PMSA. A further one to three years is anticipated for full recovery in the PMSA.”

Strength at the City & County Level

At both the county and city level, the housing numbers were similarly strong:

  • Home sales in Will County rose 22.2 percent year-over-year.
  • In Kane County, median sales price rose 21.2 percent to $191,500.
  • And in the city of Chicago, home sales rose 13 percent from last March, while the median sales price rose 11.9 percent to $263,079.
  • On a quarterly basis, Chicagoland sales were up 8.2 percent, and median sales prices were up 6.6 percent.

Soaring Suburbs

Perhaps the strongest stats of all, though, came from Chicago’s suburban markets. According to numbers from the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors (MORe), home sales in the suburbs rose 19.3 percent year-over-year, and median sales price rose 7.0 percent; most encouraging of all, pending sales rose an incredible 37.3 percent, the largest such increase August 2013.

Pradeep Shukla, the president of MORe and managing broker of RE/MAX Renaissance in Des Plaines, said the market remains prime for new listings.

“These statistics show considerable improvement in the market,” Shukla said. “Inventory levels remain very low while demand continues to grow due to low interest rates. Now is a great time for those considering listing their homes to put them on the market. If they are priced well, they won’t be available for long.”

Of course, there remain considerable market forces that keep inventory low – rate lock-ins and negative equity chief among them – but it will be interesting to see if a stronger market in 2015 entices more sellers to list their property.

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