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Limited supply, high demand drive Chicagoland market

by Kelly McCabe

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As is the case around much of the United States, the low number of homes for sale is fueling competition, driving up prices and holding back the number of sales. That was the case in Chicagoland and throughout the state of Illinois in March, according to the latest sales report from Illinois Realtors.

There were just 48,834 homes for sale around the state last month, down sharply from 55,863 in March 2017 for a decrease of 12.6 percent. That’s causing homes to fly off the market, with the average time it took to sell a home last year dipping to 65 days, down three from 68 in March 2017.

There were 8,848 homes — including single-family homes and condominiums — sold last month in the nine counties in the Chicagoland metropolitan area, a drop of 10.2 percent from 9,849 last March. While sales lagged due to low inventory available, the median price in Chicagoland continued to creep up, reaching $241,000 last month, up 4.8 percent year over year from $230,000, according to Illinois Realtors.

Things were no different in the city of Chicago, where sales plummeted 10.1 percent to 2,290 in March, down from 2,546 in the same month last year. Competition from buyers in that time drove prices up 6.4 percent to $314,000, compared to $295,000 last year.   

“Limited supply and high demand took center stage for the start of the Chicago spring housing market,” said Rebecca Thomson, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors. “While the number of closed sales slowed in tandem with the inventory crunch, the rise in median sales price and reduction of time it takes for a home to sell on average, points to competition for well-priced homes in good condition.”

Illinois follows suit

The same conditions that affected the Chicagoland market were prevalent in the rest of the state – statewide home sales were down 7.9 percent year over year, falling to 12,455 last month, compared to 13,528 in March 2018. The median price, meanwhile, jumped to $199,000 last month, up 4.8 percent from $189,900 last year.

“Statewide sales numbers saw declines as buyers poised to enter the spring housing market were confronted with the reality that inventories dropped by double-digit percentages,” said Illinois Realtors President Matt Difanis. “With demand still strong as evidenced by decreases in the time it takes on average to sell a home, the next few months could be marked by intense competition by potential homebuyers.”

While homebuying competition statewide is hot, the number of consumers who think now is a good time to buy a home increased, according to Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, economist at the University of Illinois cited in the Illinois Realtors report. His outlook predicts that sales in Illinois and Chicago will experience year-over-year decreases but month-over-month increases in April, May and June. The expected increases are due to an 8 percent increase in the pending home sales index in the Chicago metro area.   


While overall March sales lagged in Illinois, a number of counties experienced year-over-year increases in sales while others had year-over-year price gains, including the following in Chicagoland:

  • Cook County — Median price was up 5.6 percent to $252,500
  • DeKalb County — Number of sales increased 22 percent to 122
  • Kankakee County — Number of sales spiked 31.2 percent to 101
  • McHenry County — Median price was up 6.8 percent to $212,500
  • Will County — Median price was up 5.9 percent to $222,450

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