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Illinois Realtors sees ‘sustained pressure’ on buyers

by Meg White

Illinois Realtors released their latest monthly report on home sales today, and the end of the year is proving to be a challenging one for buyers.

Statewide home sales in October were down 2.9 percent from 2018’s numbers, and median prices were up 5.3 percent from the same time period. Meanwhile, in the nine-county Chicago metro area, home sales were down a bit more — 3.3 percent from October 2018 — and the median price also followed the state’s lead, increasing 4.3 percent year over year.

“Consumers sent a clear message they were willing to pay more to get into a home as we enter the final quarter of the year,” said Ed Neaves, president of Illinois Realtors. “The result of this activity is continued, sustained pressure on those who want to buy a home, but who must select from a diminished number of listed properties. These individuals face a choice of moving quickly and paying more or sitting tight and waiting for additional properties to come on the market.”

That wait might be a long one: Inventory slipped 5.5 percent from what it was last year at this time. But this decrease may slow in the future as homes stay on the market longer. Illinois Realtors reported that the average time it took to sell a home in October was 53 days, an increase of 1.9 percent from last year.

Still, borrowing costs could be headed higher; the association noted that the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. reported that the monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.69 percent in October, an increase from 3.61 percent the previous month. But still, this is less than it was a year ago, when it averaged 4.83 percent.

The urban view was a little more encouraging. Looking solely at year-over-year data from the city of Chicago, home sales activity decreased by a smaller amount than the state and region (2.8 percent) and the median price went up a smaller amount, by only 1.4 percent.

“Despite some local political uncertainty, Chicago’s housing market remains active,” said Maurice Hampton, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors. “Sellers and buyers alike should be encouraged as we enter the holiday season, and there continue to be opportunities on both ends of the deal.”

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