Double-digit sales increases were recorded for the past six months in Illinois as homes sales jumped to their highest level in years in March spurred by the homebuyer tax credit deadline of April 30 and strong buyer market conditions.
Statewide, sales were up 32.8% for the month of March compared to the same month a year ago, according to the Illinois Association of REALTORS® housing report released today. In the nine-county Chicagoland PMSA* March home sales were up 45.4% and in the city of Chicago sales were up 49.7%.
University of Illinois economist Geoff Hewings in his latest REAL forecast noted the good news for sales is expected to continue for the next three months of April, May and June.
He said: “The significant increase in sales in both Chicago and Illinois for the first quarter of 2010 and the forecasts for a continuation of this trend through the next quarter offer some evidence of an upward trend. Forecasts for the second quarter of 2010 suggest a modest rise in median prices in absolute terms, although the levels will remain 1-3% lower in Illinois and 7-9% lower in Chicago than prices recorded a year ago.”
That home price declines are moderating is good news, too. While the statewide median price was down a marginal 0.3% to $148,500 in March compared to the same month a year ago (Chicagoland PMSA -4.6% to $184,000; city of Chicago -4.6% to $209,000), these declines are significantly lower than last year. And when prices stabilize this should boost homebuyer confidence even after the tax credit.
The National Association of REALTORS® estimates 4.4 million people will take advantage of the $8,000 first-time buyer and $6,500 longtime homeowner tax credits set to expire next week. Buyers still have a window of time to find out if they qualify and sign a contract to purchase a primary residence by April 30; plus, they have until June 30 to close the transaction.
Even after the tax credit, buyer market conditions are expected to continue as mortgage interest rates remain low and prices so affordable. Housing remains a good long-term investment. In Illinois the median price of a single-family home in 2009 ($146,000) was 5.9% higher than it was 10 years earlier in 1999.
* The Chicagoland PMSA includes the counties of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.