Recovering condo market helped boost December sales

CHICAGO – Propelled by strong condominium sales in Cook County, attached homes led the metro Chicago real estate market to its most active December since 2006, according to Re/Max.

Combined sales of attached and detached homes in the seven-county metro area were up 20 percent to 7,281 units when compared to the same month last year. Sales of attached homes rose 23 percent to 2,661 units.

The median sales price for all homes sold in December was 5.5 percent higher than in December 2011, reaching $153,000, while the median sales price for attached homes climbed 7.5 percent to $123,600. The average market time, which is the average number of days a home sold in December was on the market before a sales contract was signed, dipped to 138 days for all homes, down from 174 days in December 2011.

Those findings are based on an analysis of transaction data compiled by Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC, the regional multiple listing service.

“The good news continues on the real estate front. Condominium sales are strong; distressed property inventory is depleting and is being sold at higher prices. The ‘fiscal cliff’ has been avoided.  We are in solid recovery mode,” said Laura Ortoleva, media spokeswoman for the Re/Max Northern Illinois real estate network.

Total December home sales activity rose in each of the seven counties when compared to year-earlier results.  Kendall County (177 units sold) and McHenry County (343 units sold) had sales gains of 26 percent. In Lake County, sales were up 25 percent to 682 units. Sales also rose 21 percent in Cook County (4,188 units sold), 14 percent in DuPage County (798 units sold), 16 percent in Kane County (502 units sold) and 10 percent in Will County (590 units sold). 

Sales in the city of Chicago rose 16 percent to 1,853 units, and the city also recorded a 16 percent year-over-year gain in the median sales price for the second consecutive month. The December median was $179,900.

On the pricing front, results were mixed for the seven counties. The median sales price rose in three counties, fell in three counties and was unchanged in one. Gains were achieved in Cook (up 8 percent to $150,000), Kane (up 9 percent to $142,270) and Will (up 12 percent to $155,000) when compared to December 2011. The median price in DuPage County was unchanged at $185,000, while it declined in Kendall (down 2 percent to $146,470), Lake (down 5 percent to $156,500) and McHenry (down 1 percent to $138,500). 

Sales of distressed homes (foreclosures and short sales) totaled 3,227 units in December, a 15 percent increase compared to the same month in 2011. These properties accounted for 44 percent of all December transactions in the seven-county area, up from 43 percent in November. The median sales price of a distressed home rose 6 percent to $92,000, compared to $87,000 in December of last year. 

Sales of attached homes (primarily condominium apartments and townhouses) recorded strong increases in some portions of the metro market. In Lake County, sales soared 55 percent in December to 164 units compared to just 106 units 12 months earlier. Strong gains in sales activity were also seen in Kendall County (up 26 percent to 54 units). DuPage (287 units sold) and McHenry (65 units sold) counties both gained 23 percent.  Kane County had a more modest gain of 8 percent on 95 units sold, and Will County sales activity fell 7 percent to 115 units.

It was in Cook County, however, where the market for attached homes made its greatest strides in December. Sales rose to 1,881 units, 24 percent more than in December 2011, and those transactions accounted for 71 percent of the total attached market in the metro area. The median sales price for attached units in Cook County climbed a robust 12 percent to $140,000, while the average market time improved to 134 days from 197 days a year earlier.

In Chicago, attached sales were 18 percent higher than in December 2011, totaling 1,045 units, and the median price bounded up 31 percent to $235,000. 

Among the six other counties, the median sales price of attached homes rose in three and fell in three. It climbed 5 percent in Kane County to $109,000, 5 percent in McHenry County to $92,500 and 4 percent in Will County to $110,000. The median price declined 0.5 percent in Lake County to $109,500, 4 percent in DuPage County to $108,000 and 19 percent in Kendall County to $81,000.

Attached homes had an average market time in December of 137 days, down from 197 a year earlier. In the individual counties, the average ranged from a high of 160 days in Kane to a low of 120 days in Will, down from 200 days a year ago.

Sales activity also climbed in the detached-home market, rising 18 percent in December across the metro area. Sales totaled 4,620 units, 18 percent higher than in the prior December.The median sales price was $169,900, 5 percent higher than 12 months earlier.  The average market time declined to 139 days from 162 days in December 2011.

Sales activity for detached homes registered strong gains in all seven counties, led by 26 percent increases in McHenry (278 units) and Kendall (123 units). Sales rose 19 percent in Cook (2,307 units), 10 percent in DuPage (511 units), 18 percent in Kane (407 units), 17 percent in Lake (518 units) and 15 percent in Will (475 units) relative to the sales levels of December 2011.  Sales activity in Chicago climbed 15 percent.

The median sales price of detached homes in December was higher in five of the seven counties, led by a 12 percent increase in Kane to $163,000. The median price was up 8 percent in Kendall to $182,000.  In DuPage, it rose 7 percent to $241,000. In Cook, it was up 7 percent to $155,000.  In Will, the median was $175,000, a 6 percent gain. The median price fell 11 percent in Lake to $175,000 and was down 2 percent in McHenry to $155,000. In Chicago, the median price was unchanged at $135,000.  

The average market time for detached homes continued to shorten for the entire metro area and all seven counties. The metro average fell to 139 days from 162 days a year earlier.  Kendall County again reported the shortest market time among the counties, 118 days, while Lake and McHenry reported the longest times at 160 days.   

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