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posted: 1/31/2014 1:00 AM

Strong year for home sales in Illinois

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Illinois home sales increased 7.9 percent over previous-year levels in December and median prices increased 13.7 percent, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.

Statewide home sales, which include single-family homes and condominiums,) totaled 11,279 homes sold in December, up from 10,454 in December 2012. Year-end 2013 home sales totaled 153,492 -- up 18.9 percent from 129,092 in 2012.

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The statewide median price in December was $149,000, up 13.7 percent from the same month a year earlier when the median price was $131,000. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Year-end 2013 median price reached $150,000, up 8.3 percent from $138,500 in 2012.

"Since January, Illinois has seen a steady stream of positive data that included strong year-over-year sales and median price growth," said Phil Chiles, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors. "The numbers show that the housing market is a robust one heading into the new year, and consumer interest does not appear to be flagging even in the face of diminished inventories."

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central U.S. region was 4.48 percent in December, up from 4.27 percent in November, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. In December 2012, the 30-year mortgage rate averaged 3.32 percent.

In the nine-county Chicago region, home sales in December totaled 8,126 homes sold, up 8.1 percent from December 2012 sales of 7,515 homes. Year-end home sales totaled 111,427 in the region, up 23.0 percent from 90,608 homes sold in 2012.

The median price in December was $177,000 in the Chicago area, up 18.0 percent from $150,000 in December 2012. The year-end 2013 median price reached $177,500, up 10.9 percent from $160,000 in 2012.

The Chicago region includes Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

"The year 2013 was a good one for the housing market and the prospects for the early part of 2014 appear equally positive," said Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory of the University of Illinois. "Foreclosures still appear to be having a dampening effect on prices (especially within the immediate vicinity of a foreclosed property), but there is every expectation that the levels of foreclosure might return to pre-recession levels within 12 months."

Forty-seven of 102 Illinois counties reporting to IAR showed year-over-year home sales increases in December. Forty-four counties showed year-over-year median price increases, including St. Clair, up 49.9 percent to $119,900; Kendall, up 23.4 percent to $179,000; Kane, 23.2 percent to $175,000; DuPage, up 17.6 percent to $217,500; Cook, up 17.3 percent to $175,900; and Peoria, up 8.5 percent to $117,700.

The city of Chicago saw a 12.5 percent year-over-year home sales increase in December with 2,080 sales, up from 1,849 in December 2012. The city's year-end 2013 home sales totaled 27,155, up 21.2 percent from 22,397 home sales in 2012.

The median price of a home in the city of Chicago was $210,000 in December, up 13.5 percent compared to the same month in the previous year, when it was $185,000. The year-end 2013 median price in Chicago reached $220,000, up 18.9 percent from $185,000 in 2012.

"A surplus of pent-up buyers helped move the market in 2013," said Matt Farrell, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors and managing partner of Urban Real Estate. "Motivated sellers, paired with attractive interest rates and a sense of a more stable economic climate, helped close deals that might have otherwise not come to the table. The return of the jumbo loan allowed for move-up buyers to buy their next home as a delayed recovery can be in part attributed to the $417,000 federally-backed loan limit and no other jumbo loan options."

This year will likely bring stabilization in housing prices, Farrell said.

"Keys to keeping Chicago affordable and attainable to even the most credit-prepared buyers includes the necessity for our industry to continue to push for increased federally-backed loan limits, so that those trying to purchase in our city can do so without being priced out of their next home," Farrell said.

Find Illinois housing stats, data and the University of Illinois REAL forecast at www.illinoisrealtor.org/marketstats.

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