Suburban home sales up in April

It might have been one of the coldest Aprils in the region's recorded history, but home sales in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago area took a turn to the warmer side last month. Overcoming chilly temperatures and a continued shortage of homes listed for sale, April generated a 3.2 percent sales increase over April 2017, according to a RE/MAX analysis, and that came after declines of 6.4 percent in the first quarter of this year and decline of 8.7 percent in March alone.

Home sales for the metro area totaled 10,404 in April, up from 10,078 a year earlier. It was the highest level of April sales recorded since 2006. The median sales price gained 2.9 percent to $252,000, and the average time a home sold in April spent on the market before going under contract declined to 80 days from 90 in April 2017.

Total April home sales were up in all seven metro counties, as well as in Chicago. Sales rose 3.2 percent in Cook, 5.1 percent in DuPage, 6 percent in Kane, 1.3 percent in Kendall, 0.8 percent in Lake, 4.6 percent in McHenry and 0.8 percent in Will. Chicago sales gained 2.1 percent.

"While the number of homes for sale in the Chicago area continues to trail last year's total, the gap got smaller in April," said Jeff LaGrange, vice president of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois Region. "The end-of-April inventory of homes for sale was 5.1 percent lower than the prior April, but that's better than the 8.8 percent difference we saw in March."

LaGrange noted that the improvement in the inventory situation was occurring in the attached-home segment of the market where the listing inventory was up 3.3 percent. In contrast, the inventory of detached homes for sale was 8.2 percent lower than it had been 12 months earlier. However, LaGrange pointed out that even the detached inventory picture is something of an improvement over first-quarter results, where the year-over-year decline was 11.9 percent.

Sales data used by RE/MAX is collected by MRED, the regional multiple listing service. It covers detached and attached homes in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will. Median prices were also up across the board, gaining 2.6 percent in Cook, 6.1 percent in DuPage, 2.9 percent in Kane, 6.9 percent in Kendall, 4.2 percent in Lake, 3.6 percent in McHenry and 3 percent in Will. The increase in Chicago was 4 percent.

Sales of distressed homes, which consist of foreclosures and short sales, continued to dwindle as a percentage of total home sales activity. There were 815 distressed sales in April, 21.6 percent fewer than a year earlier and equaling 7.8 percent of all April sales. Four years earlier, distressed properties accounted for 32.8 percent of April sales in the metro area.

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