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Chicago Condos: Prices are Rising; from the Chicago Tribune

May 3, 2011

The median price of a condominium sold in Chicago last month beat its year-ago comparison for the first time in 2 1/2 years, new data show.

The median price of a condo within the city rose to $275,000, up 2.8 percent from $267,500 a year ago, according to a monthly sales report released Wednesday by the Illinois Association of Realtors. The previous time Chicago condo prices recorded a year-over-year monthly gain was in October 2008, when the median sales price of $315,000 was a 3.3 percent gain from October 2007.

Overall, March sales of existing homes in the Chicago area rose from their traditional February lull but remain below the year-ago levels achieved with the help of federal tax breaks, the trade group said.

In the nine-county Chicago area, March home sales rose 41.3 percent from February, to 5,324 single-family homes and condominiums, and the median price of $158,000 was a 3.6 percent improvement from February.
On a year-over-year basis, sales fell 15.6 percent, and the median price was down 14.1 percent. Last year, federal tax breaks of $5,600 for eligible repeat buyers and $8,000 for qualifying first-time buyers fueled much of the spring market’s sales.

No county experienced improvement in sales volume and pricing. But Kendall County recorded a 14.7 percent increase in sales, and the median sales price in Will County rose 6.3 percent from March 2010.

Within the city of Chicago, home sales rose 37.3 percent from February, to 1,450 properties, but were down 20.1 percent from a year ago. The median price of $191,000 for single-family homes and condos was 7.6 percent higher than in February but down 8.6 percent from the $209,000 recorded in March 2010.

“Comparing the housing market in 2011 with 2010 and 2009, the sales volume is recovering,” Geoffrey Hewings, director of the University of Illinois’ regional economics applications laboratory, said in a statement. “However, the housing prices remain well below prior-year levels, although the trend suggests some modest price recovery.”

Along with lower prices, reasonable interest rates and lower unemployment are two other factors that continue to help the market.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the Chicago area was 4.86 percent in March, down from 5.0 percent during the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. Meanwhile, in February, Illinois’ jobless rate fell for the 13th consecutive month.

Article courtesy of Mary Ellen Podmolik, Chicago Tribune;,0,3876806.story

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