Chicago not feeling sting of nationwide drop in home sales

Meghan Schiller/ MEDILL

Chicago sales of pre-owned homes last month rose 12.1 percent to 1,626 homes sold from 1,450 homes sold in March 2011, bucking the national trend, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors’ Thursday report. The city of Chicago median home sale price was up 5.2 percent to $171,750, compared to $163,200 in March 2011.

“If you look back a year ago, we’re doing 50 percent better than last year in sales,” said Akos Straub,

CEO of Straub Milito Group, a Coldwell Banker Brokerage and one of the top five sales offices in the nation.

Chicago area real estate may be warming up, but sales remain frozen in other parts of the country.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that nationwide home sales in March dropped 2.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.48 million from 4.6 million in February, showing that a recovery in the housing sector is still elusive. The inventory of unsold homes also fell to 2.37million, possibly due to discouraged sellers deciding to stay put.

One thread of hope is the increase in home prices by 2.5 percent nationwide to a median price of $163,800 in March from$160,600 the month prior. This increase stemmed from the decrease in homes on the market and more sales of expensive properties.

“Even though the March rate was below the 4.63 million unit average rate for January and February, it remained above the total 4.28 million units sold in 2011,” said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica Bank. “For the year ending in March, existing home sales increased by 5.2 percent.”

Thursday’s report marked the third time in the last four months that previously owned U.S. home sales fell; it may be only a small disappointment in a larger picture of improvement.

“Locally, if you have a nice home and it’s priced correctly in this market then it’s selling” said Vince Milito of Straub Milito Group. “Quality inventory is always at a premium.”

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