Despite the truckloads of snow in Illinois recently, the real estate market is already gearing up for an early spring with the looming tax credit deadline of April 30 and low mortgage interest rates expected to tick up some although Freddie Mac in its 2010 forecast expects interest rates to remain in the 5 to 6 percent range for the year. 

In today’s 4Q09 report released by the Illinois Association of REALTORS®, Illinois home sales (which include single-family homes and condominiums) totaled 29,822 in the fourth quarter, up 35.6 percent from 21,986 home sales in the same period a year ago. The statewide median home sales price was $155,000, down 5.5 percent from $163,950 in the fourth quarter of 2008. 

In a strong showing in markets across the state, more than 70 percent of Illinois counties reporting showed positive year-over-year increases in home sales and 50 percent marked median price increases.

Going forward the focus must be on jobs and reducing the number of foreclosures, which continue to put downward pressure on home prices. In the IAR report, University of Illinois economist Geoff Hewings points to the fact that Illinois lost jobs at a faster rate that the United States in 2009: “The state never recovered from the 2000-2001 recession and absent a miraculous rate of growth, it may be more than 18 years before the state is back to 2000 employment levels.”

Here is a snapshot from the IAR report comparing 4Q09 to 4Q08:

Illinois home sales ↑35.6%
Illinois median price $155,000 ↓5.5%

Chicagoland PMSA* home sales ↑44.9%
Chicagoland PMSA* median price $187,000 ↓13.0%

City of Chicago home sales ↑43.7%
City of Chicago median price $215,000 ↓11.5%

* The Chicago PMSA, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes the counties of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.