With interest rates continuing to post all-time record lows and lower home prices, more people should be getting in the market. Investors and first-time buyers are taking advantage of these high affordability conditions, according to the National Association of REALTORS® home sales report today, accounting for 22 percent and 32 percent of sales, respectively.

Job security and consumer confidence are among the factors holding many back. Economist Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois noted in the Illinois home sales report also released today: “However, the job market confirmed that the nation’s economic recovery is slowing down; the Illinois unemployment rate has increased four months in a row after 15 consecutive months of declines.”

Still, more homes are selling than last year at this time with double-digit gains statewide (up 25.9 percent) and in the nine-county Chicago region (up 27.6 percent) and these year-over-year gains are expected to continue through November in Illinois, according to the REAL forecast (pdf). The sales gains in August would have been stronger without ongoing “headwinds” from tight credit and appraisal problems, as cited in the NAR report today.

All markets are local and it’s best to work with a local REALTOR® who knows the market. As observed in IAR’s August home sales report, more than half of Illinois counties reporting (51 of 100) showed year-over-year median price increases including Champaign, up 2.8 percent to $148,000; Kankakee, up 10.2 percent to $124,500; Macoupin, up 8.8 percent to $89,200; McLean, up 14.0 percent to $171,000; Monroe, up 12.3 percent to $202,200; Peoria, up 14.7 percent to $132,500; and Williamson, up 5.7 percent to $115,000.