February home sales in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago real estate market registered mild declines when measured against January of this year and February of last year, according to an analysis of sales data by the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network. The analysis looked at all sales recorded by Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC, which is the regional multiple listing service.
When compared to the prior month, the combined February sales of attached and detached homes fell 2.3 percent to 3,746 units. February activity was 9.7 percent less than in the same month last year, when 4,147 homes changed hands.
“February homes sales were largely in line with our expectations,” said Jim Merrion, regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network, in a release. “Last year, sales were boosted by the homebuyer tax credit, which is no longer in effect. While sales were down from February 2010, they are 22 percent higher than during February 2009, suggesting that the market is slowly healing. It’s also important, when looking at February results, to factor in our local weather. This was the snowiest February ever for the Chicago area, and I’m sure that held down the sales total.”
Merrion expects March to follow a similar pattern, with sales coming in below 2010 levels but considerably higher than in 2009.
“The housing market continues to offer solid buying opportunities at all price levels,” he said.
Sales of distressed properties accounted for 51.5 percent of all February transactions, the first month in which they have represented more than half of all sales since RE/MAX began tracking distressed sales two years ago. Of the 1,929 distressed sales, 1,396 were foreclosures and 533 were short sales.
For the metro area as a whole, home prices slipped somewhat in February. The median price (meaning half of homes sold for more and half for less) was $153,000, down 7.8 percent from $166,000 a year earlier and 3.2 percent lower than the January median of $158,000.
The average home price for February was $215,792, 5.7 percent lower than the average price of $228,946 in February 2010 and down 5.6 percent from the January average of $228,500.
“With distressed properties representing more than half of all February sales, it isn’t surprising to see a decline in the average and median sales prices for the month,” said Merrion, noting that the median February sales price of a distressed home was only $92,000. He also pointed out that 1,366, or 70.8 percent, of all distressed properties changing hands in February were sold at prices under $150,000.
Sales of attached homes (primarily condominium apartments and townhouses), totaled 1,346 units in February, which was 1.6 percent more units than in January but 6.4 percent fewer than the total sold in February of last year. The median sales price for attached homes was $130,000, which compares to a median of $162,950 a year earlier and $133,400 in the prior month.
Sales of detached homes declined 11.4 percent to 2,400 units, compared to 2,709 in February of last year, and the total was 5 percent lower than the 2,526 homes sold in January. Nonetheless, prices for detached homes held relatively steady. The median price of $166,000 was just 2.4 percent lower than a year ago, while the average price increased less than 1 percent to $231,789.
Total home sales declined in each of the seven counties in the metro Chicago real estate market, as well as in the City of Chicago itself, when compared to February of last year. However, February home sales in Kane, McHenry and Will counties and in Chicago were higher than the January total.
When compared to February 2010 totals, sales of attached homes fell in all seven counties and in Chicago last month, and for detached homes, only Will County recorded a sales increase. However, when February homes sales are compared to sales in the prior month, the results are more mixed. February sales of attached homes were higher in Cook, Kane and McHenry Counties and in Chicago, and were unchanged in Lake County. Sales of detached homes rose in Will County and Chicago and were unchanged in Kendall County.