Chicago-Area Housing Market Soared in March as Home Sales Shook Off First Quarter’s Slow Start, RE/MAX Reports

Chicago-area home sales soared in March, and home values continued to advance as the residential real estate market closed the first quarter of 2017 on an extremely positive note, RE/MAX reports.

March home sales in the seven-county metropolitan area were 14.8 percent higher than during March 2016, with 9,556 units changing hands and the median sales price gaining 10.4 percent to $234,000. As a result, home sales activity in the first quarter totaled 21,584 units, 5.6 percent higher than last year despite declining slightly in the January/February period.

“We expected a fairly robust early spring market, but the March results definitely surprised on the upside,” said Jack Kreider, executive vice president and regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois network. “Mild winter weather certainly helped bring out buyers, as did an improving job market and the prospect of gradually rising interest rates. Buyers were facing a market where inventory remained low by historic standards, but that didn’t slow them down much. March sales were the highest they’ve been since 2006, and the same is true for total first-quarter sales. I’m optimistic that we can maintain this momentum at least through the second quarter.”

Homes sold during March spent an average of 100 days on the market before going under contract, 10 days less than the prior March. For the entire quarter, average market time was 102 days, eight days faster than the same quarter last year.

Sales data used by RE/MAX is collected by MRED, the regional multiple listing service. It covers detached and attached homes in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will. Detached homes are typically stand-alone single-family dwellings. Attached homes include condominium and cooperative apartments along with townhouses.

Sales of distressed properties, which are foreclosures and short sales, accounted for 13.5 percent of March sales, down from 21.7 percent a year earlier. Because distressed homes generally sell at lower prices than other homes, the median price for the market as a whole tends to rise as distressed sales fall.

March home sales activity rose in six of the seven metro counties, led by gains of 33.4 percent in McHenry, 25 percent in Will and 24.4 percent in Kane. Other gains were 17.9 percent in DuPage, 11.8 percent in Cook and 9.5 percent in Lake. Sales in Chicago were up 17.7 percent.

The median sales price rose in all seven counties and Chicago, with increases ranging from a high of 12.2 percent in Will to a low of 6 percent in Kane.

Detached Homes

Sales of detached homes in the metro area rose 15.8 percent in March to 5,994 units and 4.6 percent during the first quarter to 13,604 units. The median sales price for March was $250,000, an 11.1 percent increase over the prior March, while the median price rose 9.3 percent in the first quarter.

Detached sales activity and the median price rose in all seven counties in March, but it was Chicago that delivered especially strong results. Sales there rose 16.3 percent to 957 units, and the median price was up 14.6 percent to $235,000.

For the entire quarter, McHenry County was the top performer, combining a 9.5 percent gain in sales activity with a 10.3 percent increase in the median price to $209,500.

Attached Homes

The market for attached homes was slightly more subdued in March than its detached-home counterpart due in part to an extremely low inventory of units for sale. Still, sales activity rose a robust 13.2 percent to 3,562 units, and the median sales price gained 5.3 percent to $195,000. For the first quarter, attached sales were up 7.4 percent, while the median sales price climbed 8.4 percent.

Five of the seven counties experienced increased sales of attached homes in March, led by gains of 41.4 percent in Kane, 35.9 percent in Will and 35 percent in McHenry. In Cook County, which accounted for 69 percent of attached sales, the increase was 11.2 percent, including an 18.5 percent increase in Chicago, while sales rose 12.4 percent in DuPage, were unchanged in Lake and fell 19.3 percent in Kendall.

The March median sales price rose in all seven counties and in Chicago. Gains ranged from 12.2 percent in DuPage to 4.6 percent in in Lake.