Surge in Chicago area existing home sales and construction

The Chicago housing market has received its fair share of negative press, due largely to foreclosures in the city that create a drag on the market. However, people looking at homes for sale in Chicago can get excited about recent reports indicating a surge in existing home sales. Reuters recently cited a national housing report that indicated that while national home resales fell in September, both Illinois and the city of Chicago both bucked the national trend and observed significant increases.

The report indicated that national home sales decreased by 1.7 percent, with home sales in Illinois conversely rising 15.9 percent and home sales in the Chicago metropolitan area rising substantially by 24 percent. The nine-county Chicago metropolitan area observed 7,484 home sales in September 2012, which is up from 6,035 home sales in September 2011.

Median home prices
Looking at median home prices, Chicago's median price remained the same as it was in September 2011, at $160,000. While there wasn't an observable increase from last year, the median price of a home in September was observed as $20,000 higher than it was in January 2012.

"Given the uncertainties in the economy, with the forthcoming election contributing significantly, the housing market has performed well in the last quarter," said Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois. "While month-over-month sales were down in September, the year-over-year sales were up and prices continued their modest recovery."

Housing starts nationally and locally
A recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times cited the Commerce Department, which detailed that home construction is at a four-year high across the nation. New construction for single-family homes and apartments saw a 15 percent increase in September from August, and applications for building permits are at a four-year high as well.

"That's a national number, and the Chicago market is still really weak," said Art Zwemke, manager of the Robert Arthur Land Company in Batavia, Illinois. "We've lost so many jobs during the downturn, and the housing market in Chicago is lagging behind other markets that have rebounded more strongly."

Even so, Zwemke's company has reported a rise in the amount of inquiries from people searching for homes than they were receiving a year ago. While Chicago may be lagging behind other major metros, these reports can all be seen as further indication that the Chicago housing market is in recovery mode.