Market Conditions: Chicago Housing Market Back to Pre-Recession Levels in March

Spring flowers in LP Apr 7, 2012 #3

The spring market started off on a blistering pace as buyers rushed to buy on fears of rising mortgage rates.

From the Illinois Association of Realtors:

The city of Chicago saw a 15.3 percent year-over-year home sales increase in March 2017 with 2,478 sales, up from 2,149 in March 2016. The median price of a home in the city of Chicago in March 2017 was $295,000, up 9.7 percent compared to March 2016 when it was $269,000.

Historic data courtesy of G:

City of Chicago condo/TH/SFH closed totals March
year/closed/median/% REO-Short Sales
Year Closed Median %REO/SS
1997 1,226 $126,875
1998 1,540 $137,003
1999 1,766 $152,125
2000 1,793 $167,500
2001 1,800 $195,000
2002 2,112 $210,000
2003 2,261 $225,000
2004 2,772 $244,950
2005 2,822 $271,125
2006 3,000 $275,862
2007 2,399 $285,000
2008 2,098 $300,000
2009 1,219 $217,000 37%
2010 1,860 $207,750 38%
2011 1,481 $163,763 49%
2012 1,630 $170,500 44%
2013 1,894 $187,500
2014 1,875 $235,000
2015 2,173 $260,000
2016 2,149 $269,000
2017 2,478 $295,000

“Home sales were stronger than usual throughout historically slower months, and now, with the spring market in full swing, the numbers are proving to be more robust than anticipated,” said Matt Silver, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and partner at Urban Real Estate. “As the economy improves, demand continues to grow, and while inventory shortages will possibly play a larger role, for now, we are seeing strong and favorable selling conditions, and those who are looking to buy a home should be prepared to move quickly and decisively.”

The average thirty year mortgage was 4.2% in the month, up from 3.7% a year ago.

Statewide, market times continued to plunge as inventory fell. The average market time declined to 67 days from 77 days a year ago.

“In inflation adjusted terms, both the Illinois and Chicago housing markets have recovered to their pre-recession levels,” said Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) at the University of Illinois. “The consumer indices still reflect a positive outlook on the economy although the Home Purchase Sentiment Index declined, reflecting some elevated concerns about job security.”

“Consumers this spring have no choice but to be nimble as they find fewer homes on the market and increased competition for those homes,” said Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter, ABR, AHWD, GRI, SFR of Mokena, managing broker of Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell in Orland Hills. “Many of the REALTORS® I talk to are reporting an increase in multiple offer situations, which means buyers can’t dawdle when they find what they want and they may want to make sure any offer they bring is an aggressive one.”

I’ve been hearing tales of bidding wars even on 1-bedroom condos in the GreenZone. That indicates to me that some Millennials are tired of renting.

When will one of the new luxury apartment towers go condo conversion?

Do the numbers make sense for developers to change direction?

What, if anything, will slow this market down?

Illinois housing market swings into spring with jump in home sales, prices (Illinois Association of Realtors, Press Release, April 21, 2017)

43 Responses to “Market Conditions: Chicago Housing Market Back to Pre-Recession Levels in March”

  1. What it does not take into consideration is the property tax have gone by 15-40% in the last 10 years, making these properties more expensive that they were 10 years ago.

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  2. “In inflation adjusted terms, both the Illinois and Chicago housing markets have recovered to their pre-recession levels”

    Huh? Those median price figures are all in nominal dollars. $300 in 2008 is about $340 today.

    What numbers is he looking at and what deflater is he using?

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  3. Aleks, yes property taxes have gone up significantly. But if you want to live in the People’s Democratic Republic of Chicago then you have to pay for it. It is a privilege to live in the P.D.R.C.

    The Millenials are rushing in to buy properties in Chicago. Property values will continue to go up because of significant demand. I see Chicago as the San Francisco of the Midwest.

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  4. Liberals don’t mind paying taxes at all, so don’t worry about that, it will literally have zero influence on housing in the liberal mecca of Chicago!

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  5. “Liberals don’t mind paying taxes at all”

    Yeah, just like conservatives all agree with tehHof’s feelings about blacks and gayz.

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  6. I posted this data last week in a very old thread from 2011 regarding 936 N St. Louis in Humboldt Park but it got buried.

    I’ve been studying the data and cash-out-refis are ticking up again. I wouldn’t say they’re at abnormally high rates like they were during the last bubble from 2006 – 2008 – they are more at normal rates, however even “normal” rates mean that almost 50% of refinancings are cash-out-refis.

    I tend to be on the conservative side and feel uncomfortable taking on too much debt I might not ultimately be able to pay for. I’ve never personally taken out a cash-out-refi, but then again I would never carry a balance on my credit cards either.

    Here are some data points from Freddie Mac on the percentage of mortgage refinances which were cash-out-refis. In other words, the borrower took out more than what was owed on the original mortgage and that difference was taken in cash:

    2003 Q3: 36%
    2004 Q3: 61%
    2005 Q3: 74%
    2006 Q3: 89%
    2007 Q3: 87%
    2008 Q3: 78%
    2009 Q3: 26%
    2010 Q3: 18%
    2011 Q3: 16%
    2012 Q3: 15%
    2013 Q3: 15%
    2014 Q3: 28%
    2015 Q3: 40%
    2016 Q3: 41%

    You get these rehabbers who’ll fund their whole portfolio by cash-out-refiing their current renovation to fund the next. It’s called the “BRRRR Method”. You can Google it. It could potentially all come crashing down again.

    The psychology of home-buying is fascinating. Everyone wants to buy now that prices are high and inventory is scarce.

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  7. Is now the time to sell and rent instead? I dislike renting, but I could cash out have $150,000 to invest in other ways while I rent and wait for the housing market to crash again.

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  8. I don’t know if you’ll see deconversions for a while.

    Developers paid very hefty prices to get these buildings up. For example: 111 W Wacker resold for 600k/unit average, with the majority of that being 1brs. Not only that but the construction quality is really, really shoddy cheap finishes / low STC drywall separation between units / cheapo ventilation / horrible internet wiring / unreliable elevators.

    I just have a hard time believing units at rental buildings like this would retain the premium the developers paid for them when competing against much higher quality residential condos. When you can’t get a quality 2/2 for under 700-800 in River North then I’d say its time for deconversions because most of these quickly built glass facade apartment buildings will need some serious renovation to compete. The only thing these new apartments have going for them is fresh lobbies and amenity floors.

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  9. “I could cash out have $150,000 to invest in other ways while I rent and wait for the housing market to crash again.”

    There aren’t really great investment opportunities right now and won’t be until interest rates rise. But when that happens it will cost you more (higher mortgage rates) to buy a new place so you might as well stay put in your current place with your low mortgage. And prices are only high in pockets – University Village is not one of them, though I’ve seen some recent encouraging contracts there.

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  10. “When you can’t get a quality 2/2 for under 700-800 in River North then I’d say its time for deconversions because most of these quickly built glass facade apartment buildings will need some serious renovation to compete. The only thing these new apartments have going for them is fresh lobbies and amenity floors.”

    Really?

    Have you been in some of the older River North condo towers lately? Most of them are 10 to 20 years old now. The finishes are old. No one replaces kitchens and baths. It’s a lot of money to update them.

    Not to mention, quite a few of the River North condo buildings were originally built as apartment buildings so the “quality” probably isn’t that different from what is going up right now.

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  11. “I dislike renting, but I could cash out have $150,000 to invest in other ways while I rent and wait for the housing market to crash again.”

    Housing “crashes” are a once in a lifetime event. They happen like every 70+ years.

    In fact, falling prices in Chicago are extremely rare (let alone a “crash.”) Prices didn’t fall for over 50 years in Chicago until 2009-2012.

    Could we get a second crash just 10 years after the first one in 70+ years?

    Anything is possible because the Fed’s low rate policy has unleashed things that were never intended to exist. Those low mortgage rates are really juicing the housing market now.

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  12. “The psychology of home-buying is fascinating. Everyone wants to buy now that prices are high and inventory is scarce.”

    Yep. That’s always how it works.

    If you go back and read some of the posts on this blog from 2012 (at the bottom) for condos on, say, Division, in Wicker Park, no one on this board would pay the marked down foreclosure price on those calling them “ugly” or whatnot.

    Now- 5 years later- those same units that sold for $400,000 from the bank are selling for $600,000+ and no one on this blog seems to find the property “ugly” or overpriced.

    Go figure.

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  13. I do wonder what will happen to the housing market in the next few years.

    If those rates continue to rise, I don’t see how prices can do the same (unless there are big wage increases.) And then what?

    But California basically has $800,000 starter homes now (all up and down the coast) and no one blinks an eye. Somehow, teachers, Whole Food workers and car mechanics are paying that. So maybe Chicago’s GreenZone has a long way to rise? It’s still fairly cheap compared to other cities. Our teachers can afford to buy- even in the Gold Coast.

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  14. “What it does not take into consideration is the property taxes have gone up by 15-40% in the last 10 years, making these properties more expensive that they were 10 years ago.”

    Property tax is my largest expense right now and insurance rates are way up too. Even the drastically discounted properties during the downturn didn’t necessarily cash flow due to the property taxes, expensive repairs needed due to deferred maintenance plus in some cases utilities being the landlord’s responsibility. And outside the GZ the rents are really, really low so it’s hard to break even after all those expenditures.

    I guess those who bought betting on pure price appreciation made out. Maybe I should have been a little less risk averse. I just don’t like the idea of paying money out of pocket each month to keep a building going.

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  15. Sabrina, it is crazy how inexpensive Chicago is for a large city.

    HUD released 2017 AMIs. Chicago metro AMI is now $79K. That’s up from $76.9K in 2016 and $76K in 2015.

    LA metro AMI is $64.3K up from $62.4K in 2016 and $63K in 2015.

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  16. “But California basically has $800,000 starter homes now (all up and down the coast) and no one blinks an eye.”

    What one has to understand about CA real estate, at least in southern CA where I have a place, is that people are willing to take on absurd amounts of debt, relative to their salary/net worth, in order to buy a place. I’m just not sure if Chicagoans will ever take borrowing to that same level, driving up prices to insane heights in the process.

    The more time I spend there, the more people I meet, the more I realize just how hand-to-mouth most people live there… and those people are the in professional class so you’d think they’d know better. Sure there are lots of people with plenty of net worth, but there are more people who spend well beyond their means and oddly enough, the system kinda rewards them for it: risk everything you don’t really have to begin with and buy a place for $800K, then sell it in a few years for $999K to some other person intent on doing exactly the same thing. It’s a cycle really, but for the first time I’m seeing prices max out for houses that aren’t considered exceptional in exceptional areas. There’s a sense that the music will stop and someone will be left without a chair, but in the here and now the cycle continues until it doesn’t. I really don’t wish that mentality on Chicago.

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  17. Bubbles are hard to spot and hindsight is 20/20. Yes some spotted the bubble in 2007 while others missed it. Some spotted it but didn’t predict the correction would be so dramatic. Still others missed the bottom in 2012. To me this doesn’t feel like 2007. I might feel differently if the “fundamentals” didn’t support what we are seeing.

    Chicago is much different than it was 15 years ago. People WANT to live here. Companies WANT to be headquartered here. There are restaurant openings / music festivals / sporting events non stop and Chicago demographics are shifting – more high income households moving here (good for tax base) and more low income leaving (bad for tax base). I don’t think this momentum stops until we have a national recession or massive supply increase. Right now the supply seems to be meeting (maybe slightly exceeding) demand – but it doesn’t seem too out of whack. I don’t think we are seeing the hair stylist who owns 5 2/2s in RN with zero down IO loans like we did in 07. The funny thing is if those people had been able to hold on they would be fine right now. It was lack of liquidity / high leverage that drove the over correction last time.

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  18. “I don’t think we are seeing the hair stylist who owns 5 2/2s in RN with zero down IO loans like we did in 07. The funny thing is if those people had been able to hold on they would be fine right now. ”

    For every one of those people there were 20 others that owned townhomes in Streamwood, 2 flats in Roger’s Park, SFH’s in Englewood and 1 bedroom condos in Albany Park. Only the RN has really appreciated higher; most of those other fringe areas are still selling below peak.

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  19. Cali is a multifacted problem, in no particular order

    – more than 50% of all units are rentals, so available supply is constrained;

    – there is a big gap between the haves and the have nots in the professional class, like my cousin who has been at apple probably two decades years now. He has a decent salary, sure, but it’s the stock and stock options he’s bought and saved over the years, that’s why he can make cash bids, and everyone else is just leveraging to compete against guys like him and others with those stock options, large bonuses, company buyouts, etc. Even my uncle out there got ‘bought out’ for lots of $$$ to retire early, owns a million+ 3 bd ranch that he owns outright…

    – Prop 13, many homeowners can’t/won’t/will never sell because as long time homeowners their taxes are pretty low (like my uncle) and moving to a new house would cost them so much money in taxes, so many homes just never go on the market, further reducing supply

    – land constraints mean there’s only so much building going on, and the furhter out you go, its the mountains and landslides and brushfires and longer drives…

    there are others too

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  20. All I gotta say Is that I had to laugh at my most recent Z-estimate that was e-mailed to me… I think it was a tad on the high side because if not, I would sell today

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  21. “What one has to understand about CA real estate, at least in southern CA where I have a place, is that people are willing to take on absurd amounts of debt, relative to their salary/net worth, in order to buy a place.”

    Could it have anything to do with what it’s like to live there vs. the greater Chicago area? I mean, you have a place there. Do you continue to hold onto it because of the lousy weather, ugly scenery, lack of fun things to do, etc.?

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  22. Maybe we’re not seeing zero down IO loans like we did in 07. But I see 3% down, money back at closing (to recover the 3% down), and ARM loans. When the LTV goes in the upper, upper 90s, that’s got to be a bad sign.

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  23. The 2006-2008 era was fueled by massive amounts of fraud and specuvestors which ultimately brought down a lot of normal homeowners on the margins. I don’t think people really get how much fraud was going on during that time.

    Here is an article from 2005 in the Chicago Trib highlighting how gangs were getting into mortgage fraud.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-mortgage-1-story-story.html

    You then had the specuvestors like Casey Serin going bust. A lot of this was brought on because I don’t think banks realized how much people would take advantage of the lax underwriting which was initially there to just streamline the process for obviously qualified borrowers. The NINJAS, SISAs, etc made all the fraud possible as they kept peeling back the underwriting requirements to bring in more loans.

    Current mortgage underwriting has eliminated practically all of the amateur fraud that was rampant during that time. In addition, appraisals are way more conservative due to HVCC regulations were “back in the day” appraisers were much more beholden to mortgage brokers and realtors to make deals work.

    Any bubble these days I don’t think will burst as hard as the fundamentals of the financing are far higher quality even with the availability of 3% down nowadays. You cannot qualify for any mortgage without income verification these days which was the biggest loophole during the bubble era.

    I think Chicago has a lot of upside because it is becoming a very popular city for young professionals and historically has lagged behind other major tier 1 cities price wise. A lot of people are moving here (and other cities) because it is currently cheaper than comparable cities.

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  24. I remember my parents pushing me to buy in 2006. I kept saying that everything seemed so overpriced for what you’re getting. The condos in my building were going for $360k at that time. It seemed ridiculous to me that a 1200 square foot condo near UV should be that pricey. Everything was pricey, so I didn’t buy. Then, 2011 came around and I noticed that the same condos that had been going for $360k were suddenly going for $200k. I jumped on it, put my 20% down, and now my place is worth about $300k.

    I am concerned about another crash. Properties are starting to get pricey again. For fun, I did a search for townhouses that have at least 2 bathroom priced at $400k or less within bounds of 15th, Morgan, and Armitage and there’s not a single property available. Then, for fun I looked for 2/2 condos priced under $200k and there’s not a single property available. I upped it to $250k and see one available property. When I upped it to $300k, a few properties show up, but you really need to spend $400k at least to have a decent number of available properties.

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  25. @anonny

    If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that people are willing to spend well beyond their means because what they get in return is so worth it? While I suppose that’s the case with many who live there, I assure you that many who also live there do it for the same reasons people live in Chgo: good job, family, circumstances beyond their control. I’m there because I hate northern winters, but I’d be hard pressed to give up Chgo completely. Chgo is a real city to me and I like real cities, southern CA is a collection of suburbs… some very nice suburbs, but still the suburbs.

    Also, the primary attraction of southern CA to me other than the sun, is the perpetual optimism that I find in the people there… something people in Chgo lack regardless of how good they actually have it compared to other authentically urban areas. On the other hand, you come to discover that the majority of all that CA optimism is blind, misguided, and ends in failure…. now go ahead and mix that with real estate and you’ll understand why I’ll always keep my Chgo place.

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  26. “I am concerned about another crash. Properties are starting to get pricey again. For fun, I did a search for townhouses that have at least 2 bathroom priced at $400k or less within bounds of 15th, Morgan, and Armitage and there’s not a single property available.”

    Yes, townhouses are in demand. Of all sizes. You can get a South Loop 1-bedroom townhouse in Dearborn Park for under $400,000. Some 2/1.5s are also available for less than $400,000 (but it won’t be upgraded and will need some work.) I’ve cribbed on many of them over the years, including in the last year.

    There are some 2/2 condos under $400,000 in the Old Town area (with laundry and parking.)

    But no, you’re not going to get a 2/2 on the Near North Side or Loop for under $200,000. Why WOULD you be able to?

    This is what I don’t understand. 2/2s in that neighborhood haven’t been under $300,000 for decades now. Does that mean that there’s a bubble now? No. It means you are looking in the ritziest part of a major city and it’s a miracle there are even 2/2s for $400,000. Look north, south or west and you can get a 2/2 for under $300,000. You’re just not going to find it in the “prime” neighborhoods.

    You have to adjust your expectations Jenny. You don’t have a big enough budget to live in those neighborhoods in a 2/2.

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  27. “land constraints mean there’s only so much building going on, and the furhter out you go, its the mountains and landslides and brushfires and longer drives…”

    Have you ever been to Sacramento? No “land constraints” there yet prices are absurd. No Silicon Valley there to artificially boost prices.

    What about Riverside and the “Inland Empire”? It’s no different than Schaumburg or Aurora and plenty of land to build on yet homes are $400,000 to $500,000 and up.

    What about Bakersfield and that area? Plenty of land there.

    In fact, there is plenty of land everywhere. Go up north of Santa Barbara. Not sure what jobs are even there except doctor and lawyer. Mostly small towns yet houses selling for $600,000. Piece of crap, one story 1955 homes like you’d find in Oak Lawn. Again, it makes no sense.

    But hey- you have “weather.” Oh- and earthquakes. But no one remembers those.

    California’s only good for the rich. Most other people will leave. The biggest group that’s leaving is the upper middle class, in their 30s, who have families. You just can’t make the numbers work. And even worse, your kids will never get in the UC system (too crowded) so you’ll have to pay for private college or out of state tuition at U of I or Nebraska.

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  28. “Chgo is a real city to me and I like real cities, southern CA is a collection of suburbs… some very nice suburbs, but still the suburbs.”

    Jay- what do you think about the rejuvenation of downtown LA and San Diego? They are building thousands of apartments in both areas of both cities. Restaurants/shops are following.

    Won’t it “urbanize” these areas? If someone is looking for an urban experience, doesn’t downtown LA give you that now?

    Just wondering if urbanization is possible.

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  29. “You have to adjust your expectations Jenny. You don’t have a big enough budget to live in those neighborhoods in a 2/2.”

    It has nothing to do what I personally can and cannot afford. It has everything to do with property values spiking 50% since 2011. I don’t think that’s normal and as much as I am happy that my home is now worth much more than I paid, it makes me worry about another crash.

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  30. What about Bakersfield and that area? Plenty of land there

    It’s an oil town, Plenty of well off people and lots that pretend. The boom/bust mentality is in full effect.

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  31. DePaul Housing Institute is out with it’s year end 2016 numbers.

    https://price-index.housingstudies.org/

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  32. Six of the top 10 submarkets are in Chicago unsurprisingly.

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  33. It’s interesting to see what most areas have still not recovered to their peak prices.

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  34. Jenny – you should check out the ground level courtyard duplex units in the midrises in Dearborn I in the South Loop. They are all 2 bed/2 bath units with enclosed patios that open to a large shared courtyard. When they come up for sale, they’re currently listing under 400k and some are selling for around 330-350k. There is a waitlist for parking in the garages, but they recently removed the street parking restrictions in the neighborhood. If you can survive without a garage for a while, I think the units are some of the best deals around for people with dogs or kids and a budget under 400k. [I don’t live in the midrise buildings, but live nearby].

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  35. looking to buy on April 26th, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Rates are also much lower than they were at peak times. In 2007, the 30yr was around 6%. A year ago 4% So, lower prices and lower rates mean an overall lower nut. Some properties are just being left behind.

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  36. “It has nothing to do what I personally can and cannot afford. It has everything to do with property values spiking 50% since 2011. I don’t think that’s normal and as much as I am happy that my home is now worth much more than I paid, it makes me worry about another crash”

    I absolutely agree. I understand that a recovering economy, a decent amount of working young professionals, and increased gentrification are reasons for real estate increases, I just feel the prices are so much higher than they should be – I can’t say if it’s a bubble or not..but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck..

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  37. Not sure if I agree with the DePaul Housing Institute’s submarkets. Palatine/Barrington? Uh, to live in one is to not live in the other. Park Ridge/Des Plaines? Most people I know in Park Ridge couldn’t point out Des Plaines on a map much less pronounce it correctly. Park Ridge has appreciated in the last year like crazy, there $500,000 splits for sale all over. Des Plaines is a depressed, older village with many poor immigrants. Some of the city markets seem suspect too, especially in the city where you can go in two blocks from rich with much price appreciation to poor and little price appreciation.

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  38. Thanks for the suggestion, MJ!

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  39. “Not sure if I agree with the DePaul Housing Institute’s submarkets. ”

    Appears that they are Census data based, but supposedly of about 100,000 residents. They have 33 of them for Cook County, which has a population of over 5m. hmm.

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  40. HD, it’s more granular than Case Schiller.

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  41. anon, that doesn’t sound right. Rogers Park, Edgewater and Uptown are combined into one submarket and that’s probably close to 150,000 people. Lincoln Park/Lake View are combined as well and that’s about the same population, probably more.

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  42. “anon, that doesn’t sound right.”

    Well, it’s not, but that’s how Depaul captioned it on the mouseover info for PUMA.

    Turns out that it is “at least” 100,000. Used mainly for dissemination of ACS info, as the ACS data requires a 65,000+ population for reporting.
    There are 88 PUMAs in Illinois.

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  43. Just posted my April market update (several days late): http://www.chicagonow.com/getting-real/2017/05/chicago-real-estate-market-update-home-sales-decline-once-again/

    It’s the same old story. One month is great and the next month not so hot. We’re really drawing down pending home sales and I wouldn’t be surprised if May ends up weak also.

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