Market Conditions: Chicago April Sales Fall 7.6% But Median Price Jumps 12%

Sales have been slowing for several months in Chicago. After the surge in 2013, it’s not surprising that year over year numbers show a decline.

Remember, it wasn’t until May of 2013 that mortgage rates spiked.

From the Illinois Association of Realtors:

The city of Chicago saw a 7.6 percent year-over-year home sales decline in April 2014 with 2,210 sales, down from 2,392 in April 2013. The median price rose to $250,000 versus $223,250 in April 2013, an annual increase of 12.0 percent.

Here are the sales statistics for April since 2007:
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  • 2007: 2419 sales
  • 2008: 1886 sales
  • 2009: 1407 sales
  • 2010: 1984 sales
  • 2011: 1466 sales
  • 2012: 1750 sales (I have 1750 from last year’s data- not 1816 as IAR says it was)
  • 2013: 2392 sales
  • 2014: 2210 sales

Here are the median prices:
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  • 2007: $289,800
  • 2008: $300,000
  • 2009: $218,000
  • 2010: $225,000
  • 2011: $169,000
  • 2012: $184,400 (IAR says it was $182,000 but I have $184,400 from last year’s data)
  • 2013: $223,500
  • 2014: $250,000

“Inventory remains at a low across the city of Chicago, creating lower market times and increased sales prices during a time of year when many traditionally are looking to buy or sell,” said Matt Farrell, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and managing partner of Urban Real Estate.

“As buyers navigate their way through the home buying process, it can’t be stated enough that if you see something you like, it won’t likely be available a few days later. Work with your REALTOR® to ensure you have your ducks in a row, and be ready to pull the trigger and make an offer, as the same home will likely be under contract the next time you get back to it,” Farrell added.

Low inventory is still feeding the bidding frenzy in many neighborhoods. But for some properties, such as 1 and 2-bedroom condos in some north side neighborhoods, the market is not so hot.

I’ve been watching quite a few properties sitting there for weeks.

Price still matters for condos.

For single family homes, inventory is almost non-existent in the GZ neighborhoods making bidding wars more common.

Mortgage rates have fallen to 6 month lows but sales are still lackluster. Mortgage applications remain at 19-year lows.

Is the spring/summer buying season already a bust?

Illinois median home prices increase 7.6 percent in April. home sales decrease 7.8% amid tight inventories [Illinois Association of Realtors, Press Release, May 22, 2014]

Who Says There Was a Housing Bust? 83.6% Appreciation in 10 Years: 832 W. Wolfram in Lakeview

We last chattered about this 3-bedroom townhouse at 832 W. Wolfram in Lakeview last year.

See our March 2013 chatter here.

The old listing said it was a townhouse but didn’t mention any assessments at all. This listing says it is “fee simple.”

As you can see from the picture, it is the unit behind the main house in the front.

(My question is- if it’s fee simple, who’s in charge of shoveling that really long sidewalk all winter long? Or any of the snow removal, yard stuff at all?)

The townhouse has unique features including a modern kitchen with white cabinets and stainless steel appliances.

It also has exposed brick throughout and skylights.

The listing says it has a 1.5 car garage (and possibly two) and there’s a shared roof deck over the garage.

Last year when we chattered about it, it was listed for $678,900 or 47% appreciation.

This year, it came back on the market at $850,000, or 83.6% higher.

Will they get this price in Lakeview?

Nancy Hearon at Berkshire has the listing. See the pictures here.

832 W. Wolfram: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, no square footage listed, 1.5 car garage

  • Sold in October 1995 for $264,000
  • Sold in May 2004 for $463,000
  • Was listed in March 2013 for $678,900
  • Withdrawn
  • Currently listed for $850,000
  • No assessments. Fee simple
  • Taxes now $6452 (they were $6732 last year)
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 16×12 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 15×11 (main level)
  • Bedroom #3: 9×11 (main level)
  • Office: 9×7 (main level)
  • Living/dining combo: 29×18

Another Chance to Buy in the Greystone at 562 W. Arlington in Lincoln Park

We’ve chattered off and on about various units in this 4-unit greystone at 562 W. Arlington in East Lincoln Park over the years.

See our chatter on Unit #2 in 2009 here.

The 2-bedroom top floor penthouse recently returned to the market.

It has been listed on and off beginning in 2009.

This building was completely renovated in 2005 with new finishes and windows.

The unit has 2-fireplaces as well as a master suite with a double vanity in the master bathroom.

The kitchen has granite counter tops and a chef’s stove.

It has central air, washer/dryer in the unit and gated, secured parking.

Back in May 2009, it was listed for $699,000 and reduced all the way down to $599,000 by September 2011.

It didn’t sell and has come back on the market at $679,000.

Is it finally the right time to sell?

Jennifer Ames at Coldwell Banker has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #4: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1700 square feet
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  • Sold in July 2005 for $610,000
  • Sold in July 2007 for $715,000
  • Was listed in May 2009 for $699,000
  • Reduced
  • Withdrawn in 2011
  • Currently listed at $679,000
  • Assessments of $205 a month (includes snow removal)
  • Taxes of $8873
  • Central Air
  • Washer/dryer in the unit
  • Gated, secured parking included
  • Bedroom #1: 15×10
  • Bedroom #2: 11×13


Market Conditions: March Home Sales Fall 6.5% YOY But Median Price Keeps Rising

As expected, March sales fell 6.5% year over year as weather, tight inventory, higher prices and higher mortgage rates bit buyers.

From the Illinois Association of Realtors:

“The city of Chicago saw a 6.5 percent year-over-year home sales decline in March 2014 with 1,819 sales, down from 1,945 in March 2013. The median price rose to $237,000 versus $187,000 in March 2013, an annual increase of 26.7 percent.”

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 1,819 $237,000

“Relative to the number of homes available for sale in the marketplace, Chicago is still selling more homes than it did this time last year,” said Matt Farrell, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and managing partner of Urban Real Estate.

“Most of the transactions which closed in March are homes that went under contract in January and February, despite the inclement winter which definitely impacted an already anticipated slower winter market,” Farrell added. “Buyer demand continues to outpace available inventory; Sellers looking to make a move should be jumping off the fence now while buyers are still able to capitalize on attractive interest rates.”

Did he just say “buy now or be priced out forever”?

Farrell is correct that March sales would have gone under contract during the worst of the winter. But mortgage applications have been at 18-year lows for weeks which indicates that future sales will also be slower than a year ago.

Soon, no one will be able to blame “the weather.”

The rising median home price is also interesting. Remember, the median just tells you what mix is selling. It doesn’t tell you that prices are actually rising.

With mortgage rates about a percent higher than a year ago, and home prices also higher, there are less sales on the lower end of the market which is most impacted by an increase in the monthly mortgage payment.

Is Farrell right that you should buy now or you won’t be able to afford to buy later when mortgage rates are higher?

And what about sellers? Isn’t the window going to close for sellers as well?

Illinois median home prices increase in March; Number of home on market improves, but inventories remain tight [Illinois Association of Realtors, Press Release, April 22, 2014]


Record High Listing Prices Appearing in Old Town: 1414 N. Wells

This 2-bedroom in 1414 N. Wells in Old Town just came on the market.

We’ve chattered about Old Town a lot over the years because some of the developments held their value even during the bust as Old Town remained a top destination in the city.

This 1700-square foot unit has cherry cabinets, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.

It has a marble master bath and his and her walk-in closets in the master bedroom.

It also has the coveted a side-by-side washer/dryer in its own laundry room.

The unit has other features buyers look for including central air and 1-car garage parking.

This unit last sold just over 2 years ago, in December 2011, for $572,000.

Looking at the two sets of listing pictures, it appears to have the same kitchen and baths so it is an apples to apples listing (i.e. no extensive renovations.)

The unit has come on the market at $795,900 (including the parking), or $223,900 more than in 2011.

For a unit of this size, that would be a new record in the building.

(If you recall, back in 2009 we chattered about a 2500 square foot completely custom unit that Johnny Depp apparently slept in which ended up selling for $1.125 million in July 2009. See the pictures here.)

Will there be a record selling price for this condo?

Amy Settich at Coldwell Banker has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #208: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1700 square feet
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  • Sold in August 2002 for $486,500
  • Sold in January 2005 for $513,500
  • Sold in December 2011 for $572,000 (included the parking)
  • Currently listed for $765,900 plus $30,000 for parking
  • Assessments of $564 a month (includes cable)
  • Taxes of $10,060
  • Bedroom #1: 18×12
  • Bedroom #2: 14×10
  • Laundry room: 11×8


Is the GreenZone in a Bubble? 62% Appreciation in 3 Years at 2722 N. Wilton in Lincoln Park

We last chattered about this 4-bedroom single family home at 2722 N. Wilton in Lincoln Park in August 2011.

See our prior chatter here.

At that time it was one of the few Lincoln Park single family homes to be on the market for $500,000 or less.

The catch?

The brown, purple, red line El tracks were directly behind the house.

If you recall, the house is built on a 25×75 lot, has a 1 car garage but there is space in the back underneath the tracks for 4 additional outdoor parking spots.

The kitchen has been redone with some new white cabinets, granite counter tops and sink. The kitchen window was also covered by cabinets (see the before kitchen in the prior chatter.) Is this a smart move- to remove a window?

It has a fully finished basement with a wine fridge which was also there in the 2011 sale.

From the prior listing pictures it appears that there was bathroom renovation work as well.

3 bedrooms are on the second floor with a den or office on the main level. In this listing, the den is called a bedroom. In 2011, it was only a 3 bedroom home.

It has central air.

In 2011, the house went under contract in just a few days and sold just under asking at $492,500.

3 years later it is back on the market asking $799,000.

Is another bubble brewing in the GreenZone?

April Frazer at Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices KoenigRubloff has the listing. See the pictures here.

Or see it at the Open House this Sunday, April 6, from 11 am- 1pm.

2722 N. Wilton: 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2800 square feet, 1 car garage

  • Sold in September 1996 for $165,000
  • Sold in August 1997 for $330,000
  • Sold in June 2005 for $525,000
  • Sold in November 2011 for $492,500
  • Currently listed for $799,000
  • Taxes were $9985 in 2011 and are now $10,990
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 20×18 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 11×12 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 10×9 (third floor)
  • Den/office: 7×14 (main floor)

1870s Farmhouse Turned Contemporary SFH Still on the Market: 2734 N. Marshfield in Lincoln Park

This 2-bedroom farmhouse at 2734 N. Marshfield in Lincoln Park came on the market in September 2013.

See our prior chatter here.

If you recall, the farmhouse was built in 1870 but has been transformed into a contemporary loft-like space inside with a floating staircase.

It has floor to ceiling windows in the back of the house which look out onto the 25×127 lot.

The master bedroom is on the second level with the second bedroom on the first level.

The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and butcher block counter tops. (Is that a small size refrigerator tucked next to the stove?)

It has all the other features buyers look for including central air and a 2-car garage.

It came on the market just after the hot spring/summer selling season and after mortgage rates rose.

Listed last year for $599,000 it still remains priced at $599,000.

What will it take to sell this house in 2014’s spring market?

Emily Sachs Wong at Koenig & Strey Real Living still has the listing. See the pictures here.

2734 N. Marshfield: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, no square footage listed, 2 car garage
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  • Sold in January 1988 for $91,000
  • Was listed in September 2013 for $599,000
  • Still listed for $599,000
  • Taxes of $7216
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 19×13 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 6×15 (main floor)
  • Family room: 10×12 (main floor)


2-Bedroom North Center Cottage Back On the Market 4 Years Later: 3041 N. Honore

This 2-bedroom vintage cottage at 3041 N. Honore in North Center just came on the market.

If it looks familiar, it’s because we last chattered about it in 2010.

See our August 2010 chatter here.

When it sold that August, there was an interesting discussion in the comments about the overall market conditions and FHA loans.

Built in 1898 on a 15×118 lot, it has a fully enclosed backyard but no garage or parking as the house abuts the Metra tracks in the back.

The kitchen has white cabinets and white appliances with a tile backsplash.

The second floor has 2 bedrooms and a full bath with skylights.

The house has central air and a basement, but it’s unfinished.

The 2010 seller saw 22.5% appreciation on the 2003 purchase price despite the Great Recession.

This seller has listed it 17.8% above the 2010 price, at $444,000.

Is the market hot enough to support the price hike?

Nunzio Castellano at Coldwell Banker has the listing. See the pictures here.

3041 N. Honore: 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, 1092 square feet
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  • Sold in February 1997 for $102,500
  • Sold in June 2003 for $310,000
  • Was listed in June 2010 for $379,900
  • Sold in August 2010 for $377,000
  • Currently listed for $444,000
  • Taxes now $6227 (they were $4446 in August 2010)
  • Central Air
  • No parking
  • Bedroom #1: 11×13 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 10×13 (second floor)


Market Conditions: IAR Blames the Weather for February Housing Slowdown

The February sales data is finally out and mirroring what is happening in the rest of the country, sales fell year over year.

From the Illinois Association of Realtors:

The city of Chicago saw a 3.5 percent year-over-year home sales decline in February 2014 with 1,361 sales, down from 1,411 in February 2013. The median price rose to $175,000 versus $156,050 in February 2013, an annual increase of 12.1 percent.

Here is the sales data for February going back to 1997 (courtesy of G). It is slightly different from the IAR’s data:
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  • 1997: 881 sales
  • 1998: 991
  • 2000: 1383
  • 2001: 1151
  • 2002: 1677
  • 2003: 1566
  • 2004: 1814
  • 2005: 2228
  • 2006: 1855
  • 2007: 1703
  • 2008: 1454
  • 2009: 870
  • 2010: 1257
  • 2011: 1092
  • 2012: 1250
  • 2013: 1378 (1411 per IAR)
  • 2014: 1361 (IAR data)

Here is the Median Price Data also going back to 1997 (thanks G!):
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  • 1997: $117,000
  • 1998: $132,000
  • 1999: $143,750
  • 2000: $161,500
  • 2001: $180,200
  • 2002: $212,000
  • 2003: $215,000
  • 2004: $229,900
  • 2005: $268,900
  • 2006: $267,500
  • 2007: $270,000
  • 2008: $290,000
  • 2009: $218,125 (with 31% being REO/Short Sales)
  • 2010: $176,000 (with 46% being REO/Short Sales)
  • 2011: $150,250 (with 50% being REO/Short Sales)
  • 2012: $140,300 (with 52% being REO/Short Sales)
  • 2013: $158,000
  • 2014 $175,000 (IAR data)

The Condo/Townhouse sales data since 2008 (thanks to G again):
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  • 2008: 1087 sales, median price of $314,900
  • 2009: 451 sales, median price of $280,000 (with 18% being REO/Short Sales)
  • 2010: 660 sales, median price of $250,000 (with 33% being REO/Short Sales)
  • 2011: 604 sales, median price at $193,500 (with 46% being REO/Short Sales)
  • 2012: 692 sales, median price at $165,250 (with 50% being REO/Short Sales)
  • 2013: 779 sales, median price at $200,000
  • 2014: Not separated out by IAR this year

“February’s weather was not anymore welcoming to buyers than January in Chicago. People do not want to go shopping for homes in unseasonably cold weather,” said Matt Farrell, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and managing partner of Urban Real Estate.

“Buyers are, however, ready to move and as homes come on the market, they are aggressively making their best offers. Median pricing is up, signaling a strong market on the rise.  As sellers get their homes show-ready for a spring market, we believe these homes, too, will move quickly, if priced right,” Farrell added.

“The combination of increasing median prices and mixed signals from sales continued in February,” noted Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, Director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory of the University of Illinois.  “Clearly, the dismal, persistent winter weather dampened enthusiasm for the housing market in early 2014; however, the forecast for month-to month-sales indicates positive trends for the next three months.”

The press release didn’t address affordability even though mortgage rates and median price were significantly higher year over year.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region was 4.32 percent in February 2014, down from 4.46 percent in January, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. In February 2013 it averaged 3.49 percent.

The 10-year is also on the move again which means mortgage rates could be volatile over the next several months.

Will April be a hot month in Chicago’s housing market once the weather breaks?

Or is this slowdown here to stay in 2014?

Weather and lower inventory impact February; Illinois home sales but median prices see annual gain [Illinois Association of Realtors, Press Release, March 20,2 014]

Full Floor Beaux Arts Beauty on Lincoln Park Returns to the Market: 2344 N. Lincoln Park West

We’ve chattered about this full floor 5-bedroom at 2344 N. Lincoln Park West several times over the last 2 years.

See our May 2013 chatter here.

It’s still available and has returned to the market.

Built in 1916, it commands the entire floor of a 6-unit building with 4 exposures, including Lincoln Park and the lake front.

The building has an elevator and there is rare 2-car parking with the unit.

It has the features you would expect from construction in this era including crown molding and wainscoting.

The unit has a 35 foot foyer and a formal dining room.

It also has space pak cooling and a washer/dryer in the unit.

Originally listed at $2.8 million in 2012, it has been reduced to $2.15 million.

Many of you thought it would sell for around $2 million.

With low inventory, is 2014 the year it sells?

Michael Shenfeld at Koenig & Strey Real Living has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #3: 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, 4250 square feet, 2 car parking
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  • I couldn’t find a prior sales price
  • Was listed in March 2012 for $2.8 million
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in October 2012 at $2.6 million
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in May 2013 at $2.25 million
  • Withdrawn
  • Re-listed in February 2014 at $2.15 million
  • Assessments are still $1890 a month (includes heat)
  • Taxes are now $25,837 (they were $20,594 in May 2013 and $17398 in October 2012)
  • Space pak cooling
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 19×14
  • Bedroom #2: 13×13
  • Bedroom #3: 14×11
  • Bedroom #4: 16×13
  • Bedroom #5: 11×10