The Chicago Tribune is reporting on a phenomena that many have chattered about here on Crib Chatter: that some areas are seeing more sales than years past and decent, affordably priced properties are also selling quickly.
Yet, the article says the improvements are coming in just 14 zip codes out of the entire Chicagoland area.
And no- one of the zip codes is NOT Oak Brook.
Still, there are pockets, small pockets, where at least in the fourth quarter of 2011 the housing market looked better than it did a year ago. The telltale signs: an increase in median sales prices, an increase in the number of closed sales and a decrease in the number of days on market.
There is no guarantee that the positive signs will continue in the more than a dozen ZIP codes that showed improvement in all three areas, and experts want to see another three months of statistics before they label an area as recovering. A rash of distressed properties also will send the market downward. But given five years of bad headlines about the housing market, even the smallest inkling of positive news may be welcome for homeowners and industry watchers.
“Real estate has become a spectator sport because of the Internet,” said Russ Bergeron, CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data LLC, the local multiple listing service provider. People “want to know what’s going on in their neighborhood. The (greater) number of units means stuff is at least moving. If you can string together six to nine months (of good numbers), then you’ve really got something to be excited about.”
You can click on a map in the Tribune article with more info about the individual zip codes, but those zip codes seeing improvement were located in:
- Highland Park
- Johnsburg (McHenry)
- Johnsburg (Lake)
- Park Ridge
- Wood Dale
- Western Springs
- Chicago (Hyde Park)
- Chicago (Ravenswood)
Nope. No Lincoln Park or Lakeview zip codes among them.
The mild winter certainly has helped showings and buyer interest, said Erene Panos of Re/Max Action. Panos still has conversations weekly with sellers about pricing, but list prices aren’t being dropped as quickly as they were a year ago.
“We aren’t getting as saturated by the foreclosures as before, and that’s definitely helping the resale market,” Panos said. “And if you have a home that has been very well taken care of, it’s not going to be there that long.”
Michael and Ilana Sherman made an offer on a Highland Park home the day after it came on the market, before Michael had even seen it. The couple sold their Lincoln Square condo at a loss in 2010 and began renting in Wilmette while they began watching the residential markets along the North Shore, waiting for the right opportunity. After walking away from one offer and losing out to a higher bid on another, the couple went under contract on a four-bedroom split-level a few hours after Ilana toured it, at the list price of $325,000.
“We kind of expected going into it that we would be able to take our time,” Michael Sherman said. “But the reality is, the houses that are priced accordingly to their real value and that are in structurally good shape go very fast. When you see it, and we’d been looking for a while, if you want to own your own home, then you have to react fast.”
Alan Meyerowitz, an @properties agent, said the Shermans are not alone. He’s talked with other renters who’ve bided their time and are now ready to move forward with a purchase.
“They’re all coming back and they’re ready to buy,” he said. “They’ve saved up.”
Now that the Super Bowl has passed, the traditional “Spring Buying Season” is on.
Will a lot of sellers jump in and list now that there are small signs of the possibility of a market bottom?
Can sellers genuinely “move up” as this article seems to indicate? Or is it just more realtor speak?
Pockets of hope in housing despair [Chicago Tribune, Mary Ellen Podmolik, February 5, 2012]