Sue Fox, @Properties. Direct 773.816.1788
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It’s official: Home prices are at last on the rebound in Chicago, and around the nation as a whole. After a relentless six-year downturn that shaved about 30% off local prices, we have now seen three months of steady increases in the Chicago area, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller housing index.
Here’s what this means on a practical level, for ordinary Chicago buyers and sellers: Prices have stopped falling, and started to rise slightly. There is more competition now than in recent years, especially for nice properties in desirable neighborhoods, and we’re seeing more multiple offers and homes going under contract at a faster pace (sometimes in a matter of days or weeks). Sellers now have a good chance of finding a qualified buyer IF they price their property in line with recent sales.
But the price increases have been small — especially when compared to the steep declines that preceded it. For example, the Case-Shiller data shows single-family home prices climbing 2.7% from June to July, on top of a 4.6% jump from May to June and a 4.5% increase from April to May.
Overall, home prices in Chicago stand about where they were a year ago. Sellers need to remember this when pricing their homes; a “housing recovery” doesn’t mean that prices have shot back up to 2006 levels. Check out the graph above to see what I mean!
Still, the market is getting healthier. The summer home-buying season was so busy I barely had time to blog about it. Attracted by the lowest interest rates ever seen on mortgages — rates on 30-year fixed loans just hit 3.4% this week! — buyers are now flocking back into the market.
I’m especially encouraged to see young buyers decide to stop renting and buy their first homes. Many of my buyers this year have been in their 20s or early 30s, a key home-buying demographic which will power the market forward. After all, with mortgage rates so low and Chicago rents on the rise, buying is now making more financial sense than renting in many cases. A recent report by Trulia showed that buying a home in Chicago is now 50% more affordable than renting a similar home here, making Chicago a better deal for buyers here than in most other cities (72 out of 100) surveyed.
The home-buying season is now cooling off as the winter approaches, but I expect the spring of 2013 to be very active as more Chicago buyers take advantage of this unprecedented combination of low prices and low interest rates.
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