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RISMEDIA, Feb. 15, 2007-Condominium sales help bolster an Illinois housing market in transition throughout 2006, while fourth-quarter sales figures were down compared to the same period a year ago. According to the Illinois Association of Realtors(R) (IAR) fourth quarter report, total home sales (which include single-family homes and condominiums) totaled 35,186, down 16.0% from 41,883 home sales in the fourth quarter of 2005. For the year, total sales were down 8.9% in 2006 with 167,860 homes sold compared to 184,199 sales in 2005.

The year-end Illinois median home sale price for 2006 was $203,900, up
1.5% from $200,900 in 2005. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half sold for less. The fourth quarter 2006 median home sale price was $199,900, down a slight 0.5% from $201,000 a year earlier.

"The Illinois housing market reported a modest slowdown in sales compared to other regions of the country which had sharper declines due to overheated market conditions. Although local markets will vary, Realtors are reporting signs of the market picking up and are looking for slow, steady gains in both home sales and price appreciation in 2007," said Robert Zoretich, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors. "The homeownership rate in Illinois reached 70.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006 and is slightly ahead of the national rate of 68.9 percent. Conditions in Illinois are promising for long-term demand going forward."

The fourth-quarter interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.29% in the North Central Region, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. It was down from 6.61% in the third quarter of 2006 and 6.32% from fourth quarter 2005.

Sales and price information is generated from a survey of Multiple Listing Service sales reported by 35 participating Illinois Realtor local boards and associations. The Chicagoland PMSA, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes the counties of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

In the Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), total home sales (including single-family and condominiums) were down 19.5% in the fourth quarter to 24,115, compared to 29,942 home sales in 2005. The median home sale price in the Chicagoland PMSA increased 0.8% to $245,000 in the fourth quarter of 2006 compared to $243,000 in the same period one year ago. For the year, total home sales in the Chicagoland PMSA reached 116,463 in 2006, down 12.6% from 133,305 sales in 2005. The 2006 median sale price in the Chicagoland PMSA was $248,000, up 2.9% from $241,000 in 2005.

The Illinois condominium market showed continued strength in 2006 with
52,787 units sold, the second highest annual level of condo sales reported by IAR and off just 7.6% from the record level of 57,155 condos sold in 2005.

Fourth quarter condo sales across the state were down 12.9% to 11,156 condos sold compared to 12,804 in 2005. In the Chicago PMSA, condo sales were down 13.4% to 10,635 units sold during the fourth quarter of 2006, compared to 12,287 in the same period of 2005.

The median price for a condominium in Illinois in the fourth quarter of 2006 was $212,500, up 3.4% from $205,500 in the fourth quarter of 2005. For the year, the median condo price statewide was up 4.6% to $214,368 compared to $205,000 in 2005.

In the Chicagoland PMSA, the fourth quarter median price for condominiums was $217,000, up 3.3 percent from $210,000 in the same period in 2005. For the year, the Chicago PMSA median price of a condo increased 4.3% to $218,900 compared to $209,800 in 2005.

"Over the last several years we have witnessed the rise in popularity and availability of the condo for all types of home buyers in both urban and suburban areas, and price appreciation for condos has remained strong throughout the year," said Zoretich, broker-owner of Zoretich Realty Group in Chicago. "Homeownership is a safe, secure way to build long-term wealth. Realtors have the experience to help sellers protect their investment and help buyers build theirs."

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