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RISMEDIA, Feb. 28, 2007-Low mortgage interest rates keep buyers in the market despite the extreme winter weather in January, a typically slow month for the housing market in Illinois. According to the Illinois Association of Realtors(R)' latest report, total home sales (which include single-family and condominiums) were off 6.8% in January 2007 to 8,584 homes sold compared to 9,206 homes sold in January 2006.

The Illinois median home price in January remained unchanged from a year earlier, at $200,000. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half sold for less.

"The current economy provides a strong base for the housing market to recover this year with growth in GDP, employment and income, and interest rates that are low by historical standards," said Robert Zoretich, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors. "As the year goes on, home sales should steadily improve. Realtors anticipate that the housing market will continue in this transitional phase during the remaining winter months and pick up as spring approaches."

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region was 6.29% in January 2007, up 0.09 points from the 6.20 average rate during the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Last year in January it averaged 6.23%.

In the Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), home sales totaled 5,950 in January 2007, down 10.6% from 6,652 home sales in the same month last year. The median home price for the Chicagoland PMSA was $245,000, up 2.1% from $240,000 in January 2006.

"According to economists with the National Association of Realtors, we experienced the worst of the housing sales recession at the end of 2006 but we're still in an atypical year from inventory levels carrying over to this year," said Zoretich, broker-owner of Zoretich Realty Group in Chicago. "Fortunately, the housing market in Illinois is not as fragile to fluctuations in market conditions as other parts of the country."

Sales and price information is generated from a survey of Multiple Listing Service sales reported by 35 participating Illinois Realtors 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.

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