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RISMEDIA, April 19, 2011—The metropolitan Chicago real estate market saw more homes sold and at higher prices in March 2011 than in February of this year, according to an analysis by RE/MAX of sales data compiled by Midwest Real Estate Date, LLC. Overall, however, the 2011 housing market still lags behind the brisk pace set during the first six months of 2010 when a federal tax credit helped stimulate sales.

“Compared to February, March sales rose 40 percent to 5,272 units,” reported Jim Merrion, regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network. “Sales prices also were higher in March, with both the average price and median price up about 5% from the February level. Of course, March sales traditionally are stronger than those in February. Over the last six years, the average increase in unit sales from February to March has been 42 percent, so what we experienced this year is fairly typical.”

According to Merrion, the local housing market is tracking close to expectations, and he anticipates even better results ahead. “The improved affordability of homes has helped demand bounce back this spring after a winter season where cold, snowy weather had a negative impact on home sales,” said Merrion. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see sales in April and May come much closer to last year’s numbers than I expected at the beginning of this year.”

The percentage of home sales represented by distressed properties, including foreclosures and short sales, fell slightly from 51.5% in February to 49.2% in March.

With sales of 133 units, Kendall County was the only one of the seven counties in the metro area to see an actual increase in home sales compared to March of 2010 when 119 homes changed hands. The sharpest decline in sales was seen in McHenry and Will Counties, where sales were 25% and 24% lower, respectively, than they had been a year earlier.

For the metro area as a whole, home prices in March were noticeably lower than they were a year earlier. The median price (meaning half of homes sold for more and half for less) for a detached home was $173,000, down 8.9% from $189,900 a year earlier, while the median price of an attached home (primarily condominium apartments and townhouses) declined 24.4% to $132,000.

Even though sales were lower than a year ago, the market for detached homes continued to outperform the market for attached homes in most respects during March. Total sales of detached homes were 14.4% lower than in March 2010, while attached home sales were down 20.7% on the same basis, according to the RE/MAX analysis.

“We do expect more price stability to take hold as the spring market progresses and more buyers decide to move ahead,” said Merrion. “Given where home prices are compared to a year ago and considering that interest rates for mortgages remain extremely attractive, the buying opportunities are exceptional, and we believe that message is getting through to many renters who are seeing new leases with hefty increases attached.”

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