Local housing witnessed small sales increases last month, but local Realtors are looking forward to higher sales levels with higher temperatures.
"Spring is upon us, and we are excited to see what it will bring to the metro-east housing market," said Realtor Association Southwestern Illinois President Connie Stellhorn in a released statement. "The continued pattern of increases in home sales so far this year is a positive sign for the rest of 2013."
The 152 homes sold last month across St. Clair County was up by eight from February of last year, but six fewer than the 158 sales recorded in the county in January.
In Madison County, 191 homes were sold last month, one more than in February 2012 and eight more than the prior month. Greater Gateway Association of Realtors President and Chief Operating Officer Al Suguitan said the local market continues to improve, but very slowly.
"Year over year, I think from just a housing perspective, we are seeing a slow, gradual growth that we all want to see," Suguitan said. "In some markets it seems that home appreciation is starting to rise, which is a good thing."
But Suguitan also said the recent $85 billion "sequestration" budget cuts and nation's recent decline in economic growth will pose a challenge to what has been a slowly rebounding housing market.
"What worries me is that abysmal economic growth in this country," Suguitan said. "The GDP growth has fallen below 2 percent. Economists say in order to grow, we must sustain growth of 3 percent GDP per year, but we're not getting that."
Statewide, the 8,213 home sales sold last month were 16 percent higher than the 7,067 sales recorded in February 2012, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.
Geoffrey Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois, said the state's housing market is undergoing a "bumpy recovery." But that recovery saw 47 of the state's 102 counties report year-over-year sales increases last month.
State association president Michael Oldenettel said the first two months of the year are typically slow in the real estate business, but he is impressed by the latest figures.
"So far we've seen an encouraging number of sales," Oldenettel said in a released statement. "The February sales numbers show that we have a good rolling start into a portion of the year where traditionally we see more people list homes."
Across the nation, homes sales increased by less than 1 percent in February over January. Statistics from the National Association of Realtors revealed that sales have been above year-ago levels for 20 consecutive months.
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.