The rebounding housing market took a bigger step toward recovery last month.
The latest count from the Illinois Association of Realtors shows almost 3,000 more homes were sold across the Land of Lincoln last month than were sold in May 2012, a more than 24 percent increase. It marked the 23 consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains and the strongest in seven years.
Association spokesman Jon Broadbooks said inventory of Illinois homes and the time they spend on the market has declined. In May 2012, 91,009 units were listed compared to the 64,648 listed throughout last month, a 29 percent drop. Also last month, homes listed for sale spent an average of 83 days in the market, down form the 103 days it took on average to sell one at that same time a year ago.
"I think a couple of things come into play. First of all, I think people are still feeling comfortable with the economy and it is going good enough for them to make big purchases like buyin a home," Broadbooks said. "Interest rates are still very attractive. They have bumped up by almost 4 percent, but we're still talking about interest rates that are still the best in several generations. They're still primed to look at buying a home or property. Overall, in this day you're seeing the time on the market continue to go down."
Closer to homes in the metro-east, sales in St. Clair County jumped by 40 percent over last year and by 24 percent in Madison County. Homes in St. Clair County spent an average of 126 days on the market last month. During May 2012, it took an average of 143 days to sell a home in the county. In Madison County, homes for sale in that same span last month spent an average of 143 days on the market compared to 155 days during May 2012.
Statewide, home sales recorded last month totaled 15,091 homes sold, up from the 12,130 sales recorded in May 2012. This marks 23 consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases and the strongest May since 2006 when 17,622 homes were sold statewide.
The 300 homes sold last month in Madison County is up from the 242 sold in May 2012. St. Clair County recorded 240 sales last month, an increase from the 184 transactions recorded in that same time last year.
Al Suguitan, who monitors real estate activity in Madison County as the president and chief operating officer of the Greater Gateway Association of Realtors in Glen Carbon, said although value of homes sold his the county have dropped over the year, other economic indicators are encouraging. The median home price, the point at which exactly half of homes sold for more and the other half sold for less, in Madison County dropped from $126,700 in May 2012 to $118,750 last month. However, foreclosure rates continue to drop and more homes are being sold.
"I kept looking for the other shoe to drop, but I really haven't seen any, yet," Suguitan said.
"I think the effect on Obamacare have not yet hit the general economy, but overall things are certainly better. One of the things I have not seen, but was predicted to happen in 2013 is the influx of foreclosed properties. They were predicted to flood the market with lower priced homes. I haven't seen that. I have heard that these homes are being dumped into the market. If they're coming into the market, it's not in big numbers."
In St. Clair County, the median prices between May 2012 and last month jumped from $114,000 to $118,200. Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois President Connie Stellhorn, who tracks the county's housing market, said although interest in the market is high the recent housing crisis has led to tougher lending regulations that still presents challenges to potential buyers.
"I feel for the people getting into it now," Stellhorn said. "If they bought their house years ago, things were good and now it's not. They're frustrated. By the time they get to closing, they are happy to get the house, but they've had to work very hard to get it. There is no easy loan out there."
Broadbooks said the tightening housing inventory has pushed up prices and also impacting the market's improvement is a still low interest rate for mortgages that are expected to remain relatively low into next year.
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.