The Real Deal Chicago

Chicago-area home prices rose in 2018 amid shrinking inventory: Realtors

The local housing market finished out the year on a mixed note after a soft December
By John O’Brien | January 22, 2019 10:00AM

Chicago homes (Credit: iStock)

Home sale prices pushed higher in the Chicago area in 2018 as the number of total homes sold declined, with experts citing shrinking inventory as a key factor.

The median sale price in the nine-county Chicago metro area reached $242,500 last year, a 3.2 percent increase year over year, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors. In total, 113,965 homes were sold last year in the Chicago area, down 3.7 percent from 2017, according to the association’s figures, released Tuesday.

“The current atmosphere presents some opportunities for both buyers and sellers, despite the historically slow time of year for the market,” Tommy Choi, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors and broker at Keller Williams Chicago–Lincoln Park, said in a statement.

“With the December rate increase and the start of the government shutdown, consumers were more measured in their approach to buying a home,” Choi said. But, he added, “the continued decline in market time illustrates that, despite these factors, when they found the right home, at the right price, they were willing to act quickly.”

The local housing market wrapped up the year by posting 6,865 total sales in December, down 16.5 percent year over year. The median sale price in December remained unchanged at $225,000.

“Clearly, the uncertainty in the market exacerbated by the partial government shutdown has generated some additional caution among potential home buyers,” Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director emeritus of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois, said in a statement “The outlook for the next three months suggests a continuation of this trend, dampening price increases in Illinois and Chicago.”

The Realtors group cited continued “historically low” inventory as a key factor affecting the market.

That could lead to a sellers market.

Ed Neaves, Illinois Realtors’ president-elect, said the housing market’s “momentum softened the further into 2018 we got, but overall there are positive indicators going into the new year, particularly for sellers. They face an environment where the number of available homes on the market will continue to be low in many areas, which will put steady upward pressure on median prices.”

A recent survey showed many industry experts predicting Chicago will have the worst housing market in the country in 2019. But some local pros and industry observers say the situation is more complicated than that.

Nationally, home prices are expected to grow modestly, but sales figures will fall, Danielle Hale, economist with Realtor.com, said at a Chicago Association of Realtors’ event last week.