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Historically mild winter leads to hot spring housing market in Chicago

Home sales jump nearly 15% in March

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It was unusually warm in Chicago this winter. How warm? According to the National Weather Service (as recapped by the Chicago Tribune), no snow fell in Chicago in January or February. That’s the first time that’s happened in 146 years.

While this year’s winter may be a once-in-a-lifetime event for the Windy City, the mild meteorological start to the year is leading to a hot start for the area’s housing market.

According to a new report from RE/MAX, home sales in the Chicago area in March rose sharply over last year, driven in part by the unseasonably pleasant climate in the area.

Per the RE/MAX report, home sales in the seven-county Chicago metropolitan area were 14.8% higher in March 2017 than in March 2016, with 9,556 units changing hands this year.

In fact, March 2017 home sales were the highest in the month of March since 2006, according to the RE/MAX report.

Additionally, the median sales price rose 10.4% to $234,000.

As a result of March’s strong performance, home sales activity in the first quarter totaled 21,584 units, which is 5.6% higher than 2016 despite declining slightly in the January/February period.

“We expected a fairly robust early spring market, but the March results definitely surprised on the upside,” said Jack Kreider, executive vice president and regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois network.

“Mild winter weather certainly helped bring out buyers, as did an improving job market and the prospect of gradually rising interest rates,” Kreider added.

“Buyers were facing a market where inventory remained low by historic standards, but that didn’t slow them down much,” Kreider continued.

“March sales were the highest they’ve been since 2006, and the same is true for total first-quarter sales,” Kreider concluded. “I’m optimistic that we can maintain this momentum at least through the second quarter.”

According to the RE/MAX report, homes sold during March spent an average of 100 days on the market before going under contract, which is 10 days fewer than the prior March.

For the full first quarter, the average market time was 102 days, eight days faster than the same quarter last year.

Per the report, sales of distressed properties, which include foreclosures and short sales, accounted for 13.5% of March sales, down from 21.7% a year earlier.

The report also showed that March home sales activity rose in six of the seven metro counties, led by gains of 33.4% in McHenry, 25% in Will and 24.4% in Kane. Other gains were 17.9% in DuPage, 11.8% in Cook and 9.5% in Lake. Sales in Chicago were up 17.7%.

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