Illinois saw home sales increase 20.1% in December 2009, when compared to home sales in December 2008, giving the state an overall housing performance boost for the final quarter of the year. According to the Illinois Association of Realtors(IAR), total statewide sales totaled 8,197 in December, compared to 6,823 homes sold in the same month one year ago. The data is part of a trend of similar monthly upticks in performance for the state, as the IAR recorded similar year-over-year increases in Q309 for the months of September, October and November. However, annual sales are down 1.5%, compared to 2008, with 107,503 homes sold in all of 2009, compared to 109,195 homes sold in 2008. “In 2009, we saw demand primarily for lower-priced homes from first-time buyers in addition to short sales and sales of foreclosed homes," said IAR president Mike Onorato. "There is opportunity now for the move-up buyer to take advantage of the tax credit that ends April 30 and lower mortgage interest rates, which many analysts expect to rise by mid-year.” Median prices also declined in December and for all of 2009. December’s median price was $152,000, down 1.9% from $155,000 in December 2008. For the year, the median price was $157,000 down 14.6% compared to $183,900 in 2008. In the Chicago (pictured above) metropolitan statistical area (MSA), year-over-year sales volume was up for the sixth straight month, 5,752 homes were sold in December 2009, up 33.1% from 4,320 homes sold December 2008. The median home sales price was $183,000 in December 2009, down 10.4% from $204,200 in December 2008. For the year, Chicago MSA sales totaled 69,290, down 0.2% from 69,406 homes sold in 2008. For the all of 2009, the median price was $196,000, down 18.3% from $240,000 in 2008. Geoffrey Hewings, director of University of Illinois’ Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) projects statewide increases in sales volume will continue to increase and prices start to follow in Q110. “Illinois' March 2010 median price is forecast to be just above the level recorded a year earlier but Chicago's median price will be down by just under 8%,” he said. The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in Illinois was 5.04% in December 2009, up from 4.93% in November and down from 5.19% in December 2008. “In the year ahead Realtors support continued programs to stem foreclosures and help people refinance or sell, as well as a focus on job creation and retention by state and local governments,” Onorato said. “As the economy improves so will the housing market.” Write to Austin Kilgore.