Home sales in Illinois rose throughout the second half of 2011, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors, while the number of unresolved foreclosures continues to stifle the housing market. Statewide home sales, including single-family and condominiums, in December rose 14% to 8,828 from 7,746 a year earlier. The median home price in December fell 10.4% to $125,500 from $140,000 in December 2010. In November, home sales rose 14% from a year earlier in the state. For the year, Illinois home sales remained even with 2010, slipping only 0.1% with 103,785 homes sold versus 103,899 in all of 2010. The year-end statewide median price declined 9.2% to $137,500 from 2010's $151,500. "Buyers are finding deals that are simply too good to pass up, and that coupled with stronger consumer optimism is making this an excellent way to start 2012," said IAR President Loretta Alonzo. In Chicago, December home sales totaled 1,536, up 6.4% from 1,444 sold the year earlier. The Windy City's median home sale price came in at $156,000, down 6.2% compared to December 2010 when it was $166,250. For the full year, home sales totaled 17,715 in Chicago, sliding 7.2% from 19,089 sales in 2010. The year-end citywide median price for 2011 was $175,000, down 13.8% from $203,000 in 2010. Geoffrey Hewings, director of the regional economics applications laboratory at the University of Illinois, said housing market forecasts for January, February and March for the state suggest sales volume will increase significantly compared to the same period last year. Although prices will still be lower than a year ago, he added. "Until these foreclosed properties and additions expected in 2012 clear the market, sustained upward movement in prices will be unlikely," Hewings said. Write to Justin T. Hilley. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHilley.