Illinois home sales activity jumped 35.6% in Q409, but the median price declined 5.5%, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR). The state saw 29,822 homes sold in Q409, up from 21,986 in Q408. The pickup helped close some of a year-over-year gap in sales volume, bringing 2009's total volume to 107,613 homes sold, down 1.4% from 109,195 one year earlier. Despite the jump in transactions, the statewide median price sat at $155,000 in Q409, down nealry  6 percent from $163,950 in Q408. For all of 2009, the median price of a single-family home in Illinois was $157,000, down 14.6% from $183,900 in 2008. “In the final quarter of 2009 more than 70% of Illinois counties reporting showed positive year-over-year increases in home sales and nearly 50% marked median price increases as consumers motivated by strong buyer market conditions and the tax credit took opportune action in the Illinois housing market,” said Mike Onorato, IAR president and broker-owner of Onorato Real Estate in Coal City. “A year ago the economy was in severe turmoil; going forward the focus must be on jobs and reducing the number of foreclosures, which continue to destabilize home prices.” Despite Onorato's claims, a worsening state economy during the fourth quarter didn't show up in home sales. “The Illinois economy continued on a downward trajectory in the fourth quarter of 2009,” said Geoffrey Hewings, director of the University of Illinois Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL). “By the end of 2009, the state shed 237,300 jobs in 2009 and 381,500 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Illinois lost jobs at a faster rate than the United States in 2009.” “The state never recovered from the 2000-2001 recession and absent a miraculous rate of growth, it may be more than 18 years before the state is back to 2000 employment levels,” Hewings added. Illinois' statewide housing market is largely dominated by the Chicago metropolitan area. In the nine-county Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), total sales totaled 19,947 in Q409, up 44.9% from Q408’s level of 13,765. The 2009 sales total in Chicago was 69,373, nearly even with 69,406 in 2008. But the median price in Chicago during Q409 was $187,000, down 13% from $215,000 in Q408. For 2009, the median price was $196,000 in Chicago, down 18.3% from $240,000 in 2008. Write to Austin Kilgore.