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Crains: City housing market cool in first quarter Veronica Cavazos 04/20/19

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An analysis of recently released data on home sales, prices and the average time on the market shows a distinct coolness in the city’s housing market, much like in the suburbs.

When Irma Salinas put a five-bedroom house on 61st Place on the market in early January, she expected potential buyers to like it, but she underestimated.

“We got so much activity, even when it was so cold out,” said Salinas, a Re/Max Partners agent. “We were having three showings a day.”

The house, a recent foreclosure in Chicago Lawn whose seller bought it in 2017 to rehab and flip, was under contract to buyers in 52 days, less than half the city’s average time on the market for houses this year, 107 days. The sale closed in late March, at $172,000.

In a year that has started out rough for Chicago’s real estate market, Chicago Lawn is one of only two neighborhoods where three key measures of a local market’s vitality have all improved this year. The other is East Side, a neighborhood on the Indiana state line.

The measures are the number of homes sold, the median price of those sales and the average time homes sit on the market. While many other locations improved on two of those measures—the single-family home markets in Lakeview, Mt. Greenwood and West Ridge, among them—Chicago Lawn and East Side are the only two with improvement across the board.

Their rarity among Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods is a strong indicator of the weakness that pervades much of the city’s real estate market.

“It’s been hard,” said Niko Apostal, a Keller Williams Chicago-Lincoln Park agent. Apostal works primarily in North Side neighborhoods like Lakeview, where single-family homes took an average of 213 days to sell in the first quarter of the year, seven days longer than they took in the same period last year.

On the other two indicators, price and number of homes sold, Lakeview improved—which is to say, Chicago Lawn and East Side may be generating the most heat so far this year, but Lakeview is merely cooler than before, not cold.

Logan Square’s condo market is another that is cooling off but certainly not cold. The number of condos and townhouses dropped by more than six percent, but prices were essentially flat with the year before (down 0.6%). Homes sold more slowly this year, but with an average market time of 78 days compared to 101 for the city as a whole, it’s still relatively swift.

Declining sales volume is the single most common measurement that softened in city neighborhoods; sales are down this year in more than half the city’s 77 neighborhoods. This is consistent with the city’s sales volume overall, which was down for seven months running as of the end of February. Final city-wide data for March will be released Monday.

Crain’s analyzed the first-quarter data that was released Monday by the Chicago Association of Realtors and Midwest Real Estate Data, looking for those triple threats. (We did the same for the suburbs.) The data is reported for the city’s 77 official neighborhoods, which means that Wicker Park, for example, doesn’t show up on its own but tucked into the the larger neighborhood West Town.

The analysis covers only those neighborhoods where at least 20 homes sold during the period, in order to make solid comparisons between last year and this. And because data for the city neighborhoods is reported separately for detached housing, or single-family homes, and attached housing, or condos and townhouses, our analysis handles the two types of housing separately as well.

In four neighborhoods—Avalon Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Jefferson Park and South Shore—the single-family home market saw weakness on all three metrics.

For condos and townhomes (attached housing), there were no city neighborhoods where all three measures improved in the first quarter of 2019.

In Grand Boulevard, Irving Park, the Loop, Near North, Portage Park and Uptown, all three weakened.