CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County’s housing market showed continued improvement last month with prices rising and inventory falling compared with last year, but prices showed signs of cooling after summer gains.
Existing home sales in McHenry County increased 24.9 percent to 421 in September, up from 337 in the same month in 2012, according to figures released Monday by the Illinois Association of Realtors.
The median sales price for all properties in McHenry County rose 7.1 percent to $155,000 last month, up from $144,750 in September 2012. The median sales price for single-family homes increased 6 percent year over year to $176,000. Condo prices increased 10.1 percent to $110,000.
The median price for all properties in McHenry County was unchanged from August and down slightly from $165,000 in July and $163,000 in June.
In September, the inventory of homes for sale in McHenry County dropped 23.3 percent to 2,162, down from 2,817 in September 2012. Homes also spent less time on the market on average. Last month, homes spent 69 days on the market until a sale, down 30.3 percent from 99 days in September 2012.
McHenry County homes sales were up 38.6 percent through the first nine months of the year. Year-to-date, closed sales totaled 3,818 through September, compared with 2,755 through the first nine months of last year. The year-to-date median sales price of all homes in the county was up 5.5 percent to $153,000 through September, compared with a median of $145,000 during the same time period in 2012.
The median sales price for all properties in Kane County was $170,000 in September, an increase of 25.9 percent from $135,000 in the same month last year. Year-over-year closed sales in Kane County increased 16 percent to 638 last month, up from 550 in September 2012.
In Lake County, the median sales price for all properties was $189,375 last month, an increase of 3.5 percent from $183,000 in September 2012. Closed sales were up 42.5 percent to 932, from 654 in September 2012.
Statewide sales increased 19.8 percent over previous-year levels and median prices rising 12.9 percent, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors report.
Statewide home sales, including single-family homes and condominiums, in September 2013 totaled 13,018 homes sold, up from 10,866 in September 2012. It was the strongest September in terms of sales since 2006, when 13,594 homes sold statewide.
Statewide, the median price in September was $157,000, up 12.9 percent from September 2012 when it was $139,000.
Nationally, Americans bought fewer existing homes in September than the previous month, held back by higher mortgage rates and rising prices.
The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of resold homes fell 1.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.29 million. That’s down from a pace of 5.39 million in August, which was revised lower.
The sales pace in August equaled July’s pace. Both were the highest in four years and are consistent with a healthy market.
Mortgage rates rose sharply over the summer from their historic lows, threatening to slow a housing recovery that began last year and has helped drive modest economic growth.
But many economists expect home sales will remain healthy, especially now that rates have stabilized and remain near historically low levels. Final sales in September reflected contracts signed in July and August, when rates were about a percentage point higher than in May.
The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.28 percent last week, down from a two-year high of 4.58 percent in August. That’s also far below the 30-year average of 7 percent, according to Bankrate.com.
Sales of existing homes have risen at a healthy 10.7 percent in the past 12 months. Still, that’s the slowest year-over-year increase in five months.
And the median home price has risen 11.7 percent in the past year, the Realtors said. That’s also the slowest annual gain in the past five months.
Price increases may be slowing because more homes finally are coming on the market. The supply of available homes rose 1.8 percent from a year ago to 2.21 million, the first year-over-year increase in 2˝ years.
The limited number of homes for sale is a key reason prices have risen so fast in the last year.
The economy is growing modestly and employers are adding jobs at a slow but steady pace. That’s helped a growing number of Americans buy homes.
Still, many first-time buyers have been unable to enter the market. They made up just 28 percent of purchases in September, down from 32 percent a year ago. In healthier housing markets, they typically make up at least 40 percent of buyers.
First-time buyers are having trouble qualifying for loans because many banks have adopted tougher lending restrictions and higher down payment requirements since the housing bubble burst.
In their place, investors and Americans willing to pay cash are playing an outsize role in sales. Cash purchases made up 33 percent of September’s sales, up from 28 percent a year ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.