Spring Getting into Full Swing! (Jan. 2011 Insider Report)

Redfin’s monthly Chicago real estate insider report draws from our proprietary database of information on homes for sale and that just sold, along with insight from our agents to get a sense of what’s going on in the market right now. If you’d like to receive the report via email, just sign up.

Greetings Chicagoland Redfinnians!

Despite the fresh snow and recent single-digit high temperatures, the spring market seems to be hitting its stride.

In last month’s report, we noted that post-holiday demand had begun to kick in. We questioned whether this was simply the typical onset of the spring market or possibly the beginning of a longer term trend. A month later, we’re leaning toward trend. The past three months, November, December and January, have seen an increase in the number of end-of-month pending transactions versus their respective previous-year months.

Backing up those numbers, Redfin Chicago’s tours, which saw a 43% increase from December 11th to January 10th, increased again, 10.4% from January 11th to February 10th.

Data courtesy of Agent Metrics

Where Are We Going from Here?

Even with what seems to be an emerging trend, there is a divergence of opinion on the near-future direction of the market. Patrick Lusk, a West Suburban Redfin agent, believes we “may be hitting the bottom, as the Illinois unemployment rate has hit a 2-year low and the market seems to be responding,” while Dario Medina, a Far North Side Redfin agent, has had clients state that “it’s time to jump off the fence” with interest rates on the rise. Unfortunately, several of those clients have seen properties they’ve been following go under contract before they had the chance to take the plunge.

On the other hand, Chicago agent Greg Whelan believes that while there has been a short-term bump in offers due to the rise in rates, this, along with rising inventories “will have negative longer term pressure on the market.” He adds that “sellers are currently in denial, due to the seasonal increase in showing requests, despite that negative market pressure.”

County Compared to Dec. 2010

Compared to Jan. 2010
Cook County +2.4% +4.6%
DuPage County +6.1% +11.4%
Kane County +2.4% +11.9%
Lake County +4.1% +4.3%
McHenry County +3.5% +9.8%
Will County +3.6% +6.0%

Change in # of Houses for Sale on January 31st 2011

This argument is not limited to Redfin agents. Professionals from all walks of life, including top economists, disagree on the economy’s (and real estate’s) direction and the timing of any recovery.

Regardless of what the future holds, the increase in demand has yet to affect the downward trend in home sale prices.

County Median Price in
January 2011
Median $/SqFt Change
since Dec. 2010
Median $/SqFt Change
since January 2010
Cook County $150,000 -8.6% +1.7%
DuPage County $230,000 -5.1% -13.2%
Kane County $165,000 +2.2% -5.2%
Lake County $195,000 -0.9% -3.5%
McHenry County $169,990 -3.2% +3.4%
Will County $175,000 +2.2% -2.1%

Change in Median Price of Houses That Sold in January 2011

Deals Can Be Had…If You Look in the Right Places

Despite the crystal balls all showing differing outlooks, one point of universal agreement is where most buyers are attracted. Jeannine Haffner, a Redfin Field Agent who shows over 100 homes per month to dozens of clients, observes that “most buyers are shunning homes that need some work, even if the price difference is significantly greater than the repair or upgrade costs.” Buyers seem to want turnkey homes, in the best locations, listed at a great price. While this results in more buyer competition for these homes, those willing to get their hands dirty (or pay someone else to do so) will have the best opportunities to get a great deal on what could become their dream home.

If you want even more data including specific cities, town and neighborhoods, be sure to download our master spreadsheet and dive into all the data you ever wanted. To learn more about how we calculate these numbers, check out our methodology page. If you have any questions or feedback about our report, just leave a comment below!


Mark Reitman
Chicago Market Manager

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  • JLA

    Why didn't you include Riverside? What are we chopped liver?

  • The_Tim

    Hi JLA,

    Riverside is included on the “Total” tab of the spreadsheet. The reason it does not appear on the Houses, Condos, or Townhouses breakout tabs is because we have a minimum sales threshold for a region to appear.

    If a city, neighborhood, or zip code does not have at least 5 sales of the housing type for each tab (Houses, Condos, Townhouses) in either the current month, the previous month, or the same month a year ago, we don't display it on that tab. This is necessary to prevent the spreadsheet from becoming overly cluttered with neighborhoods and cities that have very few sales.

    As for Riverside, based on the total tab, it looks like there were just 6 sales combined (Houses + Condos + Townhouses) in January 2011, 8 in December 2010, and 6 in January 2010. None of the individual home types had enough sales in those months to break the minimum threshold.

    Hope that explains things.

    -Tim Ellis, Data Analyst.