We are already almost to the end of the first quarter of 2019, so how is our housing market looking so far? That depends on what you are comparing this year to: last year’s numbers or to the State of Illinois as a whole. Let’s start with a comparison to last year’s market at this time of year*.
For comparison purposes I am only looking at residential sales, both homes and condos, in Freeport. So far this year we have sold 22 properties in Freeport as compared to 31 last year, which is a decrease of 29%. The average price of the properties sold this year was $70,096 compared with $68,708 last year which is an increase of 2%. So there is good news and bad news: the average sale price is up but the number of sales is down. I’m sure we can all agree that the weather this year could certainly explain the lack of sales so far. The good news is that the average sale price is trending higher than last year. That is good news if you are a seller but maybe not if you are a buyer. Currently we have 49 active listings in Freeport that are either single family homes or condos. The least expensive one is $22,500 and the most expensive one is $489,900 with the average list price of $101,885. The average number of days on the market for these properties is 322.
There is a relatively low inventory of homes on the market but that is not unusual for the first quarter. The inventory usually increases dramatically in the spring and summer which is when we have the largest number of buyers looking. Because the inventory is low right now, if you are thinking of selling this year you might want to get your home on the market now and take advantage of the current low inventory situation. Less competition could mean a quicker sale and a higher selling price. Competition can force the prices down and can extend your time on the market.
If we look at the numbers for Stephenson County for January, there were 24 sales as compared to 26 last year, a difference of 7.7%. The average sale price was $97,500 compared to $96,400 last year, up 1.1%. The difference is not as extreme in the County but the numbers only reflect the sales in January.
How do we compare to the rest of the State? The data** for the month of January shows 5022 closed home sales compared to 6218 last year, for a
difference of 19.2%. The median sale price was $180,000 this year and last year so there was no change there. The number of days a home was on the market was 66 this years as compared to 68 last year, which is down 2.9%.
The numbers for condo sales were down from last year by 19.7% in units and 3.3% in sale price. This again could easily by attributed to our exceptionally bad weather in January. Typically a condo buyer is older and not too likely to re- locate in January.
So what does all this mean for the housing market outlook the rest of the year? According to the forecast made by the Illinois Realtor’s economic experts the low inventory situation seen in many of the Illinois markets last year should ease up this year. With increased inventory of properties on the market the average price should remain relatively stable or have a moderate decline. One of the other factors that may impact the housing market this year is rising mortgage interest rates. As the cost of borrowing money goes up, the amount of home buyers can afford will go down. After several years of historically low interest rates, we are starting to see a trend of steady increases. The new tax codes may also impact the housing market this year. Tax refunds are lower or non- existent for some people and this was typically a source of funds for potential home buyers to use as a down payment or towards closing costs. The change in deductibility for property taxes and mortgage interest as well as other tax code changes may impact the ability of buyers to purchase or may cause some home owners to sell their properties.
The good news is that housing is still incredibly affordable in our area and the dream of home ownership is still attainable for many. Real estate is local and what happens nationally or even locally in Chicago or Rockford doesn’t always impact our Freeport/Stephenson County market. A local Realtor can help you assess the home values in our market and help you make the best decisions for your individual real estate needs. Don’t forget to change your clocks and let’s all hope for an early spring!
*Data obtained from the RANWIL MLS
**Data obtained from Illinois Realtors market data