In two weeks the Illinois Association of Realtors will be releasing December home sales figures for the Chicago area and all of Illinois. What the Chicago numbers will show is basically flat sales relative to last year - up only 1.3%. That's the smallest year over year increase in the last 6 months - probably because by December 2010 the negative effects of the homebuyer tax credit had pretty much run their course - i.e. December home sales were not as depressed as the previous months. [Note: an MLS data problem initially under-reported December home sales. The final number showed an increase of 6.4%.]
December home sales in Chicago were also 16% better than December 2008 but 20% below December 2009 when the tax credit was in effect. This level of sales roughly corresponds to the levels previously seen a long time ago - 1997/ 1998.
As I've been pointing out contract activity is much improved over 2008 and 2010 as shown in the graph below. Since closings haven't quite been keeping up it's apparent that more contracts are falling through (that's confirmed) and pending home sales are increasing (so I've heard).
As has been the pattern now for going on 3 years a lot of these home sales are distressed - either short sales or foreclosures. In December 45% of all home sales were distressed and this is the highest level of the last 3 years. The real test comes in January and February, which historically are the high points of the year for distressed sales. That's because non-distressed home sellers tend to take their homes off the market during December and January.
If you are interested we maintain a page of on our Web site that contains this home sale data along with numerous other Chicago real estate market data all in one place.