The Chicago real estate market is starting to improve. That is a statement that will be easily dismissed by many for being as naïve as it is premature. Sales are up over 29% for the 9 county Chicago area and 16% for Chicago proper versus last year. But due to the enormous overhang of distressed properties prices continue to slide, being down 6.6% over 2011 and 37% off the market highs in 2007. Inventories in some areas are very low mostly because anyone who doesn’t have to sell is simply not doing so. Loans are still hard to get but there are signs that credit is easing.
So economic progress is glacial and no sales records will be broken in 2012. The decline in average sales price is depressing revenues. But we are seeing significantly more transactions and that is not something we were seeing last year. This trend will eventually soak up the distressed inventory. “Getting better” is a vast improvement over 2009 where we were staring into the abyss of a dystopian real estate world. It is even better than 2011 where sales and prices continued to fall. Unemployment is down a tiny bit, GDP is growing slightly, and real estate sales are up a smidge. Chicago's economy and so the real estate market is headed in the right direction, up! Getting better may just be the new fabulous.