Chicago area housing market hottest it's been since before Great Recession

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- The housing market for the metro Chicago area is on fire if you're looking to sell, but that's creating challenges for those looking to buy.

"Illinois Realtors" reported an 18% increase in sales in the nine county metro area in January and February over the same months in 2020, as well as a 15% increase in the median sales price, from $235,000 to $270,000.

Angie Jungwirth is moving from Wilmette to Northfield. Essentially an empty nester, the COVID pandemic has given her a new perspective on what life requires.

"We just realized we kind of need space," she said. "Our kids were coming home from college and from jobs to spend more time with us, and we just kind of didn't care as much about the location."

She's not alone. Those considerations, when added to record low interest rates and the fear of missing out in the Chicago region, have shrunk the inventory of homes for sale, observers said, to levels not seen since before the Great Recession.

"There's no inventory, and buyers are fighting to get in," said Sandy Sherwood of @Properties Evanston.

As they focus on functionality, Sherwood said buyers must be prepared for bidding wars virtually everywhere.

"They need to have an idea in their head about the max price that they are willing to pay, and know that they might be in a bidding war and what is their cut off point," she advised. "And if the appraisal doesn't come through, are they going to be able to secure the loan?"

In Evanston, there are only 40 single family homes for sale right now; not even a one month supply of inventory. Upwards of two dozen hopeful buyers at a time have been seen in lines forming at open houses.

"It was the same thing," said Allie Payne of Compass Realty Evanston, comparing it to the market in 2008. "The house is going for 20% over list and people taking it as is with no appraisal, contingency, you know, closing whenever the seller wants to close, just bending over backwards to get a deal."

But unlike the market that led to economic disaster 13 years ago, Payne said this market is stable.

"You have to have an agent that Is networking with other agents, that is looking at things that are not on the market yet so that you have a leg up or else you are going to be eaten live," she said.

Realtors said that upwards of a third of the market seems to be pre-sold in what is known as a private listing network. The key is for folks to tamp down their personal anxiety over market dynamics and wait for the best deal they can afford.
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