Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not so fast, Tribune, I don't see the plunge in Chicago Home Prices

I hope our regular readers will forgive my posting paucity this week. I have been busy. This feeds into my rebuttal to Mary Umberger's article in Tuesday's Tribune entitled "Chicago home sales plunge."

Mary quoted the Illinois Association of Realtors report that Chicago "Area" home sales were off 34% compared to January, 2007. I'm afraid that these statistics include the collar-counties, where I believe there is still sluggishness in the market. But as this blog is all about Chicago, let's set about putting the record straight for our local market.

In a post last week, I listed the number of contracts written for the Lakeview neighborhood. Today, let's examine stats for Uptown, Lincoln Park, The Gold Coast (Near North) and the combined numbers for all of Chicago's north side neighborhoods. The chart shows the number of contracts written in those neighborhoods for each week since the beginning of the year. These neighborhoods are dominated by condominiums, and the stats in the graph above are for condominiums only.

From Lincoln Park to Uptown, sales started the year out at a healthy clip. Sales in each neighborhood grew steadily to a nearly frenetic pace peaking during the week of February 19 for most neighborhoods, and the week ending February 26 (the most recent week available) for The Gold Coast and all of Chicago's northern neighborhoods combined.

Quotes of real estate agents feeling the greatest sluggishness invariably were from suburban locations such as Glen Ellyn, McHenry County, and Lake County. I think the Trib would do a service to its readers to verify these figures or examine our markets more carefully.

Remember, the headline for the article was "Chicago Home Sales Plunge" which, in your writer's opinion, is misleading when stats are for a nine-county region including towns as far flung as the Wisconsin border, as far west as DeKalb and south to Joliet and beyond. Shouldn't the headline say "ChicagoLAND home sales plunge?" During negotiations on two separate properties in Chicago this week, agents used this Tribune article as ammunition to argue for a bid price as much as 15% below asking price on listed properties.

And I had to spend hours defending my position that, indeed, prices have not plunged precipitously in Lakeview and Buena Park (Uptown) as this article could have you believe. Successfully, I might add.