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Big rise in DeKalb County home sales

Kyle Bursaw —
A sign advertising a construction company sits in a grassy area in a Sycamore development on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012.
Kyle Bursaw — A sign advertising a construction company sits in a grassy area in a Sycamore development on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012.

DeKALB – August home sales were up 44.3 percent from a year ago in DeKalb County – one of the largest percentage increases in the state, which saw a 23.7 percent increase in home sales from August 2011.

The county boasted the highest increase in home sales among the collar counties, as sales increased from 70 in August 2011 to 101 in August 2012. The first eight months of home sales in the county this year were 38 percent higher than in the first eight months of 2011. There were 628 home sales through August, compared to 456 in 2011.

The same cannot be said for sale prices, however. An influx of foreclosed properties caused a dip in the median price for a home in DeKalb County. The median price dropped from $137,500 in August 2011 to $127,000 last month, a decline of 7.6 percent year over year.

Carrie Ottum, president of the DeKalb Area Association of Realtors, said she did not expect such a large increase in sales, but said trends have been positive since a down January that saw only 38 sales countywide with a median price of $109,950.

“Everyone is experiencing a good amount of activity right now ... even part-time agents,” Ottum said. “It’s one thing to read about these increases and say ‘Oh, it’s not happening here,’ but we as Realtors can absolutely say we are experiencing it.”

The state and county numbers reflect a national trend that shows some of the best home sales data in years. According to the National Association of Realtors, home sales rose 7.8 percent from July to August to reach the highest level since May 2010.

New construction increased 2.3 percent from July to August, and the median home price increased by 9.5 percent compared to August 2011 – the largest jump in a year since January 2006.

Jon Broadbooks, spokesman for the Illinois Association of Realtors, said part of the turnaround can be attributed to the bank-owned properties that have flooded the market after being held up while governments and banks worked out a settlement over mortgage lending irregularities.

“It’s good to get those properties out into the market,” Broadbooks said. “We won’t recover until those are handled.”

Patrick Boyce, a home mortgage consultant with Wells Fargo in DeKalb, said that although the lower median price means many homeowners cannot sell for the price they would like, it opens opportunities for first-time homebuyers to enter and strengthen the market.

Boyce said first-time homebuyers are a vital part to the housing market recovery, and with interest rates at 3.6 percent – down from 4.2 percent in August 2011 – now is a perfect time for many to make purchases.

“They are a little scared to make the jump,” Boyce said of first-time buyers. “But I have seen a lot more lately and there are great opportunities for them, especially for returning veterans who can get a home for very little cost out of pocket.”

The rebound in the market has not gone unnoticed by developers and builders.

Nate Amidon, division manager of real estate sales and marketing firm New Home Star, said work has doubled over the past year for his clients, including ShoDeen Homes, which is developing Reston Ponds in Sycamore.

As more new homes are built, Amidon said the prices should continue to increase to a point where homeowners will once again be able to sell their home for more than the price of purchase.

“The bottom has come and gone,” Amidon said of the market crash. “Prices can’t stay this low, and I think you’re starting to see an increase in home sales because people realize that and are ready to make a move.”

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