The Illinois Association of Realtors released data today on the number of existing home sales for March, 2008. To me, there are two ways of looking at the this data. One - the cup half full. or, as Woody Allen said in the movie Scoop - a cup also half full; with poison.
In Chicago, median prices on homes sold (single family and condominiums) increased 5.3% comparing March 2008 to March 2007. But then again, only 2,045 homes sold, 11.5% fewer than last year.
For the larger, Metropolitan Statistical Area (Cook and surrounding counties), there were 5,753 total sales in March, 2008, up 33.5% from February. But then again, that March number is down 29.0% from last year.
There is a small part of me that wonders how much of the statistical bump-up from February to March can be attributed to those Chicago home buyers and sellers who wanted to "beat" the City's transfer tax increase, versus a typical Spring market effect versus overall economic recovery (or malaise). Probably won't know that answer until next months data is released. But these numbers certainly illustrate something we all know already, far to clearly. for the time being, there are simply fewer deals being made right now compared to last year.
Fortunately, the vacuum created by the declining number of transactions is being filled with what I like to call the increasing "drama to contract" ratio in the remaining deals. But that is another story for another day.