CHAMPAIGN — A rebound in high-end home sales helped propel April home sales in Champaign County — and prospects look good for a strong May.
April sales were up 19 percent from a year ago in terms of the number of homes sold. They were up 38 percent in terms of sales volume in dollars.
"The high end has finally awoken after a very long hibernation," said Matt Difanis, president of the Champaign County Association of Realtors.
From January through April, there were 42 closings on home sales of $300,000 or more. That compares with only 28 such closings in the same period last year.
That's a 50 percent jump, said Difanis, a co-owner of Re/Max Realty Associates in Champaign.
The highest-priced home sold during the first four months of this year went for $1.2 million. During the same four months last year, the highest price was $779,900, Difanis said.
At the same time, there have been fewer sales of low-end homes this year than last year.
During the first four months of 2011, 66 sales were closed on homes of $50,000 or less. This year, only 54 sales were closed on homes in that price range.
That price range had the largest share of distressed-property sales, Difanis said, and he hopes the lower numbers mean that wave is passing.
According to the association's Multiple Listing Service, 177 home sales closed in April, up from 149 in April 2010.
Look for strong sales in the months to come. The association said 320 home sales were pending in April — a 50 percent jump from the previous April, when 213 sales were pending.
"We can be confident that busy months of closings still lie ahead," Difanis said, adding it's apparently more than just mild weather boosting early spring sales.
For the first four months of this year, the number of sales were running 13 percent ahead of the same period last year, while the sales volume in dollars was running 21 percent ahead.
The association's figures cover single-family homes in Champaign County, as well as portions of Piatt and Douglas counties.
Difanis said both the average selling price and median selling price are up from a year ago.
The average selling price in April was $164,694, up from $141,509 a year ago — a jump of 16 percent.
Meanwhile, the median price — the point at which half the prices are higher and half the prices are lower — was $139,500, up 9 percent from $128,000.
Difanis said sellers should not assume from those statistics that they'll get a higher price on their home.
The higher average and median prices "seem to reflect an increased share of market activity happening in high-end price ranges," he said.
"Sellers should not infer that their homes are suddenly worth more than last year," he added.
Difanis noted that one or two huge sales can skew the average sales price in a market as small as Champaign County.
The "busiest" price range, he said, continues to be the $100,000 to $200,000 range.