August home sales 36 percent ahead of last year

CHAMPAIGN — Home sales in the Champaign County area continued at a strong clip in August, running 36 percent ahead of the same month last year.

A total of 287 home sales were closed in August, up from 211 home sales in August 2011, according to the Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service.

That continues a trend seen most of this year. During the first eight months of the year, 1,715 homes were sold, up 23 percent from the 1,397 homes sold during the same months last year.

Sales of high-end homes have perked up even more. Home sales of $300,000 or more were running 56 percent ahead of the same eight months last year.

Matt Difanis, the association's president, said he's been waiting for a seasonal slowdown, but that apparently will come later than usual.

Indications are "the post-season will continue to be busier" for the local real estate market than it was last year, said Difanis, a co-owner of Re/Max Realty Associates in Champaign.

Difanis said he has seen increased instances of buyers willing to break leases early to take advantage of low mortgage rates and relatively low home prices.

"Buyers can often score sweeter deals during the off-season because they are competing against fewer peers," he said.

At the same time, sellers who haven't been able to unload their homes "are often more motivated to do whatever it takes" to sell them, he said.

That way, they don't have to sit on their unsold homes through the winter.

While the number of homes sold in August was 36 percent higher than a year ago, the total sales volume in dollars — $47 million — was up 39 percent.

Also up from a year ago: the average and median sales prices. The average selling price this August was $164,036. The median selling price — the point at which half the sales prices are higher and half are lower — was $147,500.

Difanis once again cautioned sellers that the rise in median price is due largely to an increase in high-end home sales.

"It does not mean that individual home values have started to increase," he said.

Difanis said the hottest region in the Champaign County market area continues to be the western region, which includes Mahomet.

In that region, unit sales were up 57 percent in August from a year earlier; sales volume in dollars was up 103 percent; pending sales were up 55 percent and the median selling price was up 24 percent.

The Multi-Listing Service includes home sales in Champaign County and parts of Piatt and Douglas counties.

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