Area home sales up 21 percent in 2012

Area home sales up 21 percent in 2012

CHAMPAIGN — The figures are in, and it's official: Home sales in the Champaign County area were up 21 percent in 2012 from the previous year.

Figures from the Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service show 2,383 home sales were completed last year, up from 1,967 in 2011.

The value of those sales was up by an even greater percentage, rising 27 percent to $379.8 million.

"Buyers' confidence in the market continued to pick up steam as the year progressed, along with renewed optimism about increasing home values and investment in real estate," association President Todd Salen said in a release.

December sales outpaced those from a year earlier, with 149 homes sold last month. That compared with 141 homes sold in December 2011.

Plus, pending sales — active listings that went under contract but had not yet closed — increased to 136 in December, up from 105 a year earlier.

That's an indication that January sales could be strong. Figures for January won't be released until early February.

Salen, a broker with Sperry Van Ness/Ramshaw Real Estate in Champaign, said the area is seeing new growth in household formation, plus pent-up demand from renters waiting for a good time to buy.

"Buyers may have more of a sense of urgency to buy in 2013 due to falling inventories and before home prices or interest rates rise too much," he said.

The median sales price for 2012 was $140,000, up from $136,000 in 2011, the association said.

Sales of newly built homes were up sharply last year. The association said 153 newly built homes were sold in 2012, compared with 110 in 2011.

A breakdown by region shows sales in the Champaign-Savoy region were up 30 percent for the year.

Sales in the western region including Mahomet and Monticello were up 27 percent, while sales in the Urbana area were up 12 percent.

Salen said the commercial real estate market also showed continuing signs of stabilization.

There were 41 sales of commercial, industrial and multifamily properties in 2012, up from 29 sales in 2011, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

Leasing was also up, with 51 commercial/industrial properties leased in 2012, up from 23 in 2011.

"Business owners are starting to see a significant pickup in business, and it shows in the reduction of vacant storefronts and offices," Salen said.

The National Association of Realtors projects that vacancy rates in office, industrial, retail and multi-family properties will show gradual improvements throughout 2013.

The Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service covers Champaign County as well as parts of Piatt and Douglas counties.