January is 12th straight month of rising home sales

CHAMPAIGN — Home sales in the Champaign County area were up in January for the 12th straight month, according to figures from the Champaign County Association of Realtors.

The association's Multiple Listing Service said 123 home sales were completed in January, up from 91 in January 2012.

Pending sales were also up, with 160 listings under contract compared with 147 listings in January 2012.

"Weather conditions, which typically affect winter home sales, have had minimal impact on the market so far," association President Todd Salen said in a release.

Record-low mortgage rates and steady job growth have brought out more prospective buyers, he said.

It was the 12th time in as many months that home sales were higher than the same month a year earlier.

January brought a lot of interest in entry-level homes and properties in foreclosure.

"Sixty percent of the homes sold in January were priced under $125,000, so there definitely was a peak interest in entry-level homes," said Salen, a broker with Sperry Van Ness/Ramshaw Real Estate in Champaign. "Homes priced on the lower end of the market were quickly snatched up by many investors and first-time buyers."

The median home sale price in January was $101,000, down 24 percent from December's median price.

But overall sales volume for January totaled $16.6 million, up from $13.8 million in January 2012.

Several areas of the county had sharply more activity than they did a year ago. Urbana, for instance, had 28 home sales in January, up from eight in January 2012. Meanwhile, the north region — which includes Rantoul, Fisher and Gifford — had 14 sales, up from one a year earlier.

Salen said he expects sales this spring to be even stronger than last spring as long as the inventory of houses continues to grow.

"We don't want to see significant pressure put on prices with reduced inventory levels," he said, adding it could be a good time for sellers to list property.

The association's Multiple Listing Service includes sales from Champaign County and parts of Douglas and Piatt counties.

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