CHAMPAIGN — Home sales in April were up from a year ago in the Champaign County area, and so was the median price.
The number of homes sold in April was 199, up from 177 in April 2012, according to the Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service.
The median price in April was $142,500, up from $139,500 a year earlier. The median price is the point at which half the homes sold for more than that price and half sold for less.
Association President Todd Salen called the increases encouraging.
"As the home supply is shrinking, we are starting to see a pickup in housing starts, which is also providing a boost to the construction trade employment," said Salen, a broker with Sperry Van Ness / Ramshaw Real Estate in Champaign.
Pending sales in April — sales contracts that have not yet closed — increased to 350, up from 309 in April 2012.
"In the past couple of months, we have seen some narrowing in pending-contract activity due to limited supply (of houses on the market)," Salen said in an association release.
"The forecast for May and June suggests continuing gains in home sales as these are typically among the most robust selling months of the year," he said.
During the first four months of this year, 592 homes were sold in the Champaign County area, up from 554 during the same time last year. That's an increase of 6.9 percent.
The total value of homes sold in the first four months of this year was $86.6 million, up only 0.8 percent from the same period last year.
Salen said jobs are key to a stronger housing market.
"Having a job is important for household formation, and young Americans are especially being hit hard," he said. "Once we start to see some dramatic improvement in job and economic expansion, we may see a greater percentage of the echo-boom generation investing in real estate and creating more households."
The "echo boom" generation generally refers to those born in the 1980s and early 1990s — now in their 20s and early 30s.