Home sales in the Champaign County area continued to run ahead of last year in July, according to statistics from the Champaign County Association of Realtors.
The association's Multiple Listing Service reported that 322 homes were sold in July, up from 277 a year earlier — an increase of 16 percent.
July sales totaled $51.7 million, up nearly 22 percent from $42.5 million a year earlier.
"Our region continues to see strong economic recovery due in large part to the stability of major employers," association President Todd Salen said.
"When business opportunities expand in our area, it benefits both the residential and commercial real estate market," he added.
During the first seven months of this year, 1,561 homes were sold in the Champaign County area. That's 9.5 percent more than the 1,426 homes sold during the first seven months of 2012.
Year-to-date sales totaled $242.8 million, up from $226.8 million in the first seven months of 2012.
Prospects for August look good, too. Salen said there were 274 pending sales in July, up about 1.5 percent from July 2012. Pending sales are active listings that have gone under contract and are awaiting closing, usually within 30 to 60 days.
Fixed-rate mortgages in the north central part of the United States averaged 4.35 percent in July, up from an average of 3.54 percent a year earlier.
But Salen said interest rates remain historically low and haven't slowed market activity.
"Rising interest rates have prompted home buyers to speed up their purchasing decisions," said Salen, a broker with Sperry Van Ness / Ramshaw Real Estate in Champaign.
He said pending sales have slowed, but that's due more to decreased inventory.
"We need to see some increases in inventory to help balance out the demand we are experiencing," he said.
The median home sale price in the Champaign County area in July was $140,175, up 3.8 percent from the $135,000 median sales price of the previous year.
Days on the market continue to decline around Illinois. According to the Illinois Association of Realtors, the average time it took to sell a home in June was 76 days — 20 percent faster than a year earlier.
Sales in certain parts of the Champaign County area saw big surges in home sales in July.
Urbana, for example, had 64 sales in July, up from 45 a year earlier — a rise of 42 percent. The northern part of the area, including Rantoul, had 26 sales, up from 15 a year earlier — a 73 percent gain.