CHAMPAIGN — Home sales in the Champaign County area were down slightly in August from a year earlier.
But the president of the Champaign County Association of Realtors said pending sales remain strong, paving the way for a robust autumn.
A total of 282 homes were sold in August, down 2.4 percent from 289 in August 2012, according to the association's Multiple Listing Service.
"We typically begin to experience a seasonal slowdown in August, and we experienced some residual effects of rising interest rates on the market," association President Todd Salen said in a release.
"Pending sales have picked back up, and we do project home sale activity will stay robust through the fall months," he said, adding that the crisis in Syria could affect the overall economy.
Pending sales in August were up nearly 27 percent from the same time a year ago. Pending sales are active listings that went under contract and are awaiting closing, usually in 30 to 60 days.
So far this year, Champaign County home sales are running about 7.5 percent ahead of the same period last year in terms of units sold.
In terms of sales volume in dollars, sales are running about 5.9 percent ahead of the same period last year.
From January through August, 1,843 homes were sold, compared with 1,715 homes during the same eight months last year. Sales volume for those months totaled $290.5 million, compared with $274.3 million in the same months last year.
Salen said more buyers than sellers are in the market, causing multiple bids in some home contract offers.
"A gradual rise in interest rates are an indication the economy is improving and is not expected to cause a major slowdown in the housing market," said Salen, a broker with Sperry Van Ness/Ramshaw Real Estate in Champaign.
The average rate on a fixed-rate mortgage in the North Central Region of the U.S. was 4.46 percent in August, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. The rate was up from 3.6 percent in August 2012.
The National Association of Realtors has forecast that the 30-year mortgage rate could reach 5.2 percent in 2014.
The median home-sale price in the Champaign County area in August was $147,500, unchanged from a year ago. The median price is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.