CHAMPAIGN — Home sales in the Champaign County area soared in September, outpacing year-ago sales by nearly 34 percent, according to the Champaign County Association of Realtors.
The association's Multiple Listing Service reported 227 home sales in September, up from 170 in September 2012.
However, the number of pending sales was down 2.4 percent from a year ago. Pending sales reflect listings under contract but awaiting closing, usually in 30 to 60 days.
Phil Trautman, the association's president, called the year-to-year gains "impressive."
"Several factors, including increasing interest rates, were certainly motivating buyers to make their purchasing decisions before the end of the year," he said in a release from the association.
The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.53 percent in September, up from 3.6 percent a year earlier, according to Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. data for the North Central region of the U.S.
"Interest rates should average out to about 4.6 percent in 2013 and about 5.2 percent in 2014," Trautman said, citing projections from the National Association of Realtors.
For the first nine months of this year, 2,070 homes were sold, compared with 1,885 homes in the first nine months of 2012 — an increase of 9.8 percent.
The dollar volume of those sales totaled $328.2 million, up nearly 8.5 percent from the $302.6 million sold during the same months in 2012.
Trautman, the broker/owner of Champaign County Realty in Champaign, said he expects a slowdown in home sales this fall, as is typical for the season. But he predicts year-end home sales will exceed those of 2012.
Home prices may be pushed up by the relatively small number of homes on the market, he added.
Trautman said the government shutdown could affect the housing market.
"All eyes are on Congress now ... to settle the fiscal gridlock, which is having a negative effect on consumer confidence," he said. "A prolonged shutdown could further stall the economic and housing recovery."
He said some government programs affecting housing and mortgages have been suspended or slowed due to the lapse in government funding.
The median home sales price in Champaign County was $142,000 in September, up from the $140,000 median in September 2012.
But the year-to-date median sales price was $138,500, down from $140,000.