CHAMPAIGN — July home sales in the Champaign County area were 18.5 percent higher than a year earlier, and pending sales indicate August will be a strong month too.
"July typically marks the end of the traditional peak season, but apparently not this year, given the massive surge in pending home sales," said Matt Difanis, president of the Champaign County Association of Realtors.
In July, 275 home sales were closed, up from 232 a year earlier. Plus, there were 279 pending sales, up a whopping 45 percent from 192 pending sales a year earlier.
Those pending sales are likely to be consummated in August and September.
Difanis said record-low mortgage rates are causing more renters to buy homes and more homeowners to accelerate their "move-up" plans.
But those who trade up may take a loss on the homes they already live in, said Difanis, a co-owner of Re/Max Realty Associates in Champaign.
Some "homeowners ... are still taking significant losses on the sales of their current homes, but they seem to recognize that a few thousand dollars lost on the sale is more than offset by locking in savings for the next 15 or 30 years on their subsequent-purchase mortgage," he said.
So far this year, home sales are running 20 percent ahead of last year in terms of units sold and 29 percent ahead of last year in terms of dollar value.
From January through July, 1,426 homes were sold in the Champaign County area, up from 1,186 during the same months last year.
Homes sold during the first seven months of the year accounted for $226.7 million in sales, up from $176.1 million during the same months last year.
Here are some other observations on Champaign County home sales:
— Median sales price. The median sales price for the first seven months of this year was $138,450, up 2.36 percent from the same months last year.
The median price is the point at which half the sale prices are higher and half the sale prices are lower.
July's median price was $135,000, down 4 percent from the July 2011 median of $140,725.
— High-end home sales. Home sales of $300,000 or more were up 33 percent in July from a year earlier. For the January-to-July time frame, home sales of $300,000 or more were up 60 percent from the same time a year ago.
— Hot geographic areas. Mahomet and Savoy have been particularly strong areas for home sales this year, Difanis said.
During the first seven months of this year, Mahomet had 146 closed sales, up from 99 for the same period a year ago. Savoy had 78 closed sales, up from 51 a year ago.
— Local housing inventory. Difanis said the number of homes listed with the association's Multiple Listing Service is in the mid-1,700s. That's down from 2010 and 2011, when the number of homes on the market was often in the 2,000-to-2,100 range.
But it's nearly twice the number available during the middle of the last decade, when the housing market was booming.
The statistics — compiled by the Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service — include listings for Champaign County and parts of Piatt and Douglas counties.