Monday, June 2, 2008

Breaking News: Dollar Volume Down 12% YTD

Year to date, the number of units sold on the Multiple Listing Service, operated by Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), is down 25%. With median sales price up 11%, the combined dollar volume of Chicago condos closed so far in 2008 is down 12%.

At the end of April, year-to-date dollar volume was down 8%, compared to 4% in March. So, it appears that the city's condo market is still searching for a bottom. (Prices, however, continue to remain positive, which is not the case in many other major markets around the country.)

Units closed year to date were down 24% at the end of April, 18% in March, 24% in February and 36% in January.

On the MLS, at least, there is still no evidence of a glut of condos. New listings are down 18% compared to this time last year and average market time is down 2%. The supply increased from 9.4 to 9.5 months during May. (Anything over six months is generally considered a buyer's market.)

Many units unsold by developers are not listed on the MLS, so it is impossible to get an accurate snapshot of the inventory.

Units closed in May were up 9% over April and dollar volume was up 12% over April. But comparing May 2008 to May 2007, units closed were down 37% and dollar volume was down 25%.

For the raw numbers on which the above percentages are based, see the Condo Market widget on this blog. For more details, go to Market Overview on

When asked to comment on the above report, @properties' Bob Darrow, a veteran top-producer whose sales are in the top 5% of all Chicago agents, offered this perspective:

"What I am seeing in my market (Northside Chicago) is that sellers who do not need to sell are simply choosing not to sell rather than take a loss on their property. This is evident during showings, when I am seeing typical condos in the Gold Coast, for example, listed for sale that are clearly lifestyle choices to sell rather than necessity.

"Properties that go unsold are simply taken off the market. Sellers are either keeping their properties or renting them out. I am not seeing the distressed sellers who are represented so typically in national and regional media."

About the inventory of developer units, Bob adds: "According to Appraisal Research Counselors [which monitors the downtown market], in 2007 and 2008, the greatest numbers of condos are scheduled for completion in Chicago’s history. Many of these units are unsold even though they are not in the MLS yet.

"Many of the units that are sold are under contract by investors who may simply walk away from their earnest-money deposits rather than take ownership of a property that will not offer a profit on re-sale or cash flow opportunity."

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