Don't Let The August Home Sales Numbers Fool You

In about 2 weeks the Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR) will be releasing their August home sales figures for Chicago with much fanfare. The reason for the rejoicing: August home sales in Chicago will be up around 20.4%. over last year.
But let’s put that in perspective. If you will recall 2010 was not a normal year. Sales were completely front loaded as a result of the homebuyer tax credit and it left a vacuum in the back half of the year. Had it not been for the government tomfoolery we would in all likelihood be looking at negative comps for August. In reality August’s sales figures kind of sucked – especially when compared to 2008 (-14%) and 2009 (-9.8%).
So what’s the outlook for the rest of the year? Well, as you can see in the graph below contract activity has been running below 2009 levels but it does appear to at least be running higher than 2008 recently. I’m thinking that we may be seeing the bottom in activity. After all, people eventually have to move, right?
Chicago home contract activity
As for distressed property sales (short sales/ foreclosures)…they continue to run at fairly high levels as a percentage of total sales. The graph below shows that we are indeed running below 2010 levels, but again that is an artifact of the government meddling. I don’t have the data for 2008 but I can tell you that we have been steadily running higher than 2009 – almost 5 percentage points higher. So by two different measures we are in worse shape than in 2009.
Chicago Distressed Home Sales

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