“It’s been very busy, kind of crazy,” said Ryan Main, an @properties agent who put her clients’ three-bedroom house on Waveland Avenue in Portage Park on the market Saturday and by Tuesday morning had multiple offers in her pocket.
Yesterday, Midwest Real Estate Data released a weekly wrap-up showing that in each week during the crisis, the median price of homes sold in the Chicago area was up from the corresponding week in 2019. In the latest week, the one that ended May 11, the median price was up 2.9 percent from the same time a year ago.
Most of the sales would be properties that went under contract earlier in the year, likely before the shutdown, but there are strong signs that when COVID-era contracts close, the price increases might continue.
One of those signs is Compass agent Samuel Ciochon’s recent experience. He put a client’s two-bedroom Uptown condo on the market April 29 at $290,000, and had it under contract to buyers May 4 after receiving 11 offers. Ciochon cannot disclose the sale price before it closes, but he said “my seller was ecstatic.”
In the early days of May, Ciochon was involved with three other properties that all got multiple offers.
This is a distinct change from mid-April, when Ciochon told Crain’s buyers were often looking into the market expecting to find slashed prices. “Those people have dropped out,” Ciochon said. “The mindset has changed.” In large part, that’s because they didn’t find the desperation they expected.
Sellers may be finding encouragement to hold their prices firm by the swift comeback in foot traffic through for-sale properties. Showings of properties plummeted in the early weeks of the crisis, according to MRED’s data, but as the industry has adjusted its practices—increasing sanitation of properties between showings, giving first looks via video to help buyers limit the number of homes they physically walk through—showings have risen throughout April and early May.
By May 10, showings were at about 15 percent below the same time last year.
The dearth of houses on the market in the city will also keep prices steady. The shortage has persisted for a couple of years, and in the pandemic weeks has tightened even more, according to data released Monday by the Chicago Association of Realtors.
After rising to about 3,000 in the run-up to the spring selling season, the number of listed city houses dropped for five consecutive weeks, to 2,760 in the week that ended May 2. That’s the smallest number of offerings at any time since January 2007, the earliest data CAR reports. The inventory of city condos and townhouses is also down, but not as severely.
Baird & Warner agent Jan Kupiec has witnessed the result of the short supply of houses. Kupiec, who focuses on Edgebrook on the Northwest Side, said she’s had six properties go under contract to buyers since the stay-home order began in late March, and the longest any of them took was 12 days.
“It all comes down to low inventory,” Kupiec said. “They’re all serious buyers out there now,” partly because strict policies on showing homes weed out the just curious, and “when they see the right one, they move fast.”
Some of the missing inventory may be in a holding pattern. In the first weeks of the shutdowns, the number of listed properties that were marked temporarily unavailable quickly doubled, to more than 5,300, according to MRED. By May 11, the number had dropped to about 4,800. And agents say many people who had been planning to list their homes this spring but hit pause because of the crisis will eventually proceed.
“When all those hit the market, the dynamics could change drastically,” Kupiec said.