There was welcome news on the housing market front this week as the Illinois Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® reported increased home sales in April.
April home sales in Illinois were up 25.3 percent from a year ago, while existing-home sales nationally rose 0.6 percent compared to March and 9.7 percent compared to April 2012.
See headlines of some of the media coverage:
Chicago-area home sales, prices improve in April – Chicago Tribune
Illinois home sales best since 2007 in April - State Journal-Register
Local home sales jump 31 percent in April – Crain’s Chicago Business
US home sales tick up to highest in 3 ½ years – Chicago Sun-Times
The city of Evanston is considering an ordinance to tighten regulations on short term residential rentals being rented for less than 29 days by classifying them as a subcategory of a bed and breakfast, but the proposal could end up impacting all property owners.
In a column for the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Association of REALTORS® local Government Affairs Director Howard Handler writes about the unintended consequences of the proposal, which is expected to go before the Evanston Planning and Development Committee on May 28.
Originally aimed at regulating a local property that has been regularly rented for just days at a time, the proposed ordinance could make it harder for other property owners, who because of financial or other issues, want to rent out their property out for less than 29 days.
“Most homeowners don’t anticipate renting their property on a short term basis, but if the need arises, the owner should not have to plead their case to city staff for permission to do so. Evanston may have a need to regulate those running quasi-hotels out of their home, which have been the source of some complaints, but the city should leave the rest of Evanston property owners free of additional, unnecessary regulation,” Handler writes.
Handler is the IAR local Government Affairs Director (GAD) representing North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS® and Lake County for the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®.
Illinois home sales increased 25.3 percent over previous-year levels in April and median prices increased 7.7 percent, according to the Illinois Association of REALTORS®. Statewide home sales in April 2013 totaled 12,621 homes sold, up from 10,076 in April 2012. This was the best April performance since 2007. The statewide median price in April was $145,900.
“The spring numbers are very encouraging, especially as we see substantial tightening of the numbers of homes on the market,” said Michael D. Oldenettel, CRS, GRI, president of the Illinois Association of REALTORS® and Managing Broker/Owner with RE/MAX Results Plus in Jacksonville, Ill. “While prices are inching up slightly due to strong demand, the interest rates continue to be a powerful lure for those who want to own a home and the spring housing market looks to be a strong one.”
IAR’s Brian Bernardoni, a government affairs director in Chicago, was on CBS’ local news in a story about fire sprinkler mandates.
Bernardoni in the few seconds provided by the Chicago station got through the message Monday that there are many other ways to make sure your home is safe, rather than defaulting to the costly measure of requiring sprinkler systems in new or existing construction.
IAR has long opposed fire sprinkler mandates, instead saying the decision should be up tot he individual homeowner as to whether the systems are part of a new or existing home. Installing the system could add more than $10,000 in up-front costs to building a new home, and there are often maintenance and inspection costs that can follow throughout the life of the system.
A survey by IAR in 2010 showed the mandates are not popular with the public, which stated in a poll that they’d prefer to make the decision themselves rather than rely on a municipality to force them into it.
Learn more about this issue at IAR’s Issue Central, which can be found here.
The U.S. economy, which has slowed slightly due in part to the federal sequester, is expected to reaccelerate in the second half of this year, with housing serving as a “significant contributor to growth,” according to Fannie Mae’s Economic Outlook for May.
“Our May forecast predicts that the second half of 2013 will be a little stronger than the first half, despite the slowdown during the past couple of months,” Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan said of the economy in a news release.
Duncan points to improving employment numbers, rising consumer confidence and a housing market that “continues to grow at a sustainable, if not yet robust, pace,” and that is expected to act as a “tailwind for the economy throughout the year and into 2014.”