Real estate experts and the media who predicted a meltdown of real estate, a plummeting of home value rates and the bursting of the housing bubble should be feeling just a bit sheepish now, since none of those predictions have come to pass. Sure the market has slowed, and yes the value of a home isn’t appreciating quite as much as it did in past years, but the real estate market is still plodding steadily along. Besides, knowing how the ‘national’ market is doing, or the median home value in the nation (it was around $221,900 in 2006), isn’t going to do you much good when you’re ready to buy a new home.
What WILL do you some good is thinking about how much your new home value may increase over the years, depending on the area where you want to move. Real estate is an investment, so it’s important to invest where your value is sure to rise. Since we can’t predict the future, the best thing to do is to look at past trends in home value prices and rate of sales, as well as the economy, population, job opportunities, unemployment rate and attractions an area has to offer. This will give you a fair idea of where your home value may go in the future.
Illinois (capital city: Springfield) has seen large growth in the past few years with a population of 12,831,970 as of 2006. The economy of Illinois is based on agricultural products such as corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, dairy products and wheat, and a larger industrial sector of machinery, food processing, electric equipment, chemical products, printing and publishing, fabricated metal products, transportation equipment, petroleum and coal. With such a large and varied economy, job growth stays steady, always a good indication that home values are likely to appreciate steadily in a given area.
Though tourism isn’t a major industry in Illinois, they still receive a fairly large amount of visitors daily. Illinois is home to the Windy City, Chicago, known for Wrigley Field, two different baseball teams and of course, the Sears Tower. Not to mention the family entertainment in the area (zoos, amusement parks, recreational centers, etc) and of course, the night life. The rest of Illinois has various historical sites (after all, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Ronald Regan all have ties to Illinois), plenty of state parks and outdoor activities, and various odd sights and attractions here and there (like the larger than life Superman statue and museum greeting visitors in Metropolis, Illinois). There’s also plenty of outdoor adventures, great fishing, beautiful wine country and scenic byways.
Lately Illinois has experienced a rather average unemployment rate compared to the nation, at about 4.8%, with more jobs opening in the fields of construction, professional & business services, education & health sectors and leisure & hospitality. In 2005, the median household income in Illinois was relatively high compared to many states in the U.S. at about $50,260. This means that a good percentage of people can afford homes which are above the median home value of Illinois. As of April, the median home value of properties sold was about $287,240, according to information from RealtyTrac. Other sources say the median home value for the first quarter was only about $197,000.
Chicago is definitely one of the pricer places to live in Illinois, but also the one with the most opportunities. At the end of 2006, the median value of homes was about $279,400, a 1.7% increase from a year ago. The housing in the capital city of Springfield stays steady and rarely fluctuates into a strong buyer or seller market. The average home price in the city is about $138,396 which is much cheaper than Chicago. On the western border of Illinois, in Quincey, the median home value is low at $110,730, but the average amount of time a home stays on the market is over 150 days.
All in all, though Illinois home values continue to rise, they have leveled off from the boom of the past few years. On a month to month basis, they wobble somewhat, with minimal increases and decreases, but looked at over a year, Illinois home values has steadily increased. As long as unemployment stays down and job growth up, there’s no reason that steady appreciation can’t continue.