Maybe you’ve seen the news reports that came out at the end of last month saying housing is recovering, and that sales are up. These national reports from the Commerce Department, the National Association of Realtors, and other reputable sources were filled with a variety of positive news. This is good to hear, particularly since many of these same sources have been talking in terms of overall housing values being down approximately 30 percent since the boom years. But is this national growth trend also being reflected in Oak Park?

Let’s look at our local numbers for home sales. Closed prices for Oak Park’s single family homes, regardless of the number of bedrooms, were at an historical high in 2007. Take a closer look and see how these figures break down. The number of four or more bedroom dwellings sold in the first nine months of ’07 was 147 units at a median price of $561,650. In 2012, 136 have closed with a median price of $462,500, which indicates values are down 18 percent in this time span. Not what we want, but this is much better than the supposed national average. From January through September in 2011, 93 homes sold at a median price of $455,000. Hallelujah! With this comparison, we see closed values currently are up not quite 2 percent in January through September. So, yes, for those homes with a minimum of four or more bedrooms, things are improving.

As for three-bedroom homes, for the first nine months of this year, 135 sold for a median sales price of $336,000. In the same period in ’07, 146 units sold at a median price of $439,500. Unfortunately, this is a 23.5 percent decline in home values over the last five years. But, if we look at this year versus the first nine months of ’11, 122 units were sold with a median price of $340,000, which is approximately a 1 percent year-to-year decline. This is not what we want, but indicates that dropping values have tapered and the market is going in a much better direction.

Another positive signal that of the total number of homes which closed in the first nine months of this year almost 16 percent were either a short sale or a foreclosure. That may be eye-opening — no one wants to see people in such dire circumstances — but in order for our housing market to recover and grow, these distressed properties have to be sold as soon as possible. Currently, there are 14 short sales available, and they account for 5 percent of the homes on the market. Since this time of year is traditionally the slowest for real estate, these sales probably won’t happen until after the new year.

But the election is over, there are many deals to be had, and we’ve had a slight increase in closed prices. So, yes, when it comes to single-family homes with three or more bedrooms, Oak Park is showing a very small but upward trend in the value of its homes.

Maria Murzyn works part-time for Wednesday Journal and is also a Realtor for Better Homes & Gardens Gloor Realty Company in Oak Park. Data is taken from Midwest Real Estate Data. Visit Maria’s Fun & Frugal Events blog for free and inexpensive events in the area.

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Maria Murzyn

Maria is no stranger when it comes to finding frugal ways to spend the weekend. She's a cofounder of, a website dedicated to sniffing out local and inexpensive ways to improve...