Traditionally, Super Bowl Sunday is considered the kickoff for real estate sales after a winter break for the holidays. As the market comes alive after the big game, the question on a lot of buyers’ and sellers’ minds is what the 2022 will hold for home sales after 2021’s record-breaking year.

According to John Lawrence, designated managing broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago, 2021 was a “very good year in real estate.” He says that the tri-village area of Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park saw a 25-percent increase in homes sold year over year. 

Noting that our region of the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) runs roughly from Lake Michigan on the east to Wisconsin on the north and to the Bloomington/Normal area to the south and west, he said, “The entire MLS area saw a 13.5-percent increase in sales. Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park percentage-wise just blew that out of the water.”

1447 Bonnie Brae, River Forest, closed June 2021 for $1,450,000. | Provided

Market time and multiple offers

Monica Dalton, real estate agent with Compass Real Estate Oak Park, says that in 2021, homes sold faster and received multiple offers more frequently than in previous years.

“We saw a dramatic decrease in market time, and open houses had increased traffic,” Dalton said. “It wasn’t uncommon to have multiple offers before the first open house.”

Lawrence witnessed the same thing.

“Everything sold faster at every single price point,” he said. “We saw a lot of multiple offers.”

Lawrence also says that while many homes sold immediately after listing, a fair number sold before they even officially hit the market. When would-be sellers began prepping their homes for sale, buyers would request to see the houses and ended up making offers before the houses were officially for sale.

Record numbers

Homes not only sold in bunches in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park, they often hit record or near-record prices in 2021. 

For attached housing, all three villages saw robust sales. Forest Park recorded the second highest sales numbers with pre-pandemic average prices. River Forest had the second highest number of attached units sold and Oak Park sold 106 more attached units than in 2020. 

Calling the numbers for attached housing, “very solid,” Lawrence noted that detached housing saw the most impressive gains.

In Forest Park, Lawrence says the real story was pricing, with the average price of a detached home increasing by $47,000 to an all-time high for the village. The median sold price jumped 13.5 percent to $370,000 for single-family homes.

In Oak Park, a record number 624 detached homes sold, up from 534 in 2020 and the previous high of 544 in 2016. 

“Last year, we approached the record,” Lawrence said. “This year, we blew it out of the water.”

Prices in Oak Park were up too. For the first time ever, the median price topped $500,000 for a detached house, hitting $503,525. 

Like Oak Park, River Forest set an all-time record in number of detached homes sold, with 157 units sold compared to previous highs of 153 in 2020 and 2013. In addition, the median price of single-family homes jumped 14 percent in the village.

721 Columbian, Oak Park, went under contract within seven days for the list price $1,070,000 in May 2021. | Provided

Both villages saw a big uptick in sales of homes priced at or over $1 million. In River Forest, sales in that category rose 62 percent with the village logging 47 high-end sales versus 29 in 2020. In Oak Park that number rose from 13 in 2020 to 23 in 2021.

Dalton said she continues to see more interest at the higher price points than in previous years.

“Agents are calling each other to see if they have anything coming the market, because there just isn’t a lot to see right now,” she said.

COVID effect

Lawrence thinks a lot of the success on the high end is due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic on the market.

“People want more space,” he said. 

He adds the recent uptick in sales are due to a combination of a number of factors.

“COVID has allowed people to live in different places because they no longer go into the office,” Lawrence said. “When you’re working from home, your space needs change. People’s priorities during something like this shift. Finally, even though interest rates are rising, they are still very low, and borrowing money is pretty cheap.”

Dalton says she has seen a definite rise in people looking for larger homes with yards and says a home office has become a requirement. 

“When you are cooped up in a condo or smaller home already, you notice what isn’t working about your living space,” she said. “In addition, dedicated home offices became essential like never before. I ‘temporarily’ moved my home office to the living room because my husband needed more privacy, so he took over our home office.”

Looking ahead

Both Lawrence and Dalton see another busy year ahead for 2022. 

“In many ways, 2022 is even more competitive because buyers who were continually outbid in 2021 took a break and are back again in addition to buyers newly looking in 2022,” Dalton said. “The supply is just not keeping up with demand.”

Lawrence says supply and demand is at the heart of the local market.

“We’re not maximizing the number of units sold,” he said. “Plenty of people are frustrated that there’s not enough to see.”

Noting that the area continues to be desirable because it’s not in the city but you can easily get to the city, and because the housing stock is so great, Lawrence says that he thinks the next four months will be busy. 

While he predicts there will be a typical bump of action after the Super Bowl, he admits, “It’s already busy now. Post-Super Bowl, it’s going to continue to be busy.”

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