Communities served by Metra commuter trains have seen home sales bounce back faster than the Chicago suburban area as a whole, according to the fourth annual Metra Community Study by the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network.
The study compared home sales data from three towns along each of the 11 Metra corridors throughout the Chicago suburbs with comparable data from all suburbs in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago real estate market during the first half of the following three years: 2012, 2011 and 2006.
The analysis revealed that the Metra-served communities had a greater rebound in sales activity than the suburbs as a whole in 2012 and have seen sales decline less than the suburbs as a whole when compared to 2006. The entire suburban area slightly outperformed the Metra towns in two other measures: average sales price and average market time.
Total sales volume for the Metra-served towns included in the 2012 study was 5,121 units, a 27 percent increase over the same period in 2011. Sales in the suburbs totaled 29,817, a gain of 24 percent. Metra-served towns had 27.4 percent fewer sales in 2012 than in 2006. Suburban sales were 31 percent lower than in 2006.
The average sales price for Metra-served towns in 2012 was $240,900, down 8 percent from the 2011 average price of $262,847. In comparison, the average suburban home price for 2012 was $213,965, which was 7 percent lower than the 2011 average price of $228,936. All data includes transaction results for both attached and detached homes.
The average time spent on the market for homes sold in Metra-served communities in 2012 was 181 days, a decrease of 8 days from 2011. In the suburban market, the typical sale took 171 days in 2012, which was 14 days less than the prior year.
The RE/MAX study also found that changes in sales activity and home prices varied widely among the 11 Metra lines when comparing 2012 to 2011. Five of the Metra lines saw sales activity rise 30 percent or more. Two of the lines recorded increases of 15 percent or less. The largest gain in transaction volume was a 39 percent increase along the Union Pacific Northwest Line. The smallest was a 13 percent increase along the Union Pacific North Line.
The top all-around results were along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line (where sales volume rose 29.4 percent, the average home price increased 14 percent to $311,709 and the average market time fell by 30 days) and the North Central Service (where volume was up 25 percent, the average price rose 3 percent to $147,760 and the average market time rose by 13 days).
Average sales prices fell along 9 of the 11 lines. The size of the decline ranged from just 3 percent along the Rock Island Line and Union Pacific Northwest Line to as much as 31 percent for the Metra Electric Line.
When 2012 is compared to 2006, the average price of homes sold in the Metra-served towns fell 29 percent. The entire suburban area did slightly better with a 28 percent decline. The average market time for homes in Metra towns increased from 88 days in 2006 to 181 days in 2012, while for the entire suburban area the 2006 average of 84 days rose to 171 days in 2012.
The RE/MAX analysis also looked at the Metra-served towns based on their relative distance from downtown Chicago. This year, it was those Metra communities closest to downtown Chicago (Evanston, Park Ridge, Morton Grove, Franklin Park, River Forest, Riverside, Summit, Oak Lawn, Blue Island and Harvey) that turned in the strongest results, as they had in 2010. A year ago, the middle-distant communities (Palatine, Winnetka, Deerfield, Prospect Heights, Roselle, Glen Ellyn, Western Springs, Lemont, Palos Heights, Oak Forest and Flossmoor) were the results leaders.
When sales for 2012 in the least-distant communities are compared to 2011, transaction volume increased 36 percent; the average price fell 6 percent to $240,612, and the average market time increased by 8 days to 177 days.
In the middle-distant communities, transaction volume rose 18 percent. The average price fell 9 percent to $313,220, and the average market time declined from 198 to 186 days.
As for the most-distant communities (Cary, Lake Bluff, Fox Lake, Antioch, Elgin, Geneva, Lisle, Lockport, Orland Park and New Lenox), sales activity in 2012 was 26 percent higher than in 2011, while the average home price fell 10 percent to $181,276, and the average market time decreased 14 days to 183 days.
—RE/MAX provided this information.