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Home sales throughout the Illinois Valley were up in 2012. The one exception was La Salle, where sales were down despite lower prices and the availability of low-interest home loans.
NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
New construction stagnant
By Kevin Caufield NewsTribune Reporter
New construction in the Illinois Valley remained virtually nonexistent in 2012 except in Ottawa. Most cities in the Illinois Valley had three or less newly constructed homes or businesses take place in 2012, which has been the norm since the recession struck in late 2007. “We’re still bumping along on the bottom like everyone else,” said Peru building and zoning officer Frank Taylor. “New construction has been really flat, if not getting worse.” The only exception has been Ottawa. Mike Sutfin, Ottawa building and zoning director, said residential and commercial development has been increasing at a nice pace. Specific construction data on building construction in 2012 will not be available until after Jan. 1. But Sutfin said Heritage Harbor has been building homes and neighborhoods north of the city have been expanding as well. “Most of the single-family housing was sold by local banks that didn’t get into junk paper which had brought down the market,” Sutfin said. “As a city, we’ve maintained a robustness through a bad economy and people want to locate here and start businesses here.” The number of new residential and commercial buildings constructed in 2012 within the NewsTribune coverage area is as follows: La Salle (1 house, 0 commercial); Peru (3 houses, 0 commercial); Putnam County (2 houses, 0 commercial); Oglesby (nothing); Spring Valley (one new house, 0 commercial); Mendota (nothing); Ottawa (unavailable); Princeton ().
By Kevin Caufield NewsTribune Reporter and The Associated Press
When it comes to housing, 2012 was a buyer’s market. The mortgage market throughout the NewsTribune coverage area held steady in some cities and improved in others, except in La Salle where sales and prices fell dramatically this year. Real estate experts say the favorable market has been buoyed by historically low mortgage interest rates and dropping sales prices. “We have a very nice community to live in, and more and more we are seeing people who want to live here and commute to work elsewhere,” said Illini Valley Association of Realtors director Marcia Ellis. “The market is still down from what it was in say 2007, but it’s making a comeback.” According to multiple listing service data provided by Illini Valley Association of Realtors, closings in La Salle had averaged about 96 per year but abruptly dropped to 82 in 2012. Meanwhile, sales prices had held steady at about $69,000 in 2010 and 2011 but fell to a paltry $56,700 median in 2012. Elsewhere, the housing market has been relatively stable. While new homes aren’t being built, the market for existing homes was either normal or more active throughout most of the Illinois Valley. The most expensive homes have been selling in Putnam County. The median sale price there hit whopping $150,000, doubling the median price at the end of 2011. This was due largely to property sales in the Lake Thunderbird community. “There aren’t a lot of sales in Putnam County and those that do take place can happen in Lake Thunderbird,” Ellis said. “When that happens, you see the median price rise dramatically because those properties are higher-end.” The most significant jump in total home sales took place in Ottawa. In 2010 and 2011 closings there were at 173 and 171, respectively. But this year that total jumped to 246. While new housing construction has been very minimal locally, the Commerce Department said Wednesday that builders began construction of houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000. That was 3 percent less than October’s annual rate of 888,000, the fastest since July 2008. Still, the decline follows months of strong gains. Housing starts remain on track for their best year in four years, and the housing market overall appears to be sustaining its recovery.