By Dennis Rodkin

Crain’s Chicago Business

July 21, 2016

 

Local new-home sales rose almost 12 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, and an industry consultant attributed nearly all the growth to one downtown Chicago condo project.

Builders sold 1,239 new homes in the Chicago area during the quarter, according to data from Schaumburg-based consulting firm Tracy Cross & Associates. That’s up from 1,110 in the same period last year.

The year-over-year difference, 129 sales, “is almost all because of the Vista tower downtown,” said the firm’s principal, Tracy Cross, referring to the 406-unit Vista Residences portion of a 93-story tower that recently broke ground in the Lakeshore East neighborhood.

Without an estimated 98 Vista Residences sales during the quarter, “we’d be flat for the quarter,” Cross said.

For the year to date, including both the first quarter’s 8.2-percent drop and the second quarter’s increase, new home sales totaled 2,271. That’s up 2.8 percent from 2,209 in the first half of 2015, Cross reported.

Of those sales, 352 were in the city, an increase of more than 52 percent from the 231 new homes sold in the city in first-half 2015. There were 1,919 new homes sold in the suburbs in the first six months of the year, a decline of 3 percent from 1,978 sales in the first two quarters of 2015.

Job growth has been stronger in the city than in the suburbs, Cross said, explaining the better results there. His reports do not include single-site and other small builder projects. Sales of city new homes on sites of all sizes have increased sharply in 2016, Crain’s reported in May.

The Chicago-area homebuilding recovery continues to lag behind most other cities, Cross said. Nationally, new-home sales were up between 5 and 23 percent in March, April and May.

“Chicago is probably the least favorable metro area in the country to be a new-home builder,” Cross said.

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