As the housing market across the region shows signs of the slump that’s hitting all of America, Forest Park is faring better than many of its neighbors. The number of single-family homes being sold in the village is down compared with last year, but sale prices have held steady, according to information from the Multiple Listing Service of Illinois.
Through mid-August, 26 homes have been sold in Forest Park in 2008, according to listings information provided by Gary Mancuso, president of the Oak Park Area Association of Realtors. In 2007, 59 single-family homes changed hands. Though the pace of the market has slowed, Forest Park’s residential properties appear to be maintaining their value.
Of the 26 single-family homes that have been sold this year, 24 were existing properties. The average selling price of those homes is $322,000, according to the listings. Two brand-new properties that were sold this year fetched nearly $700,000 each. Adding those to the equation brings the average sale price of a single-family home in Forest Park to $351,000.
The average price of all single-family homes sold in 2007 – including one newly constructed property – was $326,000.
“They’re still doing well compared to the rest of the area,” Mancuso said of the village.
Forest Park, however, remains saturated with available properties. Sixty-nine single-family homes in this small community are being actively marketed. Another nine homes are under contract to be sold.
In neighboring Oak Park and River Forest, home values have declined much more sharply in the last year than in Forest Park. The average single-family home in Oak Park is selling for $41,000 less. In River Forest, properties are fetching $91,000 less, a drop of about 10.5 percent.
That prices in the village have been fairly constant “solidifies stability” for prospective buyers, said local Realtor Jerry Jacknow. This should give buyers more confidence that a home bought in Forest Park isn’t as susceptible to wild swings in the market.
Also a member of the Oak Park Area Association of Realtors, Jacknow said that in the month of July, four homes were sold in Forest Park for an average price of $304,000. During the same month last year, nine homes were sold at an average of $333,000.
Jacknow, who has been selling residential properties here for 40 years, said that generally, homes in Forest Park are more reasonably priced than in some nearby communities. Properties tend to be smaller, too, he said, but affordability is a major draw.
“Our tax base and real estate tax is much lower than Oak Park’s,” Jacknow said. “It’s always been an attraction.”
As for the overall stability in the local real estate market, Jacknow said buyers’ fears are only being spurred by media reports.
“To be honest, it seems the media is scaring people because they print a lot more negative than they do positive,” Jacknow said.
Property values in other metropolitan areas are suffering substantial losses, according to a survey of 20 U.S. cities. An index of property values prepared by S&P/Case-Schiller reveals year-over-year home prices in these 20 cities are down almost 16 percent on average when comparing figures from the end of May in 2007 and 2008. In Las Vegas, Miami and Phoenix, the hardest hit areas, prices have dropped by more than 26 percent.
Wednesday Journal reporter Marty Stempniak contributed to this story.