Did Forest Park’s real estate market stop its downward slide in 2012? Now that Realtors are analyzing sales of Forest Park property last year, some good news is finally emerging from the numbers, at least for single family homes.

The number of 3-bedroom houses sold in 2012 was 75 percent higher (49 closings) than in 2011 (28), Realtors reported. But of those, almost a third were distressed properties, according to data from the Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED, formerly known as the Multiple Listing Service or MLS).

Last year, the median price for 3-bedroom homes was $215,000. This year, it had fallen to $182,500. During the real estate boom in 2007, historic highs of Forest Park single-family homes averaged $326,132.

Thirteen foreclosures between $49,900 and $231,000 and two short sales between $136,000 and $180,000 dragged prices down.

“Let’s hope this number has finally peaked,” said Forest Park resident and Gloor Realtor Maria Murzyn. “As more of these properties are removed from the market, sellers and buyers should remember that an increase in demand most often leads to an increase of price,” she added.

Four-bedroom houses sold in smaller numbers (and there are fewer 4-bedrooms in Forest Park). Twenty-four sold in 2012, as opposed to 13 in 2011. Of those, six, or one-quarter, were foreclosures or short sales. The lowest recorded price for a 4-bedroom foreclosed home was $60,501. The median price of a 4-bedroom home sold in 2012 was $249,500, down from $299,000 in 2011.

“It looks like we’re taking baby-steps toward a housing market recovery for single-family homes,” said Murzyn.

A second wave of foreclosures hit Illinois in 2012, after national robo-signing class actions were settled in early March of 2012 against Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC). A backlog of Illinois foreclosures then came into play, as banks moved in on delinquent “pre-foreclosure” homeowners who were more than 90 days late on their mortgages.

In the fall of 2012, Illinois rose to the state with the highest number of foreclosed homes in the nation, even more than Nevada and Florida.

As painful as this may be, Murzyn said, the sale of these distressed properties has cleared out some of the single-family inventory before the spring market begins in a couple of weeks.

“People are buying [single-family houses] here. They’re moving to Forest Park,” Murzyn said. “But they may not pay the levels of prices many local sellers wanted.”

Realtor Dorothy Gillian, who was the top selling agent in Forest Park last year, agreed. “More of the distressed properties are coming out and our numbers aren’t going to start going up until we get rid of some of the inventory,” Gillian said. “That’s good; we’ve got to get them out of the system so the numbers can increase.”

The story for condominium sales was not nearly as rosy. In 2012, not a single non-distressed condo sold. Out of 27 units sold, all were either foreclosed or short sales, according to MRED data.

The cheapest 1-bedroom condo in Forest Park sold for $10,000 in 2012. The median sale price for a 1-bedroom was $28,000 and the median 2-bedroom sold for $55,000 in 2012.

“A lot of these condos are cheaper than a new car,” Murzyn said.

Market times for condos have stretched out from months to over a year on the market. The longest market time for a 1-bedroom condo in Forest Park is 1,029 days.

Gillian said Forest Park inventory is at “a six-month supply of properties,” which she said is almost equally good for buyers and sellers. “I had a great year.”

“Because interest rates are still so low, people realize that now is a good time to buy,” Gillian said. “As soon as the values are going up, people will get off the fence and make some decisions.”

“Real estate is very cyclical,” Gillian added. “It will come back, but we’re not going to see the highs of 2007 any time soon. We’re already seeing an increase in value in Oak Park, and Forest Park will follow.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...