Feb. 12--CHAMPAIGN _ Home sales in the Champaign County area were up in January from a year ago, despite periods of extreme cold and snow.
The Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service on Tuesday reported 129 sales in January, up from 124 a year earlier.
That amounted to a 4 percent increase, but because the median home price was much higher than a year earlier, sales volume in dollars was up nearly 21 percent from January 2013.
"The numbers are a lot stronger than you would have thought," said association president Phil Trautman.
"We had a fantastic December, and it just carried over."
Trautman said that with mortgage rates expected to increase this year, people were ready to buy and motivated to take advantage of low rates before they rise.
The average fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region of the U.S. had a rate of 4.43 percent in January, down slightly from 4.47 percent in December but up from 3.4 percent in January 2013, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.
In the Champaign County area, the median home sale price in January was $136,000, up 32 percent from $103,000 in January 2013. The median price is the point at which half the sales are for more and half are for less.
Trautman, the broker-owner of Champaign County Realty, attributed the big jump to "a combination of values recovering and more new construction selling." Newly built homes often sell for $200,000 to $300,000 or more, he said.
Total sales in January amounted to $20.3 million, up from $16.8 million in January 2013.
Areas enjoying strong sales relative to a year earlier included the Champaign-Savoy region and the West region, which includes Mahomet and Monticello. Both those regions posted 14 percent sales increases from a year ago.
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