This update of the Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) Cook County House Price Index highlights changing prices for single-family homes through the fourth quarter of 2021 in 16 City of Chicago submarkets and 17 submarkets primarily in suburban Cook County. A detailed discussion of the Index is below. Click here to view a full-page interactive graph with a map and data for all submarkets. Click here to download the underlying data for the price index.
This analysis explores trends in house prices as of the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to recent trends and key historical benchmarks. It illustrates the geographic pattern that the COVID-19 economy has had on Chicago’s real estate market. This period has been characterized by rapid increases in house prices driven by a record-low supply of homes, strong demand from prospective homebuyers, and historically low mortgage interest rates.
While the level of price growth among City of Chicago and Suburban Cook County submarkets varies, this Index update demonstrates significant progress in a number of metrics including those related to the years leading up to and during the Great Recession – an event that continued to affect many neighborhood housing markets and cloud positive price trends throughout the past decade. Most notably, house prices in a growing number of submarkets have now recovered to pre-recession peak levels. Whereas only six submarkets had exceeded their pre-recession peak prices as of both the fourth quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2020, 23 of 33 – or nearly 70 percent of submarkets – have exceeded price peaks as of the fourth quarter 2021.
Year-over-year price changes
- Areas with the largest increases in single-family sales prices between the fourth quarters of 2020 and 2021 include Chicago submarkets Auburn Gresham/Chatham (23.5 percent increase), South Chicago/West Pullman (21.3 percent), and Englewood/Greater Grand Crossing (20.4 percent increase). In suburban Cook County, the largest annual increases were seen in south suburban Calumet City/Harvey (29.2 percent increase).
- No submarkets experienced year-over-year declines. This contrasts with last year’s update, where four suburban submarkets and three higher-value Chicago submarkets experienced slight year-over-year declines from the fourth quarter of 2019 to 2020.
- On average, house prices in Cook County increased by 14.5 percent compared to the previous year. In the City of Chicago, price levels increased by 13.8 percent, and in suburban Cook County prices increased by 15.5 percent.
Peak to current price changes
- Over the past year, 17 submarkets saw prices increase to above pre-Great Recession levels, bringing the County total to 23 submarkets that have surpassed this recovery benchmark – a trend that illustrates the strength of the real estate market in 2021. By comparison, as of the fourth quarter of 2020, 27 of 33 submarkets were below their bubble-era peak. In the fourth quarter 2020, just six submarkets had exceeded their previous peak levels.
- Despite recent price improvements, Englewood/Greater Grand Crossing continues to be the submarket furthest from its bubble-era peak. Price levels in the fourth quarter of 2021 are 15.4 percent lower than they were at the top of its market in the second quarter of 2007.
- The City of Chicago, suburban Cook County, and Cook County have all reached their peak prices. Price levels in Cook County and suburban Cook are now just slightly above price levels at the peak of the market and price levels, .5 and .3 percent respectively. Price levels in the City of Chicago are 3 percent above peak levels, although there is substantial variation among City of Chicago submarkets. Compared to a year ago, the City of Chicago, suburban Cook County, and Cook County were 9.2, 13.1, and 12.1 percent below their peak prices, respectively.
- The map below highlights the pattern of submarkets that remain below their peak prices and submarkets that have exceeded their peak levels. Click on each submarket area to get additional data on house price trends. To view a full-page, interactive map, click here.
Recovery from bottom price changes
- As of the fourth quarter of 2021, all submarkets in Cook County have experienced at least a 28.2 percent price increase compared to their lowest post-recession price level. Areas with the largest increase from price bottom include Humboldt Park/Garfield Park and Englewood/Greater Grand Crossing. These areas have single-family house prices that are 259.7 percent and 173.2 percent higher than their price bottoms, respectively.
- The weakest recoveries were seen primarily in suburban Cook County. This is largely due to the suburbs being less volatile housing markets with less dramatic price peaks and valleys than many submarkets in the City of Chicago. The suburban area with the weakest recovery is north suburban Winnetka/Northbrook where prices increased by 31.2 percent from its price bottom. In the city, Lake View/Lincoln Park has seen the smallest price increases since reaching its price bottom (28.2 percent). However, this is the only area in Cook County that did not experience dramatic price declines during the recession. So, despite relatively modest growth, prices in Lake View/Lincoln Park remain high.
- House prices in Cook County have recovered by 74.3 percent since the bottom of the market. In the City of Chicago, prices have rebounded by 90.5 percent compared to 68.5 percent in suburban Cook. This is compared to the 4Q 2020 when price levels compared to the bottom of the market were 52.4 percent, 67.9 percent, and 46 percent above bottom in Cook County, the City of Chicago, and in Suburban Cook County, respectively.
Price changes since 2000
- All submarkets in Cook County have been above their year 2000 price levels since the last half of 2018 when Calumet City/Harvey passed this benchmark. Long-term price gains since 2000 remain lowest in Calumet City/Harvey, where prices are 62.5 percent above what they were in the first quarter of 2000 as of the fourth quarter of 2021. Prices in suburban Chicago Heights/Park Forest have the next lowest gain over year 2000 levels and are now 67.2 percent above price levels in 2000. In the City of Chicago, the South Chicago/West Pullman submarket had the lowest prices relative to prices in the year 2000. Price levels in the fourth quarter of 2021 were 84 percent higher than year 2000 prices.
- As of the fourth quarter of 2021, price levels in four Chicago submarkets were more than 150 percent of what they were in the year 2000. These submarkets include West Town/Near West Side, where prices were 209.2 percent higher than 2000 levels, Logan Square/Avondale (206.7 percent), Humboldt Park/Garfield Park (197.6 percent), and Bridgeport/Brighton Park (173.4 percent).
- House prices in Cook County have increased by 87.3 percent since 2000. In the City of Chicago, prices have increased by 118.2 percent compared to 77 percent in suburban Cook County.
BACKGROUND ON PRICE INDICES
House price trends are one of the most important indicators of a neighborhood’s economic health. In recent years, a substantial focus has been paid to the importance of house price trends as a national or regional indicator of economic conditions, but growing attention is being paid to the implications uneven price declines and recoveries across neighborhoods have for communities and their residents. Neighborhoods with rapidly rising prices may be those facing current or future housing affordability concerns, while areas with slow price recovery may need strategic investment to rebuild demand for housing.
Additionally, the uneven nature of house price declines and recovery across neighborhoods is a stark illustration of the growing divide between thriving and struggling communities and households. Home equity is one of the key vehicles for families to build wealth, and the variation in price trends—which can be used to estimate levels of potential home equity gained and lost by households and neighborhoods over time—can be an indicator of household financial conditions across communities. To help housing stakeholders, policymakers, and the public understand this issue better, the Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) has developed a Cook County house price index to track quarterly price trends for single-family homes in 16 submarkets in the City of Chicago and 17 submarkets in suburban Cook County.
More about IHS' Cook County Submarket Indices
The submarkets in IHS’s price index are based on Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) from the 2010 US Census. There are 16 submarkets in the City of Chicago and 17 that are primarily in suburban Cook County. In the City of Chicago, the submarket surrounding the Loop has been excluded because of insufficient levels of single-family home sales. Click here for a reference guide to the community areas and suburban municipalities found in each submarket. Additional detail about the model can be found at the end of this analysis.
The discussion below highlights four key metrics for analyzing house price trends and describes their patterns and their implications for communities:
Year over Year– This metric illustrates the short-term price trend and compares the current price level as of the fourth quarter of 2020 with the price level in the fourth quarter of 2021. Submarkets with large changes in price levels can be very different relative to each other, but each demonstrates recent increased demand. These include highly foreclosure-distressed areas where prices are starting to recover, as well as rapidly appreciating ‘hot’ markets. Historically, strong markets tend to have low but steady appreciation year over year. Interpreted in conjunction with other price trend indicators, year-over-year price changes can help identify rebounding markets with stabilizing prices.
Recovery from Bottom– This metric measures the change in the price level from a submarket’s lowest point after the 2008 collapse of the housing market to the fourth quarter of 2021 and tracks the speed of recovery of single-family house prices. This indicator is an important measure for recent buyers who purchased properties near the bottom of the market and who are trying to understand the return on that investment. The indicator is also valuable for understanding where investment has been flowing since the bottoming-out of the market. This ‘recovery’ metric reflects recent demand for housing that could be driven by owner-occupants competing for a limited supply of for-sale housing in “hot” markets or investors competing for the dwindling supply of low-cost properties in more distressed markets. The difference in types of demand means the recovery metric should be interpreted in conjunction with other price trend data points.
Peak to Current– This metric measures the difference between a submarket’s peak price level at the height of the housing boom and the current price level as of the fourth quarter of 2021, and it captures the recovery of a neighborhood’s house prices towards previous price peak levels. Many neighborhoods that saw a substantial build-up in prices during the housing bubble experienced equally dramatic declines. While those price peaks were often inflated and unsustainable, recovery towards those peaks is an important benchmark for homeowners who bought their homes or obtained a mortgage from 2005 to 2007 when prices were at their highest.
Many homeowners are reluctant to sell their homes for less than what they paid, and, in cases where a mortgage is involved, areas that are well below previous peak values are likely to have larger numbers of underwater or near-underwater homeowners. Owing more on a mortgage than what a property is worth limits an owner’s ability to sell their property and puts a greater strain on a household’s financial conditions. As values get closer to previous peak levels, more homeowners are likely willing and able to sell, more households will exit underwater status, and equity lost during the housing crisis will likely be rebuilt. In areas where values remain well below peak levels, many homeowners likely remain underwater.
Price trends since 2000– This metric tracks the change in price levels from the first quarter of 2000 to the fourth quarter of 2021 and measures long-term price trends. The variation in neighborhood price trends since 2000 is a key indicator of the impact the housing crisis and uneven housing recovery has had, not just on local housing markets, but also on long-term homeowners. Home equity is a key asset for both lower- and higher-income households, and increasing equity over time is one of the ways that both lower- and higher-income households build wealth. In areas where there has been limited long-term price appreciation, long-time owners benefit less from increasing home equity compared to long-term owners in areas with significant appreciation.
Using its data clearinghouse, IHS has developed a hedonic price index model to provide a stable mechanism to track submarket-level price trends. Unlike a repeat sales model which requires a matched pair of sales on a single property and can be less stable at smaller geographies, a hedonic model combines data on a property’s sales price with data on the physical characteristics of that property and its location relative to key amenities or disamenities. The statistical model controls for factors that contribute to price and allows for the development of an index tracking price changes of the typical, non-distressed home over time and is ideal for tracking price trends at the submarket level.
Click here for more information on IHS’s hedonic price index model.