Property sales in Evanston lagged year-ago levels for the last four months of 2005, but perked up again in January.

City real estate transfer tax receipts for the last eleven months now are running 4 percent below year-ago levels.

Unless the numbers for February improve, it appears the city will just barely meet its goal for the budget year ending this month of raising $4 million from the transfer tax, which is charged at a rate of $5 per $1,000 of selling price.

The average selling price of homes in town has generally held up, and exceeded the previous year’s level in several months last year.

But sales volume has been trending lower, with a particularly sharp drop last fall. Volume in January was slightly above the previous year’s level, with 101 transactions, compared to 96 the year before. But the average selling price slipped from $461,000 to $435,000.

The transfer tax figures include both commercial and residential property, but exclude transactions involving tax-exempt entities. The tax is collected by the City Clerk’s office, which compiles the monthly tax reports.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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