Evanston showed the second smallest drop in single family detached home prices of any North Shore community last year.

And the percentage decline in the number of homes sold in Evanston was the smallest on the North Shore.

The median price decline in Evanston last year, as calculated by the North Shore Barrington Association of Realtors, was 1.18 percent. In neighboring Skokie and Wilmette the declines were 15.36 percent and 7.88 percent respectively.

Price declines in other communities ranged from 0.79 percent in Riverwoods to 25.38 percent in Highwood.

Over the past decade, the median price of a single-family-detached home in Evanston home has risen 86 percent, compared to a gain of 67 percent in Skokie and 79 percent in Wilmette.

The number of single family detached homes sold in Evanstson dropped by 9 percent last year, compared to a decline of 20 percent in Skokie and 23 percent in Wilmette.

Elsewhere on the North Shore sales volume declines ranged from 11 percent in Highland Park to 60 percent in Bannockburn.

Comparable figures for attached homes — condos and townhouses — were not immediately available from the NSBAR website.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Evanston housing values
    There is a lot of variability year to year in housing price data. I think what matters is the trend over a long period of time, say fifteen to twenty years.

    My analysis of this data through 2007 indicates that Evanston housing values (as measured by the median sales price of a single family home) have lagged most other comparable communities and every other lake side community over both the past ten years and the past eighteen years. The one exception is Wilmette, which grew slightly less than Evanston over the past ten years (but faster over the past eighteen years).

    However, the real question for me is why the median price of a four bedroom, two-plus bathroom home in Wilmette ($1.024 MM) is priced 50% higher than in Evanston ($675 K)? Evanston’s lot sizes are generally larger, our community has greater amenities, is closer to the city of Chicago, home to a significant university, etc. Any ideas?

    Housing values are important because they determine the tax base and the ability of a community to offer high quality services. Housing values are also important because for many, the equity in one’s home represents the bulk of an individuals assets.

    1. Housing values
      Hi Karen,
      Could you please clarify what data set you are using to reach your conclusions, and, if possible, provide us with a link to that data so other people can review it themselves?

      And could you also clarify whether you are including attached and detached single family homes when you discuss median prices?

      The publicly available data from NSBAR that I used for the story — which covers only detached single family homes — does not support the claim you make about appreciation over the decade.

      If you are counting both detached and attached homes, then I think you need to factor in the difference in what’s been happening in the market.

      Evanston has had far more condo new construction and conversions than most other North Shore communities in recent years.

      Since condos are typically priced much lower than single family detached homes, it stands to reason that adding more condos to the market in one town will slow the apparent rate of housing price appreciation in that town, compared to other communities that have not had many condos added to their housing supply.

      As for the median price of the four bedroom, two bath homes, I suggest you need to look at the actual lot sizes of the homes and the actual square footage of those homes — not just make general statements about lot sizes in Evanston.

      Would Wilmette homes still be priced higher after making those adjustments? Wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

      The median price of all Wilmette single family detached homes was 43 percent higher in 1998 and 38 percent higher in 2008 than in Evanston.

      So, the person who put money into a detached single family home in Evanston a decade ago has, on average, done somewhat better on their investment over that time period than the person who instead bought in Wilmette. They got in for less, and they’ve seen more gain — based on the NSBAR figures.

      As for why some disparity continues to exist, I’ll let you and other folks speculate about that.


    2. why wilmette over evanston
      Several friends in the last few years have moved over the border to Wilmette. Their reasons in no particular order: more services for far less property taxes (things like plowed sidewalks, free downtown parking, curbside leaf pick up, cheaper water bills) and better schools. Recently I was at a dinner where several folks are actually seriously looking at renting apartments in Wilmette to get their kids into the schools there since they felt the housing market in Evanston is too soft to sell. Crazy!

      1. Evanston Schools – Perception of Low Quality is Becoming Reality
        I, too, have had many friends move to Wilmette from Evanston. Number 1 reason: their children would receive an inferior education at Evanston schools (District 65) and Wilmette schools provide a better educational value and result.

        I agree that a child can get a good education in District 65. But the dumbing down of the approach to education in District 65 is noticeable, as District Administration wishes to grab a quick headline or two on how “well” the District is doing.

        There is no doubt that the ISAT (Illinois State Achievement Test) is a very weak test when compared to other states and when you look at ACT correlation. In other words, virtually every student in District 65 should be exceeding standards on the ISAT.

        Yet, look at the headlines. District 65 touts that more children are “meeting or exceeding” the ISAT standards. The “exceeding” numbers are almost always hidden from view so that there is no trail that the number of students exceeding the ISAT standards is going down.

        There is NO focus on exceeding the ISAT standards. For District 65, meeting the very weak standards of the ISAT is good enough. District 65 Administrators are very happy to have “achievement lite.”

        We are paying the District Superintendent almost $300,000 a year, while District 65 brags about leading our students on a parade straight to mediocrity. I can’t see how we are getting our tax dollars’ worth with District 65’s performance.

        And the do-nothing School Board members just keep meekly following along with whatever the Superintendent wants, including hike after hike in his pay and benefits. Could it be that they fear the repercussions if they disagree with any of his plans?

  2. Housing Values

    I looked at the median sales price of single family detached homes for approximately sixteen North Shore communities. The data is from the North Shore – Barrington Association of REALTORS and spans the period from 1989 through 2007. I called and had the information sent to me last Thursday.

    There is a great deal of variability in the data in any given year. I’m not sure if all the data is on line, but I’d be happy to forward the email with the attachement that was sent to me. 2008 data was not available at that time. I calculated the compound annual growth rate over the entire eighteen year period, the last ten years and the last eight years (since we have lived in Evanston).

    For comparable communities for Evanston, I looked at those communities with a median sales price (for a single family, detached home) that fell within 10% of Evanston in 1989 ($200,000). These communities included Deerfield, Highland Park, Glenview, Lincolnwood. Evanston’s home values have grown over the past ten and eighteen years, but not as fast as three out of the other four communities.

    Looking at the data for Evanston versus Wilmette, the median sales price for a single family detached home in Evanston grew slower than Wilmette over the past eighteen years, ten years, but not over the past eight years.

    The numbers referenced about the relative price of a four bedroom home in Evanston versus Wilmette was based on a point in time analysis looking at the median price of listings for four bedroom homes at a single point in time (a week ago). Not very scientific, I agree, especially since this is listing information and listings tend to be lower in winter.
    If you or anyone else has a good data source this information, I’d be interested in looking at it.

  3. Evanston housing values
    Having been a Realtor for a number of years, I can speak generally to Karen’s comments. I won’t waste time with numbers. The market (buyers) adjusts prices upward/downward. Evanston’s housing prices are and for years have been uniformly lower than comparables in other North Shore because people actually discount Evanston housing for the following general reasons:
    1. Higher taxes due to Evanston’s city operations overhead, social programs, and tax drain caused by a plethora of not-for-profit institutions that cause taxpayers to shoulder a higher per capita tax burden. Other suburbs have stronger tax bases, driven by better quality housing stock and/or commercial and industrial and retail revenue Evanston doesn’t have. The discount the market traditionally applies to Evanston homes is consistent with the proportionately higher tax rate.
    2. Schools. You can get a fine education at an Evanston public school, but in homebuyers’ minds, Evanston schools don’t compare well in performance or safety to neighboring communities. Unfortunately, the test scores tend to bear this out.
    3. Safety. Per capita Evanston crime stats are simply higher. Crimes occur in Evanston regularly that are almost unheard of in many North Shore suburbs. Right or wrong, the perception is Evanston is less safe than Wilmette or Glenview, etc. Many pricey Evanston neighborhoods experience more crime than comparable North Shore neighborhoods. People pay more to insulate themselves from the threat of crime.
    4. Congestion. With three major shopping districts and the high level of traffic generated by Northwestern, North Shore Hospital and St. Francis (including construction and delivery trucks, ambulances, etc.), traffic and congestion are an issue. The bustling atmosphere is a plus for downtown condo owners, and people may evenpay more for this, but there are few North Shore comps. Many condo choices are made between Evanston and Chicago, not Evanston and other NS suburbs.

    There are a lot of plusses to Evanston, of course, but homebuyers have proven these are less important to them than other factors. As a result, home values are lower. Due to desireability, other North Shore suburbs may have gotten more overheated than Evanston, leading to a slightly steeper decline in home values during this down market.

  4. Evanston versus Wilmette
    As a frequent househunter and real estate hobbiest I believe that for equal houses they cost the same in both the communities.

    If you compare far northwest Evanston houses on the market to the Wilmette houses a few blocks north, they are the same.

    If you look at upscale homes within a few blocks of the lake in either community they are similar.

    However there are many more high end houses in Wilmette and conversely many smaller, less expensive houses in Evanston (ie southwest) impacting the statistics.

  5. North Shore Suburban Housing Values
    I have tracked the average sales price for Evanston, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnekta and Skokie for several years for single family homes. The data was complied from the North Shore Barrington’s MLS now it is called MRED. The latest information on the sales for 2008 are on my web site at http://SusanCooney.com. The attached property or condos townhomes co-ops are located only in Evanston. The statistics for this property is not complete because the developer or builders do not list all units in the system just representative units. The average would be significantly lower than it would be if all units were in the system. I also use the off market date so that the sales are only those that actually went under contract and closed in the given year quoted.
    The market today is definately a buyers market, interest rates are exceptionally low and the prices have fallen. There are a number of homes available in all price ranges. Prices are higher in suburbs further North but you will notice there has been a substantial drop in the number of sales in these towns. Evanston shows the number of sales have dropped 17% but others towns show between 41%-59% fewer homes sold in 2008. The North Shore is not seeing the double diget drops in price that they are experiencing on both of the coasts.
    Susan Cooney

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