The seasonal spring surge in home sales is looking anemic in Evanston this year.

Sales in Evanston rose in March to 42, from 33 properties that changed hands in February. That’s a 27 percent increase.

But over the preceding four years, March sales had on average increased 52 percent from the preceding month.

And, in 2005 through 2008, an average of 125 properties sold in March — nearly three times the number that sold last month.

The average price of a property sold in Evanston rose slightly in March, to $337,000 from $327,000 in February, but that was down from an average of $530,000 in March a year ago.

The drop was caused at least in part by a dearth of sales of properties priced at $1 million or more. No sales at the million-plus level happened this March, compared to four such sales a year ago. The sales figures include commercial and multi-family rental properties, but the bulk of the transactions involve single family homes.

The sales drop means the city collected less than $71,000 in real estate transfer tax revenue last month, compared to the monthly average of $250,000 it needs to meet its budget target for the new 2009-10 fiscal year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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