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Berwyn single-family home prices in November dropped by 15 percent --from a year ago. Broward single-family home prices
Berwyn home values have fallen to 2003 levels, as the recession continues to erase price gains racked up in the last housing boom.
The lower prices continued to push sales up over a year ago, as buyers responded to banks unloading foreclosed homes at cut-rate prices and individual sellers offering bargains. The increased sales activity put a dent in the massive number of homes for sale that have weighed down the region's housing market, yet the number of unsold homes on the market remains outsized by any measure.
Despite lower interest rates and ever-lower prices -- nearly two-thirds of the homes listed for sale in Berwyn are for less than $200,000 -- and only the most credit-worthy buyers are securing mortgages. There are few signs prices are stabilizing. And the broader economic slowdown has people putting off big purchases.
Condos were a similar story in November: down 15 percent in Berwyn
Median condo prices dropped at least 5 percent since October.
UNSOLD HOMES BERWYN
Although the surplus has shrunk, the market still must digest a mountain of unsold homes that is exacerbated by foreclosures banks are putting back up for sale.
Nationwide, sales of existing homes fell 17 percent in November from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors said. The median sales price tumbled 13 percent to $181,300, the largest decline since record-keeping began 40 years ago.
For newly built homes, the Commerce Department reported that national sales fell 2.9 percent from October, the slowest rate in nearly 18 years. The median price of a new home sold in November was $220,400, a drop of 11.5 percent from the sales price a year ago and the biggest year-over-year price decline since March.
The grim reports have prompted louder calls for an economic stimulus package.
''It's just a matter of some spark,'' said David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. ``The consumer is looking for some signal that now is the time.''
Last week, Stuart Miller, CEO of Miami homebuilder Lennar, said government intervention is vitally needed because prices are free falling and the downard spiral ``doesn't have a natural end.''
''It is our belief that if we do not break this downward cycle,'' said Miller, ``the housing market will not find equilibrium on its own.''
BERWYN HISTORY BY THE CITY BERWYN NET
Berwyn's Two Beginnings
South Oak Park
Located more than 1-1/2 miles north of the growing communities to its south, this area extended from Roosevelt Road to 16th Street and from Ridgeland to Harlem and was first known as South Oak Park. In 1887, the Union Mutual Life Insurance Company first built homes for its employees in South Oak Park. Sold on the community's potential, Kelly opened an office on Roosevelt Road, west of Oak Park Avenue. Realtor, builder, insurance man, and community servant, Kelly was a typical turn-of-the-century entrepreneur full of energy and drive.
Only two dirt roads, Oak Park and Ridgeland Avenues, connected this community with its neighbors to the south, extending across the many farms and fields that dotted the area. The street names from one side of town to the other didn't match and 1-1/2 miles of fields separated the two sections. Each community had its own churches, stores, clubs, and public transportation.
At the turn of the century, when the Oak Park-River Forest School District set its boundaries at Roosevelt Road, it eliminated north Berwyn families and broke the tie between Berwyn and Oak Park. Residents of the north turned southward and joined together with the town of Berwyn in 1901.
Berwyn Incorporated as a City
The first two decades of the twentieth century saw Berwyn develop in much the same way as other Chicago suburbs. It was a place in which, as "The WPA Guide to Illinois" states, "harried commuters relaxed in the evening, weeded gardens, set hens, and mowed their lawns." In 1921, the central portion of the city began its rapid development. Large numbers of Czechs moved from the Pilsen area on Chicago's near West Side to Berwyn and its neighbor on the east, Cicero. Literally thousands of new homes were built each year. The population growth and the infill of vacant land finally brought the two parts of Berwyn together.
Many newcomers found jobs at Western Electric's huge Hawthorne Works in Cicero, commuting via trolley. On July 24, 1915, Berwyn was plunged into mourning when the steamer Eastland, chartered for a Western Electric company excursion, rolled onto its side in the Chicago River, claiming 812 lives. Many in Berwyn lost relatives, friends, or neighbors in the disaster.
Early Residents Build Quality Homes, Neighborhoods
Today, Berwyn has the most significant collection of Chicago-style bungalows in the nation. Traditionally, Berwyn Bungalows are one-story buildings with basement and attic, two to three bedrooms, and a living and dining room. Decorative details included oak woodwork and stained glass windows. The finances of the owner at the time they were built determined the specific design of the windows, roofs, and interiors. These bungalows, built between the 1920's through the 1940's, range in style from smaller one or one-and-a-half story units to the larger, "super" bungalows, with two full stories, glazed brick exteriors and tile roofs -- some in flashy colors like blue, blue-green or multicolor.
During those years, Berwyn boasted of being the fastest growing city in the United States. Even as recently as 1991, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that "Berwyn has the highest concentration of financial institutions in the world - a tribute to the frugality of its forebears." Cermak Road, Berwyn's primary business corridor, was once known as "The Bohemian Wall Street."
Families with Czech and Bohemian roots, together with many Italian-Americans, Greeks, Lithuanians, Poles, Yugoslavians and Ukrainians, have been joined in recent years by Hispanics, African and Asian Americans who now call Berwyn home. As Berwyn moves into the 21st century, its traditionally hard-working, middle-class, mostly blue collar families, who were admitted conservative in their outlook, are joined by young, professional families and a growing population of gay and lesbian residents.
Now, just as in those early times, Berwynites are justly proud of "Beautiful Berwyn." With its tree-lined streets, sturdy brick bungalows, and Victorian "painted ladies," Berwyn continues to be a stable, safe, and diverse community. With the continuing efforts of its homeowners, business community, civic organizations, and city government, Berwyn looks forward to its "second century" as it celebrates its rich and varied past.