CHICAGO—The regional housing market went through a bit of a letdown in 2014, but in the first half of this year sales in the seven-county metropolitan real estate market rebounded to pre-Great Recession levels. Consumers bought 52,239 units, the most since 2006 and 9% higher than during the first half of 2014, according to RE/MAX.

Home values also continued rising. The median sales price of a home in the metro area climbed 11% during the first half of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014, coming in at $210,222, the highest median sales price recorded for the period since 2008.

“We’re seeing a much more robust housing market this year than in 2014 and even 2013,” says Jim Merrion, regional director of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network. “A combination of factors is at work – mortgage interest rates remain low, the economy is adding jobs at an encouraging rate and there’s a larger inventory of homes for sale. Also contributing to the improved market has been the steady increase in home values over the last few years. That has reduced the number of so-called underwater homes, where the property is worth less than the mortgage balance, and it has allowed many owners eager to relocate to do so.”

The growing strength of the region’s housing market was also illustrated by a reduction in the number of distressed properties sold. “Distressed homes accounted for 44% percent of all sales during the first six months of 2011,” Merrion says. “This year, the distressed share of the market was down to 24.5%.”

In its analysis, RE/MAX used home sales data collected by MRED, the regional multiple listing service and covers detached and attached homes in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will. Detached homes are typically stand-alone single-family dwellings. Attached homes include condominium and cooperative apartments along with townhouses and duplex units.