Home construction in Hinsdale

Before the housing bust, Hinsdale was the Chicago area’s capital of teardowns, with more than 100 older homes replaced by new construction each year from 2004 to 2007. That pace slowed during the bust, but the demolish-and-replace trend has been percolating back to life—and accelerating in the past few months—say real-estate agents, builders, and the village official who monitors construction in that western suburb. After 29 demolitions in 2010, there were 35 in 2011, says Robert McGinnis, Hinsdale’s building commissioner, and he expects the village to top that in 2012.

“The dirt is on fire here,” says Bryan Bomba, a Coldwell Banker agent. Just in the past three weeks, he notes, three buildable lots have attracted multiple bids, and one went for more than the asking price.

There are two key factors at play. Steve Sobkowiak, a partner in Oakley Builders, says land prices dropped about 40 percent between the 2006 peak and mid-2011. Since then, he estimates, bidding has pushed them back up to about 25 percent off the peak.

And then, adds Bomba, there is the “outrageous demand.” Hinsdale never lost its appeal, he says, “but spending did.” Now, heightened traffic through his office tells him that “the mood has palpably changed” among affluent homebuyers. “They want to jump now, before prices escalate.”

Nobody expects—and nobody claims to want—a return to the helter-skelter teardown mania that swept Hinsdale in the boom years. But the steady resurgence of new-home construction on infill lots in Hinsdale—and similar activity in Downers Grove, Elmhurst, and other suburbs—could be a regional bellwether for home construction, which has been looking healthier.

Click through the photos below for a look at some of the recent deals in Hinsdale.