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Wisconsin Housing Market Posts Strong Gains in October November Home Sales Fall as Median Prices Increase

Existing home sales in Wisconsin fell in November compared to the same month last year, but home prices increased over the same period, according to the most recently released analysis of the state’s housing market by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). Existing home sales in November were down 6 percent whereas median prices rose 6.6 percent to $145,000 between November 2013 and November 2014.

“The last couple of months have been a bit of a roller coaster in terms of sales,” said Dan Kruse, WRA board chairman. “October sales were up over last year but sales in November were down” he said. Comparing year-over-year sales for the two months, October sales rose 658 units compared to October 2013 while November sales declined 288 units relative to November 2013.

“Putting these numbers into perspective, our housing market remains strong in Wisconsin,” Kruse said. “We had the strongest September to November sales period since 2006, before the Great Recession began,” said Kruse, noting that in a typical year, November accounts for only about 7 percent of total annual sales.

The statistics show a big contrast between the October and November sales data. “All areas of the state experienced increased sales in October, and then moved in the opposite direction in November with every area of the state experiencing decreased sales compared to the same month last year,” said Kruse. Most regions were down in November between 3 and 6 percent, with the smallest decline seen in the South central region, down 2.9 percent, followed by the Central region, which was down 3 percent. Slightly higher was the reduction in home sales in the Southeast, which fell 3.8 percent, and the North saw a decline of 5.6 percent. Finally, the West was down 8.6 percent, and the weakest performance was in the Northeast region where November sales dropped 12.5 percent compared to November of 2013.

The median price of a home in Wisconsin increased 6.6 percent compared to November last year, which was the largest increase since February of this year, when the median price rose 7.4 percent on an annual basis. “Throughout most of the year, housing prices have grown at just over the rate of inflation so hopefully this spike is just an aberration,” said WRA President and CEO Michael Theo. For most months this year, the median price increases ranged between 1.3 and 4.2 percent compared to the same month in 2013. This compares to annual inflation rates between 1.1 percent and 2.1 percent for each of the first 11 months of 2014. “Housing is an asset that has gained value in Wisconsin for 32 of the last 33 months, yet it remains affordable for those with solid credit who qualify for a mortgage,” said Theo.

The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index remains high at 230, which indicates that a household with a median family income can afford to purchase 230 percent of the median-priced home with a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at current rates. The index is very similar to the level last year due to modest estimated gains in median family income and a slight reduction in mortgage rates.

Wisconsin currently has 8.4 months of unsold inventory, given the current annual pace of sales. “Inventories are down slightly, but that’s to be expected as we move into the winter months,” said Theo. On a seasonal basis, inventories tend to be highest in summer months and tend to shrink through the fall and winter, bottoming out in January. This inventory reduction however should not put undue upward pressure on home prices according to the report. “Given the fact that sales also follow the same seasonal pattern, there should be ample inventory to keep home prices growing at a modest and sustainable pace over the next few months,” said Theo. Theo noted that winter is a good time for buyers to consider a home purchase because often the properties on the market didn’t sell during the previous summer and fall. “The bottom line is that both buyers and sellers who are in the market during this time of year tend to be highly motivated,” said Theo. “Using an experienced REALTOR® is a good way to get these motivated parties together to get a sale done during the off-peak season for housing.” 

Source WRA

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