Area homes sales up, but prices down

The residential real estate slump in the Milwaukee area may have finally bottomed out. Home sales in the four-county (Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington) metro Milwaukee area were up 3.6 percent in June to 1,582, compared to 1,527 in June of 2008, according to the latest report from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR). Of the four counties only Waukesha County had a sales decline during the month.

However June sales were still 19.2 percent lower than the 1,958 sales in June of 2007.

And the prices of homes in the region continue to decline, providing good news for buyers but bad news for sellers. In the four county metro area, home prices are down 11.8 percent this year. The biggest price drop is in Milwaukee County where home prices are down 26.9 percent this year.

Still, Milwaukee County has been a bright spot in the region for the number of home sales. June was the third consecutive month that Milwaukee County had higher homes sales than in 2008. Milwaukee County had 915 homes sold in June, up 10.8 percent compared to 2008, but down 15 percent compared to June of 2007.

Ozaukee County had 100 homes sold in June, up 63.9 percent compared to June of 2008, but still down 28.1 percent compared to June of 2007.

Washington County had 150 homes sold in June, up 12.8 percent compared to June of 2008, but down 10.7 percent compared to June of 2007.

Waukesha County had 417 homes sold in June, down 12.2 percent compared to June of 2008 and down 27.6 compared to June of 2007.

"The primary reason for the uptick in sales is the increase in affordability," the GMAR report said. "Price decreases and the ($8,000 first-time) home buyer tax credit have resulted in more affordably priced homes. While the market may be rounding out the bottom of the cycle, sellers should not see this as an indication that price increases are on the way. With excess inventory at most price points, sellers have to be extremely competitive in their pricing in order to sell."

In the outlying counties, Walworth County posted a small home sale increase in June, while Racine and Kenosha counties saw declines. Home sales in Walworth County were up 0.9 percent, in Kenosha County was down 15.3 percent and in Racine County were down 5.5 percent.

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