August home sales improve but prices drop in state

The Wisconsin Realtors Association reported that sales of existing homes across the state rose 31.1 percent in August when compared to the same time last year.

However, median prices for homes in the state were down 7.3 percent in August, to $139,000, compared to August of 2010.

The sales increase was expected since 2011 sales numbers were not influenced by federal tax credits to lure buyers into the market. A total of 5,422 sales were recorded in Wisconsin in August, up from 4,135 a year earlier.

Year-to-date home sales in Wisconsin are 5.9 percent fewer than last year. Sales for 2011 are expected to catch up to 2010 levels, which was slow in the later half of that year,  by the end of the year.

“2011 is shaping up to look a lot like 2010,” said Rob Keefe, chairman of the Wisconsin Realtors Association board of directors.

Data from the Federal Housing Finance Authority shows that Wisconsin home values were down 4.5 percent in the second quarter, compared to the second quarter of 2010, and are down 10.8 percent from five years ago, said Wisconsin Realtors Association president Bill Malkasian.

“While Wisconsin is far better off than western states like California, Arizona and Nevada, where homes of consistent quality saw their prices drop between 45 percent and 58 percent over the last five years, the weak economy has certainly softened our prices,” he said. “Luckily, we didn’t see the huge price bubble that occurred elsewhere.”

Compared to last year, home prices are down 26.4 percent in Racine County (to $103,000), down 9.8 percent in Waukesha County (to $225,500) and down 6.5 percent in Milwaukee County (to $116,000). Home prices rose in Walworth County by 3.2 percent (to $195,250) and by 1.4 percent in Washington County (to $195,250).

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