GMAR: May home sales up from 2020, down from pre-pandemic levels

Low inventory continues to plague market

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Milwaukee-area home sales were up by double digits in May from 2020, but were down from pre-pandemic levels due to the continued lack of listings.

According to the latest report from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, more than 2,000 units were sold in the metro area last month. Sales were 27% higher than May 2020, GMAR said.

But those numbers are deceiving, as sales last spring and early summer were affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking at May 2019, last month’s sales were down 5%.

“That decline was mostly attributable to the lack of listings and available properties for buyers to purchase,” GMAR noted in its report.

Sales are for the four-county area of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. Sales were up similarly by 26.6% for the southeastern Wisconsin region, which also includes Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.

Listings in May were up 12.8% from 2020 but down 9.4% from 2019. GMAR said another 6,300 units are needed for the four-county area to create a balanced housing market.

Seasonally adjusted inventory for May was 2.6 months. When subtracting homes that were “active with offer,” most of which turn into a sale, inventory dropped to 0.8 months.

Inventory numbers show how long it would take for all the available homes to be sold given the level of current demand. An inventory of six months is considered a balanced market. Anything below that is a seller’s market, and anything above that is a buyer’s market. So an inventory level of 2.6 months is heavily in favor of sellers.

Local real-estate agents have hundreds of examples of houses with 80 to 100 showings and 10-plus offers, according to GMAR.

Southeastern region listings were up 15.7% over 2020. GMAR did not provide regional listing data for May 2019.

Industry experts had predicted a rough summer of home sales due to low inventories. BizTimes recently explored the inventory issue in-depth.

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Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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