GMAR: Milwaukee-area home sales up 7.9% in October

Year-end sales total predicted to fall 3% short of 2018

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Metropolitan Milwaukee home sales were up 7.9% in October versus the same month a year ago, according to the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

October also marked the fifth month of positive sales growth in 2019.

GMAR attributed the growth to the solid regional economic footing that the housing market is built on, including low unemployment, low interest rates and household growth.

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The four counties that make up metro Milwaukee include Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. Ozaukee County saw the strongest year-over-year sales growth in October, up 24.1% from October 2018. Milwaukee County saw a 10.5% increase, Washington County saw sales grow 5.7%, and Waukesha County was up 1%.

Other southeastern Wisconsin counties did not fare as well. Home sales in Racine County were down 11% year-over-year in October, while Walworth County sales were down 2.1%. Kenosha County saw one more home sold versus October 2018, an increase of 0.5%.

Based on average sales for the fourth quarter over the last three years, GMAR said the four-county metro area can expect 4,585 sales total for the final three months of 2019. If that occurs, it would put 2019 home sales down about 3% versus 2018 totals. For the entire region, GMAR predicted a slight dip of 0.6% in home sales against 2018 numbers.

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Listings were up 5.3% in the metro area for October, boosted by a 15.5% uptick in Milwaukee County listings. The rest of the region saw listings decline, including a 32.9% drop in Ozaukee County, a 3.1% drop in Washington COunty and a 2.3% drop in Waukesha County.

GMAR said a decrease in listings toward the end of the year is not unusual. In fact, the significant year-over-year jump in Milwaukee County appears to be an anomaly, GMAR added.

Listings were up 4% in Racine County, flat in Walworth County and down just 0.7% in Kenosha County.

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The seasonally adjusted inventory level for October was 3.9 months, meaning the current number of homes on the market would be able to supply 3.9 months’ worth of demand. This was nearly identical to the 3.8 months of inventory in October 2018.

The inventory level indicates a sellers’ market, according to GMAR. Generally, six months of inventory indicates a balanced market, with anything over that indicating a buyers’ market.

GMAR noted home sales would be even higher if there was an adequate supply of single-family houses and condominium units in the market.

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