Home sales in Milwaukee area up slightly in August

With low inventory, buyers selected homes that were on the market longer

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 am

After a weak July, home sales in the Milwaukee area improved in August, with a modest 1.7 percent increase year-over-year.

Home sales were up 1.7 percent in August.

With low inventory continuing to plague the region, some home buyers who closed in August selected homes from a pool that were on the market for many months, said Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

“The increase is striking given that the August sales came at a time when inventory in June and July, was down 2.9 percent and 0.5 percent respectively,” Ruzicka said.

Ozaukee County saw the largest increase in home sales last month, up 5.3 percent, while Waukesha County saw a slight decrease, down 1.1 percent from August 2016.

Overall, August was an improvement from July, when home sales across the Milwaukee area were down 5.2 percent year-over-year.

Still, the underpinnings of the local economy are solid, with employment, interest rates, and lending all trending well, Ruzicka said. The strong economy has home buyers interested, particularly among first-time buyers, who brokers estimate comprised 30 to 40 percent of the market this summer.

Comparing 2017 to 2016, listings are up 0.7 percent, with 20,476 units in 2017 versus 20,324 units listed through August of 2016.

The seasonally adjusted inventory level (the time it would take to sell of the homes on the market at a given time) for August was 4.9 months. The seasonally adjusted level was 5.8 months in August 2016. A balanced market is considered six months of inventory.

While the increase in listings in August is welcome, the drought in homes available for sale is still critical, leading to buyer frustration, particularly among those searching for homes under $350,000, Ruzicka said.

“Buyers are seeing properties snatched up before they’ve had an opportunity to view them,” Ruzicka said. “Many move-in ready homes are seeing multiple offers, but not the size or scale we saw in the early part of the last decade.  The early 2000’s were marked by buyers irrationally bidding up home prices by 10 to 20 percent, assuming they would reclaim the value as the market appreciated.”

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