Home sales jumped 21.6 percent in December in the four-county metropolitan Milwaukee area, marking the sixth consecutive month of sales increasing by double-digits, according to the latest monthly report by the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR).
For the year, 2011 home sales in the region finished 4.2 percent ahead of 2010.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, brokers reported that the end of 2011 was finishing strong, and the numbers back up their accounts.
Market dynamics at the end of the year consisted of the same conditions that have dominated for the last several years: low prices, an ample supply of homes and extremely low interest rates. However, it appears the missing ingredient – consumer confidence – is slowly coming around, according to the GMAR.
Sales were up significantly in December (1,007 in 2011 vs. 828 in 2010) as buyers continued to take advantage of the tremendous value and future equity growth the real estate market offers.
It looks as if sales in the metropolitan Milwaukee marketplace bottomed out in the third and fourth quarters of 2010 and into the first quarter of 2011. When the economy did not pick up steam as the federal tax credits expired in 2010, the real estate market fell dramatically in July of last year. The market did not improve at all well into 2011.
Most average sales prices were still under downward strain in 2011: the Milwaukee County average home sale price fell in 2011 to $128,004. The averages for the other counties in the GMAR were: Ozaukee County, down 6.98 percent to $267,407; Washington County, down 00.48 percent to $203,319; and Waukesha County, down 4.43 percent to $260,179.
Downward price pressure in 2011 was not incompatible with an increase in sales. Rather, it was a sign that buyers were active and continuing to look for concessions from sellers, the GMAR said.
Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee saw the largest price drops because of the number of foreclosed properties on the market – many of which were purchased several units at a time by investors directly from lenders.
There are several anecdotal examples of upward price pressure in the market today, but not on a wide scale.
County-by-county sales analysis by the GMAR includes:
* Milwaukee County was up 29.4 percent in sales over 2010 (590 units vs. 456 units).
* Waukesha County was up 16.0 percent vs. 2010 (282 sales compared with 243).
* Washington County was the only county down in December, down 1.4 percent compared to 2010 (72 units vs. 73 units).
* Ozaukee County was up 12.5 percent vs. a year ago (63 vs. 56).