May home sales down 23.4 percent in metro Milwaukee

Home sales in the metropolitan Milwaukee real estate market continued to fight against a headwind of consumer confidence in May as sales dipped 23.4 percen from a year earlier, according to housing statistics released today by Metro MLS Inc.

A decrease in sales was expected, based on the huge run-up in sales that occurred in the first half of 2010 due to the federal homebuyer tax credits. However, brokers are reporting that purchases scheduled for the next 60-days are up compared with this time in 2010, which means June and July closings should be healthy.

Sales in certain market segments are doing well.  First-time buyers were picking up deals for $100,000, or less.

High-end homes were also selling well, with buyers taking advantage of a 25 to 30 percent decrease in prices since the top of the market.  A home that was priced at $1.5 million a few years ago may be bought for about $1 million today.

Comparatively, the market had about the same number of sales in May of 2009 (1,267) as this past month (1,231). The first five-months of 2009 were also similar to the first part of 2011, which may mean that sales will steadily improve during the summer months.

The movement of first-time homes is indicative of a growing demographic in the market.  As the oldest members of “Gen Y” start deciding to buy homes, the Milwaukee marketplace should see an increase in sales. At this time, the overall economy and lending standards seem to be suppressing the demand from absorbing the supply of housing in the market.

In the county-by-county analysis:

  • Milwaukee County was down in sales by 24.5 percent for the month (695 in 2011 vs. 920 in 2010).

  • Waukesha County was down 21.6 percent for May (348 in 2011 compared to 444 in 2010).

  • Washington County had a difficult month coming in at 35.9 percent behind (98 in 2011 vs. 153 in 2010).

  • Racine County was the bright spot last month, increasing sales by 11.7 percent (182 in 2011 vs. 163 in 2010).

  • Ozaukee County was even with May 2010, both months had 90 sales.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee marketplace has 11.0 months of inventory, down slightly from April’s 12.3 month level.

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