Metro Milwaukee December home sales up nearly 17%, 2019 sales up slightly

Home sales buoyed by recent increase in listings

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Last updated on January 21st, 2020 at 09:38 pm

Thanks to a strong December and “historic” fourth-quarter sales numbers, metropolitan Milwaukee home sales increased slightly last year compared to 2018 — by 0.3%, or 73 units, to be exact, according to a report from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

Last year also marks the fourth year in a row when the metro area topped 21,000 houses sold, with 2019 seeing 21,133 units sold.

In December, home sales grew by 16.7% compared with the same month the year prior.  And 4,837 housing units were sold in the fourth quarter, far more than any fourth quarter in this century, GMAR added.

The increase also comes despite the lack of available housing in the four-county metro region, which includes Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties.

GMAR said the 207-unit uptick in December sales came from an increase in listings over the previous 90 days. September and October saw increases of 10.2% and 5.3% in listings, respectively, which provided more options for year-end buyers.

The only county not to see an increase in home sales for 2019 was Milwaukee County, which saw a 0.9% decline over 2018. Ozaukee County sales increased 2.8%, Waukesha County sales grew 2.5%, and Washington County sales grew by 0.1%.

Rounding out the seven-county region of southeastern Wisconsin, home sales were down by less than 1% for 2019 in both Kenosha and Racine counties, while sales in Walworth Country grew by 1.1% versus 2018.

December home sales for Washington County grew 37.6% over December 2018. Waukesha County home sales grew 15.6%, Milwaukee County home sales climbed 14.6%, and Ozaukee County sales grew by 9.3%.

Meanwhile, December home sales grew by 26.3% in Racine County, 14.4% in Kenosha County and by 1.8% in Walworth County.

The average sale price in the entire region grew in the fourth quarter. GMAR said this was unsurprising, given the lack of inventory throughout the area. This is especially apparent for houses priced under $300,000.

Milwaukee County, which accounts of 55% of metro-area sales, saw a 5.8% gain in prices for the year, bringing the average price to $199,104. Waukesha County, which accounts for 29% of the market, saw a 7.2% increase in home prices, up to $354,507.

December listings were up 9.9% in southeastern Wisconsin. The largest increase in listings came from Ozaukee County, at 78%. This amounts to a 32-unit uptick, to 73 homes listed. Listings grew by 14.6% in Washington County and 9.6% in Milwaukee County. Meanwhile, listings fell by 1.5% in Racine County, by 3% in Waukesha County, by 20.5% in Walworth County and by 42.3% in Kenosha County.

Seasonally adjusted inventory of available homes for December was 2.8 months, down from November’s level of 3.3 months but similar to the 2.9 months in December 2018. This means that enough homes were on the market last month to meet 2.8 months’ worth of demand from homebuyers.

The shortage of inventory shows a continued seller’s market. Generally, six months of inventory is indicative of a balanced market.

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Alex Zank
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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