Metro Milwaukee home sale volume up 24.6 percent in 2012

Home sales in the four-county metro Milwaukee area were up 24.6 percent in 2012, according to the latest housing market report from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR).

There were 16,579 homes sold in the metro area in 2012. The last time the Milwaukee market saw that kind of sales volume was 2007, the beginning of the real estate recession.

Fourth quarter sales were up 23.1 percent in the region, compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, the GMAR report says.

“Throughout 2012, consumer confidence improved as buyers felt more assured about their personal employment situation, leading them to take advantage of historically low interest rates and low prices,” said GMAR president Mike Ruzicka.

Although homes sales are up, housing prices have yet to recover and many potential sellers have been reluctant to put their homes on the market, leading to a shrinking supply of homes for sale in the area.

“As the year wound down, one concern among brokers was the availability of homes for sale,” Ruzicka said. “Normally, the level of inventory trends upward at the end of the year as listings put on the market earlier in fall sit through the usually slow holiday buying season. However, at the end of 2012 buyers were still very active, but listings were not coming onto the market; leading to a very low inventory condition.  The year ended with only 9,798 listings in the 4-county marketplace, which translates to 8.7-months of inventory (The market usually carries 11,000 – 12,000 listings in December). The anemic inventory of homes for sale has been a condition brokers faced throughout 2012. The law of supply and demand typically would force price increases as the supply decreased, however, the Milwaukee marketplace has not been able to sustain much, if any, upward price pressure during the year.”

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