The metropolitan Milwaukee housing market took an expected hit last month due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with housing sales down 25.2% versus May 2019, according to the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.
In its monthly report on home sales, GMAR noted the lack of homes for sale was the main drag on the market. Some potential sellers didn’t list their home for fearing the spread of COVID-19.
Milwaukee County saw the biggest drop in sales, at 30.8%. Following that were Ozaukee County, a 23.5% decline, Washington County, a 19.8% drop, and Waukesha County, with a drop of 16.1%.
The entire southeast region saw a decline in sales of 26.5%. Home sales in Kenosha County dropped 35.6%, in Walworth County fell 27.6% and in Racine County fell 26.8%.
Listings year-over-year were down 19.7% in the metro area and down 21.9% in southeastern Wisconsin. There were 5,425 active listings in May, up 2.2% from April. Listings in April were down 5.9% from March’s 5,194 active listings.
The seasonally adjusted inventory of available homes in May was 3.1 months, meaning enough homes were on the market to satisfy 3.1 months’ worth of demand. Inventories stood at 2.8 months in April, and 3.8 months in May 2019.
Generally, six months of inventory is considered a balanced market. Anything less than that, as was the case in May, indicates a seller’s market, and anything above that indicates a buyer’s market.
There are a number of signs pointing to a recovering housing market, both locally and nationally.
GMAR said homebuyers remained confident in the market, as evidenced by high number of mortgage applications. The National Association of Realtors reported on Thursday applications are 13% higher than they were a year ago.
Citing the Housing Market Recover Index from realtor.com, GMAR noted the Milwaukee market is up 15.8 points from its low point of April 18, climbing back to a level of 84.2 as of June 6. The indicator created by realtor.com tracks the U.S. housing recovery nationally and in major metro areas. The baseline of 100 was set on Feb. 1, when the market reached all-time high levels, according to the website.
GMAR added that sellers in the metro area wanted realtors to continue marketing their home safely. Buyers meanwhile are actively viewing homes virtually. Brokers reported a large jump in web traffic while statewide stay-at-home orders were in effect this spring, according to GMAR.