Metro Milwaukee home sales end second quarter on strong note

Sales rise, despite low inventory

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 am

Home sales in the metropolitan Milwaukee market were strong again in June with sales up 3.7 percent in the four-county area, according to the latest data from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

The continued strong housing market streak began in June 2015, with all but five of the last 30 months seeing positive home sales in the region, despite continued low inventory.

Home sales were strong in the second quarter of 2017.

Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties had increases in sales in June, with Washington County leading the way with 55 sales, a 23.8 percent increase over June 2016.

Through the second quarter, the market saw 10,220 total sales, compared to 9,961 in 2016, a 2.6 percent increase. The first six months of 2017 was 10.4 percent ahead of 2015 when there were 9,254 home sales, according to GMAR.

June marked the fourth month of the year with a decrease in listings in the four-county area. Milwaukee County had just four more listings in June 2017, compared to June 2016.

“Despite Milwaukee County’s paltry six unit increase in listings, there simply are not enough homes to satisfy buyer demand,” said Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

Sellers appear to be holding off on listing their homes due to concerns about Washington D.C. or because they are still holding out for higher prices, Ruzicka said.

Subtracting the 2,535 listings with an active offer from current listings presents an effective inventory level (the time it would take to sell all of the homes on the market at a given time) of just 2.8 months, 0.3 months higher than May. A year ago, the same calculation showed June’s inventory level at 3.3 months.

Six months of inventory is considered a balanced market.

“Brokers and agents who have been in real estate since the 1980s, said they cannot recall a time when inventory was this tight,” Ruzicka said.

Tight inventory, plus high buyer demand is leading to increasing buyer frustration with the market, particularly among those searching for homes under $350,000.

Buyers are seeing properties snatched up before they’ve had an opportunity to view them, Ruzicka said.

The aggregate average sale price for the metropolitan market was up in the second quarter, eclipsing the pre-recessionary peak in 2006, but just barely.

“This marks a significant psychological hurdle for the market, and, hopefully, will help sellers feel more comfortable about the market’s future and their housing options,” Ruzicka said.

Through the second quarter, Waukesha County led the way with the largest dollar gain and percent increase in average sale price, which was $317,570, up 9 percent over 2016.

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