Metro Milwaukee home sales up 1.5% in February

Inventory remains tight

Home for sale
Record year on track for Wisconsin housing market

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:05 am

Home sales in metro Milwaukee rose 1.5 percent in February, year-over-year, to 945, according to the latest data from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

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The metro-Milwaukee housing market has posted year-over-year sales gains for 26 of the last 30 months, according to GMAR.

Metro Milwaukee home sales in February, by county:

  • Waukesha, 261, up 6.5 percent
  • Milwaukee, 551, up 0.7 percent
  • Ozaukee, 55, same as a year ago
  • Washington, 78, down 7.1 percent

Listings were down 0.7 percent in February, year-over-year, the GMAR said.

“While not record setting like January’s decrease in listings was, February’s lackluster total is noteworthy in light of the strong demand that is present in the marketplace,” said GMAR president Mike Ruzicka. “Inventory is chronically low, and somewhat worrisome as we head into the spring selling season. Brokers are reporting there are two main reasons for the anemic level of listings in the market.  One is that sellers are not feeling like their home has made up the value it lost during the recession.  In other words, they are not feeling the ‘wealth effect’ they had before the recession began in 2008.

“A second reason for fewer listings is that there simply aren’t any homes for sellers to move into.  An older suburban couple, for example, who wants to downsize to a condo in downtown Milwaukee, is hard pressed to find an available unit – delaying the sale of their current home. Additionally, new construction is not keeping up with demand for a variety of reasons.”

The seasonally adjusted inventory level (the time it would take to sell all of the homes on the market at a given time) for February was 3.8 months, even from January’s 3.8 months. The seasonally adjusted level was 5.0 months in February 2016, and 6.4 months in February 2015. Six months of inventory is generally regarded as a “balanced” market, in which sellers and buyers are evenly matched in price negotiations.

“With sales and listings going in opposite directions, the market is building up price pressure in the coming months,” Ruzicka said. “Average sale prices peaked in all four metropolitan counties in 2006 or 2007 and it appears that 2017 will see the aggregate average price in each county reach its pre-recession peak. Hopefully, this will allow home owners to feel that they have recovered from the recession enough to sell their current home and find or build a new one.”

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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