Metro Milwaukee home sales up 3.7% in October

Home sales in the metro Milwaukee area were up 3.7 percent in October, compared to October of 2013. There were 1,487 homes sold in October in the four-county area, compared to 1,434 sold in October of 2013, according to the latest report from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

The October sales increase ended eight months of consecutive year-over-year home sales decline in the area. Year to date, the metro area has 14,769 total home sales, down 3.8 percent from 15,351 for the first 10 months of 2013.

“October’s sales gains seem to have finally caught up to the market sentiment brokers have held all year,” said GMAR president Mike Ruzicka. “Brokers were buoyed by the market’s change from one filled largely with distressed properties in 2013 to a more ‘traditional’ one this year, characterized by first-time buyers; move-up buyers with children looking for a larger home; and empty-nesters moving into a new home or condo.”

According to a National Association of REALTORS report, confirmed by local brokers, the percentage of first-time buyers hasn’t come back to its historical rate of 40 percent, Ruzicka said.  After peaking in 2010 at about 50 percent of buyers due to deep discounts on distressed properties and the federal tax credit, first-timers have dropped to about 33 percent this year, he said.

“Additionally, mortgage qualification, student debt and a slowly recovering job market play a role in holding back higher sales in the region,” Ruzicka said.

Listings of homes for sale in the metro area increased in October by 1.6 percent.  The 2,105 new listings in October pushed total year-to-date listings in the market to 25,200, up 3.7 percent vs. 2013.

The seasonally adjusted inventory level (the time it would take to sell all of the homes currently on the market) for October was 7.9 months, a drop from September’s 8.2 month level. The seasonally adjusted level was 7.5 months in October 2013.

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