Metro Milwaukee home sales up 5.3% in August

Summer replaced spring as busy period for sales due to COVID-19

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Milwaukee-area home sales climbed 5.3% year-over-year in August, according to the latest data from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

The association noted home sales climbed by nearly 120 units compared to August 2019 for the four-county metropolitan area that includes Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. Home sales were likewise up 4% in August for the entire southeastern Wisconsin region, which also includes Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.

Sales were up in Ozaukee County by 20%, in Waukesha County by 7.5%, in Racine County by 5.5% and in Milwaukee County by 3.9%. Sales were down 4% in Washington County, down 3.1% in Walworth County and down 1.8% in Kenosha County.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, summer replaced spring as the hottest period of the selling year, according to GMAR. This was after a drop-off in sales between April and June, as much of the state economy was shut down and people focused on preventing the disease’s spread. Sales picked up again in July, and that activity continued into August.

GMAR also credited the declining unemployment rate and low interest rates for fueling buyer interest.

Even so, the spring sales slump makes it unlikely that the metro-area housing market performance in 2020 will match the 21,133 units sold in all of 2019. Nearly 13,600 homes had been sold through August, which was 3.4% behind the same period of 2019.

Average sale prices in the metro area were nearly $333,500, which was 17.5% higher than August 2019. Over the last 12 months, the average house price has shot up 8.7% to $289,081.

Listings, meanwhile, were up 6% in the metro area and up 4.6% in the southeastern region in August.

But the market is still plagued with low inventories of available homes. The seasonally adjusted inventory level (the time it would take to sell all of the homes on the market at a given time) for August was 3.5 months, up slightly from the 3.4 months in July but down from the 4.1 months in August last year.

Six months of inventory is generally considered a balanced market, with anything less indicating a seller’s market.

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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