Metro Milwaukee home sales up 5% in August, GMAR says

Seller's market continues with tight inventories

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Milwaukee-area home sales were up 5% in August versus the same month in 2018, marking the third time the market saw positive sales growth for the year, according to a report from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

The monthly home-sales report from GMAR shows 2,224 homes were sold for the month compared with 2,119 in 2018. GMAR noted sales typically start trailing off around this time of year. However, with a strong regional economy marked by low unemployment and low interest rates, the group said it isn’t surprised to see healthy demand remain. It expects the trend to continue into the fall.

Of the four counties GMAR identifies as the greater Milwaukee area, only Milwaukee County saw a decrease (-1.7%) compared with last August. The other three, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties, saw double-digit growth in home sales.

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Ozaukee County led the way with an 14.5% increase, while Washington and Waukesha counties saw increases of 14% and 12.5%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Racine County saw a 0.3% year-over-year decline in August, while Kenosha County saw a dip of 2.8%. Walworth County home sales increased 11.2%.

GMAR noted the market is still experiencing tight inventories of homes for sale. It calculated an effective inventory level of 2.3 months, the same as August 2018. This indicates a seller’s market. Generally, six months of inventory is considered a balanced market.

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Metro-area listings were mostly down in August, marking the fourth time this year that has occurred.

Listings were down 7% in Washington County, 1.5% in Milwaukee County and 0.8% in Waukesha County. Ozaukee County, meanwhile, saw a 5.6% increase in listings.

GMAR posits sales numbers would be higher if there were enough single-family homes and condominium units on the market but more development resources have gone toward apartments in the last few years, tying up labor and materials that may instead have gone to home building.

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The metro market could use another 3,275 listing, mostly priced under $300,000, to come close to satisfying demand, said GMAR.

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