Milwaukee area housing market improved in 2013

The metro Milwaukee housing market improved in 2013 with more sales, higher prices and fewer foreclosures, according to the latest report from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

The number of homes sold in the metro Milwaukee area increased 9.8 percent to 18,203 in 2013, according to the report. It was the highest number of homes sold in the metro area since 2006, when 20,071 homes were sold in the area.

The average price of homes sold in the metro area increased 7 percent to $225,668. Prices in Milwaukee County increased 10.5 percent to $141,598, including a 12 percent increase in the city of Milwaukee to $101,197.

Prices in Waukesha County increased 6.4 percent to $276,007. Prices in Ozaukee County increased 8.9 percent to $282,220. Prices in Washington County increased 2.4 percent to $202,848.

The number of foreclosed home sales in the metro area decreased 32.4 percent to 1,340 in 2013. That helped lead to the statistical increase in average home sale price.

“Price increases in 2013 would be more correctly explained as having occurred because foreclosures were not holding average prices down, rather than having increased due to normal market forces,” said GMAR president Mike Ruzicka.

The average price of foreclosed home sales in the area increased $10,317 to $112,091 in 2013.

“The cumulative effect of fewer discounted foreclosures in 2013, 2013 foreclosures valued about $10,000 more than 2012, and a more robust sales environment among non-distressed properties, all gave the impression that home values rose,” Ruzicka said.

The number of homes listed for sale in the area in 2013 was up 1.8 percent compared to 2012, according to the report. Listings were down early in the year, but increased later in the year before dipping again in November and December.

“Through the summer and into fall sellers started feeling more confident about the prices their homes would receive on the market and listed them in greater quantities,” Ruzicka said.

Average inventory levels (measured by the amount of time it would take to sell all of the homes on the market at a given time) were 7.5 months in 2013, down significantly from 11.9 months in 2012. A balanced market is an inventory level of about 6 months.

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