Milwaukee-area realtors start holiday season with bang; home sales up 24% in November

Inventory levels indicate strong seller's market

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The strong housing market of the late summer and fall continued into the waning months of 2020, with metro Milwaukee home sales up 24.1% year-over-year in November, according to the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

The spectacular November sales growth is for the four-county metropolitan Milwaukee area of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. Sales likewise skyrocketed 25.6% over last November in the entire southeastern region that also includes Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties, according to GMAR’s latest monthly home-sales report.

In a typical market, metro area sales would be around 1,500 units in November as buyers and sellers turn their attention toward Thanksgiving and the holidays, GMAR notes. But this year, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, has not been a typical one for the housing market. November 2020 sales topped 1,900 units for the metro area, and 2,600 units for the region.

The fall surge is part of a larger trend, says GMAR. The local housing market, in fact, has been on a roll since July 2019, but a slowdown occurred between April and June due to local and statewide stay-at-home mandates in response to the pandemic.

Through November, total sales for metro Milwaukee stood at about 20,100 units, only about 1,000 units away from 2019’s sales totals.

Listings were up in November by 4.9%, marking the fourth month in a row of increasing listings. But it still wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with demand. GMAR notes in its report that if the number of units available doubled, current demand could easily absorb them.

Median prices rose 8.2%, to $259,500, for single-family homes and rose 4.3%, to $189,900, for condominiums and townhouses.

Seasonally adjusted inventory for November was just 2.6 months. This number shows how many months it would take for the number of homes on the market to be absorbed by current demand. Minus the listings with an active offer, the inventory stood at 1.1 months.

Anything less than 6 months of inventory indicates a seller’s market, where anything above that is considered a buyer’s market.

The market would need another nearly 6,100 units for sale to reach a balanced market, according to GMAR.

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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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