Milwaukee housing market continues rebound

Sales of existing homes in the metropolitan Milwaukee housing market were up 21 percent in August, compared to the same month a year ago, continuing their strong performance that began in mid-2011.

Despite oscillations in consumer confidence, uncertainty in the presidential election and no plan to avoid a federal “fiscal cliff” later this year, the housing market continues to chug along as buyers capitalize on low prices and historically low interest rates.
The 1,619 sales the greater Milwaukee market had in August is still a little shy of where brokers would like to see it performing.  With 11,074 sales year-to-date (YTD), the market is acting as if it was in the early 2000s, when the market saw YTD sales of 11,157 in 2000 and 11,982 in 2001.
Nonetheless, projecting out to the end of the year it looks like sales will be in the vicinity of 15,000 units, which would be a very healthy rebound from the depths of the recessionary years of 2010 and 2011 when the Milwaukee market posted total yearly sales of 12,865 and 13,278, respectively.
Current sales would be more robust were it not for a lack of supply of homes for sale. The plethora of homes listed for sale was a major characteristic of the recession from 2007 to mid-2011, when inventory levels were well above 10-months.  However, that abundance of available properties has been whittled down to just 7.8-months, for the second straight month.
With inventory levels ranging from a high of 8.6-months in April to a low of 6.3 in June, strong sales in the spring and summer market should result in price increases when the third quarter winds up at the end of September; as brokers report that many homes for sale are receiving multiple offers.
Sellers should be very cautious about boosting prices, however, according to Realtors. It is not a seller’s market and buyers are still requesting discounts and concessions in their offers.
County-by-county Sales analysis for August compared with 2011:
* Milwaukee County up 11.5 percent in sales (833 units vs. 747 units).
* Waukesha County was up 42.7 percent (531 sales compared with 372).
* Washington County was up 8.8 percent (136 vs. 125).
* Ozaukee County also up 26.6 percent (119 units vs. 94 units).
* Racine County was up 25.7 percent (230 units vs. 183 units).
* Kenosha County up 1.7 percent in sales (176 units vs. 173 units).
* Walworth County was up 17.1 percent (130 units vs. 111 units).


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