Milwaukee housing market rebound continues with strong May

Home sales in the metropolitan Milwaukee market increased 14.7 percent in May compared with the same month a year earlier.

The increase in sales was driven by buyers who have been very active in the market for months gobbling up properties, but also by sellers who were largely sitting on the sidelines, until May, according to Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR).

In the four-county area, there were a total of 1,838 homes sold in May, compared with 602 in the same month in 2012. Washington County led the way with a 40.3-percent increase in May sales, followed by Ozaukee County (up 23 percent), Milwaukee County (up 12.6 percent) and Waukesha County (up 9.9 percent). While May prices were still down from their 2007 peak they were no longer being discounted, Ruzicka said.

“It was not uncommon to see multiple offers on a property pushing prices above the asking price,” he said. “The traditional spring selling season and higher prices that listings were commanding caused the influx of new listings, up 9.5% in May (2,684 in 2012 vs. 2,938 in 2013). Inventory levels for the first four months of 2013 were in the 7 month range for the entire metropolitan market, but the additional listings in May moved the inventory level to 8.03 months.”

The switch from a buyers’ market to a balanced/sellers’ market happened with “lightning speed,” thanks to the absorption of existing inventory and a slow response by sellers to list until May, Ruzicka said.

June marks the end of the second quarter of 2013, and brokers expect average sales prices to show an increase in every county in the metropolitan area when housing statistics are released in July.

Meanwhile, Shorewest Realtors announced that its Lake Country and Watertown offices both broke overall sales records in May. The Lake Country Office, located at 1296 Summit Ave. in Oconomowoc, broke its record by booking $40.2 million in sales during May, more than any other month in the office’s history. The Watertown Office, located at 1536 S. Church St. in Watertown, sold a record 45 properties during one month, as well as booking an office-high sales amount of $7.5 million, more than any other month in the office’s history.

“That’s a huge indicator of the real estate market’s growth,” says Mack McPherson, sales director at the Watertown Office. “Our agents are busy and excited to be helping people buy and sell homes.”

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