Metro area home sales dip
September sales of existing homes dipped 1.1% in metropolitan Milwaukee, but an ongoing scarcity of properties on the market has continued to drive up prices.
A report released Thursday by the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors shows there were 1,823 closings on home sales in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties last month, compared with 1,844 in September 2016.
Sales rose 1.3% in Milwaukee County, to 1,004 from 991, and by 20.4% in Washington County, to 218 from 181. But an 11.9% drop-off in Waukesha County, to 487 from 553, and a 4.2% dip in Ozaukee County, to 114 from 119, took the sales figure for the area into negative territory for the month.
In the past 33 months, it was only the seventh time year-overyear monthly sales declined in what has been a very hot market for move-in ready, reasonably priced houses in the metro Milwaukee area. Through the first nine months of 2017, sales were up 1% in the fourcounty metro market.
In his monthly report, Mike Ruzicka, president of the local Realtors organization, said sales likely fell in Ozaukee and Waukesha counties because those counties have mostly exhausted their inventory of houses priced at less than $350,000.
“Tight inventory, plus higher buyer demand, is leading to increasing buyer frustration with the market, particularly among those searching for a home under $350,000,” Ruzicka said in his report. “Buyers are seeing properties snatched up before they’ve had an opportunity to view them.”
But he said bidding is more rational than in the early 2000s.
“In the current market, buyers are bidding prices up, but they are constrained by their borrowing ability and their lender’s appraisal,” Ruzicka said.
Through the third quarter, the average home price was up in each county.
In Milwaukee County, the average sale price though the first nine months of 2017 was $178,254, compared with $177,059 in the same period last year, for a 0.7% gain. Waukesha County saw the largest average sale price increase, up 7.2% to $321,272 from $299,577. The average price rose 3.9% in Ozaukee County, to $326,371 from $314,097. In Washington County, the average home price was $236,470, a 3.6% jump from $228,345.
Combined, home prices in the metro area increased 4.2%, to $265,592 from $254,770.