Metro area home sales dip

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - BUSINESS - PAUL GORES

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.

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