May home sales slip in metro Milwaukee
May home sales slipped 2.7 percent in the metro Milwaukee area as three of four counties posted fewer closings amid a shortage of homes on the market.
A report Tuesday by the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors showed there were 2,121 homes sold last month in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. That compared with 2,179 in May 2017.
Only Milwaukee County saw an uptick in closings, rising 1.6 percent to 1,234 from 1,214 a year ago. Waukesha County had a 10.3 percent drop-off, sliding to 542 sales in May from 604 in the same month last year. Sales were off 5.5 percent to 205 from 217 in Washington County, while they decreased 2.8 percent to 140 from 144 in Ozaukee County.
Although the housing market is full of potential buyers, there aren’t enough sellers of good properties to meet the demand, real estate professionals say.
“Since the beginning of the year, the four-county metropolitan area had 11,440 homes listed, which is the lowest five-month stretch since 2004, and 6.9 percent behind the first five months of 2017,” Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, said in his monthly sales report.
In spite of the short supply of homes on the market, total sales remained up 4.1 percent in the area over the January-through-May span from a year earlier, at 7,715 from 7,411.
Ruzicka said the influx of first-time buyers, low interest rates and a strong regional job market all are providing fuel for a hot market. A week ago, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.45 percent with 0.5 points, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. A point equals 1 percent of the mortgage amount.
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate in April was a record low 2.8 percent.
The demand is putting upward pressure on prices. Although the local Realtors organization doesn’t include price information on a monthly basis, data from the Wisconsin Realtors Association shows the median sale price in May jumped in all four counties from May 2017: Milwaukee County, to $159,900 from $150,000, or 6.6 percent; Ozaukee County, to $300,000 from $280,000, or 7.1 percent; Washington County, to $246,900 from $210,900, or 17.1 percent; and Waukesha County, to $293,000 from $279,900, or 4.7 percent.
Homes costing less than $300,000 made up 73.5 percent of properties sold in May, with 63 percent of them selling in fewer than 30 days on the market.
In Milwaukee County, 87 percent of sales were for less than $300,000, while 72 percent were under that price threshold in Washington County. In Waukesha County, 51 percent of closings were on properties costing less than $300,000, and in Ozaukee County, only 49 percent sold for less than that price.