May home sales slip in metro Mil­wau­kee

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Business - Paul Gores

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.

Price pres­sure

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.

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