MADISON, WI – For the fourth straight month, Wisconsin’s monthly home sales outpaced last year while median prices continued to fall, according to data released by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). Existing home sales increased 13.5 percent in October compared to October 2010, and median prices fell 7.8 percent over the same period to $129,000.
“We are continuing the trends seen throughout the third quarter with home sales well above the depressed levels of 2010,” said Rob Keefe, Chairman of the WRA Board of Directors. “By front-loading sales in 2010, the Federal Tax Rebate Program made sales in the first half of this year look weak,” said Keefe. “Conversely sales in the second half of this year look much stronger by comparison,” he added. Sales in the first half of 2011 were 17.6 percent below the 2010 levels, but in the last four months, the state is 24.5 percent ahead of last year’s pace, making the year-to-date figures just 2.8 percent lower. “The economic fundamentals really haven’t changed much over the past year so it’s not surprising our sales volume is about the same overall,” said Keefe.
All regions within the state saw their October sales volume increase, with all but the North region up by more than 10 percent over October 2010. On a year-to-date basis, all regions are in the vicinity of last year’s volume with the Southeast slightly above year-to-date sales up 0.6 percent, the North region slightly below year-to-date sales down 0.3 percent, and the Northeast region just 3.7 percent below sales levels through October of last year. The remaining regions are between 5.6 percent and 8.2 percent lower year-to-date.
Statewide, the median price of existing homes fell 7.8 percent in October 2011 relative to October 2010, and on a year-to-date basis, median prices were 5.7 percent lower than last year. “It’s clear that prices have moderated, and that’s not surprising given the high inventory levels in the state,” said WRA President and CEO Michael Theo. Currently there is 15.5 months of housing inventory, meaning that it would take 15.5 months to sell the existing inventory given the average monthly pace of sales over the last 12 months. “Homebuyers are waiting for good news on the economy before they jump back into this market, and so far the economic news has been mixed,” said Theo. The state unemployment rate is more than a percent below the national rate, fluctuating between 7.3 percent and 7.8 percent throughout the year, and overall job growth has been flat. “Although we’ve seen some promising signs in the manufacturing sector, which added 8,800 jobs this year alone, job growth needs to be more widespread for home buying to really pickup,” he said. For 2011, private sector job growth has essentially offset losses in government employment.
The WRA’s report also showed that housing affordability is at a very high level, with the median family income able to buy 243 percent of the median priced home in October. “The combination of low mortgage rates, currently in the 4.7 percent range for a 30-year fixed-rate conventional mortgage, and low housing prices statewide translates into some excellent deals for buyers who are ready to buy,” said Theo.
The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association is one of the largest trade associations in the state, representing over 13,400 real estate brokers, sales people and affiliates statewide. All county figures on sales volume and median prices are compiled by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association and are not seasonally adjusted. Median prices are only computed if the county recorded at least 10 home sales in the month. All data collected by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association are subject to revision if more complete data become available. Beginning in 2010, all historical sales volume and median price data at the county level have been re- benchmarked using the Techmark system which accesses MLS data directly and in real time. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index is updated monthly with the most recent data on median housing prices, mortgage rates and estimated median family income data for Wisconsin.