2012 July Home Sales Report

MADISON, WI — The Wisconsin housing market continued to strengthen as existing home sales grew at a healthy 17.3 percent in July compared to that same month last year and median prices rose for the fifth straight month, according to the most recent monthly report by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). The median-priced home rose 2.1 percent to $143,000 compared to July 2011.

 “While the pace of the national economic recovery has been weak this year, Wisconsin home sales have rebounded nicely over the past year,” said Rob Keefe, Chairman of the WRA board of directors. He noted that Wisconsin home sales have been outpacing the nation. A recent report from the National Association of REALTORS® showed that U.S. existing home sales in the second quarter grew at 8.6 percent compared to that same quarter last year, whereas the Midwest region was up 16.2 percent over that same period. By comparison, second quarter Wisconsin home sales were up 21.3 percent over last year. “The July sales figures continued this trend of robust growth in home sales,” said Keefe. Four of the six regions in Wisconsin grew by double-digit margins during July, with three regions up more than 20 percent for the month. Specifically, the Central and Southeast regions grew at just over 23 percent and the South Central region was up just over 21 percent. The Northeast region saw its home sales grow by 14.7 percent, whereas the growth in home sales was 4.2 percent in the North region and was 5.7 percent in the West. “The slower growth in the North and West regions may be due in part to lower availability of starter homes in those regions,” said Keefe, who pointed out that median prices were up 7.7 percent in the West and 8.3 percent in the North. “While some of these increases are due to general price appreciation in the state, much of it represents a shift in the mix of homes away from entry-level homes and lower-cost vacation homes toward higher-end properties,” he said.

The median price rose 2.1 percent in July, relative to July 2011, which represents the fifth straight month of higher median prices statewide. Although inventories remain solid, they have fallen significantly over the past year. “We were sitting on nearly 18 months of inventory in July of 2011, and that has fallen to just under 13 months,” said WRA President and CEO, Michael Theo. Still, housing remains very affordable.  The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index, which measures the percentage of a median-priced home that a buyer with the median family income can afford, was at 240 in July, up from a revised 218 in July 2011. This improvement in affordability is driven primarily by a reduction in mortgage rates. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 3.55 percent in July, which is a full percentage point below the mortgage rates this time last year. Although the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index improved slightly in July, both the national and the state unemployment rate also increased by small margins. “Overall, this remains a buyer’s market, and given these phenomenal mortgage rates, there will continue to be good opportunities for those who qualify for loans,” said Theo. Working with a REALTOR® who knows the local market is the best way to identify the best values.

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