New home listings decrease again in November
Sales increased 5% in metro-Milwaukee market

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Dec. 11, 2015

 A graph illustrates how housing sales and listings have changed in the four-county region compared to a year ago.

MILWAUKEE - Home sales continued their positive climb in November, but the Wisconsin Realtors Association also threw up a red flag that home listings decreased for the sixth straight month.

According to the report from the WRA on Thursday, November was the fourth consecutive month, and sixth month of 2015, during which new listings decreased. In November, the number of home listings decreased by 4.5 percent. All four metropolitan counties saw a decline in listings.

Home listings in Washington County decreased the most at 17.4 percent, followed by Waukesha County at 9.8 percent, Milwaukee County at 9.7 percent and Ozaukee County at 8.9 percent.

New listings affect inventory. For the month of November, the seasonally adjusted inventory level was 5.7 months, down from October’s tight 6.4 months, according to the WRA. In October 2014, the same measurement was 7.1 months.

“However, when a seller accepts an offer on their home, that home is generally out of circulation as an eligible property to purchase,” according to the report. “Therefore, subtracting the 1,316 listings with an active offer from current listings (new and existing) presents an effective inventory level of 3.8 months, down from October’s 4.2 month level.  A year ago the same calculation showed 5 months of inventory.”

The report says a decline in home listings is common during late fall.

“Nonetheless, tight inventory has led to some upward price pressure. These conditions usually encourage sellers to consider putting their house on the market as the number of households emerging from the dramatic decay in values from the recession continue to rise,” reads the report.

Home sales continued to do well in November. According to the WRA, the metro-Milwaukee area had a 5 percent increase in homes sold with 1,182 homes sold last month compared to 1,126 the same month in 2014. Washington County recorded the most significant increase at 24.5 percent, followed by Milwaukee County at 12.1 percent. Both Waukesha and Ozaukee counties saw a decline. Waukesha County dropped by 7.7 percent and Ozaukee went down by 15.6 percent.

“November was the tenth consecutive month of positive sales this year. A good sign that the market is running smoothly, but not overheating, because of factors like limited growth in household income and availability of credit,” according to the WRA report.

Some additional challenges for the real estate market include the likely interest rates increase by the federal government as soon as this month.

“A Fed interest rate increase will probably have a mild impact on mortgage rates initially, because the mere discussion of interest rate increases (particularly inflation expectations) causes a reaction in the long-term bond market, which has been mild thus far. But, as rates tick up throughout 2016 they may force buyers to ‘get off the fence,’” reads the report from Mike Ruzicka, president of the WRA.