Weather blamed for slow real estate market
Metro homes sales down 10.2% in first quarter; 14.6% in March

By Dwayne Butler - Freeman Staff

April 14, 2014

WAUKESHA - The harsh winter is being blamed for a slow real estate market in metro Milwaukee during the first three months of 2014.

Home sales in the four-county region were behind 10.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same period a year ago, according to statistics released Friday by the Metropolitan Listing Service, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors. The region, which includes Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, also experienced a 14.6 percent decline in March.

The four-county region sold 3,254 homes from January through March 2014 compared with 2,921 homes from January-March 2013.

Waukesha County experienced a 12.5 percent decline with 753 homes sold versus 861 last year. Milwaukee County declined 10 percent with 1,709 homes sold versus 1,898 last year. Washington County and Ozaukee County had drops of 7 and 7.7 percent, respectively.

The GMAR reported that a slow March impacted the first-quarter figures; sales were down 208 units compared with the same month a year earlier. January and February were down 28 and 97 units, respectively, it added.

Waukesha County sold 326 homes in March, but that number was down 18.3 percent over the same month in 2013. However, it was just 3.8 percent behind the 2012 March figures.

Milwaukee County (down 14.4 percent), Ozaukee County (2.4 percent) and Washington County (12.9 percent) all posted negative numbers in March.

“That is an sign of just how cold and long the winter was; each month saw progressively worse sales performance compared to last year,” GMAR President Mike Ruzicka said in a statement.

Listings up

On the plus side, prospective buyers saw a jump in listings. The market increased by 2.7 percent for the first quarter of 2014 and 6.6 percent in March, a sign that sellers could see an uptick in spring sales, the GMAR said. The four-county area had 6,506 homes on the market compared with 6,506 in the first quarter of 2013.

Waukesha County (0.9 percent), Milwaukee County (5 percent) and Ozaukee County (2.7 percent) all had higher listing numbers, while Washington County declined by 5.6 percent.

The March inventory level was 6.7 months, which could be a sign of a very healthy spring market, the GMAR said. However, the GMAR pointed out that if the 1,726 listings with an active offer are subtracted from current listings of 8,759, the inventory level drops to 4.8 months.

Nonetheless, the GMAR is optimistic that an increase in listings should fuel a robust spring and summer market.

“As the thermometer rises, we will see more listings added to current inventory in anticipation of a busier market in April. The cold weather just pushed off the start of the busy season by about 30 to 45 days,” the GMAR said.