Statewide home prices up 4.2% in 1Q
Sales lagging behind because of weather

By Dwayne Butler - Freeman Staff

April 22, 2014

WAUKESHA - While sales of homes have been slow out of the gate in Wisconsin, median prices in the first quarter of 2014 are ahead of last year’s pace, according to data released Monday by the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

In a news release, the WRA reported the average home price in the first quarter of 2014 was $131,250, up 4.2 percent from $126,000 in the first quarter of 2013. The association said the price increases are largely due to the 7.2 percent median price increase in February. In March, the median price jumped 1.9 percent over March 2013, from $134,000 to $136,500.

Wisconsin’s median prices are well below the national level of $189,000 seen in February this year, the WRA noted.

“Sellers obviously love to see prices moving up quickly, but moderate price growth is really preferable, especially given how the economy has grown recently,” WRA president and CEO Michael Theo said in a statement.

Locally, Waukesha County was the lone county in the metro-Milwaukee area behind in pricing in the first quarter of 2014 when compared with the same time frame in 2013. Its average price fell 2.2 percent, from $223,900 in 2013 to $219,000 in 2014.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee County jumped 13 percent thanks to its median price rising from $88,500 to $99,999. Ozaukee County ($215,000) and Washington County ($172,000) prices were ahead by 3.4 and 3.9 percent, respectively.

Statewide, all regions showed growth in pricing except for the central part of Wisconsin, which was down 5.7 percent. The region includes Adams, Clark, Juneau, Marathon, Marquette, Portage, Waushara and Wood counties.

In March, prices grew in Milwaukee (16.9 percent) and Ozaukee (0.2 percent) counties, while Waukesha and Washington were down 0.5 and 3.8 percent, respectively.

First quarter home sales down

On the flipside, the extend winter weather contributed to a weak first quarter, as 2014 statewide home sales were 8.5 percent behind the first quarter of 2013. A total of 11,315 homes have been sold through March 31 compared with 12,368 in the first quarter of 2013.

Three of the six state regions - South Central, Northeast and Central - had first-quarter sales drop between 5.2 percent and 7 percent compared with the first quarter of 2013. The remaining regions in the North, Southeast and West dropped between 10.3 percent and 12.8 percent over the same time frame.

“Even with spring officially arriving in the middle of March, the spring selling season has been slow to gather steam,” WRA Board Chairman Steve Lane said in a statement.

The number of new listings also declined 5.5 percent to 25,194, as did the number of closed sales, by 8.5 percent to 11,315.

Still, Lane noted that the first quarter sales remain above the levels of two years ago - a year that had a relatively mild winter by comparison.

“We are hopeful that the spring thaw will jumpstart the selling season that traditionally gains momentum in the second quarter,” Lane said.

In a typical year, the WRA says about 31 percent of homes sell between April and June, whereas only about 18 percent sell in the first three months of the year.