WAUKESHA - The
harsh winter impacted January home sales in Wisconsin.
sales were down 6.8 percent relative to January 2013, according
to data released Monday by the Wisconsin Realtors Association.
“Realtors know that buyers and sellers don’t like
closing on homes during winter months, preferring instead to
move when the weather improves,” WRA Board Chairman Steve Lane
said in a statement.
In a typical year, 17 percent of homes sell
between December and February, and only about 4.8 percent of
homes sell in a typical January, which represents the lowest
monthly share of any month during the year, according to the WRA.
The Wisconsin State Climatology Office indicated
that the average statewide temperatures are nearly 7 degrees
below the 1981-2010 average for the eight-week period from
December through January.
“This winter has been anything but typical, with
brutally cold weather and plenty of snow contributing to the
decline in January sales,” Lane said.
Of the six state regions, only the Northeast
experienced an uptick in home sales when compared with January
2013, at 3.6 percent. The North region was down 3.9 percent; the
Southeast region - which includes Waukesha and Milwaukee
counties - was down 6.2 percent; the South Central region was
down 10.3 percent; and the West region dropped 11.5 percent.
The Central region had the most significant drop,
at 23.6 percent.
“This harsh winter is likely to push some of
those sales later into the spring, so we may see a bounce when
things finally start warming up,” Lane said.
While home sales were down, prices continued to
track upward, according to the WRA. The January median home
price was $126,900, a 3.2 percent increase. Wisconsin prices
have now increased in 22 of the last 23 months.
“While up, the rate of price growth moderated in
January, and that’s a welcomed change from the 7.2 percent
growth rate seen in 2013,” WRA President and CEO Michael Theo
said in a statement. “Our home prices have been far less
volatile on the upside and the downside when compared to areas
in the western and the southern parts of the country.”
Despite the price increases, Wisconsin housing
remains an affordable option versus national standards,
according to the WRA.
The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index, which
shows the percent of the median-priced home that a household
with a median family income can afford to purchase, assuming
current mortgage rates and a 20 percent down payment, stood at
253 in January. That’s down from the peak level of 293 in
January 2013, but well ahead of the level of 165 for the nation
in December and also above the Midwest index of 218 in December.
Still, real estate trends this year point to a
tightening housing market in Wisconsin, according to the WRA.
“Our inventory levels have really dropped this
past year and we now have just 7.4 months of available supply,”
said Theo, who cautioned that the combination of rising prices,
rising mortgage rates and diminished supplies will eventually
erode affordability in the state. “Many of our urban markets
have turned to a sellers’ market, and so it’s important for
interested consumers to get into the market sooner rather than