State home sales increase as median prices stabilize
June’s average sales ahead of last year’s by 4.5%

By Dwayne Butler - Freeman Staff

July 22, 2014

MADISON - Existing single-family home sales in June saw positive gains for the first time this year, and median home prices were up slightly in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association released its monthly report Monday, which shows June’s home sales rose 4.5 percent compared with June 2013, while the average price of a home inched forward 0.6 percent over the same period.

“This is a welcome sign since June is our most important month for sales,” said Steve Lane, chairman of the WRA board of directors. “In a typical year, Wisconsin sells approximately 11.5 percent of its homes in June, which is more than any other month of the year, so strong sales in June is important."

All regions saw positive gains in June sales, with double-digit growth seen in the West and Central regions, up 15.6 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively. Home sales were ahead between 3 percent and 6 percent in the South Central, North and Northeast regions. Sales in the eight-county Southeast region, including Waukesha and Milwaukee counties, were ahead 0.2 percent.

However, Lane cautioned that even a solid showing in June won’t completely erase the weak winter and spring sales the state experienced in the real estate market. Through the first half of 2014, statewide sales were down 4.9 percent compared with the first six months of 2013.

The Southeast region is behind 6.9 percent over the same period a year ago. The Northeast region, which stretches from Fond du Lac to Marinette counties, trails by just 1.9 percent.

Prices inch higher

The statewide median price of homes stood at $159,900 in June compared with the same month last year. All eight counties in the Southeast region saw positive gains; the region was up 1.8 percent.

This year to date, the statewide median price jumped to $145,000, an increase of 3.6 percent over the first six months of 2013. The Southeast region is ahead by 4.1 percent over last year, second only to the 11.7 percent jump in the North region.

The annual statewide pace of median prices grew 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, and 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2014 relative to the same quarter in 2013.

“Fortunately, our price increases have moderated compared to late last year and early in 2014,” WRA President and CEO Michael Theo said.

The uptick in prices and slight increases in interest rates in June have pushed affordability down, the WRA believes. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index, which measures the percent of the median-priced home that a median family income can afford, showed a mark of 206 in June 2014 compared with 220 in June 2013.

Meanwhile, both inventory levels and foreclosure activity appear to have steadied. Inventories statewide stood at 10.1 months of available supply, which is nearly the same as last year; however, metropolitan counties have only 7.7 months of supply compared with 16.4 months of available inventory in rural counties.

All told, the inventory of homes for sale statewide in June 2014 was 57,267, an increase of 1.6 percent over June 2013. The inventory includes residential single family, duplexes, condominiums and townhouse properties.

“Whereas urban markets are relatively balanced, rural counties continue to be buyer’s markets with ample supply available, which should translate into great opportunities in those parts of the state,” Theo said.

Residential foreclosures are down 22.5 percent for the first six months of 2014 compared with the first half of 2013, the WRA said. The reduction in foreclosures is essentially the same across metropolitan and rural counties, and the decline is similar in the first and second quarters of the year.

“High levels of foreclosures create a drag on local housing markets, and while Wisconsin didn’t see the extreme level of foreclosure activity as other parts of the country, it’s good to see continued reduction of foreclosure activity in the state,” Theo said.

By the numbers

The following statewide real estate data is through the first six months of June 2014 compared with the same period in 2013

New listings

65,839 (2014)
64,981 (2013)
Change: +1.3 percent

Closed sales

31,588 (2014)
33,232 (2013)
Change: -4.9 percent

Median sales price

$145,000 (2014)
$140,000 (2013)
Change: +3.6 percent

-Source: Wisconsin Realtors Association