Metro home sales increase 15.1% in April
Home inventory remains ‘exceptionally’ tight

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

May 13, 2016

A house for sale on Delafield Street.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - The school year may be ending and families may be considering moving to a new home, but they will likely have a hard time finding much to choose from during their search in the four-county metro Milwaukee area.

According to data released Wednesday by the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, inventory remained “exceptionally” tight in April.

The  organization reported that the seasonally adjusted inventory level for April was 5.9 months, up from 5.5 in March. The seasonally adjusted level was 7.3 months in April 2015. Six months of inventory is generally regarded as a “balanced” market, in which sellers and buyers are evenly matched in price negotiations.

The seasonally adjusted inventory level for April was 5.9 months, up from 5.5 in March. The seasonally adjusted level was 7.3 months in April 2015. Six months of inventory is generally regarded as a “balanced” market, in which sellers and buyers are evenly matched in price negotiations.

“With inventory levels such as this throughout the region, the law of supply and demand would dictate that prices should rise. And that is precisely what is happening in the market. Actual sales prices will not be available until the end of the second quarter, but brokers are reporting multiple offers with price increases on many listings,” said GMAR President Mike Ruzicka in the report.

In Milwaukee County, April listings decreased 10.3 percent while Waukesha County went down 6.6 percent and Washington County saw a drop of 6.9 percent, when comparing the data to April 2015. Ozaukee County had the greatest decline of 12.1 percent when comparing those two periods. Overall, the four-county area had a decline of 9 percent in listings in April compared to April 2015.

Home sales, on the other hand, increased 15.1 percent in the four-county Metro area during April, which was the 18th month of increased home sales out of the past 20 months, dating back to September 2014. January 2015 and March 2016 were the only months in this time frame that had negative sales, according to GMAR.

Leading the four-county area was Milwaukee County with an increase of 20.1 percent in April sales when compared to April 2015. Waukesha County went up 13.2 percent, Washington County had an uptick of 3.7 percent and Ozaukee County only increased 0.9 percent.

“The increase in prices is due to buyer demand in excess of available inventory, it is not being fueled by a multitude of buyers flooding the market with unwarranted credit  - the recipe that caused the 2008 economic meltdown,” Ruzicka wrote. “Buyers in today’s market are creditworthy, and have been tested by lenders for their ability to repay their mortgages. Prices are increasing because reliable buyers are pursuing a limited number of available homes. If a considerable number of homes were listed in the current market, prices would probably flatten a bit. There would have to be a significant increase in listings in the next few months to see any kind of decrease in values.”