MILWAUKEE — For the sixth month
this year, home sales increased in August, according to data
released Tuesday by the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.
The number of homes sold in
August in the metro Milwaukee area increased 1.7 percent compared to
the same period in 2016.
“The increase in sales is
particularly striking given that sales that occurred in August came
from inventory that existed in June and July, when inventory was
down 2.9 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. In other words,
buyers who closed in August selected their homes from a pool of
homes that existed in the earlier summer months,” reads the report
prepared by GMAR President Mike Ruzicka.
“August was the sixth month of
the year that saw increased sales. The underpinnings of the local
economy are solid, with employment, interest rates, and lending all
performing well. The strong economy is producing interest in home
buying, particularly among first-time buyers, who brokers estimate
comprised 30 percent to 40 percent of the market this summer.”
Ozaukee County saw the greatest
increase in sales for the four-county region in August with a 5.3
percent up tick. Milwaukee County sales went up 2.9 percent followed
by Washington County at 1.8 percent. Waukesha County saw a decline,
however, of 1.1 percent.
August, on the other hand, was
only the third month of 2017 to have an increase in home listings.
“The growth in listings is a
welcome change from what brokers have experienced. The extra
listings will help Realtors working with buyers searching for a
home,” Ruzicka wrote. “Based on a GMAR consumer survey conducted in
May, some sellers stated they were holding off on listing until they
could command higher prices. The August data indicates that many of
those sellers are satisfied with the prices their Realtor is
indicating their house is worth.”
In Ozaukee County, home sales
increased 29.6 percent, followed by 9 percent in Waukesha County and
3.3 percent in Milwaukee County, all compared to August 2016. The
number of listings tumbled in Washington County by 2 percent in
August, according to GMAR.
Comparing 2017 to 2016, listings
are up 0.7 percent, with 20,476 units in 2017 versus 20,324 units
listed through August of 2016.
Despite the increase in
listings, the number of homes on the market remains slim. According
to the GMAR, the seasonally adjusted inventory level for August was
4.9 months and the seasonally adjusted level was 5.8 months in
“While the increase in listings
in August is welcome, the drought in homes available for sale is
still critical, leading to buyer frustration, particularly among
those searching for homes under $350,000. Buyers are seeing
properties snatched up before they’ve had an opportunity to view
them,” Ruzicka wrote.
“Move-in ready” homes remain
highly sought after and often receive multiple offers, according to
the GMAR, but as much as they were in the early part of the 2000s,
according to the report.
“The early 2000’s were marked by
buyers irrationally bidding up home prices by 10 percent to 20
percent, assuming they would reclaim the value as the market
appreciated,” Ruzicka report. “In the current market, buyers are
bidding prices up, but they are constrained by their borrowing
ability and their lender’s appraisal.”