Report: 2017 was best year for home sales since 2005
Metro prices exceed 2007 peak

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Jan. 16, 2018

A home for sale on the corner of Greenfield Avenue and Broadway in Waukesha.
Katherine Michalets/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA — Home sales in 2017 not only outperformed 2016, but last year was also the best for residential real estate since 2005, according to a report released Monday by the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

For the whole year, the four-county metro Milwaukee market, which includes Washington, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Milwaukee counties, had 21,357 sales, compared to 21,007 in 2016, a 1.7 percent increase. Last year also exceeded 2015 by 8.9 percent when there were 19,611 unit sales, according to the report.

In 2017, total home sales were the highest annual amount since 2005 when there were 21,642 unit sales. The year with the fewest sales was 2010 when the metro region recorded 12,865 units sold.

Waukesha County was the only county in the four-county region to see a decline in sales in 2017 compared to 2016. In 2017, a total of 5,998 homes sold compared to 6,038 in 2016, a 0.7 percent downturn.

Milwaukee County sales increased by 2.5 percent in 2017 compared to 2016 (11,828 vs. 11,544 sales), while Washington County increased 3.1 percent (2,138 vs. 2,073) and Ozaukee County was up by 3 percent (1,393 vs. 1,352).

December sales

For the month of December, home sales saw an uptick of 1.5 percent compared to December 2016.

December was the ninth month of 2017 with positive sales, and the strongest December for sales since 2004.

Ozaukee County really affected the trend upward with a 21.3 percent increase in home sales when comparing the 97 homes sold in December 2017 compared to 80 in December 2016.

Milwaukee County had a 4 percent increase: 779 units sold in December 2017 compared to 749 the same month a year before.

Both Waukesha and Washington counties had a decline in December. Waukesha County’s total dipped by 5.8 percent and Washington County declined by 1.6 percent.


At the end of 2017, listings of properties for sale increased by 1.3 percent compared to 2016. The 27,491 units listed were 342 more than in 2016, a year also characterized by low inventory. Of the four counties, Waukesha County was the only one to experience a decline in home listings in 2017, according to the report. It went down by 3.3 percent.

The same was true for year over year when Waukesha County was the only one to see a decrease in new listings at minus 3.6 percent. Ozaukee County had the most significant increase in listings at 36.6 percent when comparing year over year.

December was the fifth month of 2017 with an increase in listings, and the 13th month since the beginning of 2015 in positive territory, according to the report.

Average sale prices

The year also ended on a positive note when it came to average sale prices of homes, which on average were 6.8 percent higher in 2017 than 2016.

Home sale prices rose the most in Ozaukee County in 2017 with a 6.8 percent increase ($331,171 vs. $310,036). Next was Waukesha County with an increase of 5.8 percent when comparing 2017 to 2016 ($321,224 vs. $303,503). Milwaukee County increased by 4.6 percent ($176,012 vs. $168,319) and Washington County had a 3.6 percent increase ($236,807 vs. $228,661).

“The four-county area has finally eclipsed the highest average sale price recorded prior to the market crash in 2008. The average sales price for 2017 was $266,304, 1.9 percent more than the $261,280 in 2007,” according to the report. “The market had been creeping back to the peak price point in recent years. 2016 lagged behind 2007 by 3.4 percent, and 2015 was 7.5 percent behind.

Milwaukee County was the one county that had a decline in value when comparing 2017 to 2007. The county saw a dip of 8.7 percent. The average home sold for $176,012 in 2017, compared to $192,844 in 2007.

“Since peak prices were set prior to the Great Recession, every county, except Milwaukee, has exceeded its high water mark,” reads the report. “Milwaukee County’s gap is due to the volume and diversity of housing units in the city of Milwaukee, and hard-hit neighborhoods on the north side of the city where values plummeted. It will probably take two more years for the city to bounce back.”