Home sales numbers blow off the roof in May

A home for sale on Thursday.


Home sales in the metro Milwaukee area have more than bounced back from the pandemic in May with a 27% increase compared to 2020; however, they remained 5% behind May 2019.

According to data released Thursday by the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, in May 2020, the regional economy was on the tail end of a shutdown and home sales in May 2020 were down 25.2% from May 2019.

While May 2021 sales increased 27%, according to the GMAR, they were still 5% behind 2019.

Mike Ruzicka, president of the GMAR, attributed the sales decline to the lack of listings and available properties for buyers to purchase.

Listings in May 2020 were down 19.7% compared to May 2019 (2,345, vs. 2,922, respectively). May 2021 bounced back 12.8% (2,646 listings), but this May was still down 9.4% from May 2019.

“We still are suffering from a significant listing deficiency and have been for several years. In order to reach a balanced market (6 months of inventory) we need more than 6,000 additional units in the 4-county area,” Ruzicka wrote. “There are several reasons for our strong real estate market: Household formation, doing more from home, a strong regional economy, stable employment, and favorable interest rates. Additionally, the lack of new construction, in the form of single-, two-family, and condo development is forcing many households to stay in rental units, limiting their ability to build wealth through equity.”

For the four-county metro Milwaukee area, Milwaukee County had the greatest increase in sales at 47% in May 2021 compared to May 2020. That was followed by Ozaukee County with an increase of 10.6% and Waukesha County with an increase of 9.1%. Washington County saw a decline in sales during May 2021 when compared to May 2020 at a rate of minus 7.5%.

Of the four counties, Waukesha County was the only one to see a decline in new home listings at minus 5.8%. Milwaukee County again saw the biggest gain at 23.1%, followed by Washington County at 20.9% and Ozaukee County at 0%.