2011 May Home Sales Report

Both Home Sales and Median Prices Fall in May

Date: June 20, 2011

MADISON, WI – As expected, Wisconsin existing home sales in May were below the sales figures recorded in May of 2010 according to data released by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). Compared to May of last year, sales of existing homes fell 22.6 percent and the statewide median sale price was down 5.2 percent to $136,700.

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 “Sales in the first half of this year are expected to be lower than last year because of the impact of the federal homebuyer tax rebate program,” said John Horning, Chairman of the WRA Board of Directors. “That program front-loaded sales last year because buyers had to close their homes by the end of June 2010 to qualify for the tax break,” said Horning. Year-to-date through May, Wisconsin sales fell 17.7 percent compared to 2010. “It’s going to be several months before we can reliably use monthly sales data to reflect market conditions,” said Horning.

While predicting June sales figures would also be well off the June 2010 pace, Horning said, “July and August should show the opposite effect and a much stronger market this year, but again that will result from the expiration of the federal program last year.” Horning added recent increases in new property listings suggests sellers are now beginning to re-enter the market.

In regional markets across the state, four of the six regions (i.e., southeast, south central, northeast and west regions) saw their sales volume drop between 21.2 percent and 26.1 percent over the May 2010 to May 2011 period. Sales in the central region fell 36 percent. In contrast, the north region, which has a solid mix of primary and second homes, was down 7.2 percent over the period.

Median prices statewide were down 5.2 percent in May 2011 compared to May 2010. The north and the central regions of the state actually saw their median prices increase between 2.6 percent and 4.2 percent over the period, and they were essentially unchanged in northeast and the west regions. The south central region prices fell 3 percent, and the more urbanized southeast region prices dropped 11.1 percent over the course of the year.

“Local price data is difficult to interpret given the distortions introduced in last year’s tax rebate programs,” said WRA President Bill Malkasian. He noted that double-digit swings, up or down, are not uncommon at the county level. “This is driven by the shift in the mix of homes selling in these areas between last year and this year,” said Malkasian.

“The good news is that statewide, housing affordability remains high, driven by moderating prices and interest rates in the 4.6 percent range,” Malkasian said. The Wisconsin REALTORS® Housing Affordability Index measures the percent of the median-priced home that a buyer with the statewide median family income can buy, and stood at 221 in May which is up from 203 a year ago. “For buyers with solid credit, this is an excellent time to get more value for your money,” said Malkasian who noted that affordability has dropped slightly in the last couple months. “It won’t be surprising to see this trend continue as the state economy strengthens,” he added. Wisconsin has added nearly 25 thousand new jobs since January 2011 and as a result, the Wisconsin unemployment rate fell to a seasonally-adjusted 7.3 percent in April.

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