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Wisconsin Realtors Association: Robust home sales and stable prices for first half of 2012

CONTACT: Michael Theo, WRA President and CEO, 608-241-2047, theo@wra.org or David Clark, Economist, C3 Statistical Solutions and Professor of Economics, Marquette University, 414-803-6537, dclark@c3stats.com

MADISON, WI – Wisconsin home sales continued to grow at a robust pace with sales of existing homes up 19.3 percent in June over June of last year, according to the most recent monthly report by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA), continuing a pattern that began last summer. Since the beginning of the year, home sales were up 20.6 percent. The report also showed June median home prices increased 1.4 percent to $142,000 relative to the same month last year which is the fourth straight month of increasing median prices.

“In a national economy that has not yet seen the kind of growth rates that typify most economic recoveries, it’s encouraging to see such strong growth in home sales over the last 12 months,” said Rob Keefe, Chairman of the WRA Board of Directors. He pointed out that in a normal seasonal pattern in Wisconsin, over 42 percent of our sales take place between May and August, and June is the most active month. “About 12 percent of home sales each year typically take place in June,” Keefe said. “This year seems to be no exception with healthy June home sales remarkably consistent throughout the state,” said Keefe. The WRA report shows sales up in all regions between 16.9 percent and just over 21 percent, with sales strongest in the south central and northeast regions, both of which grew at about 21 percent compared to June 2011. This was followed by the southeast region which grew 19.2 percent over the period. Finally, the north, west and central regions saw their home sales increase approximately17 percent in June compared to June of last year.

The median price rose 1.4 percent in June compared to that same month last year. This is the fourth straight month of increasing median prices. Moreover, through the first six months of the year, median prices are about even with the first half of last year. “With 30 year fixed rate mortgages falling to 3.68 percent in June, housing in the state remains very affordable,” said WRA President and CEO, Michael Theo. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index, which measures the percentage of a median priced home that a buyer with the median family income can afford, stood at 238 in June, which is 10.7 percent higher than it was in June of last year. “It’s clear that the conditions are ideal for consumers and if the economy continues to improve, then we are likely to see continued moderate upward movement on home prices,” said Theo. He cautioned however that consumers need to be confident that the economy is going to continue to improve. “Consumer confidence has taken a hit in the last couple of months and the national recovery has been painfully sluggish,” said Theo, who also noted that additional uncertainty will be introduced by the upcoming national elections.

Still, it is likely that there is significant pent-up demand for housing that resulted as many young households opted to rent instead of buy during the Great Recession and the slow recovery that followed. As these potential buyers see continued housing price appreciation, they are more likely to shift from renters to owners which should continue to fuel strong growth in home sales and upward movement in prices. “So long as the national economy doesn’t slip into another recession, we think that the state is well positioned to sustain the strong growth in home sales and modest price appreciation we’ve seen so far this year,” said Theo.

The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association is one of the largest trade associations in the state, representing over 13,500 real estate brokers, sales people and affiliates statewide. All county figures on sales volume and median prices are compiled by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association and are not seasonally adjusted. Median prices are only computed if the county recorded at least 10 home sales in the quarter. All data collected by Wisconsin REALTORS® Association are subject to revision if more complete data become available. Beginning in 2010, all historical sales volume and median price data at the county level have been re-benchmarked using the Techmark system which accesses MLS data directly and in real time. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index is updated monthly with the most recent data on median housing prices, mortgage rates, and estimated median family income data for Wisconsin.

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