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Wisconsin Realtors Association: Wisconsin home sales and prices continue healthy growth in April
5/21/2013

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

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin existing home sales jumped 9.2 percent in April 2013 compared to April 2012, representing 22 straight months of positive sales growth in the state. Median prices climbed by a solid margin, growing 7.8 percent over the past year to $138,000, according to the most recent statistical report released by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA).

“This is a solid but sustainable pace of sales,” said Renny Diedrich, chairman of the WRA board of directors. This continues the modest growth established in the first quarter of the year nationally in which sales were up 9.8 percent, as well as for Wisconsin, where revised figures show that sales rose 11.7 percent compared to first quarter of 2012. “It looks like the first quarter trends are continuing into the prime selling period of the year, which is very encouraging,” Diedrich said, noting that in a typical year, about 60 percent of Wisconsin home sales take place between April and September.

Five of the state’s six regions experienced positive growth in sales, with two regions up in the neighborhood of 20 percent. Specifically, the West region saw its sales grow 20.9 percent in April 2013 compared to that same month in 2012, and sales were up 18.5 percent in the South Central region over that period. The Northeast region grew at 8.6 percent, the North was up 5.3 percent, and the Southeast increased 4.5 percent comparing April 2013 relative to April 2012. Only the Central region saw its sales decline, with a modest reduction of 2.2 percent.

Median prices increased 7.8 percent in April compared to April 2012, after rising 9.3 percent in March, again compared to the same month in 2012. “We’re seeing strong upward price pressure statewide and across all regions,” said Michael Theo, WRA President and CEO, who pointed to a number of factors on both the demand and supply sides of the market. “On the supply side, unsold inventory has fallen by more than 9,000 homes over the last year, and on the demand side, very favorable mortgage rates have gotten some buyers off the fence and into the market over the last few months,” said Theo. He also suspects that the tight inventory of entry-level homes is helping to fuel the upper end of the market. “We’ve been hearing from REALTORS® that trade-up buyers are having very little problem selling their existing homes, which helps explain why higher-end homes are moving more quickly than they have in the past,” he said.

Despite increasing prices, housing in the state remains very affordable. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index shows the percentage of the median-priced home that a buyer earning the median family income can afford to buy, given the available 30-year fixed-mortgage rate and down payment of 20 percent. The index stood at 255 in April, which is similar to its level of 258 in April 2012. By comparison, the U.S. Housing Affordability Index reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was at 197 in the first quarter of 2013, and NAR predicts that the national index will fall to 114 by the end of 2014. “We’re still quite a bit more affordable than the national level, but affordability will slip if prices and mortgage rates rise” said Theo. “This is the time to enlist the help of an experienced REALTOR® to get the most value out of a market that is clearly heating up,” he said.

The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association is one of the largest trade associations in the state, representing over 13,400 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 rebenchmarked 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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