Home sales were up 6.1 percent in September, marking 22 of the last 25 months of positive sale prices, according to a news release from Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR).
In September, 1,844 homes were sold, compared to 1,738 in September 2015. Comparing the numbers to 2014, sales were up 20.0 percent (1,537 in 2014). Additionally, the 1,844 unit sales in September marked the highest sales level since 2005, when 1,919 units were sold.
For the third quarter, the market saw 17,342 total sales, compared to 16,128 in 2015, a 7.5 percent increase.
All four metropolitan counties are experiencing strong market conditions for both the month of September and in the third quarter of the year. However, given the demand that exists, the market would have seen higher sales if the pool of inventory was bigger, according to the news release.
The lack of listings under approximately $350,000 has slowed, and in some cases prevented, buyers from acquiring a home.
A general rule of thumb in real estate is that a six-month seasonally adjusted inventory level points to a “balanced” market. The seasonally adjusted inventory level for September was 5.5 months, down from August’s 5.8 month level. The seasonally adjusted level was 6.7 months in September 2015.
The tight inventory levels are pushing prices up in all areas, as all four metropolitan counties saw price increases in the third quarter.
Most communities in the area saw price increases as well. Twenty-three of Waukesha’s communities were in "positive price territory," as well as 16 in Milwaukee County, eight in Washington County and six in Ozaukee County.
While increasing prices are a welcomed situation, sellers should not automatically assume they can command a price or that their property will sell “as is,” according to GMAR. Properties must be in good condition, priced correctly for their neighborhood and marketed accurately to capture a high price.
With the Metropolitan Milwaukee market in the midst of its fifth year of a post-recession real estate market, market forces are strong and generally prices are on the rise. However, the market has not recovered completely. All four counties are still below their peak third quarter average sale prices set in 2006-2007 by an average of 1.6 percent.