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“This was a strong bounce in home sales in a month where sales activity is typically winding down as we approach winter,” said Dan Kruse, the chairman of the WRA board of directors. “In fact, this is the strongest October sales we have seen since 2005 when the WRA began using the current data collection system.”
The October sales spike brought the statewide year-to-date sales to just 2 percent below the first 10 months of 2013. At the end of September 2014, year-to-date sales lagged 2013 by 4.1 percent. “We’ve clearly made up some ground, bringing us close to last year’s very strong sales totals,” said Kruse. Sales were higher in all regions of the state, with double-digit growth in the less urban regions. October sales increased the most in the North, up 29.9 percent from October 2013, followed by the Central and West regions, up 22.5 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively, from October 2013. Also up by solid margins was the South Central region, up 8.9 percent, as well as the Northeast region, up 7.6 percent. Sales in the heavily urbanized Southeast region were up 1.2 percent in October 2014 compared to October 2013. “Tighter inventories in the southeast might be part of the story,” said Kruse. The four-county Milwaukee metropolitan area, and Racine and Kenosha counties had between 7.9 months of inventory in October compared to 9.3 months statewide. Moreover, median price appreciation was strongest in the Southeast region compared to other parts of the state.
Median prices continued to rise statewide in October, growing at a 4.2 percent annual pace. “With home prices up for 31 of the last 32 months, it’s clear that Wisconsin housing is an excellent way for homeowners to accumulate wealth,” said WRA President & CEO Michael Theo. He noted that housing continues to be a good hedge against inflation. On a year-to-date basis, home prices in Wisconsin were up 2.5 percent compared to the first 10 months of 2013, which more than outpaces the annual national inflation rate, which stood at 1.7 percent as of September. “We seem to have hit the sweet spot, with home prices growing, but not so fast that they hurt affordability,” said Theo. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index shows the percent of the median-priced home that a household with the median family income can afford, given a 20 percent down payment financed at current mortgage rates. The October 2014 index stood at 227, which is very similar to the index value of 223 for October 2013.