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Home sales up
MONROE - In May, Green County saw the strongest monthly performance of home sales since January 2007, according to a recent statistical report by the Wisconsin REALTORS Association (WRA).

Fifty-four homes sold in the county last month, up 29 percent from April; up 38 percent compared to May 2012; and up nearly 48 percent compared to the 6-year May average of 2007 through 2012. Wisconsin home sales normally warm up in April and May and peak in June.

May home sales were strong across Wisconsin, up 18.2 percent compared to last May. The state is now in its 23rd straight month of positive sales growth.

Monthly sales numbers that surpass their previous years' numbers have been spotty in Green County, and their six-year averages are not quite meeting the 2007 numbers, meaning the numbers of sales are swinging, but they're not consistently back in line with pre-recession numbers.

"In history, there's a balance," said Rick Maliszewski at Ekum Abstract and Title in Monroe. "There have been short sales (numbers) in the last few years. Now there's a catching up. There's always that need."

In fact, in 2012 the average number of monthly home sales (34.7per month) is more than any of the five proceeding years, which ranged from an average of 24.8 in 2008 to 30.8 in 2007. In 2013, averaging 34 sales per months so far, the county could be well on its way to meeting or even beating 2012.

Renny Diedrich, chairman of the WRA board of directors, noted in her analysis of the WRA report that "consumer demand has been strong over the last couple of years, but now we're also seeing sellers jump back in the market as well."

Listings of homes for sale jumped 16.4 percent in May, compared to last year.

No time like now to buy

Buyers and sellers are meeting on the market for a couple of reasons.

"With low interest rates in the past, people were upgrading their houses, either improving or buying," Maliszewski said. "Now interest rates are rising, and the inventory of homes for sale is smaller, so prices are going up."

Potential buyers may have missed the bottom of the price cycle, according to Michael Theo, WRA President and CEO. They may have missed also the bottom of the interest rates and are finding a home now before house prices or interest rates increase any more.

Prices across the state are still below pre-recession levels, but the market is showing attempts to meet those levels recently and encouraging sellers to come out.

"This increased supply should help moderate price increases that can occur during periods of very strong demand," Diedrich noted in her comments.

Wisconsin home sales grew in every region of the state in May, with the strongest spike in sales seen in the south central region where sales increased 28.9 percent compared to May 2012.

Sales were up 38 percent in Green County, up 18 percent in Rock County, up 45 percent in Dane County, and up 44 percent in Iowa County. Lafayette County was down 9 percent.

Existing home sales in Wisconsin over the May 2012 to May 2013 period were up 20.3 percent in the north region, up 18.9 percent in the west region, up 15.7 percent in the central region, up 15.0 percent in the southeast, and up 11.8 percent in the northeast.

Prices stronger

The south central region also had the strongest increase in median home price, up 7.2 percent between May 2012 and May 2013, followed by the northeast region where prices were up 6.3 percent, according to the WRA.

In the local five-county area, however, Green County median price was down 5 percent, Lafayette County was down 24 percent, Iowa County was down 40 percent, and Dane County - which had the strongest activity in the state - was down 2 percent. Rock County managed a 13 percent increase in its median price compared to last May.

Median prices in the five-county area in May ranged from $206,000 in Dane County to $85,250 in Lafayette County. Green County came in at $122,870. Rock had $113,000 and Iowa County, $90,700.

Compared to May 2012, the May 2013 median price may not look good yet to sellers in Green County.

But when the monthly highs and lows are averaged out, Green County is the only county in the area showing a median price higher than its six-year average. Averaging $133,100 so far this year, the county's median price is 2.4 percent higher than the six-year historical average.

Dane County is averaging $200,000 this year and is 4 percent lower; Rock at $97,800 is 8 percent lower, Lafayette at $82,200 is 9.9 percent lower; and Iowa County at $117,000 is 10.7 percent lower.

The median price for all homes in the state in May was $144,000, an increase of 4.3 percent over the prior year.

Metro Milwaukee home sales increased 12.9 percent, while the median price rose 8.4 percent to $168,000. The median price in Milwaukee County was just $125,000 (up 10.9 percent), while the median price in Waukesha County was $228,900 (up 2.6 percent).

Median price rose in five of the six regions statewide. The north region experienced a fall in median prices over the period, down 13 percent, while median price increased in the west, central and southeast regions between 4.4 percent and 5.3 percent over the period.