Wisconsin REALTORS Association data for September has been released and newspapers are quick to report the large decline in sales compared to last year. What’s happening? Why the big difference? Last fall was bolstered by the First Time Buyer Tax Credit which created an unusually strong fall sales season. The credit was then extended into 2010, pushing many 2010 closings which would have been spread out over the summer and fall months into spring of this year. The result? Less sales in September of 2010 versus 2009.
Chart courtesy of Wisconsin REALTORS Association
Closed sales fall this year versus 2009, sale prices remain relatively steady
September sales of existing homes in Wisconsin were down 30.9% from September 2009. The median sales price fell just 1.8% to $141,000 over the same period. Year to date the Wisconsin median sale price for 2009 was $144,000 and in 2010 is just 0.8% lower at $142,900.
Market Fundamentals remain strong despite drop in sales
According to WRA President Bill Malkasian "We still have historically low mortgage rates, very healthy inventories, stable prices and as a result, high levels of affordabiity." "Our housing affordability stands at 212 in September," said Malkasian. "That means at the current interest rates, assuming 20% down payment, a family with the median state income can afford to buy a house valued at 212% of the median home price in Wisconsin. Clearly this is a great time to buy a home in Wisconsin for credit-worthy buyers," said Malkasian.
Opportunities abound, employment gains needed for robust recovery in the WIsconsin real estate market
Malkasian cautioned that a robust recovery in the Wisconsin housing market will require job growth. "Despite the fact that we added 23,000 jobs in Wisconsin since January 2010, we need to see unemployment improve before consumers are confident enough to get back into the housing market in large numbers," Malkasian added. "There are some amazing opportunities available for consumers when they decide to enter the market."
If you are ready to step into the Wisconsin real estate market, think long term and lock in at today’s low interest rates. Over time, the combination of high affordability and low mortgage rates will save you far more than any one time tax credit.