Home sales rise in Vilas, Oneida during March
Home sales rise in Vilas, Oneida during March
By Gary Ridderbusch
Existing home sales were up significantly statewide and locally in March, with home sales growing 91% in Oneida County and 21% in Vilas County over the levels of March 2011, according to a report from the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA).
Home prices in March also rose in the two counties compared to March 2011, with Oneida County sales up 16% to $152,500 and Vilas County sales up 15% to $150,000.
“We are definitely seeing increased traffic,” said Peggy Johnson-Wiessner, president of the Northwoods Association of Realtors. “Sale were up considerably in March.”
Statewide, March home sales increased 25% over the levels of March 2011 and the median prices rose slightly for the first time since the end of 2010, up 0.4% to $123,500 compared to the same month last year.
“We certainly had a mild winter, and that may account for some of the strength in home sales last month, but it’s important to note that we’ve seen very strong growth in home sales over the last nine months,” said Rob Keefe, chairman of the WRA board of directors.
Oneida County reported its sales of existing homes increased from 23 during March last year to 44 this year. Vilas County increased from 24 to 29 sales.
The median price for March sales increased from $131,500 to $152,500 in Oneida County during March and in Vilas County the median price went from $130,500 to $150,000.
Johnson-Wiessner said she expects the median prices will continue to increase as the huge number of existing properties sell. Many of the available properties were foreclosures, which brought prices down.
“As we whittle down those properties on the market, the prices will continue to go up,” said Johnson-Wiessner. “The warmer weather in March improved interest and definitely gave us a shot in the arm. We’re hoping the trend continues.”
Year-to-date sales in Vilas County have jumped 29.7% from after three months last year to 83 this year. Oneida County increased 16% from 74 to 86.
The year-to-date median price increased 13.5% in Oneida County, from $113,250 last year to $128,500 in 2012. Vilas County’s median price has increased 2.4% from $145,500 last year to $149,000 this year.
All regions up
Keefe pointed out that all regions of the state were up in March, and most saw growth in the range of 24% to 33%. The north region, which includes Vilas and Oneida counties, saw sales increase 20.8% from 323 in March 2011 to 413 in March 2012.
The northeast and the central regions grew at approximately 32% over the period, whereas two other regions — south central and southeast — were up 25.93% and 24.3%, respectively, over the period. Finally, the west region was up 8% in March 2012 relative to March 2011.
“These are the strongest signals we have seen in some time going into the spring selling season,” said Keefe, who noted that the combination of low rates and modest improvements in the job market should support continued growth in sales.
The WRA said an improving state jobs market is helping home sales. Since December, the state has added nearly 18,000 nonfarm private jobs even as government employment fell by 3,400 based on seasonally adjusted estimates.
“It’s encouraging to see job growth in the state, especially in relatively high-paying sectors,” said Michael Theo, WRA president and CEO, who noted that the manufacturing sector added 4,300 jobs, and construction-sector employment was up 6,500 workers over the period. “It’s also good to see some slight improvement in home prices as inventories continue to be sold,” said Theo.
After peaking at just less than 72,000 unsold homes in July 2011, the state has averaged 52,758 unsold homes over the first three months of this year.
“Putting a dent in the stock of unsold homes is key to home price appreciation, and we saw median prices grow in four of the six regions statewide,” said Theo.
Prices on rise
The strongest appreciation in median prices was in the north region, where median prices rose 10.5% — from $95,000 in March 2011 to $105,000 in March 2012.
Theo cautioned that some of this change in the median price may be due to a change in the mix of homes sold, for example, from lower-cost vacation properties to more high-end properties.
Also strong was the central region where median prices rose 6.7% over the period. The northeast and west regions were also up in March in the range of 3.5% to 3.7% and the southeast and south central parts of the state had slight reductions in median prices, down 3.1% and 2.3%, respectively.
The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index, which measures the percentage of a median-priced home that a buyer with the median family income can afford, was at 260 for March. This is down from a revised 280 in February. While housing remains very affordable in the state, there are clear indications that the market has been strengthening.
“With low housing prices and historically low interest rates, this is an excellent time for those who have been considering a house to make the jump to ownership,” said Theo.
Tuesday, May 01 2012 18:47