Home prices rise, inventory remains low in '18 as Seen in The Leader-Telegram

Posted: 01.23.19

As seen in the Leader-Telegram: 

Prices rose about $10,000 on average homes sold in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties over the past 12 months as demand remained high and supply stayed low last year in the housing market.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association released local and statewide home sales data Monday, showing that the median home price rose 7 percent between 2017 and 2018.

“With the exception of higher-priced homes, supply has been very low, giving sellers the clear advantage in most of the markets across Wisconsin,” WRA Chairman Jean Stefaniak said in a news release.

The statewide median price hit $184,000 in December, up from $172,000 at the end of 2017.

While the median price rose 7 percent statewide, the increases for Eau Claire, Chippewa and Dunn counties were a little lower.

In Eau Claire County, the median home price went from $170,000 at the end of 2017 and stood at $179,900 last month.

Chippewa County’s median home price rose from $159,700 to $170,000 during the past 12 months.

A smaller increase was seen in Dunn County, where the median home sold went from $159,000 to $166,000 during the same time period.

While prices were up, the number of sales fell last year from the record set in 2017.

“We had a very solid year for sales, even though we had weak inventories again in 2018,” Stefaniak said.

There were 1,834 fewer homes sold last year in Wisconsin than 2017 — a 2.2 percent decrease. Statewide, there were 82,460 homes sold last year versus 84,594 in 2017.

Six fewer homes were sold in Eau Claire County — a 0.4 percent decline — last year when compared to 2017. There were 1,459 homes sold last year in the county versus 1,465 in 2017.

A larger 4.9 percent decline was seen in Chippewa County — falling from 822 during 2017 down to 782 last year.

Most Wisconsin counties had fewer homes sold, but about a third showed increases last year.

Dunn County saw a 2.9 percent increase in home sales last year. There were 646 homes sold in the county in 2017 and 665 last year.

Wisconsin ended 2018 and 2017 with 3.9 months of housing inventory — well below the six-month benchmark that represents a balanced housing market.

While prices are rising, mortgage rates have stayed relatively low. Michael Theo, president and CEO of the state Realtors group, gave the Federal Reserve kudos for holding inflation at 2.4 percent for 2018.

“High inflation leads to high mortgage rates, so it’s good the Fed has kept inflation in check,” Theo said.

The association offered some predictions for this year’s housing market in Wisconsin.

While the group doesn’t believe this year will bring an economic recession, it stated that economic growth has been slowing and that will likely moderate demand for homes.

“While there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future direction of the economy, especially given the volatility in the stock market, we’re cautiously optimistic about Wisconsin’s housing market in 2019,” Theo said.

The WRA also expects a small improvement in the supply of homes this year, based on recent upticks in listings and building permits for single-family residences.

Based on those indications of more temperate demand and slightly growing supply, the association is expecting a similar number of homes to be sold but price increases will be smaller than those seen in 2018.

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The REALTORS® Association of Northwestern Wisconsin is the professional trade association that all professional REALTORS® residing within the association jurisdiction belong to. The association provides educational opportunities for its members, is active in local, state and national advocacy efforts, engages in community outreach through charitable giving, operates its own private foundation to help homeowners in need and remains a positive force for the members they serve.

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