A gradually rising mortgage rate, higher prices and a slightly declining entry-level housing inventory, slowed Kenosha County housing sales in October.
“There has been a shift in the mix of homes. The entry-level home market has tightened up a bit. They’re slightly harder to find now,” explained David Clark, an economist with Marquette University. “Federal programs that allowed first-time-home buyers to get into the market got them off the fence and they began buying a year ago.”
In January, qualified home buyers could find a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 3.41 percent. In October, the same mortgage was at 4.49 percent.
Last month, 178 homes were sold in Kenosha County through real estate agents. A year ago 182 homes sold, according to statistics in the Wisconsin Realtors’ Association regional report. Although that’s a 2.2 percent decline, that doesn’t mean the market is starting an era of decline.
“Sales have been going up so much in the last year and a half that it is harder to maintain that level,” Clark explained.
While 178 homes sold in October, that number is down slightly from the 205 that sold in September.
“We’re just surprised it declined in a month. We’re surprised to see the flattening of sales,” Clark said. “However, this doesn’t mean sales will start a downward trend. This might just be an aberration. Then too, sales start to slow this time of year because of the holiday season. Also people don’t like to move nor do they like to show their homes during the winter months.”
Median home price for the first 10 months of this year was $118,500 in Kenosha County, up 7.2 percent compared with last year. Some of that uptick was partly due to a strengthening of prices and partly due to the shifting of the housing mix.
Statewide, home sales followed the same pattern as Kenosha County. October sales were just 0.1 percent lower than last October, representing the first time since July of 2011 that monthly sales did not increase over the previous year, according to the WRA. Overall sales in the southeastern region of the state rose 0.6 percent.