Cold weather and a low inventory of house listings in Kenosha County have contributed to the slowdown of January home sales.

Real estate sales professionals sold only 110 houses last month, down 10.6 percent from the 123 the local industry sold in January a year ago, according to statistics released by the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

While the industry attributes much of the sales decline to the severe lack of listings, the cold snap that has plummeted temperatures to below freezing and dumped heavy snow throughout the county could also affect sales for February and March, noted David Clark, an economist with ECON Analytics and the WRA.

However, he suggested that lower sales should not be reason for alarm, because the first three months of the year are generally weaker sales months.

He also said that it might be a bit unfair to compare the weak January sales to last January because it was the best January since 2007, when the WRA changed how they calculate sales.

Mark Bourque, founder and co-owner of Berkshire Hathaway Epic Real Estate, is optimistic that February sales will be strong as inventory will loosen a bit and the price increase will slow down some.

He explained that “demand continues to outstrip supply, and, with the growing local economy, I expect that to continue in 2019.”

“With the supply and demand factors working as expected, housing prices are up 6 percent and 16.6 percent over the past two years,” Bourque explained.

The WRA reported a median price for a Kenosha County home was $160,000, just $2,000 less than it was for January a year ago.

“Regardless of what happens on the world stage, I expect local sales to remain strong. It’s still a great time to buy a home in our market as prices will likely continue to rise,” Bourque said.

Sales in Racine County rose slightly, up 3.9 percent, with sales professionals selling 165 houses, or six more than they sold for the same month a year ago.

The median price in Racine was $159,900, $100 less than for the same month a year ago.

Statewide, sales declined by 8.9 percent from 4,150 sales to 3,779. Meanwhile, total listings dropped by more than 2,000 to 24,040. The median price was $175,000, $5,950 or 3.5 percent higher.

“The state has just 3.5 months of supply, which is well below the six-month point that makes a balanced market. Without enough homes to sell, we’re not going to set any records,” explained WRA chairman Jean Stefaniak. “With inventory levels already so low, they couldn’t go much lower, so even this suggests a severe supply constraint is keeping sales low.”

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