First quarter home sales were up slightly, but the median price for a house in Kenosha County rose by nearly $19,000 compared to the same period a year ago.

Local sales professionals are optimistic that warmer weather will help to jolt home sales upward, but they caution that the tight supply of houses to sell are driving up the price.

They note that, while the current environment is a seller’s market, there is still strong demand with buyers who are anxious to find their dream home.

“We’re starting to see some more homes come on the market,” said Todd Johnson, a broker with Century 21 Affiliated, 4721 75th St.

He noted that some of the demand is coming from first-time buyers, a number of whom are seeking three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath homes in the $150,000 to $190,000 range. Other demand is coming from prospective buyers who may have had two-bedroom homes and want a larger home to accommodate their growing family.

In Kenosha County, 414 houses were sold during the first three months of the year, up 1.5 percent over the 408 that were sold for the same period a year ago, according to statistics released by the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

In Racine County, sales for the first quarter were down. Real estate sales professionals sold 493 houses, down 7 percent from the 530 houses they sold a year ago.

Statewide, sales dropped 7.4 percent to 13,195, compared with the 14,248 houses that were sold during the first three months of last year.

WRA Chairman Jean Stefaniak attributed the slow sales performance mainly to a short supply of homes for sale.

“Realtors can’t sell properties that aren’t on the market, and the available supply continues to be very tight,” she said.

She also attributed some of the sales slowdown to winter conditions. “The bitter temperatures and heavy snowfall likely slowed buyer traffic in January and February, which contributed to fewer closed sales in March.”

Meanwhile, the median price for a house in Kenosha County rose by $18,850 to $175,000, compared to $157,150 reported for the first three months of last year. In Racine County, the median price was $160,000, $7,800 more than for the same period a year ago.

Statewide, the median price of $179,300 was $9,400, or 7.4 percent, less than reported for the first quarter of 2018.

“With this level of price pressure, we would expect to see a significant erosion of housing affordability,” said WRA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Theo. “However, a slight reduction in mortgage rates and continued moderate growth in family income have helped keep Wisconsin housing relatively affordable.”