Despite a good economy with strong job growth, low interest rates and high demand, the Kenosha County housing market is stalling in low gear with a short supply of houses that is curbing sales and escalating prices.
Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Wisconsin’s unemployment rate statewide is 2.8 percent and the 30-year-fixed mortgage rate varies from 4.1 percent to 4.24, according to HSH.com, a mortgage rate tracker, sales are down.
Demand from buyers remains high, according to David Clark, an economist with the Wisconsin Realtors Association, but listings for the first four months of the year have been slow to come.
Lower sales in April
The WRA reported that sales in April declined by 16.1 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Kenosha County real estate sales professionals sold only 193 houses this past April, while a year ago they sold 230 in April.
For the first four months of the year, sales declined by 4.5 percent in the county, with Realtors selling only 609 houses compared with 638 sold for the same period a year ago, according to WRA statistics.
Meanwhile, the price for the houses that are selling is on the rise. In April, the median price was $195,000, $17,250 more than the median price in April 2018. For the year, the median was $180,000, $15,225 more than for the first four months of last year.
Clark said there is some encouragement that listings will improve a bit as the industry is entering the best four months for sales. He noted that sales generated from May through August represent 43 percent of the sales that Realtors make for the year.
“Traditionally, May, June, July and August are the best sales months for the year,” he explained.
Locally, Realtors are hopeful that sales will pick up somewhat. Sales for much of the year have been slightly better here than in other areas of the state.
In Racine County, April sales declined by 6 percent with sales professionals selling 221 houses, 14 fewer than they sold in April 2018. For the first four months of the year, sales declined 6.7 percent with 714 houses being sold, 51 fewer than for the first four months a year ago.
The median price for a Racine County home was $175,000 in April, 4.5 percent more than the $167,540 reported for the same month a year ago. For the year, the median price in Racine County was $164,000, or 3.1 percent more compared with the $159,050 reported for the first four months of last year.
The sluggish sales environment is mirrored throughout much of the state. The WRA said, for the second consecutive month, sales failed to keep pace with last year’s performance. Home sales in April were 9.7 percent below the levels 12 months earlier, while median prices rose 8.3 percent to $195,000 over the same period.
Statewide, the industry is hoping there will be no downturn.
“We’ve been in a sellers market for nearly two years, and if we continue to see limited homes for sale, we’ll have a hard time matching the 2018 sales level this year,” said WRA Chairman Jane Stefaniak.