Home sales rose in July thanks to a rise in inventory.


Real estate agents who fretted over June home sales saw a boost in July sales, buoyed by an increase of new listings that offered promise the summer won’t be so bad after all.

Home sales in Kenosha County rose 8.5 percent last month, with 245 homes sold compared with sales of 223 houses in July a year ago, according to statistics released by the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

Sales were flat in Racine County, with 265 houses sold, the same as last year.

David Clark, an economist with ECON Analytics, attributed sales performance to an increase in the number of new listings that have boosted the housing inventory slightly.

Inventory in both Kenosha and Racine counties was 4.1 months of housing supply, up from 3.8. That’s still below the state average, but the uptick was welcomed in the local counties because it provided real estate sales professionals more homes to sell.

In Wisconsin, the industry produces more than 42 percent of its sales performance from May through August. Realtors are hoping August sales also show an improvement.

“We’ll see how the rest of the summer plays out,” said Clark. “New listings are moving in the right direction.”

Statewide, sales rose 3.0 percent, with 8,746 houses sold. New listings rose 1.7 percent.

“One good sign was the new listings of homes for sale seem to be moving in the right direction,” said Michael Theo, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Realtors Association. “Hopefully this trend continues, and we will move toward a more balanced market, which would be a welcomed change compared to the last few years.”

Prices leveling off?

Clark said the slight increase in new listings and sales has come partly because some prospective sellers might be thinking that the long period of price escalation “might be starting to plateau,” he said. “Some may be thinking the economy is starting to slow down.”

He said some older people are starting to downsize their homes — selling their existing home to purchase a smaller one, rent or even move into an assisted living facility.

Retirements also have come into play.

“People may no longer be tied to a particular neighborhood or to a particular city. The best of all worlds for them is to sell a house in a high-priced urban area to buy a house in a lower-price rural market,” Clark said.

Year-to-date sales

still lagging

While July sales performance is encouraging, year-over-year sales are still lagging behind last year’s performance, according to the WRA.

In Kenosha County, sales of 1,340 houses are 2.4 percent lower than what was sold during the first seven months of last year. In Racine County, sales of 1,556 houses are down 2.4 percent sold a year ago.

Statewide, sales were down 3.8 percent, with 44,971 houses sold.

While increased inventory is expected to bring some relief in price escalation, the median price for a house in Kenosha County rose 16.8 percent to $214,950 or $30,950 more than in July of 2018. Year-to-date, the median price was $190,250, 9.7 percent higher or $16,750 more than for the first seven months of last year.

In Racine County, the median price was $180,000, 2.9 percent higher, or $5,000 more, than in July a year ago. Year-to-date, the median price was $178,350, 6.5 percent higher or $10,865 more.

Statewide, the median price was $205,000 for July, 6.8 percent more and $197,000, 7.1 percent more for the year compared with the price last year.