Home Sales

The Wisconsin Realtors Association labeled 2017 a seller's market after data showed sales of existing homes rose 1.4 percent to a record 83,006, and the median price of those homes rose 5.5 percent to $174,000.

As a strong economy pushed sales of existing homes in Wisconsin to record levels for the third straight year in 2017, Dane County continued to rank as one of the most expensive places to buy a home in the state, the Wisconsin Realtors Association said.

There were 83,006 existing home sales in the state last year, a 1.4 percent jump over 2016’s record, according to Dave Clark, a consultant for the Realtors association. The data include only sales of existing homes made with the help of a Realtor, he said.

A tight market coupled with a growing number of people looking to buy existing homes led to a 5.5 percent increase in the state median price to $174,000, said Clark, who is an economics professor at Marquette University.

The state remained in a seller’s market because the average home sold in December 2017 sold in just less than four months, compared to just under five months for sales in December 2016, according to Clark.

Dane County averaged the shortest time with a house on the market at just over two months for homes sold in December 2017, compared to nearly three months one year earlier, he said.

“The farther you are below six months determines how strong the seller’s market is currently,” Clark said.

Data showed that a growing number of millennials looking to buy their first home helped fuel record sales.

“They are finally buying homes after coming of age at the worst possible time — during one of the biggest (economic) corrections in history,” Clark said. “That made it a logical choice to not buy a home at that time.”

The median price increased in 63 of the state’s 72 counties and increased 2.6 percent in every county that had more than 1,000 sales, the data showed.

The highest median sale price belonged to Waukesha County ($277,000), followed by Ozaukee County ($276,450) and Dane County ($262,900). That was the same ranking as in 2016. The lowest median price belonged to Langlade County ($92,500), followed by Marinette County ($95,000) and Lafayette County ($107,000).

Price County had the lowest median price ($81,750) in 2016 but rebounded to have the largest one-year percentage increase, or 32.7, in 2017 to $108,000, the data showed.

Lafayette had the largest one-year percentage decrease at 10.4.

Home sales increased in 46 counties and Manitowoc led with the biggest one-year increase (8 percent) in counties with at least 1,000 sales, according to the data. Fond du Lac County had the biggest one-year decrease (8.6 percent) among counties with at least 1,000 sales.

Dane County’s median price increased 7.3 percent in one year but sales showed a slight decline of 0.2 percent, according to the data.

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Rob Schultz has won multiple writing awards at the state and national levels and covers an array of topics for the Wisconsin State Journal in south-central and southwestern Wisconsin.

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