Improved Wis. Economy Fuels Home Sales in June

MacIver News Service | July 21, 2015

[Madison, Wisc…] A resurgent Wisconsin economy is helping to drive existing home sales in the state to new heights, according to an economist at Marquette University.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association released sales figures for June, showing home sales rose 17.6% compared to last year.

“This is the best June sales volume we’ve seen in 11 years, well before the recession began,” said Dan Kruse, WRA board chairman.

Also the median price rose 6.3% to $169,000. That’s $10,000 more than last year. That’s not say average home values rose that much.

“Bigger homes sold this year than last year,” Economics Professor David Clark, Marquette University, explained to the MacIver News Service. He said there are three main factors driving this unusual growth.

The first and foremost factor is Wisconsin’s economy. He pointed to the state’s 4.6 percent unemployment rate as a position indicator.

“That’s considered to be the natural rate of unemployment,” Clark said. “That means the economy is approaching full employment.”

The second reason for the surge, Clark said, comes from the Federal Reserve. Right now interest rates are around 3.98%.

“The fed has made it clear they’re likely to start increasing interest rates sooner rather than later,” he said.

The third reason, Clark provided, is that Millennials are finally beginning to find professional opportunities.

“You’ve got some pent up demand,” Clark said.

The most dramatic changes on the report involved counties with generally low sales.

Green Lake County saw a 190% increase in sales between June 2014 and June 2015, but that jump was from 10 sales last year to 29 sales this year.

Looking at the year-to-date numbers show the median price in Menominee County at $230,000, a 65.5% jump from last year’s median price of $139,000. Menominee County is one of the poorest counties in the state with about a third of its residents living below the poverty line. Despite that, the county has the third highest median home prices in the state, even beating out Dane County. However, that also involves a low volume of sales. Last year at this time there had been 10 homes sold. This year it’s at 15.

The five highest median home prices (year-to-date) are Waukesha County at $245,000; Ozaukee County at $244,550; Menominee County at $230,000; Dane County at $227,000; and St. Croix County at $203,000.

The biggest jump in sales (YTD) are Rusk County +52.7%; Green Lake +50%; Menominee 50%; Pepin +48.9%; and Washburn +45.9%.

Statewide (YTD) median price is $155,000, up 6.9% from last year’s $145,000. Sales are at 35,828, a 12.3% increase from last year’s 31,898.

National numbers for comparison won’t be available for several months, but Clark expects to see similar trends in other states.