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Milwaukee-Area Home Sales Jump 75%

Source: Milwaukee Business Journal
Covering Design & Development of Human Scale Neighborhoods
December 2009

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Home sales in the four-county metropolitan Milwaukee area jumped 75 percent in November over the same month in 2008, the second straight month of strong gains, according to housing statistics released by Metro MLS Inc. Thursday.

The sales figures follow a 34 percent increase in October, as buyers attempted to close their purchase before the Nov. 30 federal tax credit deadline, the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors said in a press release.

For the year, the four-county region is ahead of 2008 by 6.2 percent.

Milwaukee County saw an eighth straight month of positive sales, up 68 percent compared with 2008. The county was up 12.4 percent for the year. Waukesha sales increased 70.1 percent from the year earlier. For the year, however, Waukesha County was still behind 2008 by 2.6 percent.

Homes sales in Washington and Ozaukee counties more than doubled, the association said.

The association said the unusual increase in sales in November was a direct result of buyers working to complete their purchase before the $8,000 federal First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit expired on Nov. 30. At that time, buyers weren’t sure if Congress would extend the credit, so they acted to get their offers in and deals closed before the deadline. The credit has since been extended to new home buyers with offers accepted by April 30, 2010.

The association also said that the $6,500 expansion of the tax credit for existing buyers has resulted in a lot more activity since the President signed the bill. Almost immediately brokers were reporting that move-up buyers started calling their offices and attending open houses. The over $250,000 market – which was stagnant prior to the credit expansion – is expected to see more sales.

On the listing side, new homes put up for sale were down in the four-county area by 1.8 percent for November, and 8.5 percent for the year. Washington County was the only county that saw an increase in listings, of 9.7 percent, for the month.

Looking ahead to December, the association said sales are expected to be down as a result of the rush to settle prior to the original tax credit deadline and the regular seasonal slowdown.

The group said that for 2010, market dynamics consisting of price decreases, historically low interest rates, abundant choices, and the extended and expanded federal tax credit, will motivate buyers to take advantage of the market.