Janesville49.9°

Home sales slip, but prices stay constant

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JAMES P. LEUTE
February 15, 2008
— Sales of existing Rock County homes slipped in 2007, mirroring a statewide trend but reflecting a housing market that’s faring economic uncertainties better than other parts of the country.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association reported Thursday that Rock County sales were 10.2 percent behind those posted in 2006 and nearly 13 percent behind 2005, when sales hit their highest levels since 1997.


But the median value of homes sold locally last year fell by just $100 from the high-water mark of $128,700 in 2006.


In neighboring Walworth County, last year’s sales fell 11.4 percent, but the median sale price increased 2 percent to $198,000.


That shows the strength of the state’s housing market in comparison to other regions where home values have plummeted, said Dan Kruse, president of the Rock-Green Realtors Association.


“The numbers may have dropped, but what I really think is significant is that the home values in our area stayed pretty stable,” he said, adding that a relatively solid local economy should help the housing market’s stability.


Michael Spranger, chairman of the statewide Realtors association agreed, saying: “The fact that we are not seeing the significant changes in the median prices that have been recorded in other parts of the country is an indication that housing remains a good way to accumulate and maintain household wealth for Wisconsin residents.”


On a statewide basis, the association reported that existing home sales dropped 10.8 percent in 2007, but median prices increased slightly to $164,000.


Midwest home sales were down 10.5 percent, while national figures show a 13 percent decline in 2007.


Wisconsin Realtors Association President William Malkasian said it’s a mistake to look at Wisconsin’s housing market through the lens of national indicators.


“Housing in our state and throughout much of the Midwest is much less volatile than many markets in other parts of the country, especially the western United States,” he said. “While 2007 was a rough year for housing sales compared to our recent boom years, Wisconsin’s housing future looks like it will be brighter, faster.”


Malkasian said the Federal Reserve’s recent cuts in short-term interest rates should keep housing for buyers with good credit.


On a national level, sales fell around the country. Only the Northeast, which recorded a 7.4 percent drop, fared better than the Midwest. The West region dropped 19.5 percent, while home sales in the South decreased 12.8 percent.



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