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Rock County home sales show some rebound

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JAMES P. LEUTE
November 11, 2009
— Sales of existing homes in Rock County increased to a level not seen since 2007, a sign that one local real estate agent says indicates a rebound in the market.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association reported Tuesday that third-quarter home sales were up 6.1 percent in Rock County when compared with sales in the third quarter of 2008.


Median prices, however, dropped 6.3 percent to $115,400.


“I’m not sure the median price gives a true reading of what’s going on in the market,” said Paula Carrier, broker/owner of Best Realty of Edgerton and president of the Rock-Green Realtors Association.


Favorable interest rates and the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers fueled the increase in sales, which generally was shared on a statewide basis.


But the tax credit also contributed to the decline in median prices, both on the local and state levels, Carrier said.


“You would expect to see that when you’re not selling as many high-end homes,” she said. “The tax credit targeted first-time buyers, so the median price will naturally decrease.”


Median prices are not average prices. They are the price at which half the number of homes sold cost more and half cost less.


Carrier said homeowners should not look at the median numbers and assume their home values dropped by 6.3 percent in the third quarter.


“Foreclosures factor into that, and when a foreclosed home is assessed at $100,000 and sells for $80,000, that 20 percent drop gets factored in,” she said. “The people who are selling are generally getting what they want; they just have to wait a little longer.”


For only the second time in the last 13 years, the number of homes sold in Rock County was higher in the third quarter than it was in the second quarter, which usually is the busiest of the year.


Carrier said sellers typically believe that if their home doesn’t sell in the summer, it won’t sell.


She doesn’t believe that’s the case this year, as evidenced by the 7.7 percent increase in sales from the second to the third quarters.


Favorable interest rates should continue, she said, and the federal tax credit has been extended until April and now includes all buyers of primary residences.


“I think that the third-quarter increase shows that the market is healing,” she said. “We’re seeing good October and November activity, and when you talk to the lenders and appraisers, they’re having trouble keeping up.


“I really think we’ll finish the year strong.”


On a statewide basis, home sales increased for the first time since the recession began nearly two years ago, the Wisconsin Realtors Association reported.


Existing home sales increased 5.8 percent in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter last year. The increase compared favorably with the nation, which rose 5.9 percent, and the Midwest region, which grew at a 5.2 percent rate over that same period.


As sales increased, median home prices in Wisconsin fell 6.3 percent to $148,000 in the third quarter of 2009, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association report. That was better than the national reduction in median prices, which was at 11.2 percent over the period.



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