Monday, June 23, 2014

Wisconsin lags again, this time on home sales

One item that suffered with the polar vortex winter was home sales. As the weather has heated up, it appears some of the U.S. growth is thawing out, but it isn't as hot here in Wisconsin.

1. U.S. housing sales had its largest seasonally-adjusted one-month jump in nearly three years last month, starting to dig their way out of the slump that this sector had been in for the first part of the year.
The National Association of Realtors said on Monday existing home sales increased 4.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.89 million units. May's increase was the largest since August 2011.

"The housing market has quite some ways to go to recover its recent sluggishness, but positive momentum in the sector suggests that housing has begun to show signs of life," said Gennadiy Goldberg, an economist at TD Securities in New York.

Economists had forecast sales rising only 2.2 percent to a 4.73 million-unit pace last month. Sales, which rose in all four regions, were driven by the single-family home segment, the largest portion of the market.
That being said, home sales are still down 5.0% compared to May 2013, so we're not completely out of the woods. But with job growth continuing and no other new headwind to drive the economy down, it certainly is a step in the right direction.

2. Locally, the Wisconsin Realtors Association reported that home sales were DOWN 6.9% compared to May 2013, the fifth month in a row we've been down, and down 8.0% for the year. Yes, they compare year-over-year at the WRA instead of adjusting for seasonality with their stats, but it still doesn't look good.
Existing home sales for May were either flat or down in every region of the state in May. The northeast region was essentially unchanged from May of last year with sales down 0.1 percent. Existing home sales fell 2.2 percent in the west region and they were down 3.8 percent in the north region. However, sales fell between 9.3 percent and 12.5 percent in the south central, southeast and central regions, comparing May 2014 with May of 2013.

“In spite of weaker sales compared to last year, our median home prices continue to rise,” said [WRA President and CEO Michael] Theo. Median prices are up 3.8 percent in May and they are up 3.6 percent year-to-date. The regional picture was mixed with prices up in three regions (southeast, west and northeast) up between 4.6 percent and 5.4 percent in May and the south central region essentially flat. In contrast, median prices in the central region fell 3.3 percent and they were up 20.6 percent in the north region. “Median prices are often volatile in these two regions due to the shifting mix of primary versus vacation homes that sell in any given month,” said Theo.
As noted, the southern half of the state had some of the largest drops, and it was especially pronounced in the southeastern corner of Wisconsin, with the exception of Ozaukee County.

Change in home sales, May 2014 vs. May 2013
Ozaukee Co +3.3%
Milwaukee Co. -7.8%
Waukesha Co. -11.6%
Racine Co. -11.9%
Washington Co. -18.5
Kenosha Co. -19.5%

Waukesha and Washington Counties also were subpar when it came to prices in the region, with Waukesha's median sales price only up 3.9% vs. the same month in 2013, and Washington County was down 6.0%, a drop of more than $10,000. Interestingly, the reddest-voting counties in the Southeastern Wisconsin also are the ones having price growth below the 3.6% increases we've seeing statewide so far in 2014.

Year-to-date median home sales price 2014 vs. 2013
State of Wisconsin +3.6%
Walworth Co. +3.4%
Ozaukee Co. +3.2%
Waukesha Co. +1.3%
Washington Co. -0.4%

So Wisconsin's home-selling economy continues is struggling in year 4 of the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, but the Realtors have endorsed Walker anyway, despite five straight months of sales declines, and a failing jobs record. And among the biggest places that are falling behind are the dead-red areas surrounding Milwaukee, who apparently would rather support the "divide and conquer" Governor that's making their wealth stagnate. It sure makes you wonder why these people would continue to bet on the same WisGOP hand that they're losing with.

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