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October 2017 for the SWMI housing market became the 10 month for the year to smash all previous records set in October 2016 and record numbers set historically back to 2006. The warm fall season and quickly vanishing inventory may have kept buyers motivated along with the mortgage rates remaining low at around 4 percent locally.

The number of houses sold in October 2017 increased 9 percent to 354 over 326 in October 2016. Year-to-date, the number of houses sold increased 5 percent (3167 vs. 3007).

At the same time, the inventory of houses for sale dropped 12 percent to 1830 in October 2017 from 2069 houses for sale in October 2016. The local inventory has dropped by double digits for the last three years. At the end of October the inventory dropped to 5.9-months supply. In 2010 the inventory level was at 16.6-months supply.

The average selling price rose 18 percent to $238,088 in October 2017 from $201,242 in October 2016. Year-to-date, the average selling price increased 9 percent ($217,718 vs. $200,425).

The October 2017 median selling price was up 6 percent at $156,113 compared to $146.800 a year ago. For the second month in a row, the year-to-date median selling was $155,000 vs. $140,000 in 2016.

The median price is the price at which 50% of the homes sold were above that price and 50% were below.

Higher selling prices in October fueled a 28 percent increase the total dollar volume ($84,283,224 vs. $65,606,024). Year-to-date, the total dollar volume climbed 14 percent from $602,680,254 in October 2016 to $689,513,153 in October 2017.

For six months the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions has held steady from 4 to 6 percent. In October the percentage was 6 percent.

The previous lowest percentage in October was 8 percent in 2016. The highest percentage in October was 34 percent in 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate increased slightly to 4.125 from 3.938 percent in September. Last year in October, the rate was 3.58. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in October was 3.94 versus 3.83 in September for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

This data reflects home sales across Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties and should not be used to determine the market value of any individual property. If you want to know the market value of your property, please contact your local REALTOR®.

When Selling a Home…

Before putting your house on the market take a hard look at your kitchen. For many families, the kitchen is the hub of the house. So, potential buyers will envision themselves spending a lot of time in the kitchen when they walk through your home. Does your kitchen look like it was it was done the 90s or decorated in a faddish color like turquoise? You don’t need to remodel your kitchen… Just neutralize it with timeless colors such white, beige or gray. You can add color to the room with rugs, dinnerware and other colorful accessories. Buyers will look beyond these items and think about how their things will look in the kitchen and hopefully appreciate the ease of moving into this important space with little decorative work on their part.   Your REALTOR® works with buyers every day. He or she should be able to give insight on how buyers will react to your kitchen. The goal is to make your home as marketable and desirable as possible.

When Buying a Home

Should you buy or rent? There are a lot of questions you have to ask yourself to determine if it makes sense for you at current time. Contacting a REALTOR® to discuss the details will help ease your mind. In addition, you can look just at the financial aspect of owning a home versus renting with the Realtor.com Rent or Buy calculator. This calculator can help you calculate the net cost of buying a home versus the cost of renting over time. 

Net costs compare the total amount of money you would be spending over time, minus the potential value you might receive if you someday sell the property. View the interactive graph and see what this looks like at different times, and how it compares if you were instead paying rent.

From the tool, you'll see that the amount of time you plan on keeping the home has a major impact. To get more personal, you can customize the advanced options to crunch more specific numbers and evaluate more specific scenarios. But keep in mind that a financial comparison is just one of many factors when deciding whether to rent or buy. Your REALTOR® can help you fill in the other factors based on the local market.

To view properties that are for sale in your local area go to www.swmar.com and click on “Property Search”. The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS®, and ancillary service providers for the real estate industry in Van Buren, Berrien and Cass Counties. The Association can be contacted at 269-983-6375 or through their website at www.swmar.com.