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Overall home sales increased by 3 houses in January 2018 over January 2017 (32 vs. 29).

The number of waterfront homes grew to 9 in January 2018 compared to 7 in January 2017. Non-waterfront home sales increased by 1 house January 20178 (23 vs. 22).

In January, the average selling price in Cass County for all homes increased 6 percent to $178,348 from $167,633 in January 2017. The median selling price for all homes in January rose 20 percent to $146,250 from $122,000 in January 2017.

The average selling price for waterfront homes increased 5 percent in January to $289,039 from $274,936 in January 2017. The median selling price for waterfront homes soared to 56 percent ($325,000 vs. $207,900).

The average selling price for non-waterfront homes in January rose slightly at 1 percent to $135,035 from $133,491 in January 2017. The median selling price jumped 17 percent to $130,000 from $111,250 in January 2017.

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

In Cass County, the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a part of all closed transactions in January dropped to 12 percent from 16 percent in December. The highest percentage, 35 percent, occurred in January 2015.

For comparison the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions was 10.5 percent in January; just slightly above December 2017 (10 percent). The previous lowest percentage in January was 11 percent in 2017. The highest percentage in January was 57 percent in 2009.

After two peak years throughout SWMI, the January 2018 housing market took a step backward. It is not unusual for the month of January to be least productive month of any given year. For a variety of reasons buyers and sellers push to close in December before year end. This year for example home sales in January were 30 percent below sales in December 2017 (190 vs. 272),

Comparing year-to-year, January 2018 home sales fell 6 percent behind January 2017 (190 vs. 203). Looking at sales year-over-year in January back to 2006, the number of houses sold in January 2018 was the third highest.

While there was no one factor that can be accountable for fewer home sales, the leading factor could be the continuing decline in the number of houses for sale. From December 2017, the inventory dropped from 1365 to 1292 in Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties. In January 2018, the inventory dropped 12 percent from January 2017 (1292 vs.1465) giving buyers just a 4.2-months supply of houses. This level of inventory was the lowest recorded not only in January but any month in the past 13 years.

The average selling price decreased just slightly less than 2 percent to $210,936 in January 2018 from $214,278 in January 2017.

The bright spot in the January 2018 housing market was that the median selling price was up 6 percent from January 2017 ($150,000 vs. $142,000).

The total dollar volume fell 8 percent in January 2018 from January 2017 ($40,077,925 vs. $43,498,631).

Overall in SWMI, the mortgage rate increased to 4.241 from 4.075 percent in December. Last year in January, the rate was 4.329. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in January was 4.15 versus 3.99 in December 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…

If it is mind blowing to think of how you are going to keep your house spotless and always ready for showings, start by having everyone in the house participating as a team. Here are a few ideas to make the process easier. #1 -Take 20 minutes every day to declutter a drawer or closet and by the end of a week you will be surprised at what you accomplished. #2 - Small tasks add up quickly when you’re saving them to do all at once. So if it takes less than a minute to complete, do it immediately. For example, put that cup in the dishwasher rather than the sink. #3 - Every time you leave a room, take a quick scan for anything that belongs where you’re going and you’ll start habitually keeping clutter under control. #4 - Deal with your mail every time you bring it in instead of letting it pile up. #5 - Follow the Marine rule “wake and make” which means make your bed as soon as you get up. #6 - Reduce early morning pressure by spot-cleaning bathrooms at night. Put away clutter and wipe down countertops. You can find more suggestions at the National Association of Realtors® website - www.houselogic.com.

When Buying a Home…

After finding a REALTOR®, being pre-approved for a mortgage is one of the most critical steps potential homebuyers should complete. This is essentially an assurance from a lender that the buyer is qualified to borrow up to a specific amount of money at a particular interest rate. It makes the buyer look more serious to sellers and, in a competitive market, can make a buyer stand out among a multitude of offers. 

Buyers will need to collect at least two years of tax returns, several months of pay stubs and bank statements, as well documents that show any additional sources of income, like social security payments or alimony. Buyers should also check their credit report to make sure everything is accurate and take steps to correct any errors, as that could affect their interest rate or if they can even qualify for a mortgage. 

To view properties that are for sale in your local area go to www.michric.org 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.