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“The number of houses sold in February 2018 was 3 houses less than in February 2017 (184 vs. 187). However, the average and median selling prices for the month are up 19 and 17 percent respectively. The increase in selling prices pushed the total dollar volume up 17 percent; making it the highest total dollar volume in the year-over-year comparison since 2006,” stated Alan Jeffries, Association Executive, Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®, Inc.

“Year-to-date, the number of houses sold was down 4 percent (374 vs 390). And the year-to-date total dollar volume was 2 percent higher than in 2017 ($76,396,204 vs. $74,637,887). The year-to-date total dollar volume set a record over 2017 to become the highest set in the year-over-year comparison,” continued Jeffries.

The average selling price in February 2018 was $197,381compared to $166,520 in February 2017 (19 percent increase). Year-to-date, the average selling price was up 7 percent ($204,267 vs. $191,379). Both the monthly and year-to-date average selling prices set records in the year-over-year comparison.

The median selling price in February 2018 jumped 17 percent to $133,250 from $114,000 in February 2017. Year-to-date, the median selling price was up 11 percent ($144,250 vs. $130,000). The year-to-date median selling price beat the previous recorded prices since 2006.

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

The inventory of houses for sale dropped 13 percent from February 2017. In almost a three county area, there were just 1313 houses for sale at the end of February compared to 1512 in February 2017. The market had just 4.2-months supply of houses for buyers. In February 2009, there were 3099 houses for sale.

The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions increased in February to 16 percent from 10.5 percent in January. The previous lowest percentage in February was 13 percent in 2017. The highest percentage in February was 75 percent in 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate increased to 4.53 from 4.24 percent in January. Last year in February, the rate was 4.314. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in February was 4.43 up from 4.15 in January for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, – Despite consistently low inventory levels and faster price growth, existing-home sales bounced back in February after two straight months of declines. Sizeable sales increases in the South and West offset declines in the Northeast and Midwest.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, grew 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million in February from 5.38 million in January. After last month’s increase, sales are now 1.1 percent above a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales were uneven across the country in February but did increase nicely overall. “A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” he said. “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018. However, even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices – especially in the West – shot up considerably. Affordability continues to be a pressing issue because new and existing housing supply is still severely subpar.”

Added Yun, “The unseasonably cold weather to start the year muted pending sales in the Northeast and Midwest in January and ultimately led to their sales retreat last month. Looking ahead, several markets in the Northeast will likely see even more temporary disruptions from the large winter storms that have occurred in March.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $241,700, up 5.9 percent from February 2017 ($228,200). February’s price increase marks the 72nd straight month of year-over-year gains.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest sales dipped 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.22 million in February (unchanged from a year ago). The median price in the Midwest was $179,400, up 4.5 percent from a year ago.

First-time buyers were 29 percent of sales in February, which is unchanged from last month and down from 31 percent a year ago. NAR's 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34 percent.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, says first-time buyers are seeing stiff competition for the available listings in their price range. “Realtors® in several markets note that entry-level homes for first-timers are hard to come by, which is contributing to their underperforming share of overall sales to start the year.” she said. “Prospective buyers should start conversations with a Realtor® now on what they want in a new home. Even with the expected uptick in new listings in coming months, buyers in most markets will likely have to act fast on any available listing that checks all their boxes.”

All-cash sales were 24 percent of transactions in February, which is up from 22 percent in January and the highest since last February (27 percent). Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in February, which is down from 17 percent in January and unchanged from a year ago.

Nationally, the total housing inventory at the end of February rose 4.6 percent to 1.59 million existing homes available for sale but is still 8.1 percent lower than a year ago (1.73 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 33 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace (3.8 months a year ago).

“Mortgage rates are at their highest level in nearly four years, at a time when home prices are still climbing at double the pace of wage growth,” said Yun. “Homes for sale are going under contract a week faster than a year ago, which is quite remarkable given weakening affordability conditions and extremely tight supply. To fully satisfy demand, most markets right now need a substantial increase in new listings.”

The numbers reported for local sales include residential property in 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®.About

The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate licensees 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

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.