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So far this year the housing market has continued to witness fewer home sales with home selling prices climbing. The declining inventory of houses for sale has been the key factor. Buyers across Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties have been searching for houses from an inventory that has dropped 34 percent in the last five years.

The number of houses sold in September 2018 was down 2 percent from September 2017 (360 vs. 367). Year-to-date, the number of houses sold was down 3 percent (2,732 vs. 2,813).

The September 2018 average selling price decreased 3 percent to $245,447 from

$252,211 in September 2017. However, the year-to-date, average selling price rose to a record selling price of $230,546 from the past record average selling price of $215,154 in September 2017 for a 7 percent increase.

The median selling price increased 8 percent in September 2018 ($172,000 vs.$159,550). Year-to-date the median selling price was up 5 percent ($162,000 vs.$155,000). Both the monthly and year-to-date median selling prices were the highest in the year-over-year comparison since 2006.

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

Fewer home sales lowered total dollar volume 6 percent over September 2017 ($88,361,176 vs. $93,533,403). Year-to-date, total dollar volume was record setting and was up 4 percent from September 2017 ($629,853,828 vs. $605,229,929).

Inventory of houses for sale decreased 3 percent from a year ago (1886 vs. 1954). At the end of September there was 6.2-months supply of houses for sale; down slightly from 6.3-months supply at the end of September 2017. In September 2010 the inventory of houses for sale was 3574 or 17.3-months supply.

The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in September fell to 4 percent from 6 percent in August; matching the same percentage set in July. This is the lowest percentage in 2018. The highest percentage in September was 37 percent in 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate increased to 4.827 from 4.625 in August. Last year in September, the rate was 3.93. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in September was 4.72 up slightly from 4.52 in August 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… Home not selling? That could happen for a number of reasons you can’t control, like a unique home layout or having one of the few homes in the neighborhood without a garage. There is one factor you can control: your home price. While you’d like to get the best price for your home, here are the signs that it’s time to lower your price. You typically get the most buyers looking at your house online or through their REALTORS when your home first hits the market. If you don’t get a lot of traffic initially, you can assume buyers think it’s overpriced and are waiting to see if the price is reduced instead of offering a low-ball offer. If you have lots of buyers touring your house and you get no offers, it may be a sign that buyers were discouraged by the price. When your house has been on the market for a while, your price maybe affecting buyers’ interest. As weeks go by, the competition changes. You should ask your REALTOR to review comparable home sales and new listings to re-evaluate your price. Keep in touch with your REALTOR regularly to get feedback on buyer impressions so you can adjust your price to avoid losing your competitive edge.

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. Ask your REALTOR about what advice he/she gives clients about getting pre-approved.

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.