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After two peak years in 2016 and 2017, the 2018 local housing market only outpaced the previous years in selling prices and total dollar volume. The housing market in January 2019 started out about where it was in 2015.

It is not unusual for January to be the least productive month of any given year. For a variety of reasons buyers and sellers push to close in December before year end. When we compare the number of houses sold and closed in December to January of the next year, there has been 25 to 37 percent drop in houses sold over the last five years. For example, home sales in January 2019 were 35 percent below sales in December 2018 (175 vs. 269).

Comparing year-to-year, January 2019 home sales fell 8 percent behind January 2018 (175 vs. 190). Looking at sales year-over-year in January back to 2006, the number of houses sold in January 2019 fell to fifth highest tying with January 2007.

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 2018 to January 2019, the inventory dropped from 1295 to 1244 in Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties.  In January 2019, the inventory dropped 4 percent from January 2018 (1244 vs. 1292) giving buyers just a 4.9-months supply of houses.  This level of inventory was only slightly higher than the lowest supply ever recorded in the year-over-year comparison which was set in January 2018 at 4.2-months supply of houses.

The average selling price decreased 6 percent to $199,131 from $210,936 in January 2018.

The median selling price dropped 8 percent from January 2018 ($137,500 vs. $150,000).

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

The total dollar volume fell 13 percent in January 2019 from January 2018 ($34,848,017 vs. $40,077,925).

The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions was 9 percent in January. In December 2018 the percentage was 4 percent. The previous lowest percentage in January was 10.5 percent in 2018. The highest percentage in January was 57 percent in 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate decreased to 4.573 from 4.718 percent in December. Last year in January, the rate was 4.241. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in January was 4.46 versus 4.55 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…

To help ensure that the buyer’s walk-through goes smoothly, complete the following steps for peace of mind. Step #1: Do one more deep cleaning. Your home should be spotless for the final walk-through. Step #2: Collect all owner’s manuals and warranties put them in one place. Step #3: Provide a vendor list with contact information for home contractors or maintenance companies that you’ve used in the past. The new owner will appreciate having a list of vendors who are familiar with your home that they can trust to take good care of their new home. Step #4: Do one more check throughout the home to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind. Step #5: Lock every door and window. Until settlement is complete, you’re legally responsible for the home; meaning you’d be liable if there’s a break-in before closing. Ask your REALTOR® for additional suggestions based on his or her experience in your market area.

When Buying a Home

Congratulations you just closed on your new, dream house and you can’t wait to move in. But before you get too excited and start moving boxes, there are a few things you should do to your new home while it is still empty. The very first task for maximum peace of mind is change the locks on all exterior doors. This ensures that you are the only one with access to the house. Second, thoroughly check for water leaks even if there was a home inspection. It will be easier to make repairs or upgrade before your stuff gets in the way. Third, take serious time to become very familiar with and label circuit breakers and water valves. This will help you act fast if there is an emergency. Next, clean the carpets and flooring to remove any pet residue or stains. What looks clean on the surface may be deceiving. This is true with cabinets and closets. Thoroughly clean storage areas to assure that unwanted pests haven’t moved in. Now move in and enjoy your dream house.

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.