In August, the Cass overall housing market fell 17 percent from August 2017 (72 vs. 87). The decline was solely the result of non-waterfront homes sales dropping by 15 homes (44 vs. 59). The same number of waterfront homes, 28, sold in August 2018 and 2017.

Year-to-date, overall home sales were up 3 percent (453 vs. 441). Waterfront home sales, year-to-date, increased by three houses (135 vs. 132). Non-waterfront home sales, year-to-date, were up 3 percent (318 vs. 308).

The overall average selling price increased by 6 percent ($227,790 vs. $213,985). Year-to-date, the overall average selling price grew just by $2,030 for a 1 percent increase ($202,380 vs. $200,350). The overall median selling price at $172,450 was up 3 percent over the $167,500 price in August 2017. Year-to-date, the overall median selling price was up by $300 ($152,000 vs. $151,700).

The average selling price for waterfront homes increased 7 percent to $359,045 from $336,130 in August 2017. The median selling price for waterfront homes dropped 10 percent ($304,500 vs. $337,400).

The average selling price for non-waterfront homes in August slipped 8 percent to $144,265 from $156,017 in August 2017. The median selling price was down 2 percent to $125,000 from $127,000 in August 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 August increased to 8 percent from 1.5 percent in July. The highest percentage in the month of August previously was 11 percent in 2016. Year-to-date the highest percentage was 16 percent in February.

For comparison the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren Counties rose to 6% from 4 percent in July; the lowest percentage for the year. The highest percentage in August was 36 percent in 2009.

Last year in August the SWMI housing market set the record for the number of houses sold in the year-over-year comparison with 418. But the average and median selling prices dropped after fairly steady increases during the months leading up to that time. This year in August the number of houses sold dropped 7 percent from August 2017 (387 vs. 418). And the average and median selling prices increased.

The August 2018 average and median selling prices and total dollar volume and the year-to-date prices and volume all set the highest record since 2006 in the year-over-year comparison.

The average selling price leaped 21 percent in August 2018 ($238,886 vs. $196,723) The year-to-date average selling price rose 9 percent ($228,285 vs. $209,539).

The median selling price increased 7 percent in August 2018 ($170,000 vs.$159,500). Year-to-date the median selling price was up 5 percent ($160,850 vs.$153,500).

The increase in selling prices boosted the total dollar volume up 12 percent over August 2017 ($92,449,229 vs. $82,230,523). Year-to-date, total dollar volume increased 6 percent ($541,493,551 vs. $511,696,026).

The inventory of houses for sale decreased 4 percent from a year ago (1949 vs. 2036). At the end of August there was 6.4-months supply of houses for sale; down from 6.6-months supply at the end of August 2017. In August 2010 the inventory of houses for sale was 3757 or 17.8-months supply.

Overall in SWMI, the mortgage decreased to 4.652 from 4.681 in July. Last year in August, the rate was 3.975. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in August was 4.52 down slightly from 4.54 in July 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…

Staging your house can make you money. Seventy-one percent of sellers’ agents believe a well-staged environment increases the dollar value buyers are willing to offer, according to the National Association of REALTORS® “2015 Profile of Home Staging.”

Just take this real-world tale of two condo listings from Terrylynn Fisher, a REALTOR® with Dudum Real Estate Group in Walnut Creek, Calif., who also stages –

Both units were in the same complex. One hadn’t been staged or updated since it was built; the other was staged and had been slightly refreshed (a little paint here and there and one redone bath). Otherwise, both units were the same size and layout. The staged condo sold for about $30,000 more than the unstaged unit, she says. “People couldn’t believe it was the same model.” Before your eyes turn into dollar signs, keep in mind staging isn’t guaranteed to get you more money. But it’s an important marketing tool to help you compete at the right price, which means you can sell faster. Ask your REALTOR® for advice on staging and other suggestions to make your house make a great impression and more desirable to potential buyers.

When Buying a Home…

You can buy your dream home and not overpay but you can lose in the negation process if you focus on the wrong issue or not look at the real dollar and cents impact. Discuss everything that you see in the house and what changes you may think are necessary with your REALTOR® before setting your offer price and completing the purchase contract. Your REALTOR®  has the insider perspective on comparable homes and may know ballpark costs for minor repairs or upgrades like a new deck. You don’t want to make an offer and discover upgrades or repairs will put the cost of the home higher than your budget. You also don’t want to think you failed in the negotiation if your first offer wasn’t accepted. Keep in mind what the true cost of each thousand additional dollars will cost you monthly in your payment. When you’re ready to make that offer, look past the little stuff that you can easily change, and focus your negotiations on what matters, like the location and the bones of the house.

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.