In November, the Cass County overall housing market dropped 27 percent when compared to November 2017 (52 vs. 71). The number of waterfront sales fell 54 percent (12 vs. 26). Non-waterfront home sales were down by five houses (40 vs. 45).

Year-to-date, overall home sales were down 4 percent (630 vs. 659). Waterfront home sales, year-to-date, were down by 8 percent (185 vs. 201). Non-waterfront home sales, year-to-date, were down by 3 percent (445 vs. 458).

The overall average selling price in November 2018 increased 20 percent ($231,371 vs. $192,106). Year-to-date, the overall average selling price rose 3 percent ($210,010 vs. $203,293). The overall median selling price in November at $168,500 was up 18 percent over the $142,500 price in November 2017. Year-to-date, the overall median selling price was up by 2 percent ($154,950 vs. $152,000).

The average selling price for waterfront homes jumped 63 percent to $489,542 from $300,625 in November 2017. The median selling price for waterfront homes sky-rocketed 64 percent ($431,500 vs. $262,500).

The average selling price for non-waterfront homes in November increased 19 percent to $153,920 from $129,405 in November 2017. The median selling price jumped to $133,500 from $98,500 in November 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, there were 2 houses that were bank-owned or foreclosed houses as a part of all closed transactions in November or 4 percent of total houses sold. The highest percentage in the month of November previously was 19 percent in 2013 and 2015. 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 was 6 percent; up slightly from the 5 percent in October. The percentage of bank-owned or foreclosed homes has been less than 8 percent since March. The highest percentage in November was 36 percent in 2010.

Ole Man Winter put a chill on the housing sales in SWMI overall with an 18 percent drop in sales from October 2018 (266 vs. 324) and a 10 percent drop from November 2017 (266 vs. 295). From the end of October to the end of November 2018, the number of houses on the market dropped by 198 houses. Comparing inventory levels at the end of November, there was a 4 percent decrease from a year ago. (1539 vs. 1601).

Buyers, faced with the shrinking inventory, paid the highest average and median selling prices in November in our market’s year-over-year comparison back to 2006. Year-to-date average and median selling prices in November 2018 also were the highest reached in the comparison. The higher selling prices pushed the November and year-to-date total dollar volumes to record highs amounts.

The November 2018 average selling price sky-rocketed 25 percent to $253,290 from $202,582 in November 2017. The year-to-date, average selling price of $233,720 was 8 percent increase over the $216,372 year-to-date average selling price in November 2017.

The median selling price increased 11 percent in November 2018 from November 2017 ($178,250 vs. $160,000). Year-to-date, the median selling price was up 6 percent ($165,000 vs. $155,000).

Even with 29 fewer homes sold this November, the total dollar volume rose 13 percent from November 2017 ($67,375,183 vs. $59,761,638). Year-to-date, total dollar volume was up 4 percent from November 2017 ($776,417,966 vs. $748,862,791).

The inventory of houses for sale decreased 4 percent from a year ago (1539 vs. 1601). At the end of November there was 6-months supply of houses for sale; up slightly from 5.7-months supply at the end of November 2017. In November 2010 the inventory of houses for sale was 3160 or 15.8-months supply

Overall in SWMI, the mortgage rate increased to 5.017 from 4.937 in October. Last year in November, the rate was 4.063. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in November was 4.81 down slightly from 4.83 in October for a 30-year conventional mortgage. 

When Selling a Home… From November to January, the holiday season, you think you should not bother putting your house on the market or think you should ask your REALTOR to temporarily take it off the market. STOP! The opposite is true. The holiday season still has buyers and they tend to be more serious. Who doesn’t want a home for the holidays! There also tends to be less competition with fewer homes on the market. Go ahead and decorate your home. Just don’t go overboard and make your home look crowded. Keep outside decorations to a minimum so buyers are not distracted and can see your home’s true curb appeal. If in doubt, ask your REALTOR® to stop by for advice. Setting out a plate of holiday cookies for buyers to enjoy will give them a welcome feeling and add incentive to spend more time walking through you house.

When Buying a Home…

Coming to the end of 2018, the changes in the federal at law signed by President Trump will be in full effect. Owning a home can pay off at tax time. Potential buyers and new homeowners should investigate what tax advantages they are eligible for and develop strategy to help lower their tax bill. The new tax law raised the standard deduction so a quick meeting with your accountant may help you to better understand the true impact of itemizing or taking the standard deduction.

The most important claim is the mortgage interest deduction. The interest you pay up to $750,000 is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or improve your home. In the early years of homeownership this can be a substantial amount. Another important deduction is the prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage. Prepaid interest is generally 100% deductible in the year you paid it along with other mortgage interest. However, you must itemize to take it. You can also deduct state and local property taxes up to $10,000. Home ownership with the right advisors such as your REALTOR® and accountant can be a great financial investment for your future.

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.