Our housing market has had three remarkable years in a row. At the end of 2016, we set a new peak year for sales, total dollar volume and average and median selling prices. The previous peak year was 2006 in year-over-year comparison. Then the market in 2017 finished by outpacing 2016 even with a shrinking inventory of houses for sale. When 2018 ended, it did not surpass 2017 in the number of houses sold but did set records for total dollar volume and selling prices.

 Starting in May, the housing market had six months of sales with over 300 houses sold in a month; ranging from 324 to 390. Also notable, in May the average selling price set an all-time record at $256,923 and in November the median selling price reached $178,250. 

The inventory of houses sold dwindled to 1295 at the end of 2018 compared to 1365 in 2017. So at the end of 2018 there was 5.1-months supply of houses for sale. In 2017 the inventory based on sales reached an all-time low at 4.4-months supply of houses for sale. This inventory of houses for sale stretches over Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties. For perspective, the inventory in 2010 was 2733 which provided 12.7-months supply of houses for sale.

The number of houses sold in 2018 was 3591 compared to 3733 in 2011 for a 4 percent decrease. For the month of December, 269 houses were sold versus 272 in December 2017 which was a 1 percent decrease. 

The total dollar volume in 2018 increased 3 percent over 2017 ($839,392,514 vs. $811,829, 286). Comparing December 2018 to December 2017, the total dollar volume also was up less than 1 percent ($62,983,647 vs. $62,956,495).

The average selling price in 2018 increased to $233,748 from $217,473 in 2017 for a 7 percent rise. In December 2017, the average selling price grew by1 percent from December 2017 ($234,139 vs. $231,457).

The 2018, median selling price rose 6 percent to $165,000 from $155,000 in 2017. In December 2018, the median selling price was $163,900 which was a 3 percent increase over the December 2017 median selling price of $160,000.

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

In all of 2018, there were 10 months (March – December) when the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in our market ranged from 4-8 percent. In January the percentage was 10.5 and in February peaked at 16 percent.

Locally, the mortgage rate in December dropped to 4.718 from 5.017 in November. In December 2017, the rate was 4.075. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in December dropped to 4.55 from 4.81 in November 2018.

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 Your House… When it comes to selling your home, determining the selling price may be the hardest step. You made memories in this house. You’ve got a major financial interest in the place, too. Working with a REALTOR® will help you learn what prices comparable houses are listed for on the market, so you’ll have a better perspective of your home’s value. Keep in mind buyers think of value, but they’re more concerned with price. And your home’s price is one of its most attractive or unattractive features. The right price can attract buyers quickly. The wrong price may mean the house sits on the market, which can create the vibe among buyers that there’s something wrong it. (If the home buying process is Instagram, think of a wrongly priced home as a photo that isn’t getting any likes.) As much as possible, set aside your emotional attachment to your home. It will make it easier to accept your REALTOR’s realistic, objective calculation of its price.

When Buying a Home… There are a lot of steps to buying a house, and it takes time. Expect times when it will be exciting, daunting and frustrating. How long does it take to buy a house? A lot depends on how much time you spend shopping for one. But once you have a contract, it takes an average of 50 days to close on a house. The first step is to seriously write down what you want in a house and what you absolutely need in a house. Then look for a REALTOR® who you are comfortable with and trust to advise you will help you to understand the process steps and will guide you to hopefully reduce time consuming pitfalls. To become a serious buyer, your third step should be to get pre-approved for a loan. This will solidify what you can afford and to help you evaluate each home your tour against your wants and needs list. When you have a contract for your dream house you will start the closing process. This process includes getting the loan, inspection, appraisal, title, insurance, etc. which takes the average home buyer about six weeks. 

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.