From February to March this year the number of houses sold differed by 1 house with 235 in February and 234 in March. The real difference was that the average selling price increased 9 percent ($217,265 vs, $199,433) and the median selling price increase 25 percent ($175,000 vs. $140,000).

Comparing year-to-year sales, March 2019 was down 6 percent from March 2018 (234 vs. 248). At the end of the first quarter in 2019, the number of houses sold was up 4 percent (644 vs. 622) due to sales in February.

The low inventory of houses for sale continues to trouble the market which covers Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties. However, the inventory at the end of March 2019 dropped just 4 percent from a year ago (1341 vs. 1391). By comparison, the decline in houses for sale from March 2016 to March 2018 dropped double digits each year bringing the inventory down from 1991 houses in March 2016 to 1391 in March 2018. In March 2010, there were 3218 houses for sale. At the end of March 2019, there was 5.2-months supply of houses for sale; up from 4.5 a year ago.

The average selling price in March 2019 at $217,265 was down 2 percent from the average selling price, $221,065, in March 2018. Year-to-date, the average selling price also was down 2 percent ($205,823 vs. $210,965).

The median selling price in March 2019 jumped 11 percent to $175,000 from $157,725 in March 2018. Year-to-date, the median selling price varied by just $500 ($146,500 vs. $146,000). Both the monthly and year-to-date median selling prices were the highest when compared to results in March in our year-over-year comparison back to 2006.

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 was pushed down 7 percent by fewer home sales in March 2019 compared March 2018 ($50,840,184 vs. $54,824,314). There was a 1 percent difference in the year-to-date total dollar volume ($132,550,612 vs. 131,220,518). The year-to-date total dollar volume set a record to become the highest set in the year-over-year comparison.

The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions increased from 6 percent in February to 8 percent in March. The previous lowest percentage in March was 7 percent in 2018. The highest percentage in March was 60 percent in 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate decreased slightly to 4.475 from 4.573 percent in February. Last year in March, the rate was 4.577. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in March was 4.06 down from 4.35 in February 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…

Finding the right buyer and selling your home for the right price can be a real challenge. Working with a REALTOR who has experience in your local market will help you price your home to sell for the most money in the shortest time will make a significant difference. Heading into the busier selling time of the year when the inventory of houses (competition) will be changing quickly, you and your REALTOR should monitor how well your house is doing in the market. If your house is not selling, it could be due to features or circumstances you can’t control. The one thing you can control is your selling price. Here are six signs to monitor and discuss with your REALTOR: 1) You’re drawing few lookers, 2) You’re drawing lots of lookers but have no offers, 3) Your home’s been on the market longer than similar homes, 4) You have a deadline such as a job transfer, 5) You can’t make upgrades to compete with other homes, 6) The competition has changed with passing time. While you’d like to get top dollar for your home, using the signs will help you to adjust your price, if necessary.

When Buying a Home

How to find the right REALTOR to help you navigate your home buying journey is the first step in knowing you will find your dream home. Why do you need a REALTOR?  A licensed professional will be familiar with local home values and neighborhood perks, understand real estate trends, can write an offer on your behalf, and who negotiates with home sellers, so you don’t have to.  Your REALTOR is not just a player on your team, he/she is a collaborator, co-conspirator and a mentor who will take you through the marsh of decisions to help you find a home that fits your needs and budget with no miss-steps. With your happiness and money at stake, why would you want to go on the home buying journey alone.

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.