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Home sales in July took a step backward from a year ago, dropping 19 percent (317 vs. 390). July home sales also fell 14 percent from sales in June (317 vs. 367). Year-to-date, the number of houses sold was one house higher in July 2019 (1986 vs. 1985).

The average selling price in July 2019 for houses sold in our area was $251,423 compared to $228,965 in July 2018. Year-to-date, the average selling price increased just 4 percent ($236,199 vs. $226,218).

The median selling price soared 21 percent to $200,000 in July 2019 from $165,750 in July 2018. Year-to-date, the median selling price rose 9 percent ($174,700 vs. $160,000).

Even with the increased selling prices, the decline in number of home sales lowered the total dollar volume by 11 percent ($79,701,398 vs. $89,296,357). Year-to-date, the total dollar volume was up 4 percent ($469,092,976 vs. $449,043,822).

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

The inventory of houses for sale dropped 3 percent below that in July 2018 (1840 vs. 1892). At 1840 houses, the market had a 7.4-months supply of homes for sale. In July 2010, the market had 18.1-month’s supply. 

The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions dropped to 3 percent for the second time in 2019. The percentage also was 3 percent in April 2019. This was the lowest percentage since 2009. The previous lowest percentage in July was 4 percent in 2018 and 2017. The highest percentage in July was 35 percent in 2009. 

Locally, the mortgage rate decreased to 3.961 from 4.026 in June. Last year in July, the rate was 4.68. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in July increased slightly to 3.75 from 3.73 in June 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…

So you are not getting any offers at your asking price. Lowering your price is an option to consider. Another suggestion is to talk to your REALTOR about other reasons your house is turning buyers away. There could be things about your home that you overlook day in and day out.

For example, have you neglected exterior maintenance? Buyers may not even get out of the car if they see chipped paint, clogged gutters, etc. because they assume the rest of the house has not been maintained. Dingy lighting or unclean light fixtures will keep buyers from seeing details like crown molding and make rooms look smaller. Old carpet isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, especially in bedrooms, but stained or worn-out carpet? Buyers will likely submit low offers so they can replace it. Buyers want to see the kitchen not all the small appliances that you own, and your pile of mail so clear the countertops of everything. Bad smells are a big turn off. You might not be able to smell pet odor, so this might be a good question for an honest answer from your REALTOR. Just a few small updates will increase your home’s value and selling price and make the investment so worthwhile. 

When Buying a Home… The journey to finding your dream house should start by finding a REALTOR that you think knows your community well, and you can trust the advice he or she will give. One of the first suggestions given should be for you to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Your REALTOR will have experience with local lenders and can explain the differences between the types of lenders.

Why is this step so important? There’s a world of difference between being pre-qualified for a loan and being pre-approved. Pre-qualified is an approximation of your ability to buy.

With a pre-approval, a lender typically goes deeper and tells you more specifically how big a loan you can get. Pre-approval is proof that you can buy. Pre-approval puts you in a better position when you make an offer. Everyone takes you more seriously. Pre-approval provides evidence to your real estate agent and the seller (or seller’s agent) that a trusted financial institution is willing to finance the purchase.

Keep in mind that just because the lender says you can take out a loan for an amount, doesn't mean you should. Consider your lifestyle and monthly budget to decide on the responsible loan amount for you.

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.