As Fall entered Cass County, overall home sales surged in October 22 percent past October 2018 (77 vs. 63). Non-waterfront home sales pushed the increase in sales with a 28 percent increase over a year ago (59 vs. 46). While waterfront home sales were up 1 percent (18 vs.17). 

Year-to-date, overall housing sales in Cass County were down 5 percent (550 vs. 578). Waterfront home sales, year-to-date, were down 17 percent (143 vs.173). Non-waterfront housing sales, year-to-date, were up by 2 houses (407 vs.405). 

The overall average selling price declined 4 percent to $235,656 from $244,238 in October 2018. Year-to-date, the overall average selling in October 2019 at $215,563 was up 4 percent from the $208,088 price in October 2018.

The overall median selling price rose to $179,210, resulting in a 13 percent increase from the $159,000 median selling price in October 2018. Year-to-date, the overall median selling price in October 2019 varied by 1 percent from 2018 ($156,777 vs. $154,900).

The average selling price for waterfront homes decreased 13 percent from a year ago ($442,717 vs. $506,765). The median selling price dropped 9 percent to $317,500 from $350,000 in October 2018.

The average selling price for non-waterfront homes in October jumped 17 percent to $172,485 from $147,218 in October 2018. The median selling price leaped 20 percent to $152,380 from $126,500 in October 2018.

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

In Cass County, 4 houses were bank-owned or foreclosed houses as a part of all closed transactions in October for 5 percent of the total houses sold. The highest percentage in October previously was 22 percent in 2013. 

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 set a new record low at 2 percent in October. This was the seventh consecutive month that the percentage has been under 6 percent. The highest percentage in October was 34 percent in 2009.

As we rush through the last quarter of 2019, the housing market continued to stay strong. At the end of October, the monthly and year-to-date average and median selling prices and total dollar volume surpassed 2018 and set new records in the year-over-year comparison since 2006.

Home sales in October were up 6 percent from October 2018 (345 vs. 324). Year-to-date sales varied by 20 houses for less than 1 percent difference from 2018 (3076 vs. 3056). The year-to-date sales in October 2017 still hold the record at 3167 houses sold.

The average selling price in October 2019 for houses sold in SWMI rose 7 percent to $262,720 from $244,403 in October 2018. Year-to-date, the average selling price increased by 4 percent ($240,229 vs. $232,016).

Both the October and year-to-date median selling price jumped 11 percent. The October median selling price was $190,000 compared to $ $171,000 in October 2018. Year-to-date, the median selling price was $179,950 versus $162,750 a year ago.

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

The higher selling prices pushed up the total dollar volume in October 2019 14 percent from October 2018 ($90,638,587 vs. $79,186,855). Year-to-date, the total dollar volume rose 4 percent over October 2018 ($738,947,310 vs. $709,043,183).

The inventory of houses for sale dropped 4 percent below that in October 2018 (1675 vs. 1737). At 1675 houses, the market had a 6.7-months supply of homes for sale. In October 2010, the market had 16.6-month’s supply with 3385 houses for sale.

Overall in SWMI, the mortgage increased slightly to 3.871 from 3.786 in September. Last year in October, the rate was 4.937. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in October also inched up 3.78 from 3.64 in October 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…

You have heard the ole saying “Make A Good First Impression”? Well, when selling your house, that first impression starts with the exterior shot of your house online and from the overall impression of your house when a potential buyer pulls up in their car in front of the house. You need instant curb appeal.

Houzz, a home remodeling website, recently showed off three high-impact ways to boost a home’s exterior aesthetic. First, paint the front door. Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door, which is what potential buyers will see first. Also, consider an entirely new color for the front door to get attention. Black is a trending color.

Add some dramatic lighting. New lighting can instantly transform a space, and the outside lighting is no exception. Try a new overhead light above the front door to add ambiance to the front porch. Path lights or new sconces can also make an impact.

The third suggestion is to swap out the railings. The railings can be a way to make a home look more modern. “It doesn’t necessarily have to match the style of your house, as eclectic-style homes are the norm these days,” Houzz notes in its article. From landscaping to exterior finishes, there are plenty of ways to make your listing a standout in curb appeal.

Ask your REALTOR® for other suggestions to improve your home’s curb appeal and rock potential buyers’ first impressions. 

When Buying a Home…

With the inventory of houses for sale growing smaller every day, you may be wondering if you will ever find your dream home. Or you are finding that you can’t afford your dream home. Don’t be frustrated. You may need to sit down with your REALTOR and reevaluate what is important to you.

Start with location, move on to school district, and then your next priority. If none of these priorities changed, you might want to talk about the criteria you have for a house. Does it have to be move-in ready? If you found a house with “good bones” in your price range without major needs, would you consider making renovations over time? Are you willing to put in time and effort into painting, or redoing the landscaping?

Knowing your thoughts, your REALTOR® can make suggestions about houses that did not make your top list before but have the right potential to fit your updated priorities and criteria. There may even be the possibility to purchase a home under your budget, giving you more money for renovations. The real bonus could be not finding your dream home but making your dream home.  

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.