In May, the Southwestern Michigan housing market results provided a nice kick start to this year's key selling season. The number of houses sold in May increased 23 percent over April (297 vs. 242) and the total dollar volume per month increased 34 percent ($60,210,421 vs. $45,091,173). The average selling price in May at $202,729 was 9 percent higher than in April ($186,327) and the median selling price increased 4 percent to $144,000 from $138,250. We are still working with a low inventory of houses for sale. So far this year, our inventory has ranged from 7.7 ? 9.7 months supply of homes for sale.

Comparing to May 2014, this year in May the number of houses sold was up 11 percent (297 vs 268). Year-to-date, the number of houses sold was up 10 percent (1098 vs. 1003).

The total dollar volume in May 2015 at $60,210,421 was up 10 percent over last year in May ($54,488,009). Year-to-date, the total dollar volume was up 11 percent ($201,631,077 vs. $181,893,519).

Selling prices held very close to last year's selling prices. In May, the average selling pricevaried by just $584 ($202,729 vs. $203,313). Year-to-date, the average selling price was up 1.26 percent in May 2015 ($183,636 vs. $181,349). The average selling prices in May 2015 and May 2014 were the highest set in a month of May going back to 2006 which we consider to be the peak market year in our area.

The median selling price dipped 1 percent to $144,000 in May 2015 from $145,450 in May 2014. Year-to-date, the median selling price was up 5 percent over last year in May ($125,000 vs. $119,250). The median selling prices in May 2015 and May 2014 were also the highest set in a month of May since 2006. The year-to-date median selling price in May 2015 at $125,000 was the highest set in the yearly comparison.

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

The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in our market dropped again to 11 percent. In April, the percentage dropped to 13 percent from the 21-22 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2015. Eleven percent was the lowest percentage reached in 2014.

Locally, the mortgage rate edged up to 4.02 from 3.83 in April. At 4.02 the mortgage rate was lower than a year ago when the rate was 4.25 in May. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in May was 3.84 percent compared to 3.67 percent in April for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

Our inventory of homes for sale in May fell 9 percent from the level we had in May 2014. In May, we had 2511 houses for sale giving us just a 9.7 months supply of houses to meet the current demand. In May 2014, there was an 11 months supply of houses for sale. In May 2010 and 2011, there was over 16 months supply.

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? Consider attracting buyers by converting outside areas like the back yard or front porch into living and entertaining spaces. Sprucing and staging these areas can add a differentiating touch that may make your home appear more spacious and a strong stand out in the marketplace. HouseLogic.com has some tips on turning outdoor areas into attractive, cozy atmospheres that buyers will not be able to forget. Another good source is your REALTOR?.He or she can make suggestions to help you take advantage what buyers are looking for in your market and what will be the most cost effective investment to help sell your house.

When Buying a Home?Anxiety is a given. To lessen or avoid the stress of buying a house, you need to find the right person to help you. If you are going to be spending hours with someone and taking their advice, you want someone you can trust with helping you with one of the biggest financial investments you may ever make. So where do you start to find this person? According to the National Association of REALTORS?' latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 40 percent of buyers found their agent through a referral of a friend, family member, or neighbor. If you get several referrals, meet with each REALTOR? to get to know them. Decide which REALTOR? you are most comfortable with and will help you through the process of finding just the right home.

To view properties that are for sale in your local area go to www.swmar.com and click on "Find Properties". The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS?, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate licensees 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.