ST. JOSEPH, MI ? "While March set the bar high for the SWMI housing market, April brought significant increases in selling prices that were set in March and outperformed April 2014," stated Gary Walter, EVP, of the Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS?, Inc.


The number of houses sold in April and March varied just 1 percent (242 vs. 245). The average selling price in April jumped to $186,327 from $160,996; a 16 percent increase. The median selling price rose 20 percent with $138,250 in April versus $115,500 in March. The significant increase in selling prices raised the monthly total dollar volume by 14 percent. The total dollar volume in April was $45,091,173 and in March was $39,443,923.

Walter said, "Comparing year-to-year, the number of houses sold in April 2015 was up 8 percent over April 2014 (242 vs. 224). The number of houses sold year-to-date is up 9 percent (801 vs. 735). Looking back to 2006, the year-to-date number in April 2015 of 801 was the highest number of houses sold in that same time frame over the ten year period."

"There was a 12 percent rise in the total dollar volume for April 2015 when compared to last year in April ($45,091,173 vs. $40,279,761). Year-to-date, the total dollar volume was up 11 percent ($141,420,656 vs. $127,405,510). Even though we consider 2006 the peak housing market year, the year-to-date total dollar volume this year in April was the highest for the ten year period. In April 2006, the year-to-date total dollar volume was $121,718,471," Walter continued.

The average selling price increased 4 percent in April 2015 to $186,327 compared to $179,820 in April 2014. The year-to-date average selling price was 2 percent higher this year ($176,555 vs. $173,341).

The median selling price of $138,250 set the record for the highest median selling price in our 10 year comparison and it was up 9 percent over April 2014 when the median selling price was $127,050. Year-to-date the median selling price at $121,700 was also the highest since 2006 when the year-to-date median selling price was $114,750. The year-to-date median selling price in April 2015 rose 14 percent over April 2014 ($121,750 vs. $107,000).

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

"In April, the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a part of all closed transactions in our market plunged to 13 percent from the 21-22 percent recorded in the previous months of 2015. In April 2014, the percentage was at 23 percent. At 13 percent, this was the lowest percentage obtained in April since 2009. In April 2009, the percentage peaked at 54 percent," said Walter.

Locally, the mortgage rate has held fairly steady this year. In April 2015, the rate was 3.83 versus 4.48 in April 2014. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in April was 3.67 percent compared to 3.77 percent in March for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

"While our selling prices have improved, the inventory of houses for sale has not reached the levels of years past. Our inventory of homes for sale continues to be very low. In April, the supply of homes available dropped to a 9.1-months supply from 9.8-months supply in April 2014. In April 2010, the inventory level was 15.6-months supply," stated Walter.

According to the National Association of Realtors?, despite properties typically selling faster than at any time since July 2013, existing?home sales nationally slowed in April but remained above an annual sales pace of five million for the second straight month.All major regions except for the Midwest experienced sales declines in April.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in April from an upwardly revised 5.21 million in March. Despite the monthly decline, sales have increased year?over?year for seven consecutive months and are still 6.1 percent above a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales in April failed to keep pace with the robust gain seen in March. "April's setback is the result of lagging supply relative to demand and the upward pressure it's putting on prices," he said. "However, the overall data and feedback we're hearing from Realtors? continues to point to elevated levels of buying interest compared to a year ago. With low interest rates and job growth, more buyers will be encouraged to enter the market unless prices accelerate even higher in relation to incomes."

The national median existing-home price for all housing typesApril was $219,400, which is 8.9 percent above April 2014. This marks the 38th consecutive month of year?over?year price gains and is the largest since January 2014 (10.1 percent).

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwestincreased 1.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.22 million in April, and are 13.0 percent above April 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $173,700, up 11.4 percent from a year ago.

The percent share of first-time buyers remained at 30 percent in April for the second consecutive month. First?time buyers represented 29 percent of all buyers in April 2014.

All?cash sales were 24 percent of transactions in April, unchanged from March and down considerably from a year ago (32 percent). Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 14 percent of homes in April, unchanged from last month and down from 18 percent in April 2014. Seventy?one percent of investors paid cash in April.

NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., cautions that closings for some home sales could drag after August 1 and into the fall as lenders transition to the new closing procedures and documentation required by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act and Truth in Lending Act, or RESPA?TILA, integrated disclosure rule. "There likely will be bumps in the closing process while all parties get used to the new requirements," he said. "We hope that the move away from the HUD?1 is smooth, but even if only 10 percent of transactions experience closing issues, that's as many as 40,000 transactions a month."

Polychron ? testifying before Congress on May 14 ? advocated for a grace period through the end of 2015, which would delay enforcement of the new rules to the slower winter months.????

Nationally, the total housing inventory at the end of April increased 10.0 percent to 2.21 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 0.9 percent below a year ago (2.23 million). Unsold inventory is at a 5.3?month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.6 months in March.

"Housing inventory declined from last year and supply in many markets is very tight, which in turn is leading to bidding wars, faster price growth and properties selling at a quicker pace," says Yun. "To put it in perspective, roughly 40 percent of properties sold last month went at or above asking price, the highest since NAR began tracking this monthly data in December 2012."

The numbers reported for local sales include residential property in Berrien, and the western half of Van Buren and Cass counties.? All three counties are included in numbers and percentages and do not reflect differences in any individual areas.


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 is located at 3123 Lake Shore Drive St. Joseph, MI 49085. The Association phone number is (269) 983.6375.? They can also be contacted through their web site, www.swmar.com.

The National Association of Realtors?, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.