The housing market in March came on with a full head of steam to help raise the first quarter results significantly above last year. Of the 559 houses sold in the first quarter, March, at 245 houses, was 43 percent of the total. The number of houses sold in the first quarter was up 9 percent above the first quarter of 2014.

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Comparing to February sales (170), March was up 44 percent. The number of houses sold in March this year was up 26 percent over March 2014 (245 vs. 195).

The first quarter of 2015 ended with the total dollar volume 11 percent higher than in 2014 ($96,329,483 vs. $87,125,749). The total dollar volume in March increased 31 percent over March 2014 ($39,443,923 vs. $30,122,652).

The average selling price at the end of the quarter stayed within 1 percent of last year with less than a $2000 increase in 2015 ($172,325 vs. $170,500). The average selling price in March of $160,996 was up 4 percent over the average selling price of $154,424 in March 2014. In February, the average selling price was $155,828.

The first quarter of 2015 ended with the median selling price surging 16 percent above the median selling price in 2014 ($109,900 vs. $95,000). The March median selling price of $115,500 rose 8 percent above the $107,000 median selling price in March 2014. In February, the median selling price was $108,000.

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

The end of the quarter average and median selling prices have risen steadily over the years since 2009 when the local housing market hit bottom to now being within roughly $4,000 of the first quarter selling prices in the peak market years of 2006-2007.

In March, the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a part of all closed transactions held to 21 percent, with January and February maintaining at 22 percent. In March 2014 the percentage was 24 percent. In 2014, January had the highest percentage at 36 percent and the lowest percentage occurred in May and June at 11 percent. Looking back, the highest percentage occurred in February 2009 when 75 percent of all transaction involved bank-owned or foreclosed homes. The 11 percent set in May and June of 2014 was the lowest percentage recorded


The overall housing inventory continues to drop year-to-year well below inventory demand. In March, the overall inventory fell to 8-months supply of homes for sale from 8.8-months supply last year. In March 2010, the overall inventory was 14.7-months supply.

Locally, the mortgage rate bumped up to 3.91 from 3.84 in February. In March 2014, the mortgage rate was 4.5. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in March was 3.77 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 your home ?When you have a signed agreement from a buyer for your home, you may do a high-five with your REALTOR? but in the whole selling process you are still 20 yards from the goal line. You have several tasks to complete before you get to closing. Most transactions include a home inspection and appraisal for which you will have to make your home available. Any contingencies in the contract, such as repairs, must be completed. If the home inspection brings up any issues, those must be discussed and negotiated with the buyer. If the appraisal comes in higher or lower than the selling price, your REALTOR? can advise you about the best way to handle the situation, but in any case you and the buyer are bound by the contract terms. Finally before the closing, you and your REALTOR? should meet to go over the closing forms and contract to make sure all the terms are met and costs are correct. Following the closing, after all the forms are signed, is when you have crossed the goal line and you can relax and celebrate.

When buying a home ?When buying a house?It really is important to sit down with your REALTOR? before even looking at any homes. This meeting should be a discussion about what type of home you are looking for, what features you would like the home to have and then the financing details should be clarified. The financial details should start with the amount of down payment money that you have and your credit score. Next, you should ask about the other charges you will need to pay a lender or broker for providing the mortgage. Your REALTOR? can explain, in general terms, about points and fees, real estate appraisals, closing fees for an attorney or settlement agent, title insurance, and government recording fees and transfer taxes and other charges he/she has seen in closings with local lenders. This background information and also checking with a trusted financial advisor prior to shopping for your mortgage will help you be more confident in getting the right terms for you.

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.