ST. JOSEPH, MI ? "Our market was very active from May through September and then there was a small set back in October. In November, the market experienced a double- digit decline for total dollar volume in sales and for average and median selling prices when compared to October and to November 2013," stated Gary Walter, EVP, of the Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS?, Inc.

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Walter reported that the number of houses sold and closed this year dropped 30 percent from October (322 vs. 224) to November. In 2013 the drop was 26% (315 vs. 234) so this drop is not unusual for this time of year. This November, ten fewer houses were sold than in November 2013 for a 4 percent decline (224 vs. 234).

"Comparing November 2014 to November 2013, the total dollar volume dropped 25 percent ($32,741,588 vs. $43,536,082). The average selling price fell 21 percent to $146,168 from $186,052 in November 2013. This November's average selling price was the lowest price in November for the last nine years. The median selling price declined 12 percent ($101,750 vs. $115,500),"Walter said.

Walter continued, "The strong market from May to October helped to save year-to-date results when comparing to last year. There was only a 4 percent drop in the number of houses sold (2775 vs. 2869) and less than a 1 percent change in total dollar volume ($520,890,605 vs. $523,731,508). The year-to-date selling prices remain higher than last year. The average selling price was 3 percent higher at $187,708 vs. $182,548 and the median selling price was 7 percent higher at $130,000 vs. $121,000."

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 increased to 17 percent after holding between 11 and 12 percent for the previous six months. We started the year at 36 percent in January and dropped to 11 percent in May. The highest number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes peaked at 75 percent in February 2009, " stated Walter.

In November, the supply of homes available dropped to a 9.6-months supply based on the last 12 months of sales from a 10.5-months supply in October. During the peak months this year, the inventory was between 11- and 12-months supply.

Locally, the mortgage rate decreased slightly to 4.05 in November from 4.07 in October. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in November was 4.00 compared to 4.04 in October for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

Nationally, after hitting their highest level of the year, existing-home sales slid in November as the housing supply showed some tightening, according to the National Association of Realtors?. All major regions experienced a decline in sales compared to a month earlier.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million in November from a downwardly-revised 5.25 million in October. Sales dropped to their lowest annual pace since May (4.91 million) but are above year-over-year levels (up 2.1 percent from last November) for the second straight month. ??

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales activity was choppy throughout the country in November and housing inventory began its seasonal decline. "Fewer people bought homes last month despite interest rates being at their lowest levels of the year," he said. "The stock market swings in October may have impacted some consumers' psyche and therefore led to fewer November closings. Furthermore, rising home values are causing more investors to retreat from the market."

The national median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $205,300, which is 5.0 percent above November 2013. This marks the 33rd consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwestfell 8.9 percent to an annual level of 1.13 million in November, and are now 1.7 percent below November 2013. The median price in the Midwest was $160,500, up 7.0 percent from a year ago.

The percent share of first-time buyersin November climbed to 31 percent, up from October (29 percent) and is the highest share since October 2012 (also 31 percent). First-time buyers have represented an average of 29 percent of buyers through November of this year.?

All-cash sales were 25 percent of transactions in November, down from 27 percent in October and 32 percent in November of last year. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in November, unchanged from last month and below November 2013 (19 percent). Sixty-one percent of investors paid cash in November.

Nationally, the total housing inventory at the end of November fell 6.7 percent to 2.09 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace ? unchanged from last month. Despite the tightening in supply, unsold inventory remains 2.0 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.05 million existing homes available for sale.

?"Lagging homebuilding activity continues to hamstring overall housing supply and is still too low in relation to this year's promising job growth," says Yun. "Much faster price and rent appreciation ? easily exceeding wage growth ? will occur next year unless new construction picks up measurably."

NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., says Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's new low down payment program should improve access to credit for responsible buyers. "NAR applauds Fannie and Freddie's commitment to home ownership by serving creditworthy borrowers who lack the resources for substantial down payments plus closing costs with its new down payment program," he said. "The new program mitigates risk with strong underwriting and ensures that responsible buyers have access to safe and affordable mortgage credit. Furthermore, NAR believes lenders must do their part to ensure loans are prudently underwritten and are made available to qualified borrowers."

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.