ST. JOSEPH, MI ? "The housing market continues to do well with six continuous months of 250 or more houses sold each month. Since May sales have ranged from 250 to 287 with 273 houses sold in October. The October number of houses sold was up 37 percent over October 2011when only 199 houses were sold. Every month this year the number of houses sold has substantially beat 2011 monthly numbers with the exception of June and August when the numbers sold varied by just 6 houses. Year-to-date the number of houses sold was up 23 percent," stated Gary Walter, EVP, of the Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS?, Inc.

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Walter continued, "Increased sales kicked the October total dollar volume up 46 percent. At the start of the last quarter of the year, the year-to-date total dollar volume was just shy of $400 million and up 30 percent over where we were at in 2011. At this point the housing market total dollar volume has climbed back to where it was in 2008."

The average selling price in October at $158,349 was up 6 percent over October, 2011. Year-to-date the average selling price was up 6 percent over last year at $167,216.

With more houses selling at lower prices, the median selling price fell to $107,000 in October from $109,900 a year ago. The year-to-date median selling price was 5 percent above last year at $105,000."


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

Nationally, sales of existing homes increased in October, even with some regional impact from Hurricane Sandy, while home prices continued to rise due to lower levels of inventory supply, according to the National Association of REALTORS?.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 2.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million in October from a downwardly revised 4.69 million in September, and are 10.9 percent above the 4.32 million-unit level in October 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there was some impact from Hurricane Sandy. "Home sales continue to trend up and most October transactions were completed by the time the storm hit, but the growing demand with limited inventory is pressuring home prices in much of the country," he said. "We expect an impact on Northeastern home sales in the coming months from a pause and delays in storm-impacted regions."

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $178,600 in October, which is 11.1 percent above a year ago. This marks eight consecutive monthly year-over-year increases, which last occurred from October 2005 to May 2006.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 1.8 percent in October to a level of 1.11 million and are 18.1 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $145,600, up 10.6 percent from October 2011.

First-time buyers accounted for 31 percent of purchases in October, compared with 32 percent in September and 34 percent in October 2011.

All-cash sales were at 29 percent of transactions in October, up slightly from 28 percent in September; they were 29 percent in October 2011. Investors, who account for most cash sales, purchased 20 percent of homes in October, up from 18 percent in September; they were 18 percent in October 2011.

In Southwestern Michigan, the percentage of bank-owned or foreclosed home transactions held to 24 percent; the same as in September. This percentage has been the lowest point for three months of this year. January was the peak point with 46 percent.

"We have seen a steady decrease in housing inventory over the last several years. As of October 31st, we had 2,730 houses listed for sale, which was down 11 percent from the 3,061 we had in October 2011. In 2009, we had 3,574 houses for sale which is a 24 percent decrease in inventory. The current inventory level based on the last 12 month's sales is an 11.9-months supply of homes for sale. At the end of the third quarter in 2011 we had a 15.2-months inventory and a 16.6-months inventory in 2010," Walter reported.

Nationally, the total housing inventory for all housing types at the end of October fell 1.4 percent to 2.14 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.4-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.6 months in September, and is the lowest housing supply since February of 2006 when it was 5.2 months. Listed inventory is 21.9 percent below a year ago when there was a 7.6-month supply.

Locally, the mortgage rate increased to 3.63 from 3.49 in September; the lowest rate this year. Last year in October the mortgage rate was 4.23.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional fixed rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.38 percent in October from 3.47 percent in September; the rate was 4.07 percent in October 2011.

NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif., said record low mortgage interest rates shouldn't be taken for granted. "Even with rising home prices, we'll continue to see favorable housing affordability conditions over the coming year, but they won't last forever," he said.

"Inflationary pressures are expected to build during the next two years. As a result, mortgage interest rates will also rise with inflation. Buyers who are currently held back by tight mortgage credit standards should work to improve their credit scores so they'll be able to qualify for a mortgage while conditions are still favorable."

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.

AboutThe 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, (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 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.