After the surge of homes sold during the first quarter, thanks to the Stimulus Tax Credit, we have seen a steady drop in the number of houses sold each month, compared to the same month in 2009, to the point that our year-to-date number has dipped 3 percent below where we were at in September 2009.? The good news for sellers is that we have continued to see the average and median selling prices steadily increase each month.? At the end of the third quarter, average and median selling prices were up 9 percent over selling prices at this time in 2009.? The higher selling prices have kept the year-to-date total dollar volume up 6 percent over last year.

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The number of houses sold fell 17 percent from the number of houses sold in August 2010 and 23 percent from the number sold in September 2009.? This is the second time this year that we have had such a huge swing in unit sales when comparing to last year.? In July we had a 29 percent dip in sales.? While we sold fewer houses, the selling prices on a monthly basis climbed back up to where we were in peak sales years such as 2006 and 2007.? In fact, comparing to September 2009, the average selling price this year in September was up 4 percent ($180,957 vs. $174,728) and the median skyrocketed by comparison up to 20 percent ($125,750 vs. $104,928). The median price is the price at which 50% of the homes sold were above that price and 50% were below.

In September, two-thirds of the homes sold and closed where through normal transactions.? Transactions involving foreclosed or bank owned properties were at 31 percent. This is roughly where we were last month.? Our lowest level in bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a part of all closed transactions was 24 percent in July.? The lowest point in 2009 was 34 percent.

Starting the first of October, we had 3574 houses listed for sale, which is a 5 percent drop from the number of houses listed for sale in September. With this inventory level, based on the last 12- month?s sales, we have a 17.3-month supply of homes for sale, which is down significantly from last year when we had a 19.0-month supply.? The increased sales caused by the tax credit during February through April helped to reduce the inventory this year.

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?.?

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When selling your home ? Feed the buyer?s imagination.? Accent your home?s best features.? Remove distractions. You want the buyer to say, ?I want to live in this house.?? Ask your REALTOR? for advice on staging your home.? Leave notes about utility costs, antique or unusual fixtures, and recent repairs or upgrades.? Turn on the lights and leave your home during the showing.? Seeing you will remind buyers that they are buying someone else?s house and not a home.??

When buying a home ? You want to get the most house for your financial investment.? Shopping for a house and the buying process can be an exciting and scary adventure where you can make costly mistakes.? To lessen the uncertainty and stress factors, start by sitting down with a REALTOR? before you walk into your first open house.? He or she will help you determine what you can afford and remind you there are additional monthly expenses to consider in homeownership. As an objective advisor, they will help you to stay level headed and not be swept away by features that don?t meet your needs and keep you from being too picky about things that you can easily upgrade once you own the home. Using a REALTOR?S knowledge of the overall housing market will help you to avoid costly pitfalls and unpleasant surprises.

To view properties that are for sale in your local area, as well as the entire 22 county area, go to www.swmric.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.org.