Strong Wisconsin housing market continues in November
Home sales up in Langlade County
For Antigo Times
The Wisconsin housing market continued its healthy pace of growth in November with both sales and median prices increasing compared to November 2014, according to the most recent analysis of the existing home market conducted by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). November home sales increased 3.4 percent, and the median price rose 3.4 percent to $150,000.
In Langlade County, 22 homes sold in November 2015, up 10 percent from the 20 homes sold in November 2014. The median price of those sales was $55,750, up 39.4% from the $40,000 median price seen in November 2014.
Through the first 11 months of 2015, 318 home sales were recorded in Langlade County, up from the 277 at that point in 2014. The median price of those sales remained flat, however, at $83,000 both years.
“We expected positive growth in 2015, but this has definitely exceeded our expectations,” said K.C. Maurer, WRA board chairman. The state is on pace to exceed 75,000 homes sold for the year. “The last time we sold that many homes was 2005 when just over 78,000 homes were sold,” said Maurer. Through the first 11 months of 2015, sales were up 11.3 percent statewide with every region showing gains of between 10.6 percent and 12.1 percent. “This robust market is attributable to an improving economy and low mortgage rates,” Maurer said.
The state unemployment rate stood at 4.2 percent in November, which is a full percent lower than the previous November. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which dropped below 4 percent in December 2014, has stayed below 4 percent, except for one month, throughout 2015.
The median price of a Wisconsin home rose to $150,000 in November, which is 3.4 percent higher than the level in November 2014, and year-to-date, the median price is up 5.4 percent compared to the first 11 months of 2014.
“Housing as an asset has added real value for owners and has served as an important hedge against inflation over the past three years,” said WRA President & CEO Michael Theo. While the inflation rate has hovered at a low 1.5 and 1.6 percent in 2013 and 2014, lower energy prices this year dropped the inflation rate to no more than 0.5 percent throughout 2015. “Median home prices increased 7.1 percent in 2013, 3.1 percent in 2014 and 5.4 percent so far this year,” noted Theo. “Home values have significantly outpaced inflation over the last three years, giving homeowners a great return on investment.”
Even with the healthy increase in home prices, housing remains quite affordable in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index. The index shows the portion of the median-priced home that a household with a median family income can afford to purchase. This assumes a 20 percent down payment and the remaining balance financed at current rates using a 30-year conventional mortgage. The index stood at 243 in November, up from 232 in October and slightly above the level of 239 in November last year.
“Our housing is more affordable than the national and the Midwest rates,” said Theo. The National Association of REALTORS® reported a national index of 165 and a Midwest index of 207 in October.
The WRA expects mortgage rates to slowly rise in 2016 now that the Federal Reserve Board has begun raising short-term interest rates. “We’ve really benefited from low interest rates, but the Fed is signaling they are serious about keeping inflation in check, and that’s a good thing,” said Theo.
The Federal Reserve announced a 0.25 percent increase in the Federal Funds Rate for the first time in seven years and indicated that it would gradually push this rate upward over the course of the next three years.
“Raising interest rates will surely move some potential buyers off the fence and into the market,” Theo said. “With rates still in the 4 percent range, this is a good time to buy a home even though it may mean moving during the winter months,” he said. Theo noted that a buyer can save thousands of dollars over the course of a mortgage by purchasing with lower interest rates, and even though this is a very tight market, using an experienced realtor is an excellent way to identify real value in this market.