August 2020 Housing Market Update

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The hot summer market continued to sizzle last month, in our hyper-local market, the state of Wisconsin, and Nationally.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®,

“Existing-home sales continued to climb in August, marking three consecutive months of positive sales gains, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Each of the four major regions experienced both month-over-month and year-over-year growth […]”

Existing Home Sales Report by National Association of REALTORS®

The MetroMLS echoed this positive message for the Metro-Milwaukee area, within which I reside and work, for last month.

“The housing and stock markets continue to be the leaders in the economy. In August, showings remained at strong levels while housing inventory remained limited, continuing the competitive bidding market we have seen in recent months. With the stock indexes at or near record highs as mortgage rates remain near record lows, signs point to a busy fall housing market.

[…]

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased by 12.4% to $281,080. Days on Market remained flat at 28 days. Buyers felt empowered as Months Supply of Inventory was up 20.8% to 2.9 months. As we look towards the fall, we usually see housing activity slow down as the back-to-school season begins. But, this year is far from normal. While uncertainty remains on what effects the upcoming elections and any seasonal resurgence of COVID-19 may have on the financial and housing markets, the healthy housing demand we see today will create significant tailwinds in the near term”

Monthly Indicators by MetroMLS

Finally, as far as market reports go, the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association had similar things to say in regards to August home sales, in our tri-county area of Kenosha, Racine and Walworth Counties.

“According to the monthly WRA home sales report that was released on September 21 , a new three-month record for the most Wisconsin home sales ever was set in the months of June, July and August.

In Walworth County, the number of home sales in August 2020 was 4.1% lower than in August of last year, while the median home sale price increased by 7.9%. Through the first eight months of 2020, the number of home sales in Walworth County is down by 3.9% compared to the first eight months of last year, while the year-to-date median home sale price is up by 11.1%.

In Racine County, the number of home sales in August 2020 was 4.4% higher than in August of last year, while the median home sale price increased by 18.4%. Through the first eight months of 2020, the number of home sales in Racine County is down by 0.9% compared to the first eight months of last year, while the year-to-date median home sale price is up by 8.9%.

In Kenosha County, the number of home sales in August 2020 was 2.9% lower than in August of last year, while the median home sale price increased by 13.0%. Through the first eight months of 2020, the number of home sales in Kenosha County is down by 2.5% compared to the first eight months of last year, while the year-to-date median home sale price is up by 7.4%. […]

Wisconsin Housing Market Records Record Sales for Summer by Wisconsin REALTORS® Association

Metro MLS. Report © 2020 ShowingTime

Why are we seeing positive things come out of a market in the midst of a pandemic? One of the major contributors is mortgage interest rates for home loans.

“The all-time low for mortgage rates was set in mid-September, averaging just 2.86%. With record-low mortgage rates, prospective home buyers can significantly decrease their borrowing costs.”

Mortgage Rates Edge Up, Still Near Record Lows by National Association of REALTORS®

Another noteworthy contributor to this uptick in the real estate market is our decreasing unemployment rate.

“In Walworth County, the unemployment rate dropped from 6.6% in July, to 5.4% in August. These figures compare favorably to the national unemployment rate, which was 8.4% in August […]”

The State of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development report

Overall, it has been one heck of a summer. Personally, I have experienced incredibly high buyer demand and frustratingly low inventory. This has resulted in many more offers written compared to offers accepted. More than once, I have had buyers be outbid by cash offers with a quick closing date more often than I am used to. It also meant I took the same buyer out on more showings than it usually takes to get them under contract. I’ve experienced many pre-listing appointments where the potential seller is “just curious,” and/or folks that want to “wait to see what happens,” with the market, the economy, and the country overall. Lastly, I’ve seen new listings go under contract within DAYS of hitting the market, and upwards of 10 showings the first day or two of listing.

All things considered, my message is very similar to last month. Buyers, if you are at all serious about purchasing a home, you must be ready to jump. Get your pre-approval ready to go, and check your MLS search frequently; when the right home comes onto the market, you will have to get in there ASAP or you’ll miss out. Sellers, the lack of inventory means when your home is listed, you better be ready to move; it is very likely that your home will sell quickly.

ANNIE ZAMBITO
LICENSED REAL ESTATE AGENT
KEEFE REAL ESTATE  |  LAKE GENEVA, WI 53147
PHONE 262.348.3253   |   262.215.1982
EMAIL   azambito@keeferealestate.com  |  anniezrealty@gmail.com
OFFICE   262.248.4492  |  www.keeferealestate.com    


Sources:

Existing Home Sales Report by National Association of REALTORS®

Monthly Indicators by MetroMLS

Wisconsin Housing Market Records Record Sales for Summer by Wisconsin REALTORS® Association

Mortgage Rates Edge Up, Still Near Record Lows by National Association of REALTORS®

Metro MLS. Report © 2020 ShowingTime

Mortgage Rates Edge Up, Still Near Record Lows by National Association of REALTORS®

The State of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development report

March 2020 Real Estate Report

The Effect of COVID-19 on Our Housing Market

The Metro-Milwaukee MLS (Multiple Listing Service) gathers real estate stats for each month, and compile data points into easily digestible graphs for real estate professionals and consumers alike. Additionally, they highlight recent events to provide a comprehensive real estate market report. I’ve included the portions of their March 2020 report, released April 10th, that pertain to our hyper-local market here in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Also, I’ve included some data released by ShowingTime, which is the showing scheduling tool used by nearly a million real estate professionals in over 250 MLS’s, for some additional insight to the impact of the current COVID-19 crisis. The information provided by ShowingTime is in real time and nationwide, to provide a more up-to-date, wider vantage point.


Here’s what our Metro Milwaukee MLS stated in their Monthly Indicators introduction:

As COVID-19’s impact spread across the country in March, the stock market declines started in February accelerated downward before recovering a bit in the last week of the month. With volatility across all the financial markets, lenders began tightening underwriting standards and some buyers found they no longer were approved for a loan. Massive layoffs also shook the economy with 6.6 million initial jobless claims filed in a single week—double the number last week and ten times higher than any other week on record prior to this month.

[…] While the effect of COVID-19 is varied throughout the country, we are likely to see impacts to housing activity now and into the coming months. Its continued spread is leading many companies and consumers to change their daily activities.

Metro Milwaukee MLS ‘Monthly Indicators Report’ © 2020

The Local Market Update, showed some interesting trends. Compared to March 2019, Walworth County had 6.5% fewer new listings (200 vs. 219), but 5.1% more closings (124 vs. 118) AND a nearly 20% increase in median sales price ($268,450 vs. $224,000). Additionally, days on market (until sale) have gone down 16.1% (78 days vs. 93 days). Zooming into my local area, the Lake Geneva/Delavan/Williams Bay area, things went a bit differently. We saw 26.7% more new listings, but 10.5% less closings in March 2020, compared to March 2019. However, there was a substantial 42.2% rise in median sales price AND a 28.3% decrease in days on market!

What does this mean for Walworth County? Well, logically, given the current pandemic, less sellers put their homes up for sale; however, more sellers sold their homes, for more money, and in less time, this March compared to last.

While our local market (LG-Delavan-WB) is so small that the numbers are often not an accurate depiction of the market at whole, the increase in median sales price for March 2020 compared to last year was seen across our tri-county area. Call me a Pollyanna (I’ve been called worse), but this makes me optimistic.

Next, let’s check out how property showings have been… infected. Governor Evers declared that real estate is an “essential business” allowed to continue operations, despite his ‘Safer at Home’ order (recently extended to May 26th). This makes sense to most, given that we need a home in order to abide by said order.

That being said, many of my buyer clients have been laid off, others have had significant cuts in their pay, and a handful even had to close their business doors, as a result of this order. I honestly feel guilty going on showings, with my few remaining buyers, given the financial hardships facing my other clients, friends & family members.

Side Note: I wear gloves to every showing, and make my buyers follow suit. If the home is owner-occupied, we also wear masks. Follow this link for CDC guidelines on how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Sellers, similarly, are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Many brokerages are sending out COVID-19 consent forms for the agent and buyer(s) to sign, certifying he/she is not sick, has not tested positive, or come in contact with someone who has tested positive… but there is no denying the fear remains.

As a reminder, this virus went ‘pandemic’ status Wednesday, March 11th. ShowingTime has accumulated data across over 250 national MLS’s and published The Impact of COVID-19 on Real Estate Showings, and the graphs speak for themselves. According to ShowingTime, showings are down 58.4% nationally, and down 37.8% in Wisconsin, compared to this time last year (charts created 4/16/2020).

ShowingTime Target Market Analysis 2019 Showings for LG-Delavan-WB
ShowingTime Target Market Analysis 2020 Showings for LG-Delavan-WB

The two charts above breakdown our local market showings by price point. Please take note of the scale along the bottom. There number of showings have decreased by the hundreds in the past month alone.


My Takeaways

I have done many ‘virtual showings,’ and a ‘virtual open house,’ but it’s not the same. Buying a home is often the largest, or one of the largest, purchase one makes in their lifetime – would you be comfortable buying a home you haven’t seen with your own two eyes? Without stepping foot inside your new home until you’ve left the closing table? I wouldn’t, but that’s just me.

I could understand, for example, a multi-family property investor putting an offer on a home, sight unseen, if what they primarily seek is an occupied, income producing rental property. Furthermore, a few years ago, I was part of a transaction where the buyer had a job transfer, and was not able to see the property he purchased in person beforehand. Regardless, these are not regarded as optimal property purchase scenarios. Different, but not preferred.

Overall, I have never more content living here in Wisconsin, an hour away from any major metropolitan city, without public transportation. Post-pandemic, I do think more people will be moving out to the countryside. However, this virus has clearly impacted real estate. The long term effects of the CARES act and mortgage forbearance have yet to be revealed. We must stay vigilant with our finances, now more than ever.

I’ve been using my free time at home to stay in tune with our local and national real estate markets, as well as the overall economy. We will recover from this, eventually, if we all do our part. Remain at home, if you can; take precautions, if you can’t. We are all in this together.

Stay safe & healthy ❤ , Annie Z.


ANNIE ZAMBITO
LICENSED REAL ESTATE AGENT
KEEFE REAL ESTATE  |  LAKE GENEVA, WI 53147
PHONE 262.348.3253   |   262.215.1982
EMAIL   azambito@keeferealestate.com  |  anniezrealty@gmail.com
OFFICE   262.248.4492  |  www.keeferealestate.com    


Sources:

Metro Milwaukee MLS: 10K Market Indicator Reports & Local Market Update © 2020

‘Safer at Home’ & Safer At Home Order Extended

CDC guidelines on how to protect yourself

ShowingTime: The Impact of COVID-19 on Real Estate Showings

CARES act