A slowly growing number of transplants from other areas of the country are helping to drive local housing sales, despite a tight market with fewer homes to sell.
Extremely strong demand during a usually slow winter season pushed sales for February to record levels, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association. David Clark, a WRA economist, said demand was high though there were fewer homes to sell. February sales, he noted, were the best since 2005.
“The real estate market has been real good. This past winter was a record,” said Anthony Nudo, a vice president with Berkshire Hathaway Epic Real Estate, 6040 39th Ave. “Foxconn fever has taken over our corner of the state. There’s upward pressure on prices because of the increased demand with flat or reduced supply. We hope to get more supply online this spring to alleviate some pressure.”
“Interest rates are still historically low,” he added. “Because of the great job opportunities in our area, we are not likely to see demand diminished anytime in the near future.”
The current 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 4.54 percent, according to Bankrate, an interest rate service.
Housing sales last month rose 5.5 percent. Local Realtors sold 110 houses in February. So far, for the first two months of the year, Realtors have sold 237 homes.
The tight housing inventory has helped to create a competitive sellers’ market with multiple buyers often bidding against each other for the same home, and prices have risen over the past two years.
In February, the median home sales price was $154,400, up nearly 2 percent over the median price for a Kenosha County home a year ago, according to the latest statistics released by the WRA.
Statewide, the median price for February was $166,000, a 7.4 percent jump over the $154,500 reported for February a year ago. The median sales price for 2018 so far is $167,000.
Clark said Realtors have done a good job preparing buyers and sellers for what to expect in this market. They have learned that if they find a house they like and fits their needs, that they will not have much time to ponder the deal.
As a result, some prospective buyers are thinking that the winter months, traditionally a slow period, might be a good time to buy a home because there would be less competition.
Moreover, homebuyers from other areas, especially from Illinois, are coming to Kenosha County seeking bargains and lower property taxes,according to Linda Swan, a Realtor with Re/Max Newport Elite, 6905 Green Bay Road.
“Illinois people are coming here. A lot of what I’m hearing are retirement-age people who don’t want to spend all of their money on real estate taxes,” Swan, a past president with the Southport Realtors Association, explained. “People can get homes with more amenities for less money than they can get in Illinois.”
Swan said she has also seen people relocating here from California and Florida who have been transferred by their employers, as well as those who have moved here to take new jobs.