Housing market still tough to callNationally, sales of existing homes are down 25 percent compared to the same time last year. Realtors say a popular tax credit pushed buyers into the market early.
By: Patty Murray, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Nationally, sales of existing homes are down 25 percent compared to the same time last year. Realtors say a popular tax credit pushed buyers into the market early.
Comprehensive numbers for Wisconsin home sales aren't available yet. But a report from the National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes in July are down by 25.5 percent.
In the Midwest region, July sales were down by 33 percent compared to last year. First time buyers who closed deals in June were still eligible for an $8,000 tax credit. Sellers were eligible for a $6,500 credit.
Joe Murray is a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Realtors Association. He says it's hard to overstate the impact of the credits.
"Existing home sales in the second quarter were almost 20 percent above the year before because of that credit,” says Murray. “So that's really, really accelerated. So a lot of the activity that would normally take place over the summer just took place earlier."
Murray says the credit put the housing market on somewhat of a rollercoaster.
"It depends how you look at it. If the idea was to stimulate home sales, stabilize home prices then it was a success,” he says. “If it was designed to even out the market as opposed to what it did do it wasn't a success. But overall it was a pretty successful program."
Even though the credits are no longer available, Murray says mortgage rates are at all time lows but buyers must have down payments and good credit. He says bankers and appraisers are busy with homeowners eager to refinance at a lower rate.