News improving on local housing marketLocal housing statistics indicate that people believe in the market again. “They know interest rates are as low as possible,” said Jim Ronding of RE/MAX 1 in Superior. “They don’t believe the sky is falling anymore.”
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Local housing statistics indicate that people believe in the market again.
“They know interest rates are as low as possible,” said Jim Ronding of RE/MAX 1 in Superior. “They don’t believe the sky is falling anymore.”
That, coupled with warm temperatures earlier this month, has been keeping Realtors busy. Ronding pulled up numbers from the Superior Area Association of Realtors to show what the local real estate market was like in 2011.
In the Superior area, which includes the town, village and city of Superior and village of Oliver, realtors sold 256 single-family homes in 2011, an 8 percent increase compared to the 237 sold in 2010. The average price of those homes was $102,700 and homes stayed on the market an average of 87 days. In 2010, the average price was $107,643 and homes stayed on the market an average of 80 days.
“What happened in the last 12 months is our value has dropped but the number of sales has gone up,” Ronding said. “More investors are coming into the market than ever before. They’re seeing good deals, so they’re buying.”
In Douglas County, realtors sold 119 single-family homes in 2011, a 12 percent drop compared with the 136 homes sold in 2010. The average price of those homes was $132,571 and a county home stayed on the market an average of 125 days. In 2010, the average price of a county home was $134,985 and the average number of days homes were on market was133.
There are lots of other areas in the Midwest where the markets are doing worse than Superior, Ronding said.
“People are pretty aggressive here trying to bring in jobs,” he said, and real estate is closely tied to jobs.
Although home worth has suffered over the past few years, Ronding said, equity is still a great reason to buy real estate.
“It’s not going to go down forever,” he said.
Another reason to look into buying a home is the low interest rates, which have hovered around 4 percent for the past three months, according to the Associated Press. The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage edged up to 3.98 percent this week.
Ronding offered another reason to buy.
“Wow, there’s some deals out there,” he said. “You can take your time and find your dream house.”
There are currently about 139 homes on the market in Superior, which translates into a 5-month supply based on last year’s sales. That number indicates it’s a buyer’s market, Ronding said. Anything less than a 3-month supply is a seller’s market while a 3-4 month supply is balanced. There was one point over the last year when there was a 10-month supply of homes available in Superior, making it very buyer-friendly.
Buyers looking for country property have even longer to look There are currently 139 homes available for sale in the county, more than a 1-year supply based on last year’s sales.
“You can take your time, is what I’m saying,” Ronding said. “Rates are going to be this low for a while. Why not start looking?”
The Douglas County Clerk of Courts Office holds another positive sign for local real estate. The number of foreclosure filings dropped — from 234 cases in 2010 to 196 in 2011.
Foreclosures began an upward climb in 2004, when the number filed in Douglas County topped 100. In 2008, foreclosures filings passed the 200 mark — with 115 homes foreclosed on and another 92 cases being dismissed. Another 235 foreclosure filings were recorded in 2009.
Of the 2010 cases, 128 ended in foreclosure judgments, the highest number of actual foreclosures ever in Douglas County, according to information from the Clerk of Courts Office. Another 100 cases were dismissed and six are still open.
Out of last year’s 196 cases, 92 homes have been foreclosed on, 47 foreclosure cases have been dismissed and another 57 remain open.
“I think there’s going to be foreclosures for the next couple of years,” Ronding said. But he expects to see an increase in short sales, where the bank sells a property for less than the amount owed on it. They aren’t easy and both the homeowner and bank take a hit, Ronding said, but they are less hurtful to a person’s credit rating and usually end up costing a bank less than foreclosure would. A homeowner has to have a valid reason for a short sale, a hardship such as a loss of a job or predatory mortgage loan.
According to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the state real estate market improved in 2011 with home sales totaling 0.2 percent above 2010 levels. Fewer sales were reported in Douglas County in December in 2011 compared to December of 2010 — 32 homes were sold in December of 2010, 29 in 2011.
Year-end numbers show a 6.9 percent decrease in house sales in Douglas County — from 435 in 2010 to 405 in 2011. Ronding said the numbers are different that the Superior Area Realtors Association numbers because they may include private and non-realtor sales.