Wisconsin's home sales started 2020 strong

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Wisconsin started out 2020 with an increase in home sales and median prices of houses over the same time in 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic is expected to have a major influence on the market now.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association released statistics on Monday showing that sale closings were up 7.9% last month when compared to March 2019. The median sale price of a home sold in Wisconsin had reached $207,500 last month, marking the first time that metric has surpassed $200,000 in the month of March.

"This report revealed the market had strong demand, pushing prices higher due to a limited number of homes for sale," WRA Chairman Steve Beers said in a news release.

In Chippewa and Dunn counties, there were more homes sold in the first three months of 2020 when compared to the same time in 2019, but Eau Claire County saw a decline.

In Chippewa County, there were 155 homes sold in the first quarter of this year, up from the 115 sold a year prior. Dunn County's sales went from 93 to 106 when comparing the two quarters. Eau Claire County's sales slid from 244 in the early months of 2019 down to 223 at the end of this March.

But Beers called this week's report a B.C. — before coronavirus — market and that March's activity represented buyers that had signed contracts four to six weeks prior — well before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers' safer-at-home order will likely put the brakes on the housing market for the next few months, association president and CEO Michael Theo stated.

"It's understandable that many buyers and sellers don't want to risk exposure to the virus, and so they may put their plans on hold for the short-term," Theo said.

The association already has noticed an uptick of homes with sales canceled, expired or withdrawn from the market.

While Realtors are adapting through virtual showings and other ways to reduce contact between sellers and would-be buyers, the reluctance to do open houses and showings is expected to have a significant impact in the housing market for months.

"Even if we do have a quick economic rebound once the pandemic winds down, it will take time for the monthly sales figures to return to normal," Marquette University economist and consultant David Clark said in the WRA news release.

Taking the lag-time between signed contracts and closings into consideration, Clark said sales figures will likely be depressed through at least mid-July.

Tribune Content Agency