Property Trax: Dane County home sales rise 31 percent in February, but single-family homes see better prices despite big condo sales

2013-03-14T18:00:00Z Property Trax: Dane County home sales rise 31 percent in February, but single-family homes see better prices despite big condo salesKAREN RIVEDAL | Wisconsin State Journal | krivedal@madison.com | 608-252-6106 madison.com

Dane County saw its strongest home sales since 2007 in February and for the year through February, while median price also rose a bit for the second month in a row.

Median price for condominiums alone, though, fell 6.2 percent compared with February 2012, according to the South Central Wisconsin MLS on Thursday — despite seeing 55 percent more sales than last year.

There also was considerably less inventory available, for both homes and condos, compared with the last two years. Total active listings were 2,650 at the end of February, down from 3,494 in February 2012 and 3,770 in February 2011.

Separately, active listings for single-family homes for sale stood at less than 1,800, the lowest figure for February since 2005, the MLS reported. That translates into just a 4.5-month supply, and a market that generally favors sellers, the MLS report said.

Single-family home sales were up 25 percent year-over-year in February, and median sales price was up 5.8 percent.

Condos, on the other hand, remain numerous enough to help buyers retain their edge. There was an eight-month supply for sale at the end of February, while six months is generally considered a balanced market.

“This... may explain (why), while buyers are out in greater numbers, the sales prices (for condos) have not yet started to rise,” MLS Executive Vice President Kevin King said in a statement Thursday.

In February, while the number of condo sales rose 55 percent, median sales price fell from $140,000 in February 2012 to $135,000, a 3.6 percent year-over-year drop.

Also of note, homes and condos in or near foreclosure comprised just 15 percent of sales in Dane County, compared with 22 percent for the entire south-central Wisconsin region for distressed sales.

Overall, February sales were up 31 percent year-over-year in Dane County, or from 240 in February 2012 to 316 in February 2013. In February 2011, there were only 197 sales, the report found, showing the market is certainly more active now than in recent years.

“Even the snowy days of February have not deterred interest in the market,” King said. “Showing requests (were) up substantially — almost 27 percent higher than last February.”

February also marked the 20th straight time that Dane County sales have exceeded the same month of the previous year.

Year-to-date through February, sales also are up strongly. For the first two months of this year, total sales were 615, up 27 percent from 475 in the same time period of 2012.

Meanwhile, median sales price in Dane County in February was up 2 percent to $195,500 from February 2012 — though it still trailed February 2011, when it was $198,500.

For the year through February, the median price of $196,500 was up 1.6 percent from $193,400 in the same period of 2012, while being down 2.8 percent from the first two months of 2011, when it stood at $202,250.

Across the eight-county region, sales also were ahead of last year for the month and for the year through February, fueled largely by Dane County sales, the MLS reported.

Median sales price was up nearly 7 percent in the region over February 2012, with active listings at a balanced 6.4 months regionally, down from 9.7 months last February.

As to financing, the MLS report said cash sales continued to play “a significant role” in the market, making up 25.6 percent of February sales in Dane County.

Cash sales may indicate investor activity in the market, and/or the presence of buyers such as retirees paying cash as they down-size.

But whoever they are, there are proportionately a lot more of them — in February 2007, cash buyers made up just 9.3 percent of sales, MLS data shows.

Similarly, conventional loans paid for just 60.2 percent of sales in February, compared with 86.5 percent in February 2007 in Dane County.

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