After a robust May through September and a small decline in October, the housing market in November ended in a double digit decline for total dollar volume in sales and for average and median selling prices when compared to October and to November 2013.

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The number of houses sold and closed this year dropped 30 percent from October (322 vs. 224) to November. In 2013 the drop was 26% (315 vs. 234) This November, ten fewer houses were sold than in November 2013 for a 4 percent decline (224 vs. 234).

Comparing November 2014 to November 2013, the total dollar volume dropped 25 percent ($32,741,588 vs. $43,536,082). The average selling price fell 21 percent to $146,168 from $186,052 in November 2013. This November average selling price was the lowest price in November for the last nine years. The median selling price declined 12 percent ($101,750 vs. $115,500).

The strong market from May to October helped to save year-to-date results when comparing to last year. There was only 4 percent drop in the number of houses sold (2275 vs. 2869) and less than a 1 percent change in total dollar volume ($520,890,605 vs. $523,731,508). The year-to-date selling prices remain higher than last year. The average selling price was 3 percent higher at $187,708 vs. $182,548 and the median selling price was 7 percent higher at $130,000 vs. $121,000.

The median price is the price at which 50% of the homes sold were above that price and 50% were below.

The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in our market increased to 17 percent after holding between 11 and 12 percent for the previous six months. We started the year at 36 percent in January and dropped to 11 percent in May. The highest number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes peaked at 75 percent in February 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate decreased slightly to 4.05 in November from 4.07 in October. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in November was 4.00 compared to 4.04 in October for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

In November the supply of homes available dropped to a 9.6-months supply based on the last 12 months of sales from a 10.5-months supply in October. During the peak months this year, the inventory was between 11- and 12-months supply.

This data reflects home sales across Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties and should not be used to determine the market value of any individual property. If you want to know the market value of your property, please contact your local REALTOR?.

When Selling Your House?During the holiday season, you have the advantage of showing your home decorated in the spirit of the holidays with a tree covered in lights and other festive decorations. Add warmth and cheer outside with cleared sidewalks and a nice wreath on the front door. Keep interior and exterior decorations conservative and neutral to allow buyers to think how they might see themselves living in your house during the next holiday season. Ask your REALTOR to make suggestions for making your home open and inviting to buyers so they will be eager to make the move even during the holiday season.

When Buying a Home?When searching for a home, start by making a list of all the things that will make a home one that you will be happy in for years to come. For example, your list might include being in a certain school district, close to recreational facilities and near where you work. Prioritize your list by the items that you are willing to compromise on to get a home in your price range. Let your REALTOR know your priorities so he or she can help guide you during your initial discussions and to keep you focused when searching online using sites such as realtor.com. Getting a home in your price range is important but having the home that best meets your lifestyle needs will make it a dream home. The National Association of Realtors? surveyed home buyers and found in their 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers that 2/3rds of buyers said they compromised on some aspect they wanted. The most common compromise was on the price of the home (23 percent). Close behind was the size of the home. Other factors at odds included lot size, the condition of the home, a home's distance from one's job and friends or family, quality of the neighborhood, and school district reputation.

To view properties that are for sale in your local area go to www.swmar.com and click on "Find Properties". The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS?, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate licensees and ancillary service providers for the real estate industry in Van Buren, Berrien and Cass Counties. The Association can be contacted at 269-983-6375 or through their website at www.swmar.com.