ST. JOSEPH, MI ? "This year at the end of the third quarter, fewer homes were sold and those that sold did so at higher prices than at end of the third quarter in 2013. The number of houses sold to date was down 4 percent from last year (2229 vs. 2320). Year-to-date the average selling price was up 6 percent or almost $11,000 above last year ($192,113 vs. $181,256). The median selling price, year-to-date, was up 7 percent; raising the median selling price to $131,000 from $122,000 in 2013 at the end of the third quarter," stated Gary Walter, EVP, of the Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS?, Inc.

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"Even with 91 fewer homes sold so far this year, the higher selling prices helped the year-to-date total dollar volume move up 2 percent over last year ($428,219,813 vs. $420,510,471)," Walter continued.

Walter also reported that for the past four months home sales have held in a fairly tight range of 291 to 330 with August having the highest number of sales. Since May the monthly average and median selling prices also held steady. From May to September, the monthly average selling prices ranged from $199,295 to $203,326 and the median selling prices ranged from $139,200 to $148,700. The lowest monthly average selling price, $154,424, occurred in March and the lowest monthly median selling price, $90,000, occurred in February.

Comparing September 2014 to September 2013, the number of homes sold this year dropped 3 percent (293 vs. 301). The average selling price of $203,326 was up 1 percent over last year in September. The median selling price took a $12,700 jump this past September to $139,000 compared to $126,500 in September 2013; a nice 10 percent increase. In fact, the median selling price at $139,200 was the highest since 2006 for the month of September. The total dollar volume in September was down 2 percent from September 2013 ($59,574,517 vs. $60,677,499).

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

"For the past five months, the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in our market has remained between 11-12 percent. This is the lowest percentage since 2009, when we started tracking this number monthly. We started the year at 36 percent in January and dropped to 11 percent in May. Just for perspective, the highest rate recorded, 75 percent was in February 2009," stated Walter.

The overall housing inventory level was 11.3-months supply; a slight drop from August when the inventory level was at 12-months supply.

Locally, the mortgage rate increased slight to 4.24 in September from 4.19 in August. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in September was 4.16 for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

Nationally, after a modest decline last month, existing-home sales bounced back in September to their highest annual pace of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors?.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million in September from 5.05 million in August. Sales are now at their highest pace of 2014, but still remain 1.7 percent below the 5.26 million-unit level from last September.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the improved demand for buying seen since the spring has carried into the fall. "Low interest rates and price gains holding steady led to September's healthy increase, even with investor activity remaining on par with last month's marked decline," he said. "Traditional buyers are entering a less competitive market with fewer investors searching for available homes, but may also face a slight decline in choices due to the fact that inventory generally falls heading into the winter."

The national median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $209,700, which is 5.6 percent above September 2013. This marks the 31st consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest declined 5.6 percent to an annual level of 1.17 million in September, and remain 4.9 percent below September 2013. The median price in the Midwest was $165,100, up 4.9 percent from a year ago.

The percent share of first-time buyers continues to underperform historically, remaining at 29 percent for the third consecutive month. First-time buyers have represented less than 30 percent of all buyers in 17 of the past 18 months.

All-cash sales were 24 percent of transactions in September, up slightly from August (23 percent) but down from 33 percent in September of last year. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 14 percent of homes in September, up from 12 percent last month but below September 2013 (19 percent). Sixty-three percent of investors paid cash in September. ?

Nationally, the total housing inventory at the end of September fell 1.3 percent to 2.30 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.3-month supply at the current sales pace. Despite fewer homes for sale in September, unsold inventory is still 6.0 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.17 million existing homes available for sale.

NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors? in Dayton, Ohio, says fewer distressed sales is good news for appraisers, who have faced undue pressure since the downturn. "An appraisal is an important part of the home buying and selling process," he said. "With foreclosures and short sales falling closer to average levels, appraisers will have fewer distressed sales in their list of comparables when determining home valuations."

The numbers reported for local sales include residential property in Berrien, and the western half of Van Buren and Cass counties.? All three counties are included in numbers and percentages and do not reflect differences in any individual areas.


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 is located at 3123 Lake Shore Drive St. Joseph, MI 49085. The Association phone number is (269) 983.6375.? They can also be contacted through their web site, www.swmar.com.

The National Association of Realtors?, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.