Buying a home in Wisconsin apparently was a popular decision in 2013, as home sales rose 10.8 percent last year and prices increased 7.2 percent, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Realtors' Association. While that means prices and sales may slow this year, the market's success last year was noteworthy.
"Mortgage rates have increased a full percentage point since January, and median prices have grown consistently throughout the year," said Steve Lane, president of the WRA board of directors. "Yet the entire state posted genuine gains in 2013, a trend we hope and believe will continue into the new year."
Strong sales Some state experts say new homeowners were encouraged to enter the market due to rising mortgage interest rates, as they looked to secure lower rates before they increased more. In addition, increasing rates are a sign of more stability, especially as they moved up from near-record lows .
"I think the interest rate got them off the fence," said Wisconsin-based Realtor Paula Langlois. "It didn't stop the market. It moved the market forward because they realized that probably yesterday was the best time to buy."
The number of unique foreclosures in Wisconsin also dropped a whopping 31.9 percent to 15,563, dramatically cutting down on the housing inventory, according to the report. A 5 percent increase in new listings wasn't enough to add to the inventory, said Michael Theo, WRA president and CEO.
While decreased inventory could hamper those who are looking to buy a new home this year, what housing is available remains affordable, according to the Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index. The percent of median-priced homes that a family with median income can afford with current mortgage rates and a 20 percent down payment was 227 in December, down from 274 in December 2012.
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