ST. JOSEPH (Source: The Herald-Palladium, St. Joseph, Mich. (MCT) – The number of houses sold in the area in May was the highest for the month since 2007, according to Gary Walter, executive vice president of the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors Inc.
“Every month this year the number of houses sold and closed in our local housing market has outpaced the number sold last year by double digit percentages ranging from 17 percent in March to 29 percent in April,” Walter said.
In May, 287 homes were sold compared to 178 in May 2011, a 61 percent increase and a 23 percent increase over April of this year, he said.
The peak for May sales was 2006 when 328 houses were sold, Walter said.
Year-to-date numbers are also looking good.
Walter said 31 percent more houses have been sold so far this year than for the comparable period of 2011.
The swell in the number of houses sold in May increased the dollar volume by 60 percent compared to last year in May and brought a 33 percent increase over April.
Year-to-date, the total dollar volume increased 30 percent over last year. Walter said the average selling price in May slipped 1 percent to $159,051 from $160,681 last May. But the average selling price has been increasing every month this year. The average selling price in May was up 9 percent from April. But on the down side, the year-to-date average selling price, $147,584, is down 7 percent from last year.
The median selling price jumped 12 percent over last year to reach $117,900 compared to $104,900 in May 2011, and leaped 38 percent over the $85,000 median selling price in April. Year-to-date the median selling price is down about 2 percent from $90,000 to $88,000.
The median is the price at which half of the homes sold for higher amounts and half sold for less. The national median existing-home price for all housing types rose 7.9 percent to $182,600 in May from a year ago, the third consecutive month of year over year price gains, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the last time there were three back-to-back price increases from the same month a year earlier was from March to May of 2006. He said some of the gain stems from a shrinking share of distressed homes in the sales mix. In Southwest Michigan, the percentage of bank-owned or foreclosed home transactions dropped from 40 percent in April to 29 percent in May.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 1 percent in May compared to a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $147,700, up 6.4 percent from May 2011.
Yun said that nationally, the market is recovering “despite excessively tight credit conditions and higher down payment requirements, which are negating the impact of record high affordability conditions.”
Locally, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.92 percent in May compared to 4.82 percent a year ago.
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional fixed rate mortgage declined to a record low 3.80 percent in May from 3.91 percent in April; the rate was 4.64 percent in May 2011.
The sales numbers reported by the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors include residential property in Berrien County 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.
©2012 The Herald-Palladium (Saint Joseph, Mich.)
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