Wisconsin home sales set an all-time record high in 2003 with an estimated 119,000 homes sold, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

The sales record set in 2003 occurred despite sales moderating in the fourth quarter. A seasonally adjusted total of 30,250 homes were sold in the state between October and December of 2003.

“While the growth rate was just 0.4 percent when compared to the fourth quarter of 2002, we need to remember that the fourth quarter of 2002 was a record quarter as well,” said WRA chairman of the board Walter “Corky” Hellyer. “Thus, even if home sales leveled off, they did so at a very high level.”

With the exception of the south central region of the state, which was flat, all other regions experienced slow to moderate growth in existing-home sales for the fourth quarter. The fastest growing region was the west, which grew at 7.1 percent in Q4 2003 as compared to the Q4 2002. Several counties in the region experienced substantial growth over the period. For example, home sales in Buffalo County were up 60 percent, although this growth rate is on a modest level of volume. In addition, Dunn County grew by 38.2 percent and Chippewa County advanced 29 percent, both on somewhat higher volumes than Buffalo County. Continued strong growth was experienced in the eastern counties around Minneapolis, where sales were up 9.7 percent in St. Croix County, and they increased 4.5 percent in Pierce County. Growth in Eau Claire County was flat at 0.3 percent, maintaining the solid level of sales established in Q4 2002. The only county experiencing decline was LaCrosse County, which fell 9.5 percent over the period.

Home prices increased at a modest pace in the fourth quarter, according to WRA President Bill Malkasian, who noted the median housing price in Wisconsin rose 3.4 percent to $140,000 when compared to Q4 2002. “All regions experienced appreciation of median home sale prices,” said Malkasian. “While appreciation rates have cooled a little from those experienced in the past few years, we do not think that depreciation is likely in the foreseeable future,” he said. Malkasian further pointed out that the economy continues to improve and he is hopeful that job growth will accelerate in 2004. In addition, “Mortgage rates remain at very favorable levels, and the Federal Reserve typically avoids changing interest rates during presidential campaigns. All of these factors suggest a continued solid housing market in the state in 2004” he said.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association is one of the largest trade associations in the state, representing more than 15,000 real estate brokers, sales people and affiliates statewide.

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