Sales of existing homes in Wisconsin for 2005 totaled an estimated 123,000 units, up 5.3 percent from 2004 levels based on the seasonally adjusted quarterly estimates of the National Association of Realtors.

An analysis of MLS data by the Wisconsin Realtors Association reveals that four of the six regions in the state experienced solid sales growth in 2005 as compared to 2004; one region was only slightly higher than the record sales in 2004, and one region fell to a slightly lower level than was established in 2004.

The strongest growth in the state was found in the North region, where existing-home sales in 2005 were 27.7 percent higher than in 2004. This region has seen very strong sales of second homes, and it is not uncommon to find sales increases in excess of 60 percent and higher in some counties. Few of the counties experienced reductions in sales volume over the period.

Also strong was the South Central region of the state, where sales volume grew at a healthy 8 percent. Within the region, all counties that report their data experienced sales volume growth off of the record levels established in the previous year. Some of the increases were double-digit.

The Southeast region of the state grew at a solid 4.7 percent, and all but one county grew off of the record levels established in 2004. The county that saw its home sales fall is the lone rural county in the region, and its existing-home sales fell a little more than 1 percent in 2005.

In contrast to the Southeast, the state’s Central region is primarily rural. Existing-home sales grew by 4 percent in 2005 as compared to 2004. Several of the larger counties, including the county that comprises Wausau, which is the only metropolitan area in the region, experienced solid growth. However, two relatively large counties in the region experienced double-digit reductions off their record 2004 sales volume, and one large county was essentially flat.

The Northeast region of Wisconsin was nearly unchanged over the 2004-2005 period, rising just 0.1 percent. Not surprisingly, the record within the region was mixed, with approximately half of the counties experiencing further growth off of the 2004 levels, and half declining somewhat. No consistent patterns between urban and rural counties emerge from the data.

Finally, the state’s Western region was off its record 2004 pace by about 1.6 percent. Here, the larger urban counties tended to decline (some by small margins, others more substantially), whereas the stronger growth was in rural and metropolitan bordering counties in the region.

Within the Midwest, there was substantial variability across the states in the region. While the majority of states experienced some growth and established new record levels of sales, some declined slightly from the levels established in 2004, the Wisconsin Realtors Association reported. The strongest growth rates for 2005 were seen in North Dakota (+9 percent), although this is based on total statewide sales volume of just under 16,000 units in 2005. However, numerous larger Midwestern states such as Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin grew at rates ranging from 5.3 percent to 6.1 percent, and South Dakota, which is of similar size to North Dakota, grew at 5.8 percent over the year. Growth was more modest in Ohio, Illinois, Nebraska and Missouri, ranging from 1 percent to 4.1 percent in 2005 as compared to 2004. Finally, Minnesota and Michigan saw their existing-home sales fall 1.8 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, although it should be noted that these are falling off of the record levels established in those states in the previous year.

Since 2000 all Midwestern states, with the exception of Michigan, saw their existing-home sales grow between 24.6 percent and 48.1 percent. In contrast, the state of Michigan experienced growth of just 12.5 percent over the period. Similarly, since 1990, home sales grew by 75.9 percent to 125.2 percent in all but two states. Kansas grew much more rapidly over the period (+168.6 percent) whereas again, Michigan grew at a much more moderate pace (+27 percent).

The Wisconsin Realtors Association is one of the largest trade associations in the state, representing more than 17,000 real estate brokers, sales people and affiliates statewide.

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