Archived Story

Southwest Michigan housing market showing positive signs of stabilization

Published 8:21pm Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ST. JOSEPH — In 2011, the average home selling prices in a month-to-month comparison ranged from a low of $141,912 in June to a high of $176,543 in September.  The median selling prices ranged from $70,500 in March to a peak of $114,960 in December. The median price is the price at which 50 percent of the homes sold were above that price and 50 percent were below.

“The housing market in our area from September through December, for the most part, showed positive signs of stabilization,” said Gary Walter, executive vice president of the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, Inc.

“While selling prices fluctuated, three out of the four months the selling prices were within just thousands of dollars,” he said. “For example, the average selling price dropped to $148, 297 in October but in the other months ranged from $170,600 to $176,543. The same was true for the median selling price.

“The median selling price dropped in November to $88,000 but ranged from $109,000 to $114,960 during the other months. The total number of houses sold during this same end of the year period also held steady at 186 to 199.”

Walter continued, “At the end of the first quarter of the year, the year-to-date total dollar volume was up 30 percent over the first quarter of 2010. Then there were softer results in April and May that dampened the market. By June, the year-to-date total dollar volume was only 4 percent above the previous year.

For the second half of the year, year-to-date total dollar volume stayed even with or within 1 to 2 percent of last year.”

The local inventory has been shrinking. In December 2008, there were 3328 houses for sale, which was a 14.1-month supply. In December 2009, the month supply slipped to 13.3 and in 2010, slipped to 13.6.

This year at the end of December, there were 2461 houses listed, which was a 12.7-month supply.

The mortgage rate in southwest Michigan hovered around 5 percent until August when it dropped to 4.32 and continued to decline until December when it fell to 4.06. According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.99 percent in November from 4.07 percent in October and the set a new record of 3.96 in December.

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.

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