Metro MLS Milwaukee Area Housing Market

I see the Milwaukee Metro Market still sluggish. Interest rates are still low, but it is still difficult for Buyers to qualify to purchase a home. Prices seem slightly higher, but Closed Sales are still below last year. Days on the market has not changed since 2014. Inventory is low, and does not provide much selection in some markets for some of the qualified Buyers. Spring has Sprung, and the housing market should be starting to move. Let’s hope the Economy in this market continues to improve!

Monthly Indicators


There has been talk of abundant cold and snow this winter (unless you happen
to live in California!). When weather patterns turn bad, like wicked bad, real
estate industry pundits tend to go gloom, assuming that Americans hungry for
homeownership are bothered by a little frozen precipitation. The nation will
unfreeze, inventory is expected to rise and home sales are widely expected to
increase. These are good times, indeed, and many of us now have an
enchanting shared experience that we can walk uphill to school both ways.

New Listings in the Milwaukee region increased 10.2 percent to 1,942. Pending
Sales were down 33.9 percent to 685. Inventory levels rose 3.7 percent to 6,725
Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 12.3
percent to $169,000. Days on Market was up 0.6 percent to 97 days. Buyers felt
empowered as Months Supply of Inventory was up 5.7 percent to 5.1 months.
In national financial news, rumors that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could one
day be a thing of the past have people wondering about the future of the 30-
year fixed-rate mortgage. But let’s not sound the alarm just yet. A drastic
change to lending’s gold standard is certainly not on the immediate horizon.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen seems to have no immediate
interest in raising interest rates for the first time since 2006. The economy
remains stable, which should keep housing rolling through the short-named

Metro MLS February 2015 Market Report

MLS will send only the bare bones of listing data to Zillow, Trulia and

By Andrea V. Brambila
Associate Editor
Inman News

In a bid to drive more traffic to listing brokerage websites, consumers will soon see only limited listing data when they search for Mid-South homes on Zillow, Trulia, and other third-party public portals.

In May, Inman News published a guest piece by Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman in which he said that when real estate brokers and MLSs provide information about their listings to big portals like Zillow, Trulia and, they should be more like advertisements ? with just basic details, a price and a few photos ? and a linkback to the full listing on the listing broker?s website.

Fish skeleton image via Shutterstock.

Now, at least one MLS has taken that advice. By the end of the month, Brentwood, Tennessee-based RealTracs Solutions says it will limit the information included in direct data feeds it sends to public portals. RealTracs, which has nearly 10,000 members, is also in negotiations with listing syndicator ListHub to limit third-party portals? display of listing data.

The changes include a four-photo limit; the elimination of several data fields; listing descriptions will be restricted to 150 characters; and public portals will be required to include a link to the listing detail page on the listing broker?s website.

As part of its reasoning behind the changes, RealTracs said consumers deserve a closer relationship with Realtors who provide the work product powering public portals, and brokerage websites can provide a more personal experience for consumers. The MLS also said brokerages should be allowed to manage advertising in ways advantageous to their companies.

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Give Every Room a Purpose

house info2
Experts: Give Every Room a Purpose
Associated Press (09/14/14) Cook, Kim

Staging is important when it comes to putting a home up for sale, and even unused space should be decorated in an inviting way. Many homeowners have one room in the house that does not really have a job, but rooms that feel inhabited and clearly state their function enable buyers to see themselves living in the house. “The purpose of home staging is to draw the buyers into the house emotionally so they say, ‘Wow, we want to live here!'” says Melinda Bartling, a real estate agent and home stager in Overland Park, Kan. Buyers will question why a space looks that way and wonder what is wrong with it. Stagers should consider transforming a small room into a large closet or dressing room, or converting a bedroom into a creative workspace such as an art studio. Depending on the market, turning a bedroom into a home office also may pay off.

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Milwaukee Metro Existing Home Sales Slip in August

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (09/11/14) Gores, Paul

A report by the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS? (GMAR) found that sales of existing homes in the Milwaukee metropolitan area fell 2.2 percent in August, continuing a slower year for the local housing market. The report shows 1,821 homes were sold last month, down from 1,862 in August of 2013. GMAR President Mike Ruzicka said residential real estate professionals are not alarmed by the trend of lower sales because other market characteristics are improving. Ruzicka pointed to a lower number of foreclosures and distressed properties and a higher percentage of traditional buyers. Court records show that foreclosure filings in southeastern Wisconsin are down 22.5 percent this year than in the first eight months of 2013.

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FHA Borrowing Just Got Better

National Association of Realtors

FHA Borrowing Just Got Better

Real estate consumers scored a big win this month when the Federal Housing Administration announced it would eliminate prepayment penalties for borrowers. Learn why NAR fought for the change. That, plus important guidance on copyright law and more on “The Voice for Real Estate.”

Watch now

About That FHA Prepayment Penalty . . .Posted in Breaking News, Economics, Law & Policy, Politics & Government, by Robert Freedman on September 11, 2014

News that FHA will eliminate a prepayment penalty starting next year has been widely reported. It?s a move NAR has been seeking for some time because it will relieve borrowers of a financial hit that?s entirely out of their control and also bring the agency?s policies in line with other federal agencies that backstop mortgages. Perhaps most importantly, it will align the agency?s policies with the qualified mortgage rule (QRM), which defines what the federal government considers a safe home mortgage loan.

What?s being eliminated is an interest-rate charge. For FHA borrowers that pay off their mortgage before the end of the month, the lender is allowed to charge to the borrower the interest rate costs on the loan from the day the loan is retired until the last day of the month. So, if a borrower paid off the loan on Sept. 10, the penalty would be 20 days of interest payments. That can be hundreds of dollars. Once the change takes effect, on Jan. 21, 2015, lenders will no longer be able to apply that interest charge to the borrower.

NAR continues to work with FHA on other matters. A big point right now is getting some improvement in FHA?s policies on condominium financing. It?s too difficult for many condo projects to get the stamp of approval that?s needed for people who want to buy a unit in the project to get FHA financing.

In any case, you can learn more about what NAR is doing on FHA and in other legislative, regulatory, and legal areas in the latest video in The Voice for Real Estate news series.

Debt Cancellation, FHA Prepayment – VIDEO

Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors – June, 2014 Housing Report

Sales are still down in the Milwaukee Surrounding 4 counties, according to the report, although Milwaukee County showed an increase compared to June, 2013. Optimistic Sellers saw increased listings in June compared to June 2013. The report attributes this to a lack of inventory for buyers to choose from, but I would attribute it to lack of viable buyers due to more stringent Lending rules and the slow economic recovery. Foreclosures still seem to be selling, but the higher priced housing seems sluggish except for the cream puff listings. Time will tell if the increase of listings actually sell, or linger on the market. Overall, I have seen increases in sales prices, and shorter listing times, again depending on the condition of the homes. Bottom line, I see homes are starting to move, but Buyers have the option to be picky, due to the inventory levels.

Read the report:
GMAR June 2014 Housing Report

May, 2014 WRA Real Estate Market Report

May Existing Home Sales Decline Even as Median Prices Rise

The WRA is happy to provide you with a monthly home sales report and in-depth market data. For an overview of the report, see below. For a more detailed look, view the full version at the link below. If you have questions or need additional information, please let us know.

Steve Lane, WRA Chairman of the Board, and Michael Theo, WRA President and CEO

Press Release

MADISON, Wis. – Existing home sales continued to lag behind 2013 levels but median prices rose by a solid margin in Wisconsin. May home sales dropped 6.9 percent compared to the May 2013 volume of sales. In contrast, median prices increased over the same period, rising 3.8 percent to $150,000.

Continue reading >>

Click Here to View The 2014 May Home Sales Report

6 Ways to Turn Off Any Buyer or Seller

Trulia Pro BlogFor Real Estate Professionals
Tara-Nicholle Nelson
February 6th, 2014

In the wild world of dating, when you encounter a ?turn-off,? you can just pack it in and not to go on another date with that guy or gal again. But turn-offs can be much more detrimental when they come up in the realm of your real estate.

Often times, your clients may inadvertently make big mistakes that can cost them big when it comes to securing their dream home or their dream offer. Indeed, turn a buyer off, and your seller?s may risk low offers or?worse?a home that just won?t sell. The same goes for buyers. In today?s market, multiple offers are common. And even in cases when your client is the only buyer on the scene, having a cooperative seller goes a long way toward everything from getting access to the place for inspections to getting a price reduction when the appraisal comes in low. Thus, the potential exists for buyers to turn sellers off, and risk having their dream home slip right through their fingers.

As your clients proceed toward their quest for a drama-free home journey, it?s your job to stop them from making these far-too-common mistakes and help them snag the best buyers and sellers to help their real estate dreams become a reality.

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Looking to buy? Best cities for first-time home buyers

Reality Check
Edited by Diana Olic | @diana_olick

In the rush to get in on the bargains of the housing crash, first-time home buyers were largely left out. Investors swarmed the most distressed markets, spreading their cash like fertilizer and pushing home prices up far faster than most expected. In less distressed markets, first-time buyers were still hampered, as the pendulum swung hard from loose lending to too-tight credit.

Now, as the spring season brings more listings to the national market and as investors seem to be pulling back a bit, first-time buyers are testing the water again. Some markets, like San Francisco, will likely be cost-prohibitive, while others, like Philadelphia, could offer easier entry to home ownership.

“First-time home buyers were put at a disadvantage against all-cash buyers, but with interest rates still staying low, with the marketplaces having risen fairly decently, you’re seeing the opportunity where it’s less of an investment for investors but a good opportunity for first-time home buyers,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move Inc. operator of

Houses are about to get really, really smart ranked the top 10 markets for first-time buyers, using five factors to judge the best: market popularity, prices, inventory, time on market and employment. Pittsburgh, Tampa, Fla., and Philadelphia, ranked highest, mostly because their prices have not spiked much and their unemployment rates are lower than the national average.

Interestingly, Phoenix also made the top 10. Phoenix was one of the hardest hit housing markets during the crash, with prices literally falling by more than half from peak to trough. Investors targeted the market early, buying thousands of distressed properties at deep discounts and driving prices up by double-digits very quickly. Still, Berkowitz said it’s a great place for first-time buyers now.

How we will live: More green, more urban, more efficient

“Investors are looking for a certain level of return,” he said, and they’re not getting it in Phoenix anymore. Large-scale investors have moved on to other markets, like Atlanta and Chicago, where discounts are better.

Click to View Video “Hey First Time Buyers, Here are the Best Housing Markets” released a list of the top markets for the first time home buyer. CNBC’s Diana Olick reports this is a crucial segment of the industry.

Click to View the Video “Where First Time Homebuyers Are” Video

Top 10 Markets for First-Time Home Buyers by Rank

realtor com best places to live 2014

Getting a mortgage is easier, but only just

New programs open options for borrowers article


Mortgage credit continued to trend higher in February, following a steady increase in availability since November 2013, the latest report from the Mortgage Bankers Association revealed.

The mortgage credit availability index edged higher 0.44% to 113.5 in February from 113 in January.

If the MCAI had been tracked in 2007, it would have sat around 800. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012.

“For the third month in a row, mortgage lenders and investors slightly expanded credit offerings in February on net, as a result of offsetting factors,? said Mike Fratantoni, MBA?s chief economist.

“Specifically, the recently implemented QM/ATR sections of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations stipulate that ARM loans must qualify at the highest allowable rate for the first five years of the loan,? he continued.

Because of this, many investors have discontinued loans whose interest rate adjusts after only 3 year (also known as 3/1 ARMS).

But despite the pull back in the 3/1 programs, lenders and investors added several new 5+ year ARM programs, including those for Jumbo loans, to their repertoire resulting in a net increase to the MCAI, Fratantoni explained.

Brena Swanson
Brena Swanson joined the HousingWire news team in February 2013.
Prior to serving HW in the role as Reporter and Content Specialist,
Brena attended Evangel University in Springfield, MO.