MARKET REPORTS: December 2018


Home prices were consistently up again in most markets in 2018 but at reduced levels compared to recent years. High demand for few homes for sale fueled price increases, but evidence is mounting that inventory will finally improve in 2019. This may apply some downward pressure on prices for beleaguered home buyers. A fourth interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in 2018 spooked the stock market to close out the year. The Fed has indicated that the number of rate increases in 2019 will be halved, which may be of little comfort to an already compressed consumer.

New Listings in the Milwaukee region increased 2.4 percent to 798. Pending Sales were down 55.3 percent to 420. Inventory levels fell 1.9 percent to 3,380 units.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 6.1 percent to $205,900. Days on Market was down 12.7 percent to 48 days. Buyers felt empowered as Months Supply of Inventory was up 4.8 percent to 2.2 months.

Unemployment rates remained remarkably low again in 2018, and wages
continued to improve for many U.S. households. It is generally good for all parties involved in real estate transactions when wages grow, but the
percentage of increase, on average, has not kept pace with home price
increases. This created an affordability crux in the second half of 2018. Housing affordability will remain an important storyline in 2019.