Wisconsin’s real estate market surging

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — The real estate market in Wisconsin continued to rebound last month, as sales of existing homes rose 19.5 percent and the median sale price nudged up 2.4 percent.

The figures released by the Wisconsin Realtors Association reflect the 10th straight month of double-digit sales growth in the state, including a rise in sales volume in every region of the state.

There were 5,218 Wisconsin homes sold in April, compared with 4,365 in April 2011. The median price was $128,000, up from $125,000 in the same month last year.

The positive numbers, as well as other hopeful signs, such as multiple offers on a house, have given the beleaguered industry room for optimism.

“I think people are saying, ‘OK, it’s finally hit bottom,’ and they are starting to get off the fence,” Carla Scharf-Ewert, a broker based in Fond du Lac.

However, the optimism is still tempered by the fact that there’s still a healthy inventory of homes on the market, along with plenty of foreclosure properties keeping prices down.

From January to April, sales are up 19.9 percent, but the median sale price in that period is still down 1.1 percent.

“We’ve seen some false starts in the past, so I’m a little reluctant to say we’ve definitely hit bottom,” said David Clark, a Marquette University economics professor. “The one thing that’s a little different is that this is happening against a backdrop of pretty solid increases in sales, and that’s been happening for almost a year now.”

The better gauge of where the residential housing market stands is sales and prices over the summer months, Clark said.

Median prices were up in the northeast, north and south central parts of the state. But other areas, including southeastern Wisconsin, were still down from 2011 levels. The median price was down 1.6 percent in that region, but it fell a full 4.4 percent in the metro Milwaukee area where most of the state’s foreclosed properties are concentrated.

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