ST. JOSEPH — The Southwest Michigan housing market made a big jump in April after a slow start to 2019. 

Housing sales leaped 27 percent in April from March, as the region saw the number of sales increase from 234 to 297.

At 297 houses sold last month, this April set a new record for sales in the year-over-year comparison dating back to 2006, and was up 7 percent over April 2018, when 278 houses were sold.

Alan Jeffries, association executive for the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, said the number of houses sold – on a year-to-date basis – is up 5 percent.

“The average selling price in April 2019 only grew 2 percent from April 2018, but still reached the highest average selling price in the year-over-year comparison,” Jeffries said. “At the same time, the median selling price jumped 10 percent and set a new record for median selling price in April.”

Year-to-date, the average selling price slipped $2,000 or 1 percent in April 2019 when compared to April 2018 – $209,837 versus $211,879. The year-to-date median selling price at $155,000 was up 3 percent from April 2018 – and also set a new record.

The increased number of house sales raised the total dollar volume in April to a new record $64.9 million and brought the total dollar volume in April up 9 percent over April 2018. Year-to-date, the total dollar volume was up 4 percent and also set a new record.

The inventory of houses for sale was just 1 percent below that in April 2018, which was the first time in three years the inventory didn’t drop by double digits when comparing year-to-year in April.

At 1,484 houses, the market had a 5.8-month supply of homes for sale in Southwest Michigan. In April 2010, the market had a 15.6-month supply.

Locally, the average mortgage rate decreased to 4.32 from 4.47 percent in March. Last year in April, the rate was 4.6. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in April was up slightly to 4.2 from 4.06 in March for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

Across the country

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales saw a minor decline in April – which was a carryover from March’s drop in sales.

Two of the four major U.S. regions saw a slight dip in sales, while the West saw growth and the Midwest essentially bore no changes last month.

Total existing-home sales fell 0.4 percent from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million in April. Total sales are down 4.4 percent from a year ago due to the slow start to 2019.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said he’s not overly concerned about the 0.4 percent dip in sales and expects moderate growth soon.

“First, we are seeing historically low mortgage rates combined with a pent-up demand to buy, so buyers will look to take advantage of these conditions,” he said. “Also, job creation is improving, causing wage growth to align with home price growth, which helps affordability and will help spur more home sales.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $267,300, up 3.6 percent from April 2018. April’s price increase marked the 86th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest saw relatively no percentage change from the month prior, as the annual rate remained 1.17 million, which is 7.9 percent below April 2018 levels.

The median price in the Midwest was $210,500, an increase of 5.5 percent from a year ago.

Nationally, the total housing inventory at the end of April increased to 1.83 million, up from 1.67 million existing homes available for sale in March and a 1.7 percent increase from 1.8 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 3.8 months in March and up from four months in April 2018.

“We see that the inventory totals have steadily improved, and will provide more choices for those looking to buy a home,” Yun said. At the same time, price growth has moderated nationally. “When placing their home on the market, home sellers need to be very realistic and aware of the current conditions.”

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