SW Michigan Scores “Jaw-Dropping, History-Making” Housing Market in September

If the Southwest Michigan housing market continues at the torrid pace it’s been racing along at this summer, the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors will soon run out of superlatives to describe the market without having to repeat themselves.

By way of example, the Association Executive Alan Jeffries tells us, “The September 2020 Southwest Michigan housing market results were jaw-dropping and history-making.” He continues, “First and foremost, 518 houses were sold and closed, which was the highest number in local history in any month going back to January of 2005. Previously in peak years, the number of sales reached the low 400 sales range. This year July at 479, August at 455, and September sales were off the charts, bringing year-to-date sales back to within 1-percent of 2019 after three months of shutdown earlier in the year.”

The number of houses sold in September was 49-percent higher than in September of 2019, and year-to-date, the number of houses sold was down to 2,721 from 2,731 sold by September of 2019.

Average, median, and year-to-date selling prices escalated to new record prices in the association’s year-over-year comparison for September prices.

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The average selling price at $316,525 was 31-percent higher than the $241,620 average selling price in September of 2019. The year-to-date, average selling price increased 21-percent to $287,218 as compared to last year’s. $237,390.

The median selling price climbed to $220,000 from the $193,500 achieved in September of 2019 for a 14-percent increase. Year-to-date, the median selling price has risen 18-percent to $210,000 from last year’s $177,500.

The median price is the price at which 50% of the homes sold were above that price, and 50% were below.

With the record-setting number of sales and selling prices, the total dollar volume sky-rocketed 95-percent in September to a total of $163,960,120 vs. last year’s total of $84,083,825. The year-to-date total dollar volume increased 21-percent to $781,521,082 vs. the level of $648,313,723 at the same time a year ago.

Once again, Jeffries reports that the inventory of houses for sale took a big hit, dropping 31-percent or 664 houses from a year ago (1,156 this year vs. 1,820 last year). The market at the end of September had a 5.0-months supply of houses for sale. By way of comparison, in September of 2010, there were 3,574 houses for sale. The number of listings for sale includes homes for sale across Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the westerly 2/3rds of Van Buren Counties.

For the last four months, the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions has held steady at 1-percent. That marks the lowest percentage reached since 2009. The highest percentage anytime previously in a month of September was 37-percent in 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate was 3.113, up slightly from 3.104 in August. Last year in September, the rate was 3.786. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in September was 2.88 down from 2.91 in August for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

The data reflects home sales across Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the westerly 2/3rds of Van Buren Counties and should not be used to determine the market value of any individual property. If you want to know the market value of your property, you should contact your local Realtor.

Jeffries also offers advice on several fronts.

When Selling a Home…

Even in a fast pace market, setting the selling price of your house can be tricky. To you, your home is filled with memories and the investments you made doing renovations and year-to-year maintenance. To buyers, your home is a house with a bunch of rooms.

Determining the value of your house requires setting aside emotions. Working with a Realtor will give you the expertise and local knowledge to advise on how to price your house, so it doesn’t languish on the market.

The most common pitfalls sellers fall into include thinking your house is so great that you list at too high of a price and is passed over during the new listing phase by buyers. The longer your house sits on the market, the less likely you will get your asking price.

Next, thinking that your price should include expensive upgrades. Your Realtor  can help you assess the market value of your upgrades and answer the big question.

Finally, pricing your home to make a certain amount of money is the wrong approach. Your Realtor will research the market to see what other houses in your area are selling for. He also knows the market, the inventory of houses for sale, and how your home compares to others in the area.

When Buying a Home…

Before you step foot in a house for sale, you have several key steps you should take and should spend significant time to help you make a wise investment in a new home.

First, prioritize what you most want in a home. You’ll make a much better decision on what home to buy if you focus on your priorities. And list what trade-offs you are willing to make.

Start interviewing Realtors, specifically buyers’ agents. A buyer’s agent will work in your best interest to find you the right property, negotiate with the seller’s agent, and shepherd you through the closing process. Your agent also can be instrumental in finding a lender who is familiar with first-time homebuyer programs.

Next, start budgeting for miscellaneous homebuying expenses. Buying a home has some miscellaneous upfront costs. A home inspection, title search, property survey, and home insurance are examples.

Your Realtor can help you with good advice through the rest of the steps.

To view properties that are for sale in the local area, go to http://www.swmar.com and click on “Search.” The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of Realtors, and ancillary service providers for the real estate industry in Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties.  The Association can be contacted at 269-983-6375 or through their website at www.swmar.com as linked above.