Decline in homes on Wisconsin market might cause 2021 figures to fall behind 2020’s records

When homes go on the market in Wisconsin, they sell. But the number of homes for sale keeps falling.

"For sale" sign outside a home
John Bazemore/AP Photo

Demand is high but not supply.

That’s a refrain that could be applied to many sectors of the economy these days, but for home sales in Wisconsin, it’s been the case for years.

And while Wisconsin home sales this year are still slightly ahead of the record figures in 2020, the supply challenges might mean the state’s real estate sector misses out on passing the record.

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The Wisconsin Realtors Association reported 8,524 sales of existing homes in October. That is 12.3 percent lower than sales in October 2020.

But comparing the two years is difficult because of the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, said economist David Clark, of Marquette University, who releases the monthly home sales reports in conjunction with the WRA.

“The second half of last year was an unusually strong half of the year,” he said. “We really got a significant rebound from the depressed sales that took place in the first half of 2020.”

Sales for the first 10 months of 2021 are just ahead of last year’s record sales. However, Clark said this year’s sales will most likely come in just shy of 2020 because the number of homes on the market keeps falling.

In October, the number of total listings was down 7.2 percent from those of the year before.

And houses that do go up for sale are still selling quickly, which puts more pressure on prices. The median home price rose 7.5 percent in October to $245,000.

“With that said, I fully expect that when we get to the end of the year, this is likely to be our second-strongest year on record,” Clark said. “We’re still going to have a very strong year.”