Wisconsin Home Sales Hit Record In 2020 Despite Pandemic

Despite Sharp Declines In Early 2020, Market Ends The Year With Strong Sales

for sale sign outside a home
An “I’m Taken” placard rests on a real estate for sale sign outside a home, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. Charles Krupa/AP Photo

While the economy in 2020 proved extremely challenging for a lot of Wisconsin businesses and workers, the state’s housing market saw record sales last year.

According to the year-end report from the Wisconsin Realtors Association, there were 88,685 sales of existing homes in 2020. That’s the highest annual total on record since the group started using its current sales reporting system, and 7.3 percent higher than the sales in 2019.

Record-low mortgage rates propelled sales in the second half of the year, following a sharp sales decline in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Economist David Clark of Marquette University, who consults on the WRA reports, said the main obstacle to matching those sales in 2021 will be the falling number of homes on the market.

“The challenge we have is not that we don’t have enough buyers,” Clark said. “The challenge is that we don’t have enough properties to sell. Our inventories have also dropped to record levels.”

Inventories are so low now, Clark said, that “at some point that starts taking a significant toll on sales. It certainly has led to pretty dramatic increases in median prices.”

The median price of a home in Wisconsin stood at $215,000 at the end of the year, up 9.7 percent from December 2019.