Wisconsin Home Sales See Sharp Drop In April

April's Numbers Down Nearly 7 Percent From Same Time Last Year

Home, For Sale Sign
David Zalubowski/AP Photo 

Wisconsin’s housing sector is getting a clearer picture of how deeply the COVID-19 pandemic has cut into sales activity: The Wisconsin Realtors Association has reported 5,948 sales of existing homes last month, down 6.9 percent from April 2019.

Economist David Clark of Marquette University said it’s no surprise demand fell in April, given that the “Safer at Home” order was in effect. The supply of homes, he said, “really diminished significantly.”

If you look at new listings, if you look at total listings, if you look at months of inventory — those have all gone down,” Clark said.

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New listings in April were down 38.2 percent from those a year earlier, while overall listings fell more than 20 percent in a market that had struggled for years with limited inventory. Clark said the dramatic decline in supply explains why housing prices continued to rise in April in spite of downward economic pressures.

There could be even sharper drops in sales in the coming months, since closings reflect sales agreements that began six to eight weeks earlier. The April figures reflect at least some activity that started before the spread of the pandemic.

Clark, who consults on the association’s reports, said those still looking to buy and sell homes have less company these days, but are also seeing interest rates at or near record lows.

“If you can qualify for a loan, it’s a great time to get a loan,” he said. “Inventories are still tight. You certainly will have fewer options. But there are also fewer buyers out there as well.”