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At the end of 2016, we were excited about setting a new peak year for the local housing market. It had been a long road back from the 2006, the previous peak year. Then in 2017 the housing market continued to outpace numbers set 2016 while the inventory of houses for sale continued to shrink. The number of houses sold, the total dollar volume, and the average and median selling prices for 2017 all surpassed 2016 numbers crowning 2017 the new peak year for the housing market in Southwestern Michigan.

There were also two other notable achievements. In August 418 houses were sold. This was the first time the 400 mark had been surpassed in any month looking back to 2005. The highest average selling price ever was reached in September when it climbed to $252,111.

The dwindling inventory reached an all-time low at 4.4-months supply of houses for sale. At the end of December, there were 1365 houses for sale in our market that includes Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties. The inventory was down 9 percent from the same time in 2016 and was half of the inventory available in 2010.

The number of houses sold in 2017 was 3733 compared to 3589 in 2016 for a 4percent increase. For the month of December, 272 houses were sold versus 293 in December 2016 which was a 7 percent decrease.

The total dollar volume in 2017 was up 13 percent over 2016 ($811,829, 286 vs. $718,654,703 ). Comparing December 2017 to December 2016, the total dollar volume also was up 8 percent ($62,956,495 vs. $58,433,257).

The average selling price in 2017 increased to $217,473 from $200, 238 in 2016 for a 9 percent rise. In December 2017, the average selling price soared 16 percent from December 2016 ($231,457 vs. $199,430).

The 2017, median selling price rose 11 percent to $155,000 from $140,000 in 2016. In December 2017, the median selling price was $160,000 which was a 14 percent increase over the December 2016 median selling price of $140,000.

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

In all of 2017, there were 7 months (May –November) when the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in our market ranged from 4-6 percent. From January to April the percentages ranged from 10-13. In December, the percentage jumped to 10 percent. The percentage transactions in every month of 2017 were the lowest reached in each given month since 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate in December inched up to 4.075 from 4.063 in November. In December 2016, the rate was 4.375. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in December rose to 3.99 from 3.90 in November 2017.

This data reflects home sales across Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 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, please contact your local REALTOR®.

When Selling Your House… It may be freezing outside but if you are going to sell your house or already have it on the market, this is a good time to start planning some DYI home improvement projects to boost your house’s curb appeal. The “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® lists some of the top money-saving projects that will get you a great return on your investment. For example installing a new steel front door has the highest ROI and the potential for boosting curb appeal. New garage doors and vinyl windows also provide a great return. New wood flooring will add a WOW factor to the interior of your home with the potential of a 91 percent return on your costs if you have it professionally installed and as much as 282 percent if you do it yourself. Insulating an attic is one of those projects no one likes to do but not only is good way to increase comfort and save on energy bill, it is a great marketing tool to impress buyers. Ask you REALTOR for other project ideas to improve your home’s appeal and get it to stand out in your local market.

When Buying a Home…Will a condo or a single-family house be better for you? This decision really depends more on you choice of lifestyle and what time and skills you have available to allocate to house chores. How much space do you need now and what will you need in a few years is a big consideration. A budget friendly, small house or condo may grow to be too small for a family or if you start working from home. Homeowner associations for either a house or condo can add significant to you budget. Your pet is an important part of your purchase decision. Some locations or associations may strict rules. How much maintenance do you want to be responsible for doing yourself or hiring it done. If you have very limited time, a condo may be your best choice. Other major considerations are parking and privacy. Make of list of things that are important to you about where you want to live and discuss the list with your REALTOR. He/she can shorten your house hunting process by giving you the pros and cons about various properties before you take a step outside your front door.

To view properties that are for sale in your local area go to www.michric.org and click on “Property Search”. The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate licensees and ancillary service providers for the real estate industry in Van Buren, Berrien and Cass Counties. The Association can be contacted at 269-983-6375 or through their website at www.swmar.com.