The Cass County, the housing market started 2021 off with a 41 percent increase in sales and a 3 percent lower average selling price for all housing types. This was not a bad kick- off when January 2020 led to a new peak year for housing sales in Cass County and all of SWMI.
When we refer to all or overall housing types, we combine results for waterfront and non-waterfront houses. So in total, 48 houses were sold in January 2021 compared to 34 in January 2020. Separately, waterfront houses increased 50 percent in January 2021 (12 vs. 8), and non-waterfront houses increased 47 percent (36 vs. 26).
The overall average selling price in January 2021 decreased 3 percent to $207,011 from $213,393 in January 2020. The overall median selling price in January at $145,944 slipped 4 percent from $152,400.
The average selling price for waterfront homes rose 13 percent to $374,158 from $330,975 in January 2020. The median selling price for waterfront homes fell 19 percent ($242,450 vs. $298,950).
In January, the average selling price for non-waterfront dropped 15 percent to $151,295 from $177,215 in January 2020. The median selling price decreased 5 percent to $133,000 from $139,950 in January 2020.
The median price is the price at which 50% of the homes sold were above that price, and 50% were below.
In Cass County, two houses were bank-owned or foreclosed as a part of all closed transactions in January, or 4 percent of total houses sold. In 2020, there were four houses. The highest percentage in January previously was 35 percent in 2015.
For comparison, the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren Counties was 4 percent in January. This was the lowest percentage in January in the year-over-year comparison. In January 2020, the percentage was 7 percent. The highest percentage in January was 57 percent in 2009.
The housing market across SWMI had a record year in 2020, even with the pandemic setbacks. The inventory of houses for sale reached record low numbers for buyers in Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties. So what could we expect the market to do in 2021?
January usually tends to be the least productive month of any given year. January 2021 ended with setting new all-time records for sales, selling prices, and total dollar volume in the year-over-year comparison that dates back to 2006.
Homebuyers kept the market momentum going in January, closing on 271 houses compared to 190 houses in January 2020 for a 45 percent increase. The previous record for sales in January was 206 in 2006 and 203 in 2017.
The average selling price increased 35 percent to $297,517 from $220,881 in January 2020, the previous record price.
The median selling price rose 17 percent from January 2020 ($198,000 vs. $168,750). The January 2020 median selling price was also the previous record price.
The total dollar volume at $80,627,175 sky-rocketed 92 percent over $41,967,468 total dollar volume in January 2020. The highest total dollar volume previously was $43,498,631 in January 2017.
The unfortunate side of records sales means there was a record setting-drop in the inventory of houses for sale. At the end of January, there were just 665 houses for sale. This is the number of listings for sale across Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties. At 665 houses, the market had a 2.5-months supply of homes for sale compared to 4.7-months supply in January 2020 when there were 1178 houses for sale. The 2.5-months supply inventory level set a new record for the lowest in the year-over-year comparison. In 2010, there were 2733 houses on the market.
Overall in SWMI, the mortgage rate increased slightly to 2.891 from 2.888 in December 2020. Last year in January, the rate was 3.589. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in January was 2.73 versus 2.67 in December for a 30-year conventional mortgage.
When Selling a Home…
Staging your house can make you money, but the thought of it may be overwhelming. Your focus should be doing what will create eye-catching listing photos for homebuyers who begin their search by scrolling listings online and establishing a welcoming feeling when buyers enter a room.
Unsure of where to begin? Ask your REALTOR® for advice. Many listings agents offer staging services to clients as part of their services.
Ready to go on your own? Just break the process down. Start with your kitchen, one of the key rooms where we all spend the most time.
- Clear everything from countertops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or a bowl of fresh fruit.
- Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware, and pare down all other cupboard and drawer items to the minimum.
- Freshen up and modernize cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or stain and new hardware.
- Seriously clean appliances. Can they look new again with a good scrubbing, or should they be replaced?
- Scrub dirt, grime, and stains from walls, cabinets, and backsplashes.
- Clean cabinet interiors, especially under the sink.
- Clean and organize the pantry, leaving some empty space to make it look bigger. Store items in decorative baskets and display a few jars of fancy jam and other upscale condiments.
- Empty all trash cans and move them out of sight.
When Buying a Home…
One of the most important things to do first is to check out your credit report to learn your credit score. This three-digit number is your financial report card that shows lenders just how trustworthy you are when it comes to managing your finances, and it can either save or cost you thousands of dollars throughout your life.
This how your credit score is determined:
- 35% of your score is attributed to how you pay bills. Points are added for paying on time and deducted for late or missing payments.
- 30% of your score is based on how much money do you owe as a portion of the amount of credit available to you? The lower this ratio, the better.
- 15% is based on the length of your credit history. When did you open your first account (and is it still open)?
- 10% of your score goes to the type of credit you have, including credit cards, car loans, or mortgages.
- 10% is impacted by how often and for what types of new credit applications you are making.
Talking to a financial advisor, local mortgage lender, or a REALTOR® will give you insight into areas you need to improve and how your score may impact your ability to get a mortgage.
To view properties that are for sale in your local area, go to 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.