June 23--Sales of existing homes were down for the fifth straight month in May compared with a year ago, according to new data on the Wisconsin housing market.
For the first time this year weather could not be blamed for the 8.0 percent dip in sales compared with the first five months of 2013.
Noting continued improvement in the job market, the Wisconsin Realtors Association pointed to rising prices, higher interest rates and tighter lending practices as possible culprits.
"I'm a little uncertain as to what's truly going on," said David Clark, economist for the WRA. "We're comparing to a strong year last year. Even with that said we would have expected things to be on par, unless these new regulations are truly having a detrimental effect."
Nationwide home sales were down 5 percent in May compared to 2013 and are off 6.3 percent through the first five months of the year.
Despite the decline in volume, the median sales price rose to $150,000 statewide, up 3.8 percent compared to May 2013.
Prices were up and sales down in every region of the state.
La Crosse County experienced a 9.2 percent drop off in May, and Monroe County's sales were down 20 percent, though neighboring Vernon and Jackson counties were up from a year ago.
Cindy Gerke, president of the La Crosse Area Realtors Association, said she expected better numbers, as she and other agents have been busy. She speculated that commercial and multifamily housing accounted for some of that business.
"It was kind of a surprise," she said of the numbers. "It must be single-family houses aren't as strong. Because we're crazy."
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