As we pass the half way point in 2007, the underlying forces that are driving the South Central Wisconsin real estate market are starting to define themselves, and as they do so, the future course of things is coming into
focus. After a year of confusing and often contradictory signals, the market seems to be settling into a somewhat predictable groove. The bad news, if you choose to view it that way, is that it’s looking more and more apparent that we won’t be returning any time soon to the go-go market of a couple years ago. On the other hand, demand is remaining relatively constant, and that should set the stage for a return to equilibrium.
In Dane County, single family sales were down 4% in the second quarter, and only 2% year to date, but they’re off 13% year to date from their 2005 high. Sauk and Columbia Counties are off slightly more on a percentage basis, but because they are smaller markets, they don’t change the overall percentages much. If we add in condos, sales for the first half of the year are down about 5.5% in this three county area compared to last year, and down about 11.6% from the 2005 record. So, as predicted, sales have stabilized in the first half of 2007, and we’re expecting the rest of the year to follow a normal seasonal pattern. Prices remain firm in all markets.
The second half of 2006 was much slower than the first, so it will be interesting to see how the second half of 2007 compares. Based on current offer activity, we’re backing off our earlier prediction that the second half of 2007 will be up 5 to 10 percent over 2006. But we don’t expect much falloff either. In other words, we seem to have found a new level of activity, about 10-12% below the record, and unsustainable, pace of a couple years ago.