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In August, Cass County had a bumper crop of home sales. There were 87 overall home sales which was 40 percent higher than the 62 in August 2016. The bumper crop helped to bring the year-to-date, overall home sales up to 2 percent higher than in 2016 (441 vs. 432). In July, the year-to-date sales were down 4 percent.

The number of waterfront homes sold in August increased 65 percent (28 vs. 17). Year-to-date, waterfront home sales were up 18 percent (132 vs. 112). Non-waterfront home sales rose 31 percent from 45 in August 2016 to 59 in August 2017. Year-to-date, non-waterfront home sales were down 3 percent below sales in 2016 (309 vs. 320).

In August, the average selling price in Cass County for all homes jumped 17 percent to $213,985 from $183,474 in August 2016. The median selling price for all homes also increased 17 percent to $167,500 from $143,400 in 2016.

The average selling price for waterfront homes slipped 1 percent to $336,130 from $339,647 in August 2016. The median selling price for waterfront homes increased 11 percent to $337,400 from $305,000 in August 2016.

The average selling price for non-waterfront homes in August soared 25 percent ($156,017 vs. $124,475). The median selling price increased 2 percent to $127,000 from $124,000 in August 2016.

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

In Cass County, the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a part of all closed transactions has declined since May when the percentage was at 9 percent to 5 percent in August. This was the lowest percentage reached in 2017. The highest percentage in August previously was 18 percent in 2016.

For comparison, the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions remained at the lowest level, 4 percent, in August. The previous lowest percentage in August was 10 percent in 2016. The highest percentage in August 2009 was 36 percent.

Throughout SWMI, after four months of selling prices holding fairly steady, the average and median selling prices dropped. The average selling price in August fell 12 percent from July ($196,723 vs. 224,705) and the median selling price slipped 3 percent ($159,500 vs. $164,819).

The number of house sold in August was the highest for the year at 418. In July, only 330 homes were sold.

We continued to see new benchmarks set in 2017 where the number of houses sold in August, number of houses sold year-to-date, total dollar volume, year-to-date average selling price, August median selling price and year-to-date median selling price outpace previous market years back to 2006.

Looking at the year-to-year picture, the number of houses sold increased 8 percent over the number of houses sold in August 2016 (418 vs. 388). Year-to-date, the number of houses sold was up 6 percent with 2442 this year compared to 2314 in 2016.

Even with more houses selling in August 2017, the total dollar volume was very close to that in August 2016 ($82,230,523 vs. $81,956,166). Year-to-date, the total dollar volume was down 7 percent at $429,465,503 at the end of August 2017 compared to $460,371,934 in 2016.

The average selling price in August was $196,723 which was a 7 percent decline from August 2016 when the average selling price was $211,227. Year-to-date, the average selling price was up 5 percent ($209,539 vs. $198,950).

The median selling price of $159,500 in August 2017 was a 9 percent increase over the $146,700 set in August 2016. Year-to-date the median selling price rose 10 percent to $153,500 from $139,900 in 2016.

The active listing of homes for sale decreased 14 percent at the end of August 2017 with 2036 homes for sale compared to 2363 homes for sale in August 2016. This kept the 6.6- months supply of homes for sale the same as in July. The lack of inventory becomes more significant when the inventory level was 3821 in August 2009 compared to 2036 in August 2017 which is a 47 percent decline.    

Overall in SWMI, the mortgage rate dropped slightly to 3.975 from 4.06 percent in July. Last year in August, the rate was 3.56. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in August was 3.82 versus 3.92 percent in July for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

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 a Home…

This is time of the year where you may need to hire contractors to help with fall cleanup or to take on the maintenance projects to keep your home in top shape. While the majority of contractors are honest professionals, it is still important for homeowners to be aware of possible scammers. Consumers should be wary of contractors who ask for money upfront. According to the Better Business Bureau, contractors who say they need a significant percentage of the project price in advance are more likely to disappear with the money or do sub-par work with the impression they can’t be fired as they are already in possession of most of their payment. Ten percent of the job total or $1,000, whichever is less, is enough to establish someone as a serious customer and have the contractor work them into their schedule. 

In addition, homeowners should never just take the word of a contractor: get everything in a legal contract. Details on specifications, upgrades and extra touches should all be included in the contract; otherwise, the contractor is under no legal obligation to include them in the finished project.

When Buying a Home

Homeownership can be one of the most rewarding life choices you can make. Renting a place has many restrictions that dictate your lifestyle. The landlord more than likely will not allow pets; let you paint rooms the colors you like, and make you wait for a repairman to fix minor problems that you could have done in no time at all. And you will always have the stress of how much the rent will go up each year at the end of your contract. The focus when buying a home so often is the financial aspect. While that can be daunting, you may want to also look at the many overall lifestyle benefits you will gain with owning a home. Contact a REALTOR® and learn more about how homeownership will be rewarding choice and how to navigate the steps financially to begin living in your dream home.

To view properties that are for sale in your local area go to www.swmar.com and click on “Property 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 Van Buren, Berrien and Cass Counties. The Association can be contacted at 269-983-6375 or through their website at www.swmar.com.