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State’s housing market continues recovery (UPDATE)

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Home sales continue to recover in Wisconsin, rising about 17 percent in July, compared to the same month last year.

The median price of a home posted its fifth straight monthly increase, according to data from the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

“While the pace of the national economic recovery has been weak this year, Wisconsin home sales have rebounded nicely over the past year,” said Rob Keefe, association chairman.

The real estate group said 6,023 were sold in July with the help of an agent, compared with 5,133 in July of last year. The median price of homes sold increased about 2 percent last month to $143,000 from $140,000 a year ago.

“The July sales figures continued this trend of robust growth in home sales,” Keefe said.

Inventories of homes for sale remains high, but have dropped significantly over the past year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday.

“We were sitting on nearly 18 months of inventory in July of 2011, and that has fallen to just under 13 months,” said Michael Theo, president and chief executive of the state Realtors organization.

Agent Peter Stefaniak, of West Allis, said consumers have been drawn into the market by low interest rates and real estate prices.

“I think it’s gotten a lot of people off the sidelines. They’re saying, ‘OK, it’s time to make my move.’ And they’re out there looking at homes and making offers to purchase, and a lot of homes are being sold,” Stefaniak said.

The housing market has been dominated by first-time homebuyers in the last few years, and the number of move-in ready starter homes in desirable neighborhoods or suburbs has shrunk, said Beth Jaworski, of Shorewest Realtors.

“I have a young couples and they’re like, ‘We never thought it would be this hard to find a house,’ because in their price range everything that’s coming up is a foreclosure or short sale or estate sale or has a bad basement,” Jaworski said. “They are willing to do some work, but they don’t have a lot of money. They’ll do paint and carpet, take down wallpaper – that kind of stuff. But they can’t repair a basement.”

Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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