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State’s home construction sees best start in 8 years

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Economic experts credit the state’s unemployment rate and pent up demand for Wisconsin’s strong showing in residential real estate, which is on pace for its best year in a decade, according to state and national reports.

Sales of existing homes rose nearly 17 percent in July from a year ago, with more than 8,650 homes sold last month, and are up 14 percent in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period last year, the Wisconsin Realtors Association reported Monday.

“This is the strongest spring and early summer sales volume we’ve seen since before the recession,” Dan Kruse, Wisconsin Realtors Association chairman, said in a statement.

Home sales in northeastern Wisconsin saw the most growth in the state, with a 30.3 percent increase from July 2014. South central Wisconsin saw a 21.8 percent increase, followed by the western part of the state with 14.6 percent and the southeastern part with 11.9 percent.

Sales have been up every month since January in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors announced last week.

And the median sales price of a home sold in the state increased by 3.8 percent to almost $164,000 in July, compared to $158,000 a year ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Additionally, home construction across Wisconsin is off to its strongest start in eight years. The state has seen more than 1,000 starts in three consecutive months for the first time since 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau data on single-family housing.

“The fact the builder confidence has been in the low 60s (on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index) for three straight months shows that single-family housing is making slow but steady progress,” said Tom Woods, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

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