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Real estate market perks up in Brookfield, Elm Grove

Trend not seen countywide, however

July 21, 2009

The Brookfield and Elm Grove real estate market bucked regional sales trends with a 6 percent increase in the number of homes sold during the first half of the year, according to new data.

In total, 231 homes were sold during the first two quarters of 2009, up from 218 during the same time last year, according to a report by Metro MLS. In comparison, Waukesha County real estate agents sold 17.9 percent fewer homes so far this year, while home sales were up 2.1 percent in Milwaukee County.

Rick Bohmann, regional manager and vice president of Brookfield-based Shorewest Realtors, said the increase in sales is a sign the local market could be recovering after months of contraction.

"Those are certainly some encouraging numbers for the first half of the year," Bohmann said, later adding, "It means the buyers are out there."

Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, said he also has seen hope in recent statistics.

"It's kind of like the real estate market has had the flu the past couple of years, and we're just starting to get better," he said.

Traditional thinking

Bohmann said he believes the Brookfield-area market is rebounding faster than others because it was harder hit by the economic downturn.

Popular perception of homeownership also is shifting, Bohmann said. In the middle of this decade, homes were seen as an easy, guaranteed investment. That changed when prices sank.

"I think we're back to the more traditional reasons for homeownership," he said. "That is, it's a place to live, a place to be proud of."

Ruzicka agreed, and said the years of double-digit value appreciation are probably over. Instead, homeowners can expect more traditional appreciation levels of 5 percent to 7 percent a year.

That ideological change is helping here, Bohmann said, where buyers perceive quality in location, home construction and the school system.

Prices dropping

Home prices also are helping perk up the market, Bohmann said.

Prices have dropped to match diminished demand, and those lower prices seem more valuable in places like Brookfield, Elm Grove and Wauwatosa, he said.

Ruzicka said a diversity of price-points and lower mortgage rates also are helping.

The average selling price in Brookfield and Elm Grove from January to June was $305,000. That's a 6.1 percent decrease compared to $325,000 in 2008.

Bohmann and Ruzicka both said prices should begin to recover because more buyers are bidding for the same homes.

"What we've seen over the last several months or so … is a return to competing offers, where more than one buyer wants the same property," Bohmann said.

That should also help homes sell faster. During the first two quarters of 2009, homes took an average 109 days to sell, compared with 91 days last year. In past years, Brookfield and Elm Grove homes have averaged as few as 65 days on the market.

AT A GLANCE

Throughout the economic recession, fewer Brookfield and Elm Grove homes have been selling, and they're taking longer to sell for less, according to data from Metro MLS, which compares the first half of the past four years. An uptick in home sales this year could be an early sign of market recovery.

Year Homes sold

Average

selling price

Average

days on market
2009 231 $305,087 109
2008 218 $325,030 91
2007 303 $345,807 88
2006 318 $336,402 83

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