FILE -- house for sale

The housing market in La Crosse remains strong, despite an incredibly tight inventory.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association released May housing market data on Monday showing both the number of sales and the median sales price continue to rise across the state. The west region, which includes La Crosse, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Vernon, Monroe and Chippewa County, was the only outlier, with the number of sales down 5.5 percent compared to May of last year.

Much of that has to do with the tight inventory levels in this region compared to the rest of the state, WRA economist and Marquette University economics professor David Clark said. La Crosse County, for example, has 3.7 months of supply, a very slight increase from April, compared to about 6.9 months for the rest of the state.

“Speaking with Realtors, inventory is pretty tight,” he said. “This puts upward pressure on prices.”

Median prices for the west region are up 7.5 percent from last May at $159,950. Chippewa County saw the second highest increase in median sale price at 16.8 percent, next to Vernon County.

Year-to-date numbers paint a picture of a strong housing market for the state. Sales are up 5.7 percent statewide with the median sales price up five percent compared to the first five months of 2015.

The west region has seen similar growth with the median sales price at $160,000 this year, up 6.7 percent from the same time period last year. Sales are also up nearly five percent from last year with Dunn and Pierce counties seeing some of the biggest gains; La Crosse County sales are up 1.2 percent from this time last year.

Clark predicts things will stay strong into the peak summer months, where more than a third of home sales for the year take place. Realtors will be keeping an eye on interest rates because there is some indication federal regulators might begin to raise short-term rates.

But around 4.2 percent, mortgage rates continue to be low, Clark said, and homes continue to be affordable despite rising prices. All these factors make it a good time to be a home buyer, he said.

“It is a pretty solid market,” Clark said. “If you can find a home to buy, now is the time to buy it.”

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Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

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