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Led by La Crosse County, western Wisconsin saw a surge in home sales in November, the second straight month of over-the-year growth.

There were 99 homes sold in La Crosse County, more than twice the number in November 2011, according to data released Monday by the Wisconsin Realtors Association. Closed sales were up more than 38 percent over the previous year for the western region and nearly 25 percent statewide.

That comes on the heels of the county’s strongest month in six years and continues a growth trend that began in July 2011.

Year to date sales are up 14.6 percent in western Wisconsin.

Area agents are having a harder time finding houses for their clients as the supply of homes on the market has shrunk, said Mike Pietrek, president of the La Crosse Realtors Association.

Statewide, new listings were down 2.3 percent over the previous year and 6.7 percent over November 2011. Meanwhile, closed sales are up better than 21 percent.

At Pietrek’s firm, the ratio of offers to listings is running seven to one.

“A majority of the realtors I talk to say this has been a really good year,” he said. “Things are looking up.”

Unseasonably warm and dry November weather helped, Pietrek said.

Michael Theo, president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association, said agents across the state have been reporting multiple offers — a good sign that the market is returning to equilibrium.

The statewide supply of homes in November was 9.5 months, down from 14.3 a year ago. Ideally, Theo would like to see it at six months, considered a healthier level.

La Crosse County’s November supply was at 5.9 months, one of the lowest in the state, said David Clark, a Marquette University economist who works with the WRA.

Clark said he’s heard from realtors in western Wisconsin that starter homes in good condition are moving fast – to the point the region could be approaching a shortage.

“When we start to get the inventories down we are going to, hopefully, see those prices start to go up,” Theo said.

The state median sale price so far this year is $133,900, up from $133,000 last year.

Theo is optimistic that record low interest rates will help fuel more sales growth in 2013. So long as the country doesn’t slip into recession, Theo cautioned, and national leaders can avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, which could erode consumer confidence.


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