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RACINE COUNTY — Home prices continued their rebound in the year’s first quarter, countywide and especially in the City of Racine, according to the latest Multiple Listing Service data.

The MLS numbers, released late Friday afternoon, showed a 9.1 percent climb — from $121,059 to $132,114 — for the average residential property sold in the county from January-March.

That was almost a one-quarter increase from the first quarter of 2012, the lowest point in recent years for that quarter, when the average sale price countywide was just $106,657.

The trend according to MLS data, which capture all agent-listed sales, was even more pronounced in the City of Racine. There, the average selling price jumped by 23.6 percent, from $59,694 in last year’s first three months to $73,800 this year.

That number was also 44.3 percent above the average selling price in Racine of $51,156 in first quarter 2012.

Racine Board of Realtors President Jim Chiappetta of Coldwell Banker attributed the continuing price inclines partly to a lack of housing inventory, both in homes ready to move into and “fixer uppers.”

“There are not a lot of nice properties on the market,” he said, “... and foreclosures are starting to get chewed up quick.”

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Chiappetta also pointed out that the average number of days on market declined from 117 last year to 105 this year for the first quarter, an indication that it was easier to sell a home.

“People were low-balling three years ago” on offers to purchase, Chiappetta said. But having multiple offers on a home isn’t uncommon now, he said.

Last summer, Chiappetta said, he had a client on the buying side. “Every time we wrote an offer, there were three or four offers.”

While average purchase prices rose, the overall number of first-quarter sales declined from 446 last year to 396 this year, or 11.1 percent. Chiappetta said he thought the harsh winter was a big reason for that; mainly, only people who had to be active were selling or shopping. That category would include retirements, job transfers, and a death and estate sale.

“Impulse buyers were not out there in the winter months,” he commented.

With home prices rising again and winter mostly in the rearview mirror, Chiappetta said, “I think now is an exciting time for homeowners” who want to sell their homes. “April and May are very good months.”

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Reporter

Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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