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Wisconsin’s housing assistance agency reported record numbers of assisted mortgages across the state in 2018, while the housing market remains tight and prices increase.

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority reported that it helped provide mortgages last year to 3,918 individuals and families totaling $497.6 million, the single family lending volume since the housing crisis of 2008.

WHEDA works with lenders, developers, local government, nonprofits, community groups and others to implement low-cost financing programs.

In Chippewa County, those partnering lenders include BMO Harris Bank, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp., Forward Financial Bank and Old National Bank.

WHEDA Single Family Director David Rouse called the accomplishment amazing in their announcement.

“Wisconsin families that have purchased new homes now have a better opportunity to achieve success and prosperity,” Rouse said. “Furthermore, these new homeowners will help strengthen the state’s economy.”

According to WHEDA, since 2011 they’ve seen consistent growth year to year in the number of mortgages they provide.

In 2017, loans were provided to 3,078 individuals and families totaling $371.2 million.

They also provided 2,884 home buyers with down payment assistance totaling more than $11.8 million, which they noted was far more than any previous year.

The continued application for mortgage assistance mirrors a year of high housing sales numbers.

The 2018 home sales numbers for the state reported by the Wisconsin Realtors Association show only a slight dip from record numbers in 2017, despite have fewer numbers of homes for sale.

Home sales fell 2.2 percent below the record sales seen in 2017, making 2018 the third strongest year for home sales since 2007.

December closed the year with home sales down 13.1 percent compared to December 2017, while WRA also reported an imbalance of supply and demand which pushed the median price for December up 5.3 percent to $179,000 over the past 12 months.

Median home prices were up 7 percent in 2018 overall compared to 2017.

WRA Chairman Jean Stefaniak said when reporting the numbers that despite the lower numbers of houses for sale and higher prices, the interest and competitiveness was still present in the housing market.

“With the exception of higher-priced homes, supply has been very low, giving sellers the clear advantage in most of the markets across Wisconsin,” Stefaniak said.

The WRA also reported that they don’t believe the increase in price was inflationary, despite the strong demand and relatively weak supply.

They reported that declining energy prices helped to keep inflation in check, especially late in the year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that December inflation rates fell below 2 percent, which bringing inflation for all of 2018 to just 2.4 percent.

Michael Theo, WRA president, credited the Federal Reserve System in their numbers report with keeping mortgages and inflation down.

“Strong demand and relatively weak supply in 2018 created significant price pressure,” Theo said. “High inflation leads to high mortgage rates, so it’s good the Fed has kept inflation in check.”

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