for a luxury property? You’ll be hard-pressed to find one in the
Milwaukee area. There’s a historically low supply of high-end homes
available. Of the 180 active properties listed in the Milwaukee area
at the start of 2014, only 15 of the properties listed fell in the
moderate high-end range of $700,000 to $1 million, and just 11
properties had a price tag of $1 million-plus.
had nearly 1,300 home listings. The dramatically reduced supply is
helping stabilize housing prices in the Milwaukee market, says Mary
Beth Waite, owner of Metro Condo Connections, though she admits the
limited choices can be frustrating for buyers. "We’re seeing
multiple bids on properties," she says.
properties priced at $700,000 or more are generally considered
high-end in the Milwaukee area, Waite says the local luxury real
estate market isn’t strictly about price point. "The real
difference is the level of construction and quality of the
finishes," she says. "It’s like assembling a great outfit.
You can have a fantastic dress, but the shoes and accessories make the
Katie Falk, a
broker with Coldwell Banker in Glendale, concurs. "Buyers today
are much more sophisticated than they were 20 years ago," she
says. "They want exceptional quality like top-of-the-line
finishes and amenities."
That said, with
the shortage of luxury properties on the Milwaukee market, buyers now
are more willing to consider something that isn’t move-in-ready.
"That’s the biggest change we’re seeing in the luxury
market," says Richard Ruvin of Circle Realty Milwaukee.
With the market
in their favor during the last five years, buyers tended to overlook
properties in need of improvements. But record-low inventory is
changing that mindset. "Now buyers are willing to make
compromises," Ruvin says.
recent spike in buyer interest, Ruvin says the Milwaukee luxury market
has been the last to fully rebound. "Usually, it’s the first to
heal, but this time it’s lagging," he says.
regular housing market, which showed signs of recovery at the end of
2012, Ruvin says the luxury market didn’t start coming around until
late last year.
Falk agrees that
the luxury market in Milwaukee languished longer than the standard
market, but has confidence 2014 will be a good year. "We’re
seeing a wonderful rebound now," she says. "Inventory is
low, but getting better. We expect to see an increase in March or
Group Realtors’ Associate Vice President Cindy Fleming attributes
the luxury market’s rebound to growing consumer confidence.
"The local economy is continuing to improve and that’s fueling
consumer confidence," she says.
rising consumer confidence and shrinking inventory, low interest rates
have also had a positive impact on luxury home sales. "Rates are
better than they’ve been in decades," says Falk. "You can
typically find 4 percent now."
Ruvin says he’s
getting a lot of calls from local lenders seeking to work with
high-end buyers again. After the housing market peaked in 2006,
lenders seemed to shy away from buyers with high net worth and
incomes. "Now they’re looking to rebuild those relationships
they lost in the downturn."