A sold sign hangs in front of a home on Niagara Road in
Oconomowoc on Wednesday. Home inventory remains low and
likely won't increase until spring, resulting in competitive
bidding on homes for sale, according to industry experts.
Katherine Michalets/Special to The
WAUKESHA - For the first time in years
homebuyers are placing competing offers on homes, said
real estate agent Bob Larson with First Weber Group in
Waukesha on Wednesday.
With “buyers coming out of the woodwork”
and going to open houses, Larson said now is a great
time to put a home on the market.
It might not be as good a time to buy,
however, because home inventory is very low.
Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater
Milwaukee Association of Realtors, said inventory is
really tight currently with about 4.3 months’ worth of
In Waukesha County, there is only about
4.1 months’ worth of inventory, according to data from
GMAR. In February, there were 2,098 active listings in
the county, and of those, 485 had a contingent offer,
resulting in 1,613 available listings. In addition, 398
homes sold in February, based on a 12-month average to
limit seasonal disparity.
Winter tends to be a tight time for
inventory, Ruzicka said, with some homes sitting for
three months or more. Many families choose to wait until
closer to the end of the school year to list their
properties, leaving mostly people relocating in the
search for a home.
However at the 4.3 percent level,
“inventory is ridiculously tight,” Ruzicka said.
Larson said homes that have been sitting
on the market for 30 to 90 days are being snatched up by
“It’s an excellent time to put a home on
the market,” he said. “Interest rates are still low.”
As confidence grows in the economy,
people are more willing to make the investment in a
home, Larson said.
“We are not going to find an opportunity
in our future where interest rates are going to be this
low,” he said.
While buyers may be increasing their home
search efforts in March with the intent to be settled in
a house by summer, sellers are in a pause mode, Larson
“There are a lot of first-time
homebuyers; they are not desperate,” he said. “If
nothing else they are frustrated because there is not
much to look at.”
According to the GMAR, January home
inventory in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties was down 5.5
percent and 2.8 percent respectively, but Waukesha
County was up 3.3 percent. Washington County was up even
more at 13.8 percent.
Buyers still thinking frugal
Six months of inventory is the tipping
point for the market to go from a seller’s market to a
buyer’s market, Ruzicka said.
Despite the statistics pointing to the
current conditions being a seller’s market, Ruzicka said
it doesn’t fit those traditional parameters because with
the economy still recovering the mentality of buyers
remains fairly frugal.
Ruzicka said buyers are offering 10
percent off the assessed value of the home, which may
already be less than the asking price.
“There is a huge gap of what buyers and
sellers are thinking,” he said. “It’s taking them a
little time to come together.”
Homes that are in move-in condition and a
good school district are also getting top dollar and all
four counties in the metro Milwaukee area, Washington,
Waukesha, Milwaukee and Ozaukee, are seeing an increase
in home prices, Ruzicka said.
“I think it is going to be a pretty good
year for sales and price appreciation,” Ruzicka said.