is underway on a new home by Bielinski Homes in the Laurel
Springs subdivision in Jackson. Bielinski Homes CEO Paul
Bielinski said new construction has been in high demand in
the current housing market, which others in the industry say
is a seller's market that is low on inventory.
Schmidt/Special to the Freeman
FALLS — There was a time in Rick Lentz’s career when
it was remarkable for a listed house to receive more
than one purchase offer.
it is the reverse.
the last six to eight months it’s been unique or
special if you don’t get multiple offers,” said
Lentz, sales manager of the First Weber Realtors in
stunned at the number of multiple offers being written
on properties,” he said, in an interview with The
Freeman this month. “It’s as hot as I’ve seen the
market in my career.”
spring season has unleashed a seller’s housing market,
an aftershock of a Great Recession that saw housing
values plummet and held construction at bay, according
to some in the industry.
area experts say housing prices are on the rise and
mid-range inventory is being gobbled up quickly. Demand
for new construction is increasing, and challenges like
a lack of trade workers and few middlepriced housing
inventory options have risen.
with the Foxconn economic development project in the
works, industry leaders say the Milwaukee metro area is
poised for some of these trends to continue into the
“great flush” in the market
said homes priced between $150,000 and $450,000 in the
Menomonee Falls area spend little time on the market.
Listings $500,000 and up have a smaller pool of
potential buyers and therefore are not selling at
the same feverish pace, he said.
is a pattern he said is being repeated across the state
and country, but at prices particular to local regions.
all experiencing it in some shape or form but the price
ranges are different,” said Lentz, who said that in a
market like Seattle, where prices are higher, the
in-demand inventory might be in the $450,000 to $800,000
is countrywide. There is a shortage of inventory and the
bulk of people are buying,” he said, explaining that
during the recession, housing prices in the Milwaukee
area dropped by about 35 percent.
this country didn’t stop making families,” he said.
Now “you have this great flush entering the market and
you don’t have the inventory for them.”
Bielinski agreed that recent activity levels seem to be
a follow-up to the slowness of the recession.
Pewaukee-based company has developments underway
throughout the metro area, with homes in various stages
fast as we can build them, we’re selling them,” said
Bielinski, CEO of Bielinski Homes.
almost five months through the year and it’s
phenomenal. Last year was a great year and this year is
even better,” he said.
shortage of inventory means more consumers are
considering building new, and Bielinski said spec homes
are in higher demand than ever, referring to the term
for “speculative properties” constructed for
immediate listing on the market.
are drawn to homes where “nobody else has put their
imprint on it” and yet all of the detailed decisions
of construction have been made, Bielinski said. In
addition, today’s consumers are accustomed to being
instantly gratified with their purchases.
is translating into new homes as well,” said Bielinski,
who said Waukesha County locations remain popular for
home buyers and there has been “a lot of activity”
in Washington and Ozaukee counties recently.
areas are growing quickly because there is available
land for development and it is part of the metro area
that had been expected to support the next wave of
expansion, said Jonathan Synovic, president of the
Metropolitan Builders Association, a nonprofit trade
years ago when coming out of the recession, developers
had a plan for those areas,” Synovic said, adding that
wherever developers are plotting new subdivisions, they
are selling homes “left and right.”
housing starts in April were up 10.5 percent compared
with April of 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
But in the Midwest numbers were lower, down 18.4 percent
year-over-year, the bureau reported.
shortage of workers
frenzied activity level in the market can be stressful
for some, Lentz said, adding sellers sometimes feel they
underpriced their home after receiving three or more
the other side you’ve got the agents and buyers want
to know what the other three offered. The buyer is
saying, ‘I overpaid,’” he said.
some cases, appraisers find themselves under pressure
when they tell sellers the prices being offered can’t be
the shortage of trade workers is an issue.
is not just a Wisconsin state problem. This is a United
States problem. We’re pulling tradespeople from other
states,” said Synovic, who said the labor shortage is
the result of fewer students pursuing the trades in
favor of attending four-year colleges, and schools
subsequently cutting trade programs.
is also a backlog of homeowners who would like to sell
but cannot find a home to move to, according to Lentz.
the cost of land has risen considerably thanks to impact
fees — both municipal costs of bringing services to an
area and state fees, Synovic said. He said this is
making it more difficult for buyers to find “middle-
said the builders association is frequently engaging
with cities, trying to convince them to allow builders to
construct smaller homes more affordable to groups like
millennials, many of whom carry student debt.
cities are frowning on that. They want to see more of
the larger homes” that boost the tax base covering
city infrastructure costs, Synovic said.
recommended buyers who feel priced out of the market
talk to realtors, builders, or others in the industry as
there may be other options available, like remodeling a
growth with Foxconn
the Foxconn Technology Group manufacturing project
progresses in Mount Pleasant, there will be even more
demand for trade workers to construct housing and the
necessary surrounding infrastructure south of Milwaukee.
said the Builders Association is working with
municipalities on plans for build-outs and housing developments.
growth from the company will likely spread to other
parts of the metro area given the plan for locating
Foxconn’s Wisconsin corporate offices in downtown
Milwaukee, Lentz said. The company acquired the 611
Building at 617 E. Wisconsin Ave. earlier this year.
of a sudden that opens up Brookfield, Elm Grove,
Menomonee Falls” real estate markets, Lentz said.
“This is going to have a pretty broad impact on
housing in southwest Wisconsin.”
expressed concern about preparing building plans and
finding the necessary labor as quickly as needed, along
with questions of how to tackle the development needed
around Foxconn while maintaining the current growth
trajectory of the metro area.
Synovic ultimately feels that all of these needs will be
up for the challenge,” he said.