OCONOMOWOC — Low inventory of homes for sale has led to prospective buyers in Lake Country to either dramatically increase the attractiveness of their offers through heightened purchase prices, waiving contingencies or playing the waiting game until they get lucky.

Maureen Stapleton, owner of Stapleton Realty in Oconomowoc, said the city has been attractive for people to move to because of its regional accessibility in between Milwaukee and Madison, as well as having a great school system.

Those factors coming into play locally, as well as the low interest rates from the federal government made a lot of prospective buyers get into the market very quickly.

“Everybody wants to take advantage of it,” Stapleton said. “But at the same time, some people are so stricken by the low interest rates that they decide to refinance and they just stay where they are.”

Karen Spiegelberg, an alderwoman in Oconomowoc and a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Brookfield, said in addition to low interest rates, the pandemic has played a heavy hand in creating the market that exists right now.

“Because of the pandemic, a large segment of the population was forced to work from home and this trend will continue to some degree,” Spiegelberg said. “From that standpoint, buyers are looking for more space in a home to accommodate working remotely.

“The supply of inventory continues to be tight. Although this was happening before the pandemic, the pandemic also led to some people deciding to remodel their homes and not sell.”

Jane Herro, a sales agent with Oconomowoc Realty, said despite new house construction in Oconomowoc steadily rising with the number of new subdivisions being built, it hasn’t helped the frantic market locally.

“We’re seeing that the homes between $200,000 and $300,000 are going in a day where the higher priced homes might be sticking out for a little while longer,” Herro said. “While the new homes will aid in the growth of Oconomowoc, but there are some people that can’t afford those homes new to the market that are being built.”

Herro, Spiegelberg and Stapleton all alluded to the fact that most buyers are understandably frustrated given how hectic the market is. Stapleton said she has a client couple that has been in the market for a house for over a year and placed 11 offers — all over asking price — on houses and were beat out on every single one.

Spiegelberg said she recently helped buyers receive on accepted offer on a house listed for nearly $400,000 at a purchase price of $62,000 over the asking price.

That is becoming more and more of the normal in the market.

Spiegelberg said she doesn’t think the market is going to slow down anytime soon.

“With interest rates expected to stay low and so many buyers who are still out there in the pipeline looking at home after home and putting in offer after offer, this market will extend into 2022 just to accommodate the current host of buyers,” Spiegelberg said.

Spiegelberg said this market has been the craziest one she has been a part of, despite having over 30 years of experience in the industry.

“I lived in California and also worked for Coldwell Banker out there in the late 1980s when it was also a frenzied sellers’ market,” she said. “This market is more nuts than that one.”

Spiegelberg said her advice for buyers first and foremost is to find a good agent to help navigate the waters of the current market.

“The best Realtors are also able to help craft very creative offers to get theirs to the top of the stack,” Spiegelberg said. “ … A good Realtor is worth their weight in gold in this market with negotiating for the buyer and being there every step of the way in the home purchase and/or the home sale process so that all goes smoothly until closing day.”