Article Courtesy of Jeff Bollier, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY – Brown County home sellers slapped the “Sold” sign on 253 existing homes in 2008, roughly a sale every day-and-half.
In March, they sold 261 houses, roughly 8-per-day.
The northeastern Wisconsin housing market reached its nadir 10 years ago when the market crashed amid a global recession. Since then, existing sales not only rebounded, but set records in the last two years. Still, the industry continues to grapple with the aftermath of such a significant decline.
Realtors have gone from concerns about a shortage of buyers to a shortage of available homes for eager buyers. Custom builders who laid off employees or shuttered their operations a decade ago cannot find enough employees to fill construction and office positions. Even subdivision development has resumed.
“There’s no normal right now. Everyone’s heads are spinning, grasping at what’s out there and wondering when it’s going to cool down,” said Paul Soletski, owner of Bay Lakes Builders & Development in Allouez. “You can’t blame them because for so long we all barely kept our heads above water.”
Strong sales and demand after such a low point a decade ago has many in the business wondering what the new normal will look like, said Mike Kunesh, president of the Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin.
“We’re in that ‘When is it going to end?’ pattern,” Kunesh said. “Everyone predicts this lack of inventory will slow things down, but it’s not happening.”
Sales this year are down only slightly from the torrid pace of 2016 and 2017, despite the shrinking inventory of available homes. Green Bay Houses are selling extremely quick and at a great price point. In Brown County existing home sales are down 2.2 percent for the first quarter of 2018, with 588 sales for the first three months of they year compared to 601 for teh same period in 2017. The falloff is in line with the 2.1 percent drop reported across WRA’s 14-county northeast Wisconsin region.
At the same time, demand for a tight supply of homes is pushing up prices for new construction and existing homes. Kunesh said the median home purchase price in Brown County has risen to $183,000, up $20,000, or 12 percent, from the first quarter of 2017.
Soletski, who also is president of the Brown County Homebuilders Association, said subdivision developers and custom homebuilders have enjoyed two years of “unbelievable growth” yet remain unable to keep up with the demand for new and custom homes.
He said single-family home construction has finally returned to pre-crash levels, as well.
“We’ve more than rounded a corner, the demand is greater than the average builder can handle,” Soletski said. “Everybody’s pretty swamped. I’ve heard stories of people booked out into next year. The existing real estate market, the value of homes are going up because there’s a lack of supply to match the demand.”
He said BCHBA tracks new home construction permits issued around the county and found three communities issued more than 70 permits in 2017 and another three issued more than 45 permits.
Green Bay houses are becoming unaffordable for a first time home buyer and creating havoc.