Real Estate Perspectives
September 11, 2020 | Suzanne Powers

Milwaukee’s Luxury Housing Market is Sizzling Hot

Milwaukee’s Hot Luxury Home Buying Market! Still great affordability if you can get one.
Milwaukee’s Luxury Housing Market is Sizzling Hot

Milwaukee’s Luxury Housing Market is Sizzling Hot

How a pandemic has spurred on the Wisconsin housing market

Do you think the residential real estate market will come crashing down or slow in Wisconsin soon? Think again. There has never been a better time to sell your Wisconsin luxury home – or nearly any home in Wisconsin for that matter. COVID-19 and its impact on Wisconsin housing is like nothing I have seen in my nearly 20-year career as a broker. The rate of change is almost shocking. COVID and social distancing measures have made Wisconsin more popular than ever for families from the Chicago area as well as other large cities including New York.

Milwaukee’s luxury home sales market is experiencing all-time highs. The luxury market in Metro Milwaukee is defined by homes valued at more than $500,000. And as the average sale price of a single-family home nationwide exceeds $300,000 (first time in recorded history), housing overall has also become more expensive here.

In addition, the second-home market is on fire here, and any deal that could be had on a cabin in Eagle River is long gone. For years cabins in the northwoods of Wisconsin sat on the market. This year, finding a good one to purchase is extremely tough. Northern Wisconsin communities in counties such as Vilas County and Door County are seeing all-time record sales as the second-home market explodes as people seek vacation homes away from resorts, airports, and crowded cities. Social distancing is in and in Wisconsin, that can be a very easy thing to do.

Several Factors are Driving the Market

So why is this happening? Several factors are in play making Milwaukee, our neighboring counties and Northwoods communities very popular. Put simply: in the blink of an eye, our whole world changed and along with it, people redefined their lives.

1. Large metropolitan areas are still suffering from large Covid-19 outbreaks and families are seeking safety through social distancing and more space for work, to enjoy the outdoors and for kids to play.

2. Second-home sales have surged as families want a safe place they can vacation for either the weekend or longer periods

3. Economic challenges in Illinois have had a big impact on the quality of education driving families to Wisconsin and other states with strong schools. The pandemic quickened the pace of this migration.

4. There is increased relocation across the nation as people change jobs moving from struggling industries to ones that have seen significant growth as a result of the pandemic.

5. Employers are allowing employees to work remotely long term so people are moving to communities where they can get a higher quality of life.

6. Milwaukee and Madison’s mid-sized city vibe appeals to people who still want an urban environment.

7. And let’s not forget, more people locally are able to buy homes as a result of the record low mortgage rates.

So, if you’ve been considering selling and determine that now is the time, can you sell your home for an outrageous price? No. You can try, but remember, nearly every educated buyer is working with a Buyer’s Agent at this price point. That Buyer’s Agent has a responsibility to perform a market analysis on any property their buyer may want to purchase.

So, price your home based on current market value and use the most recent sales-price-per-square-foot in your area as a good starting point. Keep in mind…the buyer is shopping in EVERY county. Very rarely in luxury home sales does the buyer choose community over condition, especially people who are relocating for a job change. However, CONDITION is trumping LOCATION for the first time in my 20-year history of being a broker, unless the home is on the water. Your home must be in move-in ready condition to attract a buyer willing to pay top price.

Luxury By the Numbers

As of mid-September 2020, here is where we are in luxury in the top Metro Milwaukee counties (for this article’s purpose I calculated the market of homes valued at $800,00 and above):

Milwaukee County: Since March 1, 2020 there have been 64 closed properties with a list price of $800,000 above in Milwaukee County. Currently, there are only 27 available properties in all of Milwaukee County to choose from with an average price-per-square-foot of $252, making this one of the best years historically for high-end home sales. There is currently about two months’ inventory. The average days on market are 28 which is an historical low compared to 223 days in 2018. Whitefish Bay is averaging $257 per square foot for homes $800,000 and above, and Shorewood is average $262. Of course, move-in ready condition can be as high as $350 a square foot because of the school districts, but it has to be in perfect condition.

Ozaukee County: Between March 1 - September 10, 2019, there were 30 closed properties in Mequon at a list price of $800,000 and above. In 2020, that number is 40 sold/accepted offer properties, accounting for a 25% increase in the number of properties selling at $800,000 and above. That is a very impressive number for Mequon. For the last three consecutive years prior to 2020, the numbers were flat. The average days on market are now 148 cumulative days at about $177 a square foot, down from an average of 233 days in 2018.

Waukesha County: The average price per square foot for homes $800,000 and above is hovering right around $260 a square foot and average days on market is 137 days. There are 134 active listings at $800,000 and above and 34 accepted offers. By contrast, in 2018 there were only 12 accepted offers and the average days on market was 280 days.

We are also seeing consistent sales in Lake Country and Lake Geneva of homes with list prices of more than $3 million which are new highs for Wisconsin real estate.

Competing in Today’s Luxury Market

So, how do you compete in Milwaukee’s Luxury Market and sell your home at its maximum list price? In short, price it right and make sure it’s in move-in ready condition. How do you do that? Hire a savvy, experienced agent to partner with you, and in the meantime, check out my post with my top 20 tips to get your luxury Milwaukee home market ready.

I will continue to blog about the most under-reported segment of our residential real estate market - Milwaukee’s luxury market. Powers Realty Group leads in luxury sales for the Milwaukee Metro Area. Call me with any questions you have about the local real estate market at 414-870-7175. Thank you, Milwaukee!

Experience a seamless home selling and buying process with Powers Realty, Milwaukee’s trusted local experts for over 2 decades. Our tailored approach ensures optimal results. Contact me today to discuss your home needs.

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