Housing market is challenging for local home-buyers

High demand and low supply responsible for seller’s market

Sam Janssen (He/Him)

More stories from Sam Janssen (He/Him)

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Sam Janssen (He/Him)

Economists are saying the housing market will continue to be strong for the next year or more because of a housing shortage, Rodhe said.

Sarah Kynes said her search for a home in Eau Claire the past several months has been stressful.

“The whole process right now has been really demoralizing,” Kynes said. “There have been a lot of houses that come up that just don’t meet my needs.”

Kynes said she has been looking for several months and got approved for a loan in March, but has not even reached the point of making an offer because the options she’s seen either have not met her needs or were sold almost immediately.

Scott Rohde, a broker-owner and realtor with Associated Realty and the board president of the Realtors Association of Northwestern Wisconsin, says the supply of homes is very limited right now and the demand is very high, which is causing a housing shortage and prices to go way up.

“Being a buyer is a very competitive place to be right now,” Rohde said. “As a seller it’s super; the only thing is if those sellers have to buy something else they’re going to be in the same situation.”

Rohde said he has recently listed several properties that have gotten four to five offers well-over the asking price within two days of listing. He said if buyers want to compete in this market they oftentimes need to exceed the asking price.

It is taking most of his clients several months to get the home they want, he said.

According to Rohde, this has been developing for several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has affected it further. He says this is partially due to many people choosing to move out of big cities because they are able to work from home and want to live in more desirable areas, like on a lake in Northwestern Wisconsin.

According to Federal Reserve economic data, home prices have climbed 34% over the past two years.

Rohde said his advice for new buyers is persistence and preparedness are key because the market is moving so fast.

“If you stop (looking at listings) for even a week that might be the (right) house you’ve just missed,” Rohde said.

He said affordability may slow the market down a little bit as interest rates continue to rise, but due to the shortage of available homes this competitive market is going to continue for quite a while.

“You get a lot of house for the dollar right now, so in that way I think it’s still a buyer’s market too, just that they’re paying a premium price because of supply and demand issues,” Rohde said.

He said an important part of going in prepared is having a pre-approval letter with a financier and being prepared to make a decision quickly.

“If it’s a house that you’re really interested in, you’re not going to be able to home and sleep on it for the weekend,” Rohde said.

Julia Post, a recent home-buyer who closed on her new home in Eau Claire last month, said most of the homes she saw were on the market for “maybe a couple of hours” before they already had an offer.

“If they’re on the market for a day, I wouldn’t want to even see it because I’d feel like something’s wrong with it,” Post said.

She said the only way her family was able to get their home was because their realtor found it right away after it was listed and got them the first tour. She said the tours they went on were very time-crunched and they only had a half-hour exactly to look at their home before they had to make a decision.

The minimum expectation was to go 10-15% over asking price and waive the inspection, she said.

She said her family only looked for less than a month before their offer was accepted on their home, which her realtor told them was a “rare experience” in this market.

Katy Baker, who purchased her home in Eau Claire in April of 2021, said she had to put in an offer $10,000 over asking price and waive the inspection to get their home. 

“It’s kind of crazy that you can’t even ask for an inspection now, otherwise you’re going to get denied,” Baker said.

She said the week they found their home, they had picked out five houses to tour in Eau Claire, and by the next day three of them were already sold.

Kynes, who is still searching in Eau Claire now after several months, said she thinks she is going to have to lower her expectations on price and number of bedrooms and bathrooms because she is struggling to find any suitable options.

She said a lot of the properties she has seen are in “pretty dismal shape.” She said many of them have projects that are half-done and issues like needing new flooring and paint.

Many of the homes she has seen have “fatal flaws” and do not seem comfortable, she said. Many of the available homes were built over a hundred years ago, she said.

“I struggle to even consider buying a house that was built over 100-some years ago without a home inspection,” Kynes said. “That just seems very risky to me, but in order to get a house you kind of have to take those risks.”

Janssen can be reached at [email protected]