Six Lakes Realty

From WEAU Channel 13: Challenges for first-time homebuyers in Western Wisconsin


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By Michelle Stangler

Published: Nov. 7, 2023 at 5:24 PM CST

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – For first-time homebuyers, purchasing a property may be challenging.

“Sales are down, which means demand is high, rates are high, and the prices are up as well,” REALTORS Association of Northwestern Wisconsin President Julie Flor says.

For example, Flor says the median home price for Barron County in September was $277,500.

“When you look at where rates are today compared to a year ago, that’s $305 per month more. That’s almost another car payment. So that’s absolutely affecting people’s affordability,” Flor says, who’s a realtor.

Additionally, Flor says the first time home buyer’s budget is typically anywhere between $150,000 to $250,000.

“They don’t realize if they work in Rice Lake, they could get the same home with a different zip code in a more rural area that would be significantly less,” Flor says with rural areas are beyond city limits and only a few thousand in population and adds, “Rural properties have barns (and) outbuildings. If those (are) chipping or peeling paint on them, it’s going to be near impossible to get a FHA, VA or a WHEDA loan.”

While some people come to her to see city properties, she’s seen an increase in recent years in the number of people wanting a more rural property.

“Oddly enough, I’m seeing a lot of people that want ten or more acres so they can have chickens and cows or horses. Just a super small hobby farm that they can be sustainable and grow vegetables.”

Although, it comes with a cost says Compeer Financial Appraiser Stephanie Stallman says.

“Once you get out of the city limits, you’re going to have to drill your own well. You’re going to have to have your own septic system. It’s not something on the city. Also, driveway and accessibility you’re going to have to put in your own driveway. That can get very expensive.”

These are all considerations when buying a property in the countryside.

“There are some challenges to affordability, with interest rates climbing higher than we’ve seen in the last couple of years and then land values also coming higher,” Stallman says.

“Interest rates are higher than they’ve been since early 2000,” Flor says.

Flor also says first-time homebuyers are staying in their homes seven to nine years, less than they did when she began in her role approximately 10 years ago.

Copyright 2023 WEAU. All rights reserved.