For the past decade, real estate in the North Woods and most of the nation has been on a steady upward trend, according to a spokes¬≠person for a local real estate association. 

Meanwhile, since 2013, the North Woods has seen roughly 15% growth both in home values and sales volume, according to local REALTOR Bonnie Byrnes, who chairs the Northwoods Association of Realtors Public Relations Committee.

“The rebounding economy and improving job numbers are clearly factors as we have seen a similar recovery in both starter homes as well as secondary/vacation homes in the region,” said Byrnes. 

Vacant land and lots grew at a more modest pace over the same period when existing homes were plentiful, according to Byrnes. However, existing home inventory has shrunk more than 15% year-over-year leading to a recent boost in vacant land purchases for new home construction. 

A year ago in March, the North Woods had 13.5 months of supply, meaning total homes for sale divided by the average sold per month in the preceding year. By March 2018, that number had shrunk nearly 20% to 10.8 months of supply — the lowest supply level in several years. 

“While the typical rule of thumb is that six months of supply is the dividing line between a ‘buyer’s market’ (more than six months) and ‘seller’s market’ (less than six months), the North Woods is unique for its high number of secondary and retirement homes where the seller may not be pressured to sell quickly,” said Byrnes. “We therefore estimate the ‘normal’ home inventory in our area to be between 10 to 15 months of supply.”

The price range for a single family home and the months of supply is as follows: under $100,000, 8.9 months; $100,000 to $199,999, 9.8 months; $200,000 to $299,999, 12.4 months; $300,000 to $499,000, 13.7 months; and $500,000 and above, 23.8 months.

“That being the case, with these numbers the North Woods is approaching what would be considered a ‘seller’s market’ where prices are typically rising, homes sell more quickly and buyers may be competing for desirable homes,” said Byrnes.

Byrnes said there are several other reasons the North Woods could continue to see increased real estate sales.

Just last month, Gov. Scott Walker announced that several North Woods towns are designated as Economic Opportunity Zones eligible for tax incentives to accelerate economic growth and job creation. There is also a new rural broadband initiative through Connect Americans Now that is working with Packerland Broadband to deliver faster and more reliable broadband to much of the North Woods. 

“These and other factors should help to raise interest in the North Woods area and further support local housing prices and sales,” said Byrnes. “While mortgage rates have inched upward lately, they still remain near historic lows and are not expected to have a significant adverse impact on home prices or sales.”

Byrnes said the North Woods also might see more new construction.

“Given that the North Woods existing home inventory is presently at multi-year lows, we anticipate seeing more new home construction in our region,” said Byrnes.