Sponsored Love: Navigating The Southern Wisconsin Housing Market, Insights For Homebuyers 

July 24, 2023

The rising mortgage rate (30-year mortgages reached 6.88% in July), inflation, and shortage of new constructions made it challenging for homebuyers to find a home in desired locations.

Southern Wisconsin residential real estate market attracts potential home buyers from around the country as this versatile territory has employment options, affordable rural and suburban housing with many properties to pick from, and Federal housing assistance. Therefore,  New buyers must analyze the parameters of Southern WI properties to find something aligning with their requirements and budget. 

5 Key Takeaways for Homebuyers in Southern Wisconsin

1. Housing Price and Growth

A Real Estate Agent can walk the buyers through prime locations and pricing, yet doing the groundwork beforehand helps them find the neighborhood and home according to personal preferences. As various Sounther WI counties and cities have faced challenges due to insufficient inventory, increasing prices (doubled over the last decade), and limited new construction, researching can lead to the dream property without breaking the bank. 

Builders and brokers are leaning more towards selling a new construction or higher-end home to maximize the profit margin- making it challenging to find affordable housing. However, three out of the seven prime Southern WI  saw a YoY price drop for all types of residential property, so finding an affordable one will be easier. 

RegionMedian Sale Price (All Property Types)Sale Price Growth YoYDays in the MarketHomes Sold Above the Listed Price

2. Loans 

Learning about specialized Federal loans can ease the mortgage repayment burden of a prospective homebuyer knows about the specialized Federal loans. Since Southern WI has mostly rural regions (Washington, Waukesha, Walworth, etc.) USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans apply to most properties. Applicants have a jumpstart on the loan as there is no boundary for minimum credit score. 

First-time home buyers can avail Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). This state-run assistance provides enough funds for the down payment and a second 10-year mortgage for a maximum of 6% of the purchase price. Apart from the WI-based loans, you should check out the FHA and FHFA loans, where buyers can put a minimum of 3.5% as the down payment. Since the maximum limit (2023) of FHFA and FHA loans among Southern WI counties are $726,200  and $472,030, respectively, you can get a great house as the median price is $307,000. 

3. Location Selection 

Since Southern WI has rural and urban areas, a potential homebuyer should pick the location depending on their necessities. For example, Milwaukee’s Madison should be the perfect spot for individuals wanting to join the growing economy, highly acclaimed educational institutes for higher studies, and recreational hotspots. The downtown’s compact single homes and condos have already become a favorite for people moving in from neighboring Chicago for a better schooling system, traffic, employment, and overall quality of life. 

In contrast, for WI or other state residents looking for a  vacation home, retirement property, or a large house for WFH setup, rural regions -Walworth, Washington, or  Racine- will be the suitable option. Go for the Lauderdale Lakes community for an extravagant lakefront estate or Villa as your second home and retirement property. However, if you are looking for a bargain for remote work, a modest coastal cottage from Washington County will be the appropriate choice. 

4. Maintenance Cost 

South WI experiences four distinct seasons-each season having varying effects on the property. The long and harsh winters (November to March) can create a money pit of maintenance costs through roofing, boiler replacement, water pipe repair, gutter leaks, window sealing, and indoor pipe insulation. Since the water service lines are buried 6.82 feet deep (the national average is 4.58 feet), the replacements cost Wisconsinites about $4,801 -34% more than other regions.  

The Spring can bring heavy rains, tornadoes, and potential flooding- leading to the need for flood insurance, proper drainage systems, gutter cleaning, and basement waterproofing.   As Southern WI summer stretches up to 90°F during heat spells, you will also need to maintain an efficient insulation and HVAC system. Harsh weather conditions can take a toll on the exterior of a house, including paint, siding, roof, and windows. Apart from the seasonal maintenance, regular mowing, trimming, fertilizing, and pest control expenses may be necessary to comply with the HOA laws.

5. Rental Advantage 

Rental income leads to property diversification and financial freedom in the long run. All seven Southern WI regions (Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha) create excellent rental market opportunities as they have become the US sleeper business, retirement property, and education hub. Walworth’s traditional houses are seeing growing demand among vacationers and remote workers, while Ozaukee brings STR from hikers and nature lovers. 

Milwaukee boasts six Fortune 1000 companies  (Harley-Davidson, ManpowerGroup, Northwestern Mutual, Rockwell Automation, WEC Energy Group, etc.) along with significant state colleges – Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with more than 36,000 students. Hence,  the area saw an 11% YoY rent rise, and the other Southern WI areas followed suit. You can also earn a rental return between Milwaukee and Chicago in Racine County. , Home to global companies like Nestle, S.C. Johnson, Modine Manufacturing, CNH Industrial, and InSinkErator, the county is seeing an exponential rise of people coming from other states or central WI. 


Contrary to the popular belief of Southern WI being rural black holes, the territory presents numerous opportunities for mid to senior-level executives, retirees, students, and property investors.  Upon careful observation and assistance from real estate professionals, homebuyers can find their ideal home from diversified properties. 

Photo credit: 1) The One Group . 2) Source.

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