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'I don't think I've ever seen it like this': Low inventory causes higher home prices and fewer sales in FDL

Posted at 5:15 PM, Mar 01, 2024

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — The housing market is always changing, but realtors in Fond du Lac tell me the current market is unlike anything they’ve seen in the past.

  • Low home inventory in Fond du Lac causes high prices and low sales.
  • "Our house actually sold for about $20,000 more than I thought," said homeowner Marty Nell.
  • Video shows the housing market from the perspective real estate agents and a seller.

Real estate agent Dennis Bates, who has worked in Fond du Lac for 25 years, describes the current market as “nuts.”

"I don't think I've ever seen it like this,” Bates said.

He helped Marty Nell sell his house, which only took a week to sell and went for far more than Nell expected.

"Our house actually sold for about $20,000 more than I thought... that was a big deal,” Nell said.

Bates said the deal Nell got is the norm in this market, where median home prices in January 2024 are up by more than 9% from this time last year, but sales are down 10%, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

That’s a stark contrast from the state as a whole, which saw sales jump by more than 7%.

Real estate agent Jenelle Bruno says that’s for a few reasons.

"[Buyer activity] is primarily driven by interest rates and unpredictable weather,” Bruno said.

With interest rates at about 7 percent for 30 year mortgages, Bates and Bruno said some homeowners don’t want to give up a low interest rate to buy a house with a higher interest rate.

But Bates said interest rates don’t tell the whole story.

"Interest rates aren’t really affecting it that much,” Bates said. “It's in people's subconscious, but the way the market is, it's just supply and demand.”

Real estate experts said it’s the low inventory that’s driving up prices.

And with fewer houses on the market, Bates said the ones that are available tend to sell much faster than normal, creating a mad dash among buyers.

"People go nuts," Bates said. "You could probably line the street up with ‘For Sale signs,’ and in two weeks every house would be sold,” Bates said.

Bruno said the market could warm up as we enter Spring, because that's usually when more people are willing to put their homes up for sale.