NWAR: 2020 ‘A banner year for Northwoods real estate’

For the Tomahawk Leader

NORTHERN WISCONSIN – The Northwoods Association of Realtors (NWAR) reported last week that 2020 was the busiest year ever for Northwoods real estate.

“The previous two strongest years for local real estate were 2018 and 2019 respectively, but 2020 saw 31% higher overall sales volume than 2018 with 4% annual gains in median sale price over the three-year period,” a release from NWAR said. “Existing homes and vacant lots whether on or off water saw strong price growth and eye-popping volume gains over 2019.”

“While sales and values have trended upward for the better part of a decade, suddenly it seems like everyone wants to live in the Northwoods,” NWAR President Andrea Krueger stated. “Some last March feared the pandemic would cause everyone to shelter in place and clobber real estate, so we were shocked as buyers turned up in droves seeking a Northwoods hideaway while the pandemic progressed.”

Krueger explained that multiple factors may have played a role in the sudden interest in the Northwoods.

“Historically low interest rates, more inventory at more affordable prices than in metro areas, and lower population density likely all contributed to the popularity of the Northwoods and other semi-rural areas,” Krueger noted, adding that realtors acted quickly to adopt safe practices, including video tours, virtual showings on FaceTime or Skype, providing PPE at live showings, and using paperless contracts.

The current absorption rate – average unit sales per month – also reached a new high of 392 units in 2020 versus 286 the year before.

“The buyers are definitely there, but inventory has thinned considerably to about three to four months of supply currently versus around seven months a year ago,” Greater Northwoods MLS President Jerry Burkett remarked. “While that is tight for our area, unlike downstate, where inventory has been very tight for years, our MLS currently has about 400 homes for sale without accepted offers at prices ranging from under $100k to over $1 million. The hottest segment lately are vacant lots, which in 2020 sold over 60% more parcels than in 2019. Fortunately, land is still plentiful, with about 1,400 lots actively listed, but the best parcels are going fast.”

Burkett noted that buyers should make sure to pre-qualify with a lender before home shopping so they can move fast when a realtor helps them find a property they like. Sellers are seeing top dollar at present and often have multiple showings and offers within days or weeks of listing.

“If you are thinking of selling, now is the time while interest rates remain very low, since that helps buyers with affordability,” he said.

In 2020, the Northwoods Association of Realtors donated over $10,000 to several food pantries throughout the region.

“We believe that being a caring neighbor is an important role realtors should play to help our communities continue to thrive,” Krueger said. “Many of our fellow small businesses were hit hard in the past year, and realtors have been there before, so we know how important it is to help support our local economy. The Northwoods gained many new neighbors over the past year and the talents they bring will help our economy emerge stronger as the pandemic subsides. Housing has always been an economic measuring stick, and while the pace in 2020 is one for the record books, Northwoods realtors have long believed the Northwoods is a terrific place to call ‘home.’”

To view Northwoods properties for sale, visit NWAR’s realtor-powered free consumer search portal at www.UpNorthMLS.com.

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