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New home sales dip across the US, not the case locally

New home sales dip across the US, not the case locally

LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) - The U.S. housing market is taking another hit when it comes to new home building, but in our area that's not the case.

The U.S. Commerce Department just released July numbers show a 2.4 percent drop in new home sales across the country and a nearly 9 percent drop in the Midwest.

Experts said this decrease is evidence the housing market is still struggling since the recession. In the Coulee Region local home builders say they're seeing the opposite though.

When the recession hit, home builders in the Coulee Region didn't quite feel the same sting as other places in the U.S.

"The big metropolitan areas, it didn't affect us as much as it did them. We didn't see that significant drop, we don't have the big production builders here who were sitting out on all that land in pre-built houses that they were trying to sell," Jason Etrheim, vice president of Mastercraft Builders, said.

Mastercraft Builders in La Crosse says things did slow down, but over the past few years the amount of work has slowly increased locally even though that's not the case across the country.

"Talking at the builders meetings and talking to the other contractors and even the different trades in the area here, everybody is saying everything is really picking up," Etrheim said.

Etrheim says right now things are so busy booking plumbers and electricians is becoming a bit of a challenge.

"They're back to we have to schedule them out two to three weeks in advance just so they can fit us into our schedule. We no longer can call them and two to three days later can show up at a job site," Etrheim said.

Stokes Electric in La Crosse is one of those companies staying plenty busy.

"Right now everything seems to be picking up quite a bit. It seems like Onalaska up towards Holmen, Trempealeau area seems to be more new construction," Master Electrician Steve Elsen said.

Elsen said when the recession hit, Stokes had to cut down on staff, but they've slowly been able to add employees since. He says the increase in work has been slow, but they're almost back to where they were six years ago.

"It's getting closer, but were not quite back to where we were. It's been a lot better than what it has been though," Elsen said.

Builders from all over the area say they're seeing the same trend. All types of companies relying on the housing market have been seeing the same uptick in business over the past few years.

Along with new homes being built and sold builders say the number of remodels in the area is up as well.

Most of the remodeling work is happening in La Crosse while the majority of new homes being built are in Onalaska in Holmen.

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