La Crosse County sees record home sales in 2016

Buyers finding low inventory of homes

The latest report on Wisconsin home sales shows a record year for the housing market.

Statewide, figures show 2016 home sales in Wisconsin rose 6.1 percent from the year before.

In La Crosse County, it’s a similar story, with record sales in 2016.

But housing inventory remains low in the county, and new homeowners say they are feeling the pressure to buy quickly.

After several years, Onalaska couple Jerry and Kelly Edwards were tired of the apartment life.

“There’s somebody coming in and going out, there’s just the noise aspect of it — the lack of privacy — the lack of control,” Jerry said.

That’s why about a year ago, the couple decided to look for a house.

“There’s just this aspect — this feeling that you get — you have full control over everything,” Edwards said. “This yard is yours. This tree is yours. This fence is yours.”

But finding that perfect home, wasn’t as easy as they thought.

“The moment we saw something posted, we would call on it right away only to find out from the realtor that it was already in discussion for sale,” Edwards said.

The Edwards’ story is fairly common. According to the Wisconsin Realtors Association report, the median price of a home is La Crosse County rose nearly 8 percent in 2016. Experts say low inventory is a big reason, making it tough for buyers to find homes.

“There’s a lot of first-time home buyers in the market, there’s a lot of move-up buyers in the market, people who have bought maybe five-10 years ago, they bought their first starter home, their family’s grown, they’re looking to move up,” said Dave Snyder, president of the La Crosse Area Realtors Association.

Home sales from La Crosse County rose slightly in 2016 to break the sales record that was set in 2015. Experts say it’s in large part because of the health of the area.

“There’s a lot of building going on,” Snyder said. “A lot of new businesses coming to La Crosse, so I think there’s been a lot of influx of new people with good-paying jobs coming into the area.”

Despite the challenging housing market, after months of searching, the Edwards found their perfect home.

“Finally we have a lawn to mow. We’ve got a garden that we can plant. We unfortunately have to shovel now because of the winter weather,” Edwards said. “It gives you the ultimate sense that this is mine, and I get to make these choices and what I do with these things.”

They also said that they spent years prior to looking, just better educating themselves on the home-buying process.

Homebuyers and experts said the key to finding a home on their part is making sure they get their credit just right.

Housing experts said that putting your house on the market now, rather than in the spring, is a good idea.

The reason is that there are still many buyers out there, and with the inventory low, it makes for a great sellers’ market.