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‘Who saw that coming?’ Real estate experts say there’s a lack of housing for WI buyers, workers

MILWAUKEE -- Real estate experts say it's an exciting time to be in the business in Wisconsin.

"If someone's thinking about selling real estate, now is a fantastic time to buy something," said Jean M. Stefaniak, Wisconsin Realtors Association.

At the 6th annual Wisconsin Residential Real Estate Summit in Milwaukee, the message was clear: people want to move in, and to, Wisconsin.

But there's a problem...

"So there's a lack of housing for the amount of buyers that are out there today," said Stefaniak.

Jean M. Stefaniak

Economists, realtors and academics discussed the hot button topic over breakfast on Monday, March 12. They said the simple explanation for this issue is that companies love the culture of the state -- but there's no place for people to live.

"I don't think we have enough workers, so we're going to have to welcome people to Wisconsin, and we're going to talk about how we're going to house those people as well," said Stefaniak.

"The idea that we have a supply problem in the state of Wisconsin of single-family houses -- who saw that coming? Three years ago, who saw that coming?" said Mark Eppli, Marquette University.

Speakers added that with companies like Foxconn coming to the area, they have major financial incentives to hire people and to grow -- allowing them to employ more people.

Tim Sheehy

"The bottom line here is you look at this deal as, if Foxconn doesn't perform at the job levels with the capital investment that they're talking about, they don't get the incentives," said Tim Sheehy, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

As crews get ready to break ground on the plant, attendees said that if people are looking for job security and good pay, they should consider a career in construction.

"To let the realtors in the state of Wisconsin, along with the businesses know what's coming forward and how can we plan for that," said Stefaniak.

Another issue that was discussed was the fact that people are living to be older and staying independent longer, meaning they aren't moving out of their homes as quickly as they once did.