In a competitive market, people are weighing the options of buying or renting a home


WAUSAU, Wisconsin (WSAW) – The housing market continues to trend in a competitive direction, with fewer options available and more bidding for what’s out there.

“In 2020 there were about 440 houses on the market at this point,” said Austin Solomon, team leader at Solomon Group, Coldman Banker Action in Wausau. “Last year it was about 305. This year it’s 220 apartments.”

It’s not just for homes that are ready to be bought. It is also for rent.

“Finding a rental apartment, a single-family rental or a single-family home is always going to be a challenge,” said Holly Hettinga, administrator at Solomon Group.

The same also applies to those who want to live in an apartment now. SC Swiderski, LLC opened three new unit buildings in Merrill this year. All of those buildings are now full, according to director of business development Jacqui McElroy.

“We see a lot of people taking this opportunity to sell their house because the prices are pretty high,” McElroy said. “It’s easy to sell their house and they don’t want to jump on something right away or they can’t find anything, so renting is an option for them.”

With both renting and buying currently a difficult and expensive process, potential buyers are wondering which option suits them best. It comes down to a variety of factors to determine what makes the most sense. The first factor is how long the party will stay in a potential home.

If you live in a home for a while, a couple of years, five years, ten years, the biggest benefit is the potential for appreciation,” Solomon said.

According to Solomon, a home that was bought for about $100,000 to $110,000 in the last two to three years is now up to $150,000 to $160,000. However, if the buyer doesn’t want to stay in the area that long, the philosophy could change.

“If you’re looking short-term, you’re only here for a year or two, and you don’t want to worry about maintenance and upkeep, renting is probably a better option,” said Cody Hoelsch, a real estate agent with the Solomon Group.

Another thing to keep an eye on is interest rates. As interest rates continue to rise, many people want to get in now before they rise any further.

“For buyers, now is a better time to buy to secure a good interest rate, so there’s a lot of pressure there that’s affecting people one way or another,” Solomon said.

For those looking to rent now, convenience can be an important factor, especially for empty nesters looking for something different.

“They move in and find that the no-maintenance lifestyle is a good choice for them, so we have a lot of people who move in as a temporary solution and stay for the long-term,” McElroy said.

Given the low availability, municipalities are looking for answers to make housing more affordable for people. In Stevens Point, some people are struggling to afford the rents available to them, and people looking to sell their homes know there isn’t much to move to.

“People who want to sell their homes know they’re not going to find anything, and if they build, they have to wait a year or more for the house to be ready, so they choose to stay in their homes,” Meleesa Johnson said. President of the Stevens Point Housing Taskforce.

Johnson believes looking at the city’s zoning laws can help create more housing options in the future.

While there are many things to consider when buying or renting, experts recommend patience and a plan before making a decision.

“You never want to start buying right away,” said Matt Mullen, a real estate agent at Solomon Group. “My theory is that I always want my clients to think a little more than just jump on something.”

If you’re thinking, ‘Hey, I have to be in a new house in 30 days,’ that probably isn’t realistic right now, whether it’s for rent or for sale,” Hettinga said. “Give yourself a little more time and the process will be much easier for you.”

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