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Catch it fast: Existing home sales are brisk in Chippewa Valley - As seen in the Leader-Telegram

Posted: 04/11/2017

This year's crazy real estate market has made the news, and C&M owner Cody Filipczak discussed how it has influenced people's decisions to build their homes this year in the Leader-Telegram:

If you plan to buy an existing house, you better move quickly. Buyers are snatching them up soon after they hit the market. 

Stacey Zeutschel was prepared to buy a house and knew how to search the market.
As a former real estate agent who experienced the housing boom and bust in the 2000s, Zeutschel hunted online last year for options within her budget of about $250,000. 

"There weren't a lot in the price range I was looking for, and the ones that were required quite a bit of work," Zeutschel said.

Her experience is fast becoming the rule among prospective homebuyers, as the housing inventory in the Chippewa Valley is at a record low, according to area real estate agents and homebuilders.

While some, such as Zeutschel, choose to build their homes, those looking to buy are nudging out competition with higher bids and quicker decisions, swooping in with offers almost as soon as the homes hit the market.

The trend continuing across the state shows that the inventory of homes for sale dropped about 18 percent from February last year to this year, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

The pace of home sales also has increased, meaning homes are projected to sell faster in 2017 than in the previous year. That's in line with data from the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association, which reports that Chippewa Valley homes stay on the market for an average of 65 days, outperforming the national average of 90 days.

But the drought of well-cared-for houses for sale doesn't span all price ranges and styles.

Paul Canfield, part owner of the local Re/ Max Affiliates office, said the lack of inventory is most severe for homes listed for less than $250,000. The average cost of a home in the area is $165,000, he said.

An average home in a certain price bracket that sells in fewer than six months generally indicates that the market is good for sellers. Canfield said homes are selling now between two weeks and two months.

Tina Theisen, a broker associate for Re/ Max Real Estate Group, said homes around $150,000 are especially hard to come by.

"What we're seeing for a lot of houses is that some are lasting days, if even one day," she said.
Competition for well-kept homes at decent prices is further compounded by more people moving to Eau Claire from out of the area and the state.

Cody Filipczak of C&M Home Builders & Real Estate is currently working with two couples from the Twin Cities who chose to build after they were unable to find housing. The couples will rent until their homes are ready for move in.

While Filipczak thinks more homes will be built, he said a labor shortage in construction and higher material costs could factor into whether that helps waylay limited inventory.

"That might level it out a little bit, but I just think it's going to continue," he said.

Part of the reason for the low inventory is because fewer homes were built after the market fell in the late 2000s, and the construction of new homes hasn't yet caught up, Theisen said.

That's contributing to the shortage of affordable homes that would-be sellers would likely move into.

Consequently, those sellers are staying put, Theisen said, noting she has heard from some people who are scared of selling their homes out of fear that they won't have a place to go.

Choosing to build homes instead seems to be a trend ticking upward, said Filipczak, who is building Zeutschel's home.

A shortage of houses overall, but especially at lower price points, has potential customers calling Filipczak and asking whether they can build a home for $150,000.

But even for smaller-sized homes, people can expect to shell out at least $210,000.

In the meantime, Canfield and Theisen recommend buyers be well prepared in advance with their preapprovals in hand.

"That way, you are ready when a new (home) pops up that might very well get multiple offers," Canfield said.

C&M Home Builders and Real Estate is a family-owned Eau Claire real estate agency. Cody and Molly, the founders of C&M Real Estate, started their first business, C&M Home Builders, in 2005 and began building homes in the Eau Claire area. In 2011, they expanded their services to include Eau Claire realty and began C&M Real Estate.

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