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New Home Construction Picked Up in Wisconsin Last Year

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024 -- 11:00 AM

(Joe Schulz, Wisconsin Public Radio) New home construction in Wisconsin picked up last year after two years of declines, but there’s still a long way to go to address the state’s housing shortage.

According to Joe Schulz with the Wisconsin Public Radio, the Wisconsin Builders Association collected new home permit data submitted to municipalities across the state, and found 11,657 permits were pulled in 2023.

That’s 331 more permits than in 2022, representing a roughly 3 percent increase. The final three months of 2023 were among the strongest of the year with 2,608 permits pulled, a 22 percent increase from the prior three-month period, the builders association said.

But a 2023 report from Forward Analytics, the research arm of the Wisconsin Counties Association, found the state needs to build at least 140,000 housing units by 2030 to keep pace with current demand, and 227,000 units if it wants to grow its working-age population.

Home sales were down 17 percent last year compared to 2022 as the median home price rose by 7.5 percent over the same period, according to Wisconsin Realtors Association data.

Brad Boycks, executive director of the Wisconsin Builders Association, said the state needs all types of units from workforce housing to single-family homes. But he said the permit data is limited to new one- and two-family dwellings.

He attributed the increase in construction to interest rates stabilizing after the last rate increase in July 2023, efforts to raise awareness for the housing shortage and a package of bills that became law last year aimed at addressing the issue.

Boycks said the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority is set to begin rolling out loan programs aimed at incentivizing housing development later this year. He hopes the start of those programs help build off some of last year’s momentum.

Housing data from the builders association shows that new construction slowed to a crawl after the Great Recession of 2008. The state had more than 17,000 housing starts in 2006. That number fell to 5,362 by 2011, and only climbed gradually during that decade.

In 2020, housing starts jumped to 12,291 from 8,719 the previous year. But they declined to 11,711 in 2021 and 11,326 in 2022. Boycks said it’s unlikely new home construction will ever reach the levels seen in the years leading up the 2008 recession.

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