There are several factors at play, Eppli said, but at the end of the day the problem is one of supply and demand: too many buyers competing for a limited number of homes.
Historically low interest rates are contributing to demand, which has made home ownership affordable for more people.
And millennials – the largest generation in U.S. history – are now in their 30s and late 20s, the time when most people start families and buy homes.
To put the numbers in perspective, there are nearly half a million Americans aged 33 over 43, according to Census Bureau estimates. And just behind them are over 300,000 more in their thirties.
To make matters worse, after spending the last year working – and just about everything else – inside their homes, people are looking for more space.
“COVID has definitely changed a lot of people’s needs,” said Michael Restaino of Restaino and Associates. “Larger homes 20 to 30 minutes outside of Madison that were hard to sell two or three years ago have been swallowed up.”
At the same time, new home construction collapsed after the 2008 housing crisis, and has yet to fully recover.
Between 1994 and 2007, Eppli notes, Wisconsin filed an average of more than 14,300 new batches per year. In the years since, the average is less than a quarter of that.