Searching for two years, an Oak Creek veteran struggles to become a home owner

MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. — The Wisconsin Realtors Association released its February report. It shows home sales are down nearly 30%. But that doesn’t mean they are falling. However, a Redfin report shows Milwaukee is the city with the highest home sales prices in the country.

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Sold sign outside a home in Wauwatosa.

An Oak Creek veteran knows that all too well. To say it has been a struggle for Bennie Brown to find a home is an understatement.

“Looking for over two years,” said Brown.

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Bennie Brown speaks to reporter Rebecca Klopf about his two year search to find a home.

He says he and his wife have made nearly a dozen offers on homes. At one point, they made an offer of more than $50,000 over the asking price and still they have nothing. The military veteran and surgical tech at the VA Hospital joined TMJ4 on his lunch break because he wanted people to know what it was like out there.

“You actually found it easier to find a home to look at during COVID because it was more on the market?” asked reporter Rebecca Klopf.

“Yeah, it was easier then,” said Brown.

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Bennie Brown and his wife and have been trying to buy a home in Milwaukee County for two years.

Nationally, home prices have fallen for the first time since 2012. They are down .2-percent. But a new Redfin report shows Milwaukee is the city where home sales prices have increased the most, with a 10.4-percent increase.

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Home Sales

Brown is looking for a home in Milwaukee County in the $200,000 price range. The Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors says since 2020, the average home in the county has gone from $170,000 to $223,000 in 2023.

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On top of that, the president of GMAR Mike Ruzicka said there is a huge problem as interest rates have gone up, people are now holding onto their homes and don’t want to sell.

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Home marked sold on the for sale sign outside the house in Milwaukee County.

“The increasing interest rate is causing a slowdown and it is happening all over the country. The number of listings sellers are putting on the market has slowed down,” said Ruzicka. “There are just not enough houses to satisfy the current demand.”

But that is not going to stop Brown from becoming a first-time home owner.

“Just keep it up, keep believing,” said Brown.

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Accepted offer on home for sale sign.

If you are starting your housing search, the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors has a couple of tips:

  • Figure out how much you can afford
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage
  • Be prepared to make a decision quickly

GMAC says homes are typically on the market in Milwaukee County for less than 60 days.

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