If you are looking to buy an affordable house, Racine is still the place to be because it has again been named one of the most affordable places to buy a home in the country.
A study in the 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2017 showed that Racine — for the fourth year in a row — is one of “the least expensive places to live in the United States.” Using the median multiple, the survey takes the average sales prices in a market and then divides that number by the gross annual median household income to come up with the area’s affordability.
“The ‘median multiple’ is not a perfect measure because it does not account for house sizes or build quality,” stated Oliver Hartwich, executive director of the New Zealand Initiative (the organization that wrote the introduction on the survey). “But it is the only index that allows a quick comparison of different housing markets, and it is the best approximation of housing affordability measures we have to date.”
Racine’s ratio is 1.8 compared to the United States having “a moderately unaffordable” Median Multiple of 3.6, according to the report.
Depending on which side of the sales process you are on, however, that determines whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, said Ray Leffler, owner of RE/Max Newport Realty in Racine.
“This is about supply and demand,” Leffler said. “Racine has older housing stock and not a lot of new housing construction is happening here. The market has been stagnant for a while because we’ve seen more foreclosures here than in other places. So the market isn’t jumping up like other markets.”
Still, Racine’s housing market is definitely better than it was compared to the housing crash and the area is rebounding, but it’s just not at the level it once was, Leffler said.
Seven years ago the number of properties sold was less than 20 per week, but now more than 60 a week are selling as buyers are taking advantage of low prices.
Having affordable housing means that people employed at companies like Amazon, UNFI, and Uline are seeing Racine as an attractive place to live. In places like Caledonia, the market has also started to rebound as building permits for homes are starting to hover around 40 per year versus 100 to 200 per year prior to the recession.
Leffler also sees more people from Milwaukee moving to Caledonia. He said initiatives by the Racine Unified School District — with the Academies and new building projects — have helped improve the attractiveness of the school district.
“Here in the greater Racine area we have housing that offers more bang for your buck,” Leffler said. “But it’s a double-edged sword because it wouldn’t be affordable if not for the lack of development.”