Median home price in Door County has climbed from $220,000 in 2019, to $279,000 in 2020, to $315,000 in 2021
The real estate market in Door County, largely because of the continuing presence and impact of COVID-19, has tested positive for the second consecutive year. In fact, realtors say the 2021 sales figures go far beyond positive – they are unprecedented.
“The only time period even close to what we’ve experienced these last two years occurred in the 1970s,” said Dennis Starr, managing broker at Starr Realty and a real estate professional in Door County for more than 50 years. “Back then, banks were not lending very often, so when that practice reversed in the middle of the decade, the market exploded. But even that era pales in comparison to what we’ve seen in both 2020 and again in 2021 since the start of COVID.”
Sara Glenn – a 20-year realtor and broker/partner at True North Real Estate in Fish Creek – used an equally extreme adjective to describe the real estate market.
“The last two years were insane,” Glenn said. “They were certainly the most active period in my career. I didn’t think it was possible, but 2021 was even more off the charts than 2020.”
Ben Baranczyk, a broker associate at Sarkis Realty, referred to 2021 as “all hands on deck.”
“The 2020 numbers were huge, but 2021 came through and laughed at the previous year,” he said.
The past year came as a surprise because local realtors believed the market had peaked in 2020. But that wasn’t the case once the calendar flipped into 2021, when it was rare for a property to sell for list price, and most properties sold for “far more,” Starr said.
“Our office had one listing which received 13 offers,” said Connie Erickson of Shorewest Realtors, who is now in her 38th year in the business. “We also had one purchase at more than $100,000 over the listing price. Several times, one of our agents would walk through the office and say, ‘I cannot believe the offer we just received for my listing!’”
With demand so high, fear of losing a purchase became a huge incentive for buyers, who put fewer contingencies on contracts, including inspections and water testing.
“The buyer felt it was necessary to make their offer as clean and attractive as possible to the seller,” Erickson said.
According to Erickson, Starr and the Wisconsin Realtors Association in Madison, all real estate market trends and indicators improved in 2021, including time on market, absorption time, average listing price, offers per listing, cash transactions, dollar volume, sales volume and more.
The 2021 Door County market was up $230 million in sales from 2020. The median sales price for residential property, based on figures gathered by the Wisconsin Realtors Association, climbed from $220,000 in 2019, to $279,000 in 2020, to $315,000 in 2021.
New construction and sales of vacant land also exploded. A large number of those buyers were people who had been unsuccessful in their attempts to buy an existing property, Glenn said.
“They were aware of construction delays and higher prices for supplies, but they went forward without hesitation,” she said.
Historically, the charm, beauty and lifestyle of Door County have been the driving forces in real estate sales. During the past two years – further fueled by attractive interest rates and a surplus of money from a great stock market – the pandemic has caused people to make lifestyle changes. If at first buyers were looking to escape crowded cities, that desire morphed into a “life is too short” mentality that caused them to seek more permanent changes.
“Last year, we saw more buyers who were interested in making Door County a year-round residence,” Baranczyk said.
“COVID changed priorities,” Glenn said. “It changed our approach to life.”
“Remember, too, that COVID forced many of us to work from home,” Erickson said. “Now many people prefer to work from home – thus, the continued increased interest in a Door County property.”
The real estate crystal ball is always a difficult one to read clearly, but these professionals agreed that the 2022 market would remain very strong. They were reluctant to predict another record year, however, largely because the massive sales of the past two years have limited inventory.
“There is one unknown factor in 2022,” Glenn said. “Some recent buyers may decide to sell in the near future just to make a quick profit off their purchase. That would help our inventory.”