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Downtown Milwaukee’s condo boom gets more attention, but the explosion extends even to small-town exurbia. One striking example is West Bend. The Washington County seat has a population of just 29,853, but it has added 2,200 condos since 2001, estimates assessor Shannon Krause. “Almost every two-family unit in the city has been turned into a […]

Downtown Milwaukee’s condo boom gets more attention, but the explosion extends even to small-town exurbia. One striking example is West Bend. The Washington County seat has a population of just 29,853, but it has added 2,200 condos since 2001, estimates assessor Shannon Krause.

“Almost every two-family unit in the city has been turned into a condo,” Krause says. There have also been numerous new condo projects. The most recent proposal, Rainbow Lake Condominiums, is a high-density development with more than 100 units that abuts a 104-acre nature conservancy with lake access. The surge in new units hasn’t decreased prices. “The market is really pretty steady here,” says Krause, noting that some luxurious units are available.

Who are the buyers behind the boom? “They don’t work here,” says Krause. “They work in Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls and Sussex. We also have a lot of snowbirds who were raised around here or have a connection to the area, but who head south for the winter.”

Across the country, communities have embraced condo developments as both an economic stimulus for aging downtowns and a way to retain residents who no longer want the responsibility of a single-family home. Not only does it attract residents with high disposable incomes who keep local restaurants and retail busy, but it provides a steady stream of community volunteers who don’t demand costly public services like schools.

Three condo projects have been proposed for downtown Oconomowoc. Meanwhile, construction has already begun on Pabst Farms’ 144-unit condo development.

Neighboring Delafield has seen its own condo wave, with two projects in walking distance of downtown. But even communities that don’t have quaint downtowns are getting into the act. To the north, in the Lannon-Sussex area, the Whispering Ridge development sports 220 condos in a countryside setting.

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“Baby boomers, in particular, like the lifestyle of living in a city where you can walk to everything, but they don’t necessarily want to be in a big city. It’s a trend nationwide,” says Oconomowoc-based developer and Prudential Absolute Realty co-owner Jon Spheeris. He’d love to move into one himself – as soon as he can convince his wife.

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What $285,000 Buys Now
The average sales price for a home in the four-county metro area hit $285,125 last fall. Here’s a sample of recently sold homes listed by MLS at that price:


10187 Rolling Glen Dr., Cedarburg: This one-owner seven-room, four-bedroom, 2,100-square-foot, 1.5-bath 1973 colonial with a natural brick fireplace, attached four-car garage, private backyard and two-story storage shed sold for $270,400.


16230 W. Mayflower Dr., New Berlin: An updated move-in ready 1986 contemporary with six rooms, three bedrooms with walk-in closets, 2.5 baths, an open-concept layout with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and attached two-car garage sold for $5,000 more than its asking price; $290,000.


4744 N. Diversey Blvd., Whitefish Bay: A 1940 brick Tudor with six rooms, three bedrooms and 1.5 baths with a screened porch, detached garage and lower-lever rec room sold for its asking price of $285,000.


6420 N. Sunset Lane, Glendale: A 1978 ranch with many updates, this home includes seven rooms, three bedrooms, two baths, an open-concept kitchen/family room with fireplace and attached two-car garage. Selling price, $280,000.


9358 S. 47th St., Franklin: This eight-room 2002 colonial with four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, formal dining room, natural fireplace and 2.5-car attached garage overlooking a wooded lot sold for $275,000.

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20840 Hunters Run, Brookfield: A meticulously maintained 1977 ranch with seven rooms, including three bedrooms, two baths and a first-floor utility room, this home has raised panel doors, a large pantry and a well-landscaped yard. Asking price: $300,000; sold for $280,000.



210 S. Water St., No. 620, Milwaukee: This three-room open-concept 1,135-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bath riverfront condo has maple floors, granite counters and ceramic baths. On the market since late 2005, it sold for $239,795.


1431 Hidden Waters Circle; No. 30; West Bend: MLS reported that this 1,920-square-foot, 1.5-story, two-bedroom, 2.5-bath condo with a den, full walk-out basement and attached 2.5-car garage backing up to woods sold for $155,000. But this was just a base price. Finishing the unit with flooring, cabinetry and countertops will push the purchase price to $285,000 and up, says co-developer Laura Stockhausen.

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