Buying In

In 2012, The Atlantic called millennials “The Cheapest Generation.” Among the reasons for this less-than-sparkling designation was the historically low level of homeownership for the younger generation of Americans who’ve been coming of age during the Great Recession. But perhaps now, change is coming. A recent study from BMO Harris Bank says nearly three-quarters of millennials – which for this study refers to 18- to 34-year-olds – in the U.S. plan to buy a home within the next five years. That three-quarters figure is mirrored in Wisconsin, one of seven states surveyed individually by BMO Harris Bank.  “We were delighted…

Where The Heart Is

The Webb family has a place of its own now, at Maskani Place. Photo by Erich Schroeder.  It all started in Lisa Webb’s hometown of Gary, Ind., when she divorced her high school sweetheart, a man who had repeatedly cheated on her. After the separation, Webb endured a period of new homes, new jobs and, eventually, homelessness. Coping with her situation proved worrisome for Webb and her four kids, whom she sent to live with their father in Milwaukee, part of an attempt to regain her post-divorce footing. Webb herself moved out to California for a door-to-door sales job, where…

Scholars’ Row

Nate and Tea Norfolk with their son. The three live within UWM’s orbit. (photo by Adam Ryan Morris) High school sweethearts Tommy Pecoraro and Leslie Stachowiak, both in their early 30s, bought their first home in July of 2013, a four-bedroom, two-bath Victorian dating to 1901. “We both adored the unique hardwood floors,” Stachowiak says, as well as the house’s wood-burning fireplace and crown molding. “It just felt like a happy house.” There was one catch: The stately home, near Downer Avenue, was just a beer bottle’s throw from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In years past, streets surrounding the university…

Fake or Frank?

photo by Tom Hignite, courtesy of Miracle Home Builders Last fall, Miracle Home Builders in Richfield unveiled three new model homes that represented a major new initiative for the development firm. Located in a Germantown subdivision, the houses were said to be “a tribute to Wright,” meaning Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect born in Richland Center, Wis., who went on to become the most famous architect of all time. There are a number of Wright-designed houses in Milwaukee, and a nucleus in Oak Park, Ill., and the Miracle tributes mimic idiosyncrasies of the master’s Prairie School style: large exterior overhangs;…

The Foreclosure Cavalry

Illustration by Jeff Szuc About 10 years ago, Mattie Burts bought a bungalow on a tree-lined street on the Northwest Side. It was her first home, a little nest for Burts and her 1-year-old daughter. But last winter, a roof repair shook the family’s foundation by triggering a chain reaction. Because she was unable to pay for the repair, she lost insurance coverage on the house, and her bank began charging her monthly for insurance and property taxes. “My mortgage [went] from $551 a month to $850,” she says. “It was like my world had come to an end.” Around…

Final Frontier

Photo by Andrea Hudson Tim Miller is a professor of communes. Well, technically, he’s a professor of religious studies and a historian of what are officially dubbed “intentional communities” at the University of Kansas. But the point is, he has a passion for something people have been doing for centuries – pooling resources and labor in a shared home for reasons other than bare necessity or family ties. He traces this very long trend to the Dutch Mennonites of the 17th century and the surge that passed through the American mainstream during the middle of the 20th. “In the 1960s…

The Condo Crunch

Photo by Ryan Schmitz Don’t believe there’s a condo shortage in Downtown Milwaukee? Just ask real estate agent David Price, the self-dubbed Milwaukee Condo Man. “There’s limited inventory in every price range,” says the owner of Milwaukee Realty Inc., an East Side agency that sells Downtown units. “There are people who are mad at me because I can’t show enough in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.” According to the Multiple Listing Service, there were 294 condos for sale in five Downtown ZIP codes in early July, including 74 with accepted offers, leaving 220 available to would-be buyers. “In 2010, there…

Sell Sell Sell

In early June, real estate broker Tom McCormick rang up the listing agent for a three-bedroom, one-bath colonial-style home in Wauwatosa. The owner of Exit Realty Horizons in Milwaukee wanted to schedule a showing for his client, who was looking for a house. To McCormick’s surprise, he learned that he was far from the first broker to call about the property. “I’ve got 25 showings for that house today,” said the listing agent. And the pace hardly slowed. McCormick performed a bleary-eyed 8:30 a.m. showing for his client, “and I was the third Realtor to show it that morning.” In…