When you ask Realtor Beth Jaworski what one million will get you, her answer is “Probably not as much as you think.”
She says the usual specs for a home that clocks in over the big milly are 3,000-5,000 square feet, four-five bathrooms and bedrooms, a finished basement, and then a couple luxury amenities that differ from house to house, such as an expansive garage, an indoor basketball court, a swimming pool or a home theater.
It might not be the palace that a million would have bought you decades ago, but it’s certainly still a cut above. And to land one of these dream homes, you need to act quickly. The million dollar home market, like the entire metro Milwaukee real estate market right now, is quite competitive. In 2020, there were only 61 homes sold in Milwaukee County for more than $1 million, 15 of which were in Shorewood and Whitefish Bay, two of the most popular high-end spots.
“If something comes on in Shorewood, it’s a race to get it,” Jaworksi says. “There’s 11 total listings there right now – they all have an accepted offer.” If you’re willing to consider a location beyond the northeast side of Milwaukee County, take heart: In previous decades, high-end homes were limited in number and clustered in a few select areas.
“But now almost every community has million-dollar homes,” Jaworski says.
Realtor Vickie Kelsall notes that while the houses in the vicinity of Lake Drive are coveted and beautiful, they are older and often lack the updated amenities of the newer homes built further out into the county. And if you’re willing to venture into neighboring counties, there is the upside of lower taxes. For example, a $1.1 million, five-bedroom property in Hartland that was on the market in January requires $9,903 in taxes. At the same time, a four-bedroom, $1.2 million home on the East Side of Milwaukee runs the buyer $20,627 in taxes.
In addition to acting quickly, making your offer stand out is important in today’s market.
A cash offer is a good move, if you can swing it, and be sure to meet the seller’s preferred closing date. Some buyers are even waiving home inspections, although real estate agents don’t typically recommend that. And if you can include nonrefundable earnest money to show the seller you’re committed, that can go a long way to finalizing the deal.
“The cleaner the offer, the better,” Jaworski says. “Any way you can sweeten the deal for the seller is going to be more attractive.”