Wisconsin’s Vacation Home Market Is Growing - Enter this Niche Today!
Entering a new year always feels like a much-needed fresh start, and finding a new niche market to enter can rejuvenate your career while expanding your real estate business.
For instance, vacation or secondary homes provide a great niche market for new and experienced real estate agents alike. Vacation home sales skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing by 16% year-over-year in 2020 according to a report from the National Association of REALTORS®.
Wisconsin’s lakefront markets followed this trend, with sales up nearly 30% in 2021.
Wisconsin’s Vacation Home Market
"It's a fast and furious market," said Derek Larson in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a real estate agent for First Weber Group based in Minocqua, WI. "If you see something you like, you have to move on it and you have to come in with your very best offer."
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel outside of the country slowed, prompting Midwestern residents to travel north seeking an escape with waterfront views and activities.
"People obviously couldn’t make trips to Mexico or on cruise ships, so northern Wisconsin became the place to go," Larson said.
For example, just 48 homes were sold in Price County (which is about three hours northwest of Green Bay) in 2020. In the first three months of 2021, 100 homes were sold in the county, a 108% increase.
It’s unsurprising that home sales in lakefront markets have seen a boom in recent years. Beyond the fact that COVID-19 has altered many people’s property needs, lakefront homes have historically boasted a higher median value and appreciate more over time compared to properties without a waterfront. Having a lakefront property is like being on vacation, except in the comfort of your home that you have access to year-round.
Homes in Wisconsin are also cheaper in comparison to the rest of the country and popular vacation destinations in Southern states.
“One near-certain aspect of the post-pandemic economy, when it comes, is the flexible work schedule,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, told The Escape Home. “It is very hard to envision five days a week in the office. Therefore, vacation home sales will continue to move higher, this year, next year, and for the foreseeable future.”
As Americans seek an escape from their homes and remote work continues to provide more flexibility than ever before, vacation home sales are projected to continue rising over the next few years. If you’re interested in securing your slice of this niche market, check out these tips for getting started.
Earn Your Real Estate License in Wisconsin
If you're already licensed in Wisconsin, great! But if you're not, you'll need to hold a real estate license in the state to conduct real estate business in the land of 1,000 cheeses. Some of your education may apply, but there are state-specific requirements you’ll need to meet.
Wisconsin’s real estate license reciprocity status is partial, meaning only specific states are included in their reciprocity agreement. In this case, Wisconsin has reciprocity agreements with Indiana and Illinois. If you’re an Indiana or Illinois agent, you can transfer your current real estate license from your home state to the target state upon the completion of limited state-specific education and examination requirements.
If you’re not an agent in Illinois or Indiana, you can still work in Wisconsin after fulfilling the state’s licensing requirements. If you have any questions on real estate license reciprocity, check out our comprehensive guide here. If you're interested in having a custom education package built to support your multi-state business needs, please reach out to our Customer Support team.
Pick a Vacation Market You Know (or Are Willing to Learn!)
Location, location, location remains a tried-and-true principle within the real estate industry, and in a niche market like vacation homes, it’s more crucial than ever before.
Wisconsin’s vacation home market is rich with opportunity, but you don’t need to capture all of that business at once. Instead, start smaller by getting comfortable with one market at a time. To help you hone in on your ideal location, here are the top vacation home markets in Wisconsin:
- Door County’s median home value: $263,092
- Wisconsin Dells’: median home value $206,458
- Bayfield’s median home value: $274,653
- Lake Geneva’s median home value: $306,040
- Eagle River’s median home value: $250,628
Dial-In Your Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve figured out which vacation home market you want to enter, honing your marketing strategy will help to spread awareness of your business and can help buyers find their dream vacation paradise.
The best way to build your marketing strategy is to know your audience and what kind of vacation home they desire. Are they luxury homeowners adding another property to their portfolio? Do they want to find a vacation home in a touristy area like Door County that they can rent out throughout the year? Or do they simply want a paradise retreat near the Apostle Islands that will allow them to disconnect and relax?
Knowing what your audience is looking for in a vacation home will help you determine the best way to market your services, which will allow you to spend your time and money in the channels that will generate the most leads for your business. Instead of trying every lead generation tool, focus on four prospecting pillars based on your audience and location:
1. Referrals - This source of leads should be a permanent part of your business that can feed you leads primarily by word of mouth.
2. Paid leads - Paying for leads doesn’t have to be costly and can turn into referrals over time, making the price per lead even less expensive.
4. Probates - Wisconsin’s probate process is simple. If there is a written will that names the heir to the property, it’s a done deal. However, in the case there is no will and no heirs to claim the property, then there are companies that sell listings of real estate in probate. You can also check county records to find these properties since they’re open to the public.
Once you’ve established these pillars in your business, focus on identifying who your audience is and how you can market to them.
- For the buyer who wants to earn extra money by renting out their vacation home, consider securing a billboard near an airport or another highly-trafficked part of town.
- For the buyer looking to disconnect and relax, try online ads or targeted social media ads aimed at those searching for smaller coastal or lakeside retreats.
- The best way to market to luxury buyers is to get connected within the market and network with other luxury real estate agents. You could get creative and place business cards or brochures at wealthy hot spots in town such as a country club, highly-rated restaurant, or high-end car dealership.
Stay Connected and Keep Your Clients Informed
It’s more than likely your clients will not live in the market in which you’re showing them listings, making it all the more important for you to keep them informed about what’s happening with home prices and local news that might impact the market. Adding a CRM into your arsenal of tools is a great way to keep your clients organized so you can better connect with them over time. Exchange contact information, enter it (along with any relevant notes) into your CRM, and assure your clients that you will connect with them on a regular basis.
To that end, consider how you can stay top-of-mind as they daydream about their vacation home. Perhaps you could start a newsletter that keeps clients up to date on local news and market shifts. Texting is also a great way to stay connected without bothering a client with calls and voicemails. Sending links to listings or even a quick text to check in and gauge interest is an effective way to stay connected with clients. Just remember to balance being present with being annoying; no one likes to be bothered day-in and day-out. Establish communication expectations with each client, note their preferences in your CRM, and then reach out as agreed upon.
Beyond sending a text, calling, or emailing, being available is the key to keeping clients and eventually making a sale. The life of a real estate agent can extend beyond typical business hours. As industry veterans know, client questions can pop up at all hours of the day.
Be prepared to answer questions at any time to show them your commitment and market insight, and your clients will be noshing on cheese curds in their new vacation home in no time.