The housing market has seen its ups and downs, and currently in Dane County, it has still not quite reached the pre-recession boom.
As vice president of Acker Builders for the past 18 years and an active member of the Madison Area Builders Association, Jenny Acker has watched the trends.
Raised in Waunakee, Jenny is now president of the Madison Area Builders Association. She is also licensed to sell real estate.
Jenny said other parts of the country, such as Florida and Nevada, have seen much more dramatic highs and lows in the housing market than the more relatively stable Madison area.
But in 2003, at the height of building boom, 2,500 new homes were started in Dane County. At the depth of the recession, that number dropped to 609, and in 2016, some 1,200 new homes were built. One hundred of those home starts were in Waunakee, Jenny said.
Jenny said Dane County actually is experiencing a housing shortage. A healthy market has a six-month supply; in Dane County currently, the supply is at about 1.7 months.
The Madison Area Builders Association advocates for issues in the building industry. One has to do with the added cost of new homes as a result of various regulations.
About 24.3 percent of a new home’s price goes to pay permit fees or the additional construction costs to meet new regulations, Jenny said. As the price for new homes rise, families in starter homes are less inclined to sell, driving up prices for those, as well, Jenny said.
Another issue is the shortage of trades workers. The Madison Area Builders Association is working with schools to educate students about careers in the trades. Some companies have offered to pay $20 per hour for workers with no experience and have received no applicants, she said.
“Maybe it’s the stigma of blue collar jobs,” Jenny said.
She noted that experienced trades workers can earn a decent wage. A person with five years of experience in flatwork concrete can earn about $70,000 per year.
Waunakee has consistently hosted Parade of Homes sites, Jenny noted, and she credited Waunakee developer Don Tierney’s involvement in the Madison Area Builders Association and his reputation for high quality subdivisions.
Home building trends now call for fewer rooms, but larger ones, doing away with formal dining rooms for larger entertainment areas or kitchens, Jenny said.
While floor plans are more open, the different areas are clearly defined, she said. Millwork is also popular, and homes today are built in distinct architectural styles.
“I think this is great because it makes your home more timeless,” Jenny said.
Jenny said she’s often asked about the best time to build a home. During a housing boom, all home prices rise, and yet when the market is not as strong, someone looking to build will have to sell their home for less.
“What’s the perfect time? When you’re ready to build,” she said.
Other News:
–President Travis Heiser urged committee chairs to talk to Jonny Buroker about getting updates on their projects uploaded to the website.
–Travis also thanked everyone who organized the Easter Egg Hunt. It was well attended.
–Sara Whitley said Old National Bank has a Choose Your Charity survey running through May 12. Community members can weigh in online about the charity they would like the bank to contribute to.   
Guests: Kim Phalen, guest of Randy Herbrand; Ariana and Alvante, guests of Martin Lackey.   
Visiting Rotarians: Stan Koopmans, Downtown
Greeters: April 20, Sean Wayne and David Weishoff; April 27, Sara Whitley and Phil Willems; May 4, Rich Wipperfurth and Brent Ziegler.