Milwaukee sits on the western shore of Lake Michigan, roughly 90 miles north of Chicago. After a long, slow population decline extending over four decades, Milwaukee has begun to grow again as neighborhood revitalization efforts spread through the city. The estimated population in the city rose to 600,000 in 2014, which is up about 5,000 people since the 2010 census. Although down from a high of over 740,000 people in 1960, Milwaukee finally seems to be positioned for a return to growth. Real estate markets in the city have likewise returned to growth after an extended period of decline that coincided with the Great Recession in the late 2000s.

Market Insights

Like many big real estate markets in the United States, the Milwaukee market experienced a long period of down prices as the effects of the 2007-08 financial crisis played out across the country. Between 2008 and 2012, the median price for residential property in the city fell 35% from pre-recession highs of above $140,000. A turning point came in March 2012, when the market found its bottom at $92,000. Prices have continued on a growth trend ever since. By September 2013, the median home price in Milwaukee hit a high of $120,000. In September 2015, the market hit $133,000, which was a seven-year high. As of May 2016, the median price stands at $119,000, roughly 3% higher than the price level in May of the prior year.

Both prices and sales volumes in Milwaukee show regular seasonal fluctuations, with the market peaking around the month of September. In recent years, sales volumes have peaked at around 1,000 homes per month in the high season, which is less than half of the volume seen in the years preceding the recession. Annual lows occur in the winter season, producing a buyer's market during which sales volumes fall to 500 or fewer homes per month.

Property and Transfer Taxes

In 2015, the combined tax rate for Milwaukee property owners was roughly $29.36 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Given procedures for property valuation in Wisconsin, assessed property values may fluctuate above or below actual market values from year to year. In 2015, for example, the average Milwaukee property was assessed at roughly 97% of its market value on Jan. 1. Therefore, Milwaukee reports that the effective property tax rate in the city for 2015 was $28.55 per $1,000 of actual market value. About 42% of the total property tax revenue collected in Milwaukee goes to fund schools, while the city government takes about 36%. Other recipients of property tax funding include Milwaukee County, the Milwaukee Area Technical College and the Milwaukee metropolitan sewer district.

Wisconsin imposes a transfer tax on real estate transactions equal to 30 cents per $100 of market value, a rate of 0.3%.

Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Milwaukee's most expensive neighborhoods are located near the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee campus, between the Milwaukee River and the lakefront. Riverside Park, Upper East Side and other neighborhoods in the 53211 ZIP code combined to produce a $280,000 median home price in the first quarter of 2016. Moving south along the lakefront, neighborhoods in the 53202 ZIP code, including Lower East Side and East Town, combined to record a median home price of $212,000. In the 53204 ZIP code, to the southwest of downtown Milwaukee, neighborhoods such as Muskego Way and Walker Square produced a combined median home price of $165,000. The most expensive area In the greater Milwaukee metropolitan area is located in the lakeshore area, which is north of the city boundary. The Whitefish Bay, Fox Point and Bayside neighborhoods in the 53217 ZIP code had a median home price of $315,000.

Top Real Estate Websites

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin's largest daily newspaper, is a terrific source of news and analysis that covers city and regional real estate markets. Real estate-related content and local property listings are collected in the homes section on the newspaper's website at Although primarily targeted at real estate professionals, is a good source of monthly and quarterly real estate statistics covering the Milwaukee metropolitan area and other nearby counties. The website is operated by Multiple Listing Service, Inc., which is a partnership of southeast Wisconsin realty associations. Milwaukee-area property listings are widely available on national real estate websites and on marketing websites operated by local real estate agents.

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