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Dream of Owning a Home? In Sheboygan, WI, You Can

Find out why this region is the perfect market for first-time homebuyers.

By Lindsey Hyde on May 9, 2023

Outdoors in Sheboygan
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

Let’s be honest: Purchasing your first home can be a bit of a headache. Housing costs are rising everywhere; the selection of available homes is dwindling; you must be ready to make a decision at a moment’s notice; and on top of that, you’re concerned about finding a home that’s close to work and located in a safe neighborhood. Sound about right?

Well, here’s the good news. When purchasing a home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, a lot of that stress melts away. Located in east central Wisconsin, Sheboygan County boasts an affordable cost of living, housing assistance, great job opportunities, safe communities and more. In other words, it’s the perfect place for first-time homebuyers to start planting roots. Let’s dive into the details.

All-Round Affordability

While there’s been an uptick in housing costs just about everywhere, prices in Sheboygan County are still considered low, especially when compared to major cities. For example, while the median home price was approximately $210,000 in Sheboygan in November 2022, it was nearly $400,000 in Chicago and $1.3 million in San Francisco, according to realtor.com.

“Affordability is huge in this area compared to others. Even if you travel half an hour south to Port Washington or Cedarburg or northern Milwaukee, home prices are going to be significantly higher than they are here,” says Becca Thimmig, vice president of retail banking and mortgage originator at Bank First.

It’s worth noting that the county’s overall cost of living is also low. This means that residents can often expect to pay less for things like entertainment, groceries, etc., allowing them to spend more of their money on things they love.

Sheboygan Lakefront
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

Help for Homebuyers

Another perk of buying your first home in Sheboygan County is there is plenty of financial and personal assistance available. For example, Thimmig says Bank First participates in the Federal Home Loan (FHL) Bank of Chicago’s Downpayment Plus Program. While based on household income, the program provides a forgivable grant that buyers can put toward the cost of their home.

“I’ve done quite a few (grant applications) in the last year. Right now, the limit is $6,000, but obviously, to get $6,000 of essentially free money, it’s a great help for people to either lower the loan amount that they’re borrowing or have less cash to close at the time of closing,” says Thimmig, who notes the grant amount has risen to $10,000 for 2023.

In addition to an FHL, residents can also check out the First Mortgage and Down Payment Assistance programs through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority

As for personal assistance, Sheboygan County’s realtors are friendly and eager to make the homebuying process as easy as possible for buyers. 

“I’d give kudos to our local relators,” Thimmig says. “As a whole, they are really down to earth; they look out for their clients; and they are really on (the homebuyers’) side. … I really feel like the realtors in this area have the interest of the borrowers or homebuyers in mind when they are looking for homes with them.”

Sheboygan homes
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

Real Estate Opportunities

Sheboygan County is a great place to seize opportunities — even during the homebuying process. For example, Thimmig notes that the region is home to several duplexes. These are a great option for first-time homebuyers, as they can live in one unit, lease the other to someone else, and apply the rent checks they receive to their mortgage.

“That’s how I started out with buying real estate,” Thimmig says. “I bought my first house at 22 years old. At that age, it’s very helpful to have some additional income coming in to pay for that property, so if somebody wants to go that route, that’s a great opportunity for them.”

New construction Sheboygan
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

A Variety of Entry Level Homes

In addition to duplexes, a variety of homes can be found throughout the county — and more are on the way. In 2021, the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) created The Forward Fund, a public-private partnership devoted to developing more affordable housing options in the county. Donors to The Forward Fund include Johnsonville, Kohler Co., Masters Gallery Foods and Sargento.

Over the next three to five years, the fund will help create 600 to 1,000 entry-level homes in the community, according to Don Hammond, chair of SCEDC’s Board of Directors and senior vice president/managing partner at Merit Financial Advisors. Construction on the first 104 homes is expected to start in the spring of 2023 in Sheboygan Falls. The homes will be priced in the $225,000 to $250,000 range.

“These (homes) are just the first of hopefully many,” Hammond says.

Sheboygan Outdoors
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

Excellent Quality of Life

While finding an affordable home that provides the space and amenities you desire is important, there’s one factor that can make or break a decision — the community in which the home is located. For example, are there job opportunities nearby? Is the region safe? Are there good schools in the area? Are there enough outdoor recreation options? Does it provide access to grocery stores, restaurants and other entertainment venues? Thankfully, Sheboygan County answers yes to all these questions.

Not only is the county a great place for someone looking to start a business, but it is also home to a long list of company headquarters, such as Johnsonville, Acuity, Sargento, Kohler Co., Krier Foods, Masters Gallery Foods and others. 

“They have a lot of job opportunities, great advancement potential, great benefits. It’d be very easy to start and end your career at any one of those or any of the other companies that we have in the county,” Hammond says.

In terms of entertainment and outdoor activities, the area is flourishing with options. Thanks to its proximity to beautiful Lake Michigan, residents can spend their free time paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, boating and surfing. Plus, various walking and biking trails, a variety of restaurants, and great golf courses can be found in the area, as well.  

And for those with a family in mind, the region is home to excellent schools, safe neighborhoods and friendly people.  

“Historically, Sheboygan County has been known as one of the better places in the country for raising families,” Hammond says. “… People are very open and welcoming, so it’s easy to find a tribe, if you will, if you’re looking to connect with others.”

This article was sponsored by the Sheboygan County EDC.

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