MILWAUKEE — Take a walk around downtown Milwaukee, and you’ll see there is no shortage of residential construction. Several tall buildings under construction are about to become large apartment buildings. However, what you won’t find are new condo developments.

What You Need To Know

  • Developers continue to build apartments instead of condos

  • Condo market remains competitive in downtown Milwaukee

  • Realtor Chris Corley said banks are more interested in financing large apartment developments

Chris Corley is the owner of Corley Real Estate, a firm that focuses on condo sales. Corley said it has been over a decade since the downtown area saw a major new condo development. He said the Moderne building located near Fiserv Forum was the last large project to go up; that was in 2012. Even that property was a mix of condos and apartments.

Corley said, unsurprisingly, the lack of inventory is making existing inventory more expensive. With more corporate-level jobs returning to the city proper, he said demand keeps rising.

“Demand is outstripping supply. With no new condo developments, there is nothing incentivizing them to move. The only time I see people move is usually retirement, some sort of life change.”

Corley said a major reason why developers are choosing to put up apartments rather than condos is because it is what they are able to get financing for.

“Lenders really don’t want to loan on a condo building,” Corley said.

Corley said banks are more likely to loan on apartment projects, where developers will want to finance them for 30 to 40 years, leading to higher interest. In contrast, he said condo projects are usually bought and sold rather quickly.

“The way a condo building works is you get a construction loan, you take two or three years to build it, hopefully less than that. If you are very successful, you sell the building in the first couple of months and you pay off the bank loan. The banks aren’t gaining interest on their loan,” said Corley.

With more jobs coming downtown, plus an influx of retirees looking to downsize to condos, Corley expects demand for condo properties will only continue to grow.

“I think the city is ripe for a large condo development. I think there is a lot of people that are itching for something new,” said Corley.

Corley said at this point, he is unaware of any major condo development projects on the horizon in the downtown area.