WED AM News: WRA board chair calls new sales record ‘remarkable’ given tight inventories; WisBusiness: the Show with Keegan Moldenhauer of Internship on Demand

— The chair of the Wisconsin Realtors Association Board says the state setting a new record for home sales last year is “remarkable” given tight inventories. 

“That we have been able to do this even as inventories tightened throughout 2021 is a true testament to the persistence of buyers and the hard work of [Realtors] to find buying opportunities, even in a strong seller’s market,” Board Chair Brad Lois said in a statement. 

A total of 89,936 homes were sold in the state through Dec. 21, 2021, which is 0.7 percent higher than the previous record of 89,328 sold by Dec. 20 of the prior year, according to the group’s latest report. 

December of last year saw 7,301 homes sold for the month, which is 0.4 percent higher than the previous December. And the median home price last month was $236,850, marking an increase of 10.2 percent over the year. For the full year, the median price was $240,000 — 9.1 percent higher than the median price from 2020. 

“We sold more than twice as many homes as came on the market in December, which is why home prices increased by just over 10 percent since December of last year,” WRA President and CEO Michael Theo said in the report. “However, there have been signs that home price appreciation has begun to moderate in recent months, which is welcome news for buyers looking to buy in 2022.” 

The total number of statewide listings in December was 15,037, which is 12.9 percent lower than the 17,265 listings from December 2020. Meanwhile, inventory levels fell 13 percent over the year to reach two months of inventory, indicating a “very strong seller’s market,” report authors wrote. 

Rural counties tend to have more homes available compared to both metropolitan and “micropolitan” counties, the report shows. 

Last year’s record sales figures were driven by strong sales in the southeast region, with 4.4 percent more sales on an annual basis. Sales rose 2.2 percent in the central region and 0.7 percent in the south central region. At the same time, sales were 1 percent lower in the northeast region, 3.8 percent lower in the west region and 6 percent lower in the rural north region. 

See the full report: 

Watch a video from WRA on the latest numbers: 

— While the state overall saw record home sales in 2021, the state’s south central region had “more traditional sales patterns” with lower sales in November and December. 

That’s according to a separate report from the Realtors Association of South Central Wisconsin and the South Central Wisconsin Multiple Listing Service. 

The report shows higher activity during spring and summer of 2021 helped balance out the year-end slowdown and resulted in slightly more sales last year than the year before. A total of 17,547 homes were sold in the region last year, compared to 17,512 in 2020. 

In line with the statewide trend, the region’s median sales price has been on the rise, with Dane County’s median price reaching $350,000 in November. At the same time, supply in the region “remains very low” with sales outpacing the number of new listings in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

Report authors say demand may adjust to “decrease the tension” in the housing market as “no immediate solutions” exist for nationwide supply issues. 

“Price increases, inflation, and interest rates are the factors that will price some buyers out of the market,” they wrote. “Even with that said, agents report increased activity from buyers and sellers after the holidays this year, so it may prove to be a trend seen in future quarters.” 

See the report: 

— In the latest episode of “ The Show,” Keegan Moldenhauer, founder of Internship on Demand, reprises his successful pitch during the annual “Elevator Pitch Olympics.” 

He was one of three winners in the rapid-fire contest, held during the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

Also in this edition of “The Show,” Tom Still talks about two investor tax credit bills pending in the Wisconsin Legislature with support from the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Watch the show here: 

— GOP lawmakers have released seven bills they said were designed to move people off public benefits and into the workforce.

Some bills in the package would seek to accomplish that by creating new penalties.

For example, one bill would prohibit able-bodied, childless adults from remaining on Medical Assistance if they turn down a job offer. Under another, those who fail to show up for a job interview as part of the work search requirement to remain eligible for unemployment could be declared ineligible for benefits that week.

“We’ve never seen anyone step out of poverty on a welfare check,” said Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield and a co-sponsor of the MA bill.

Other proposals include:

*indexing the maximum number of weeks jobless benefits can be claimed to the unemployment rate. If the rate is 3.5 percent or less — as it is now — the maximum number of weeks would be 14. The current maximum of 26 weeks could only be claimed if unemployment was above 9 percent. It eclipsed that briefly in April and May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, it last was above 9 percent in February 2010 as the country was emerging from the “Great Recession.”

*renaming UI “reemployment assistance.” It would add additional work search requirements and direct the Department of Workforce Development to promulgate rules for drug testing claimants.

*Requiring Health Services to enforce drug testing, screening and treatment for the FoodShare program; those requirements are currently being waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another bill would expand the definition of misconduct that would mean fired employees aren’t eligible for unemployment. Among other things, those fired for violating a company’s social media policy would be ineligible for benefits.

— Researchers with UW-Madison’s Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Development effort are working to create vaccines that could protect people against COVID-19 variants and other such viruses that may arise. 

As one of three NIH-backed research consortiums, the Madison-based effort is led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor of pathobiological sciences in the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine. 

With about $7 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, his team is searching for a vaccine or vaccines that could provide immunity to “a broader array” of viruses including COVID-19. While most vaccines target a specific virus, their work is aimed at finding one vaccine that could shield against many different pathogens. 

“This pan-coronavirus vaccine is basically preparing for the future,” Kawaoka said in a release. 

To accomplish their goal, the scientists are trying to find sections of the “viral spike protein” — which plays a role in the infection process — that are shared among various coronaviruses. By comparing data from human studies with results from experiments with mice and hamsters, they hope to identify vaccine candidates that could offer broad protection.

Because this potential vaccine would be targeting multiple viruses in this way, Kawaoka warns that it “might not be as effective” as vaccines designed to combat a specific virus. But in the case of another outbreak or global pandemic, having a pan-coronavirus vaccine could buy more time while a new vaccine is created to provide targeted protection. 

Kawaoka notes any candidates they find are “at least five years away” from clinical use. 

NIH says more funding will likely be provided this year to “support pan-coronavirus vaccine research at more institutions.” 

See details from the NIH here: 

— School districts in the state can get up to $50,000 in grants through the Department of Workforce Development’s Expanded Wisconsin Fast Forward program, the agency recently announced. 

DWD is accepting applications through Feb. 28 for the program, which will provide up to $1 million in grant funds for districts to purchase technical education equipment for training students. Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000, a release shows. 

Through the grant funding, districts will be reimbursed for costs of purchasing and installing equipment used to teach students about advanced manufacturing. The program is aimed at addressing the state’s skilled worker shortage and reducing the cost of education through dual enrollment credits, industry certificates and technical skill endorsements for graduates. 

See the release: 

— State officials have issued a consumption advisory for rock bass caught in the bay of Green Bay or certain tributaries after sampling from 2020 found high levels of PFAS. 

In a release, the Departments of Natural Resources and Health Services said elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, were found in rock bass from the Peshtigo River. The chemical is a type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, which can pose a threat to human health when consumed. 

The agencies’ advisory recommends consuming only one meal per week that includes rock bass from the bay and its tributaries “up to the first dam,” covering parts of the Peshtigo, Oconto and Menominee rivers. The sampling also found low levels of the chemical in other fish species in the area but not enough to result in other advisories.

See the release: 


# UW-Madison researchers studying more targeted alternative to pesticides

# Wisconsin accelerator program for food and farm entrepreneurs goes national

# Metro Milwaukee area among top 20 U.S. cities for veteran entrepreneurs



– Trotter promoted as CEO of DBA, Edge Cooperative

– Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer banquet is this weekend


– New Exact Sciences R&D center expected to break ground within months


– ‘Stupid money’ — Southeast Wisconsin industrial building prices rise as demand swamps supply

– How did northeast Wisconsin become so much more diverse? Grit, inclusive vision


– WPA offering youth pig project scholarships

– Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program offers matching grants


– Ice warning issued after 2 men rescued in bay of Green Bay


– Streetwise: New supper club opened by former Wally’s Spot staff


– For Wisconsin families with little kids, COVID-19 testing has many hurdles

– Wisconsin in dire need of blood donations

– Milwaukee Common Council passes city mask mandate


– Activist investor again pressuring Kohl’s to improve financial performance


– Sherman Phoenix Foundation names first executive director

– New Forward Janesville CEO Angela Pakes once helped transform a Ford landfill to a shopping mall


– Palermo’s acquires majority stake in Funky Fresh Spring Rolls


– Zizzo Group unveils plans for new HQ in Walker’s Point

– Pleasant Prairie industrial building sold for $20 million


– Sendik’s to open store in Oconomowoc


– Johnson Controls to add autonomous robot to building security portfolio


– Crews remove railroad bridge as part of Zoo Interchange’s ‘north leg’


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Fisher Barton: Shares company success with first payment of bonus program WRA board chair calls new sales record ‘remarkable’ given tight inventories