The land of cheese and the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin represents one of the few northern states with a large amount of access to more than one of the Great Lakes as well as a border with Canada. While the capitol, Madison, represents one of the major urban locations, Wisconsin also has Milwaukee, Grand Forks, La Crosse, Hurley and, of course, Green Bay. Much of the population tends to be concentrated towards the southeastern corner of the state, but the northern part and western sides of the state offer agriculture, farming, natural expanse, and natural resources. The economies of Wisconsin include, surprisingly, machinery and tourism as major revenue makers alongside expected agriculture and forestry industries.
Over 5.5 million Americans live in the Badger State, which ranks in the top 20 nationally. This great midwestern state is the 23rd largest by area. The WI economy produces over $240 billion annually, right in line with the state's population. Three retail chains, Wal Mart, Target, and Menards, rank among Wisconsin's top 10 employers.
At the peak of the housing bubble, homes in WI were worth more than $160,000 on average. Values dropped by 10% at the bottom, and now average home values are back up around $150,000. That said, there's a fair amount of variance in home prices in the Badger State. At the top of the market, a home in towns like Mequon and Brookfield will cost anywhere from $400K-$600K. In Racine and Belmont, a single family home can be had for just around $100K.
Milwaukee is a city well known for beer; the local baseball team is called the Brewers, and the city's enduring nicknames include Beertown and Brew City. Milwaukee is also the home of iconic motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson. The city's economy is largely driven by the healthcare industry, although there's also a growing financial services sector. Greater Milwaukee, which includes the cities of Racine and Waukesha, is home to over 2 million total people.
Home to the main University of Wisconsin, Madison is one of the great American college towns. Though the university and the state are still major local employers, tech companies have moved in to take advantage of the highly educated local population. As a result, publications like Forbes Magazine have named Madison one of the top places in the United States for finding a job. The city is also highly desirable for its cultural attractions and wide variety of restaurants and cafes.
Even if you don't really follow football, the NFL's Packers have put Green Bay on the map. Located on Lake Michigan, the city is known for cheese and meatpacking.
Every Wisconsinite, new and old, needs a bank that he or she can trust. We mentioned earlier that Milwaukee had grown into a minor financial hub, and indeed there are many financial institutions competing for business in the Badger State. The homegrown institutions include local banks like Superior Savings Bank and credit unions like the Landmark Credit Union. One underrated benefit of banking with one of these institutions is flexibility when it comes to obtaining a mortgage. Indeed, many mortgage bankers will point customers to a credit union to try to obtain a home loan that doesn't conform to Fannie and Freddie's requirements.
The community banks:
The credit unions:
The big banks:
You may be wondering how to obtain the best interest rate, whether it's on an auto loan, CD, or savings account. RateZip's financial search engine was designed to answer exactly these questions.
For those considering a move closer to the Great Lakes, RateZip.com can help, providing great insights into the best mortgage opportunities available in the state. In just a matter of minutes you can get quotes from multiple lenders who want to make your dream of homeownership a reality. The same goes for Wisconsinites who want to refinance a home loan.
When selecting a home financing product, perhaps the most important decision that you'll need to make is whether to take out a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage. For simplicity, we'll abbreviate them to FRM and ARM. The FRM remains constant for the entire life of the loan, meaning stable rate and monthly payment. ARMs, on the other hand, adjust over time. The rate and payment are constant to start, generally for 1, 3, or 5 years. After that, the rate adjusts annually for the life of the loan, which is generally 30 years.
If you're interested in a fixed rate mortgage, another thing to consider is the 30 year vs 15 year product. The 30 year is more popular and has a lower monthly payment, but a 15 year mortgage can save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. If you can afford the higher payment, it's certainly something to consider!