Tourist Homes and Affordable Housing?

At the Area Plan Commission (APC) meeting on July 24, 2018, “Jane Gore, an Area Plan Commission member, asked the board to consider setting some sort of limits on the number of tourist homes allowed in the county out of concern that they’re crowding long-term residents out of affordable options.”  Ref: Brown County Democrat, Facebook post.

This concern is unlikely to be warranted. The advantages of the current policy for tourist homes outweigh the disadvantages of limiting their number.

Interesting that the benefits of the Maple Leaf and Big Woods/Hard Truth Hills developments include the expectation for bringing in more year-round tourism.  Why restrict opportunities for people to serve this market?

Brown County Area Board of Zoning Appeals – Resolution 97-1

Dec 31, 2019. Tourists and residents: An age-old push-pull By Sara Clifford
Amid a night of public hearings last month about turning houses into tourist rentals, a familiar subtext was developing: How do Brown County residents and Brown County tourists successfully coexist, and are we making decisions now that will adversely impact the future thriving of either group?

  • A map showing the density of tourist homes was presented
  • The current count of tourist homes is 184 – less than 5% of available residences (1)
  • Andy Szakaly presented a Fact Sheet that supports the case that tourist homes do not compete with the affordable housing market in terms of sales or rentals.
  • Lack of affordable housing to buy or rent is identified as the problem.
  • The Planning Director will follow-up on the question by Jane Gore as to how many tourist homes are owned by locals vs out-of-county owners. ( I did not understand the relevance of “ownership.”)
The  advantages of tourist homes:
  • They generate at least double the revenue in property taxes than what a full-time resident would pay
  • They collect the 5% innkeepers tax
  • They provide tourists with options
  • They provide competition to the hotels and other tourist home rentals
  • They generate revenue for owners – many of whom reside in the county and want the freedom to determine their investment options without unnecessary government interference.
  • They are generally the higher end homes – not in the “affordable” category for purchase or monthly rent
The disadvantages of tourist homes:
  •  Marginally less inventory of homes available for purchase by full or part-time residents.


  • Limiting the supply of tourist homes will likely increase the value of the existing tourist homes
What is affordable?

In 2014, 52.51% of  Brown County residents filing state tax returns identified income at $30,000 or less.  With an income of $30K, estimates that an individual with an acceptable credit rating, with no monthly debt payment and no down payment, could afford a $131,200 home.  A monthly debt payment of $200.00 would reduce the affordable amount to $102,500.

The planning office keeps the inventory of tourist homes. There are 184 tourist homes in the county which is less than 5% of the total number of the 8,400 residences.  (1)

Tourist homes in the county that have been listed for sale are generally at the higher end of the price scale e.g., not in the “affordable” category for purchase or rent.   A review of the sales and assessed value of the tourist homes would provide another source of information regarding affordability.

(1) For the county income survey that was conducted last year, the number of total residences surveyed was 8,400.  This included apartments.   At the Area Plan Commission meeting on 8/28/2018, it was stated that the number of current tourist homes is 184.

Disclaimer:  I do not own nor am I interested in owning a tourist home. I am not associated with the tourism industry. 


3 thoughts on “Tourist Homes and Affordable Housing?

  1. Hey Tim do you have more housing numbers? What was the average home value before the housing bubble? Is there data on the number of vacant (for sale condemned) homes and property?


    1. Hi Levi, the assessor might have the data on assessed values of homes before the bubble. Health Department would have the records on condemned homes. Assessor /auditor would have the data on homes that are delinqiuent on taxes and will be sold via the Sheriff’s Sale/Auction.


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