When Kim and Ben Marcin were hunting for their first house this year, each time they toured a home they’d try to envision where to put up a Christmas tree.

After viewing about 20 properties over nine months and being outbid on offers twice, the young couple bought a house in New Berlin in October.

Now they’re looking forward to spending their first holiday season in their new two-story colonial house — with the Christmas tree set up exactly where they pictured it.

The Marcins were part of another strong housing market in 2018, joining thousands in Wisconsin transitioning from renters to homeowners.

Real estate professionals say the only thing that held back the 2018 market, at least in the metro Milwaukee area, was a shortage of homes for less than $300,000 in desirable school districts.

As 2019 begins, the slim supply of houses and condos priced under $300,000 is expected to carry over as an impediment to robust sales. In an economy teeming with jobs, the demand for houses is expected to remain high.

But some say rising prices and higher mortgage rates — along with limited inventory —could make it more difficult for potential first-time house buyers to find a place to call their own in the new year.

Read more in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.