Saturday, September 29, 2012

Advice on Picking a Real Estate Agent

Advice on Picking a Real Estate Agent

The ideal agent is not always the one with the most sales under his or her belt, or the most years on the job. The ideal agent is one who listens to you, is easy to get along with, and has the tools and skills to address your unique situation.

Every home buyer is different. Some have credit issues. Some are buying from out of state. Some need help selling their current home in addition to buying a new one. Just as buyers have different needs, real estate agents have different skills and specialties.

Here's how to find the agent who's right for you:

1. Ask friends and family for agent referrals.
Nobody knows you as well as your friends and family do. So they're often in the best position to recommend an agent who is well-suited for your needs. You can also trust a referral from friends or family more than one that comes from a stranger.

2. Talk to multiple agents.
I once saw a statistic that 84% of home buyers choose the first real estate agent they contact. This means one of two things. Either most people are choosing wisely the first time, or they're just rushing into things without shopping around. Probably a little of both.

You don't have to exhaust yourself interviewing agent after agent, but at least talk with two or three to see who you're most comfortable with (which leads to the next point).

3. Consider the vibe factor.
Professional expertise is an important criterion when choosing a real estate agent. But interpersonal skills are equally important. After all, you'll be working with this person anywhere from 2 to 12 months, so it helps to get along with them. We all have unique personalities, and that's the way it should be. But when working with someone professionally, if helps if their personality "meshes" well with your own.

4. Ask how they hunt.
When deciding on a real estate agent, ask how they search for homes. Some agents have their own preferred listings that they favor. But you want what's best for you, not what's best for your agent. You're paying them, right? So make sure the agent is willing to search high and low to find the best home for you. That includes using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as well as their own personal network.

5. Read paperwork carefully.
This advice is heavily used for a reason. It's critical that you examine all documents during the home buying process, and that includes your agent agreement. At some point during the relationship, your agent will probably ask you to sign an agent agreement. Basically, it just means that if the agent shows you a particular property, your purchase of the property should be credited to that agent. In most cases it's a simple, just be sure to read it carefully and ask questions.

Friday, September 28, 2012

10 Ideas For a Quicker and Easier Sale When Selling Your House

 10 Ideas For a Quicker and Easier Sale When Selling Your House

What to do to maximize your chances of a quick sale when selling your house.

1. NO CLUTTER. Throw out old newspapers and magazines. Pack away most of your small items like figurines and other trinkets. Store clothing that won’t be used in the near future to make closets seem roomier. Clean out the garage. Buyers like to visualize their possessions in the house and that is hard to do when the home is full of clutter.

2. Wash your windows and screens. This lets more light into the interior and dirty windows are a turn off.

3. Keep everything extra clean. Wash fingerprints and dirt from light switch plates. Clean the floors, stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer. A clean house makes a better first impression and tells buyers that the home has been well cared for.

4. Put brighter bulbs in light sockets to make rooms appear brighter, especially dark rooms. Replace any burnt-out bulbs. Turn all lights on before buyers come to view the home.

5. Make all minor repairs that you can find. Everything you don’t repair now will be revealed in the home inspection and can create a bad impression. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, cracked receptacle covers or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they'll give buyers the impression that the house isn't well maintained.

6. Shoot for good curb appeal. Cut the grass, rake any leaves, trim the bushes, and edge the walks. Put a couple of bright potted flowers near the entryway to cheer things up and get the buyers attention.

7. Patch holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.

8. Clean dirty gutters.

9. Polish or replace your front doorknob and door numbers.

10. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. If carpets are old and need replacing, it is worth while to replace them. The additional price you receive for your house will most likely outweigh the expense. Open the windows. The number one turn off to a potential buyer is an unpleasant odor.

For more helpful information including seller and buyer tips, please visit

Don’t make the WRONG call – Experience matters!

Don’t make the WRONG call – Experience matters!

Your home is probably your largest investment.  If you are looking to sell, it’s important that someone with EXPERIENCE is looking out for your best interest and getting the most $$$ for YOU!

If you are considering buying a home, it’s a huge investment and important to have someone with experience guiding you so you make the right decisions.

When experience matters call Lisa Bear –

Welcome to Wisconsin Real Estate with Lisa Bear

Thank you for visiting.  Please feel free to contact me for any of your real estate needs including an online market if you are a seller, or finding a home if you are a buyer. My real estate focus in the  Waukesha County, Milwaukee County, Lake Country, Jefferson County, Dodge County and Washington County areas.  I have my IRES designation (International Real Estate Specialist) so I can assist you with all your real estate needs in Wisconsin, the USA or anywhere in the WORLD!

When you are seriously looking or just browsing at real estate in Wisconsin, I am a great resource to help you with all your needs and questions, whether a first time home buyer, relocating to or from the beautiful LAKE COUNTRY area, looking to invest or explore foreclosure opportunities or just thinking ahead to the future.

Lisa Bear of RE/MAX (262-893-5555)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

5 Reasons to Sell Now

5 Reasons to Sell Now

5 Reasons to Sell Now

by The KCM Crew on September 24, 2012 · 4 comments
Many sellers feel that the Spring is the best time to place their home on the market as buyer demand increases at that time of year. However, the Fall and Winter have their own advantages. Here are five reasons to to sell now.

Only Serious Buyers Are Out

At this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers’. The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

There Is Far Less Competition

Housing supply always shrinks dramatically at this time of year. This year will be a little different as some of the distressed properties being liquidated by the banks (in the form of foreclosures & short sales) will enter the market. However, for those buyers looking for a non-distressed property, the choices will be limited. Don’t wait until the spring when all the other potential sellers in your market will put their homes up for sale.

The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2012 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks have been inundated with both purchase and refinancing loan requests. Both of these will slow in the winter cutting timelines and the frustration these delays cause both buyers and sellers.

There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 15% from now to 2016. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with historically low interest rates right now. There is no guarantee rates will remain at these levels in years to come.

It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?
You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home to guarantee it sells. The time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It is Still Possible to Buy a Home with No Money Down

It is Still Possible to Buy a Home with No Money Down

It is Still Possible to Buy a Home with No Money Down

It is Still Possible to Buy a Home with No Money Down

To say that buying a home has gotten tougher in the past few years would be a vast understatement. Lenders are casting a more critical eye on appraisals, credit reports and income calculations. To make matters worse, most lenders require at least 5% of the home’s purchase price as a down payment. However, there are still a couple of programs that offer financing with no money down.

VA Mortgage
The Veterans Administration (VA) authorizes lenders to offer VA Mortgages to qualifying veterans and active duty personnel. The loan was first offered in 1944 as a benefit to soldiers returning home from World War II. This loan is offered to a wide range of people who have served during peace time and war time as well as to people that have served in the various reserves.
The main attraction of the loan is the absence of any down payment requirement. Other benefits include attractive interest rates, fixed rate loans, and no mortgage insurance.

USDA Home Loan
This is another program authorized by a government agency. The United States Department of Agriculture offers the USDA Home Loan to qualified applicants. Typically, borrowers must have a credit score of at least 620 in order to get approved for the loan. There are rules that limit a person’s total household income. Finally, the property being purchased must be in an area that is labeled rural by the USDA.
The beauty of this loan is the ability to borrow up to 100% of the home’s market value to cover not only the loan but also closing costs associated with the mortgage.

Getting approved for one of these loans is usually easier than getting approved for a conventional loan. The rates will be very comparable and you won’t have to come up with a large down payment in order to get approved for the financing.

For additional information see our VA mortgage or USDA Rural Housing page on our site or to see if you qualify, contact me below or apply online.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thinking of a Vacation or Retirement Home? Buy It Now

Thinking of a Vacation or Retirement Home? Buy It Now

The KCM Blog - Thinking of a Vacation or Retirement Home? Buy It Now

Posted: 19 Sep 2012 04:00 AM PDT
When the economy was exploding in the early 2000s, many of us began to dream about purchasing that vacation home on the lake or securing a home in a more appropriate location for our retirement years. However, with the booming economy came skyrocketing house prices. Many of the homes we fell in love with quickly became out of reach financially. Perhaps we should take a second look at these same homes today.
With prices dropping by over 30% in some markets and with interest rates at historic lows, this may be the perfect time to do what we and our families have always dreamt of doing – buying that second home. Let’s look at the numbers.
Back in 2006 we may have seen the ‘perfect’ home but the $500,000 price tag was just out of reach. Today, we could probably get that home for $400,000 (if not less). We also would be financing it at the current mortgage rate instead of the rates available six years ago. The table below shows the difference in impact on our family’s finances:
Not every family is in the financial position to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities the current real estate market offers. But, if yours is, this may be the time for dreams to come true.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Market Gets Competitive for Home Buyers

The Market Gets Competitive for Home Buyers

The Market Gets Competitive for Home Buyers
More home buyers are finding they’re losing their power position in the real estate market and that when they submit an offer for a home, they may not be alone in the bidding. In fact, buyers who submit low offers may not even get a courtesy of a callback nowadays.

One Florida couple says they put in seven offers on homes over two months — most at or above asking price — before they were finally able to get a $365,000 Sarasota home.

A drop in the inventory of for-sale homes around the country is prompting more competition among home buyers. Inventory in June is 24 percent below year-ago levels.

"I've had listings get 45 offers," Sin-Yi Chao Lambertson, a real estate broker in Glendora, Calif., told Money Magazine.

Money Magazine recently offered potential buyers the following tips if they want to get the winning bid on a home:
  • Get pre-approved, not prequalified: Pre-approval for a loan based on a buyer's credit, income, and assets is viewed as better than getting pre-qualified, which is just an estimate of how much that buyer may be able to borrow.  
  • Find an experienced REALTOR®: Money Magazine advised home buyers to find a real estate professional who knows how to handle multiple-offer situations and can advise how much to offer and help buyers determine if they’re getting a home at a fair price. 
  • Watch the contingencies: “The best offer isn't always the one with the best price," says George Miller, a Sarasota, Fla., real estate agent. Buyers who put in too many contingencies with their offer may lose out.

Deschutes Realty
I agree with George, sometimes the higher offer won't appraise or the contingencies are not timely, it's up to the Seller which one to decide upon after consulting their hopefully-VERY EXPERIENCED realtor.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Special Announcement Home Sales Up 21% in August in Wisconsin

Home Sales Up 21% in August  -
Special Announcement
Home Sales Up 21% in August
September 11, 2012

Sales of existing homes in the 4-county Metropolitan Milwaukee housing market were up 21% in August, continuing their strong performance that began in mid-2011.

Despite oscillations in consumer confidence, uncertainty in the presidential election and no plan to avoid a federal “fiscal cliff” later this year, the housing market continues to chug along as buyers capitalize on low prices and historically low interest rates.

The 1,619 sales the
Greater Milwaukee market had in August is still a little shy of where brokers would like to see it performing. With 11,074 sales year-to-date (YTD), the market is acting as if it was in the early 2000s, when we saw YTD sales of 11,157 in 2000 and 11,982 in 2001.

Nonetheless, projecting out to the end of the year it looks like sales will be in the vicinity of 15,000 units, which would be a very healthy rebound from the depths of the recessionary years of 2010 and 2011 when the Milwaukee market posted total yearly sales of 12,865 and 13,278, respectively.

Current sales would be more robust were it not for a lack of supply of homes for sale. The plethora of homes listed for sale was a major characteristic of the recession from 2007 to mid-2011, when inventory levels were well above 10-months. However, that abundance of available properties has been whittled down to just 7.8-months, for the second straight month.

With inventory levels ranging from a high of 8.6-months in April to a low of 6.3 in June, strong sales in the spring and summer market should result in price increases when the 3rd quarter winds up at the end of September; as brokers report that many homes for sale are receiving multiple offers.

Sellers should be very cautious about boosting prices, however.
It is not a seller’s market and buyers are still requesting discounts and concessions in their offers. A more prudent action would be to listen to a REALTORS® pricing strategy (pricing a home correctly for the community and neighborhood it is in) and see if it attracts multiple offers.

County-by-County Sales Analysis for August compared to 2011:
• Milwaukee County up 11.5% in sales (833 units vs. 747 units)
• Waukesha County was up 42.7% (531 sales compared with 372)
• Washington County was up 8.8% (136 vs. 125)
• Ozaukee County also up 26.6% (119 units vs. 94 units)
• Racine County was up 25.7% (230 units vs. 183 units)
• Kenosha County up 1.7.% in sales (176 units vs. 173 units)
• Walworth County was up 17.1% (130 units vs. 111 units)