Friday, June 20, 2014

Thank You to Our Sponsors of the 2014 Remax Realty Center Golf Outing!

Larry Snyder from Frontier Title and Closing Services


Amber Castonguay of Remax

Jason Grubba of Inlanta Mortgage

Larry Stanul of Sandstorm Photography

Charlie and Dana Johnson of Guaranteed Rate

Cherie Jarchow and Chris Ireland of Specialized Payroll in Pewaukee

Stacey Guzanick of Remax

Reid Brueser of Remax

Jamie Ireland and Lisa Bear of Remax

Glenn Shong of Remax

Larry Stanul of Remax

Terry Bear of All Out Movers

Terry Bear of 1st Class Limo

Terry Bear of Terry Bear Painting and Maintenance

Saturday, June 14, 2014

4 Ways to Make a Great First Impression When Selling Your Home

4 Ways to Make a Great First Impression When Selling Your Home

first impressionWhen selling your home, first impressions matter. Just because your home is listed and the “For Sale” sign is firmly planted in the front lawn does not mean it will attract buyers.
A home needs to be visually appealing to encourage a sale. Even in a market where homes are selling quickly and at full asking prices, it is still crucial to spruce up your home and prove that it is worth every penny you are asking for it.
Here are four tips to help your home make a good first impression that beckons potential buyers:

1. Make an Enticing Exterior
The walk-up to your house should be inviting, not forbidding. Stay on top of your lawn mowing and driveway maintenance, and tidy up your front landscaping. This includes:
  • Moving all toys, bicycles and scooters away from the front of the house
  • Cleaning windows until they are sparkling
  • Making sure address numbers are in place and polished
  • Giving your front door, garage door and gutters a fresh coat of paint
  • Adding a few embellishments like a colorful welcome mat, a wreath for the door or a big potted plant to the side of your front door
  • Checking the roof to see if it needs repair, even if it’s cosmetic.
2. Shape Up the Interior
Once the exterior wows potential buyers, you can continue to make a great impression as they make their way inside.
For starters, clear any clutter. If you have too much furniture, put some of it in storage. Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops as clear as possible. Closets and shelves should be well-organized and give the impression that they are spacious.
Remove excess knickknacks or family photos that make the house feel like your home, instead of allowing potential buyers to picture themselves as the residents.
Clean the inside of your home from top to bottom. Dust and open all your blinds and curtains to let light in. Wash away smudges from walls and touch up the paint as necessary. Wipe down the inside and outside of your appliances and microwave. Remove ash from your fireplace. Get your carpets cleaned and vacuum your floor each morning before potential buyers view your house.
Addressing aesthetics can leave a lasting, favorable impression. So, hang fresh, clean towels in the bathrooms. Position a beautiful centerpiece in the center of your dining room table and a few potted plants in decorative containers throughout your home. Consider placing potpourri in key spots, especially if you need to eliminate pet odors or if you have a smoker in the house.

3. Check on Evening Appearance
Even if you’re positive your home is presentable during the day, double-back to the exterior and interior areas at dusk to gauge your home’s ambiance in the evening.
Ensure that the walkway is well-lit and house numbers are visible, and that outdoor lighting enhances the home’s appearance.
Inside, make sure to replace nonfunctioning light bulbs in fixtures and vanities, and leave key decorative or track lighting turned on so that the home doesn’t seem dark upon entering.

4. Make Necessary Repairs
Repair anything that is broken. Cabinet doors should close properly. All your faucets should be drip-free.
Remember, you are trying to present a simple, clean, attractive, problem-free home that exudes potential—an empty, yet enticing palette for your home’s next owners.
Taking time to create a great first impression sometimes is all it takes to quickly send a offer your way.
This article is updated from a previous version by Michele Dawson/Realty Times.

Friday, June 13, 2014

6 Home-Buying Mistakes for You to Avoid

6 Home-Buying Mistakes for You to Avoid

home buying mistakesBuying a home can be exciting, but you don’t want to rush into it. Making simple errors while going about the home-buying process can cause a lot of stress—both emotional and financial—for years to come.
So, take some time to educate yourself about the common mistakes homebuyers make and your own home-buying experience will more likely be successful and exciting:

1. Going Over Budget
Don’t borrow more than you can comfortably afford. For example, don’t get a 15-year mortgage with high monthly payments when a 30-year mortgage will give you more wiggle room. Otherwise, you’ll be strapped for money and unable to save as much as you want.  A rule of thumb: Total monthly debts, including your mortgage, should not exceed 43% of your total pretax income.
To figure out if you are getting a good deal, do a comparable market analysis through a REALTOR®. Figure in other costs, such as agent costs, escrow fees, title and homeowners insurance, property taxes, legal costs, notary fees and closing costs.

2. Using the Wrong Agent
Avoid dealing with a dishonest or unqualified real estate agent by selecting an agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. They work as licensed, independent contractors through real estate firms and are governed by strict regulatory guidelines.
Interview a few REALTORS® and pick the one you feel best represents your needs.

3. Not Loan Shopping
Shop around for the best rate. Don’t go with the first one a bank offers you. A mortgage broker can help with this process, but you can also shop around on your own.

4. Banking on Pre-Approval
Just because you’ve been pre-approved doesn’t absolutely mean the mortgage is yours. If your financial situation is called into question during the underwriting process, your lender can refuse to give you the loan. That includes taking out new loans after being pre-approved or switching jobs. They will run your credit, bank and income statements again, so be prepared to answer any questions about discrepancies they might find.

5. Only Loving the House
Your new house doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If you don’t like the block or the town where the house is located, you’re asking for trouble. You won’t be happy there and you’ll have a hard time reselling the property if the neighborhood isn’t good.
Do your research by visiting the area during different times of the day and week. Observe what the neighborhood is like after dark and on weekends. Notice if your street is congested during rush hour. Are the neighbors noisy? Are these the kind of kids you want your children to befriend? Ask yourself if the standard of living most closely represents yours.

6. Ignoring Inspections
Don’t skimp on home inspections when buying a house, even if it adds to the cost. Hire a certified inspector who will thoroughly check the electrical and plumbing systems, heating and air conditioning, roof and walls, foundation and structure, drainage, garage and basement.
You should also inspect your potential property for radon, asbestos, mold, lead, insects and pests. Ask your REALTOR® if he or she can recommend a trusted inspector.

Best on the Block: How To Create Curb Appeal

Spring is in the air, so it's time to give your home an exterior makeover and add curb appeal. A few simple tricks can help boost your home's profile, and ensure visitors get a good first impression when they arrive on your doorstep.

Make a statement with your front door:

Your front door is one of the first things people notice about your home. Is your door drab, drafty or just plain past its prime? Make a bold statement and improve your home's energy efficiency with a new Energy Star–qualified front door. Consider options with decorative glass accents and stunning sidelights to add more natural light while maintaining a sense of style and privacy.

"Finding entry doors that feature stylish options in a variety of popular materials from wood to fiberglass and steel options is easy, and the real beauty is in their performance," says Kathy Krafka Harkema of Pella Windows and Doors. "When replacing your old front door, choose from one that accents your home's style, with high–performance features that help keep out air and water, and low–maintenance convenience like durable prefinished options with coordinating trim."

Accessorize with new hardware:

Replace your front door hardware for a quick, easy facelift. Choose hardware finishes consistent with those of your home's light fixtures, mailbox and house numbers to maintain a polished, cohesive look. You'll be surprised what a difference new hardware on your front door can make in creating a positive look and feel.

Refresh exterior and trim colors:

Now's also a good time to add a new storm door to help keep out the elements, or to add a refreshing coat of paint on your existing exterior doors for a fresh look.

For a dramatic change, repaint your home's exterior. You can also change trim color to refresh your home's exterior impact. When updating trim, choose color schemes that match your home's primary exterior color, or complement it with a fresh twist.

Accent with lighting:

For nighttime curb appeal and safety, add a row of exterior accent lighting to illuminate a walking path with ground–insert solar lights. Or consider solar spotlights to bring out landscaping or architectural focal points. Install new matching light fixtures outside your front door, garage door or patio door to create an inviting feel and provide well–lit doorways to greet you and visiting neighbors and guests.

Create points of interest with plants:

Add pops of color by arranging potted plants around your front door, or on a porch or deck. Incorporate planters or container gardens of varied sizes, shapes and colors to add visual interest. Also, planting flowerbeds along driveways and walkways gives your home a softer, more inviting feel.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Turn Your "Extra Room" Into An Office For A Good ROI

Recently, surveyed their visitors with this question: What's the most important "extra room" to have in a house? Nearly half the respondents (48%) said an office or study would be their most important extra room.

This article will discuss a few pointers about designing or comfortably integrating a home office into one's dwelling, which could also generate a good return on investment if you are using it for work, or a hobby that generates a few extra bucks.

Amy–Mae Elliott at recently interviewed home office expert Lisa Kanarek, founder of who said the first thing to do is decide where your home office should be.

Kanarek suggests considering obvious places like a spare bedroom, guest room or basement, as well as more unorthodox spaces like a dining room or formal living room, if rarely or never used.

One important consideration, she says, is making sure your office has a door, ensuring you can switch off when you're not working. Some other tips include:

  • Install an L–shaped arrangement for a desk to double your work surfaces.
  • Add shelves above or next to your desk to gain more storage space and to reduce desktop clutter.
  • Use open shelves or a hutch that sits on your desk to increase your storage space.
  • Invest in some decent, surge–protected extension cords to install around the room where you need power most.
  • Consider a Wi–Fi printer, which can be kept further away from the computer.
  • If you work from home full–time, you're going to be spending as much time in your office as you do in the rest of the house, Kanarek says. Don't treat your working space as a second–class accommodation. Give it the importance it deserves.

Prequalification vs. preapproval : Understand the benefits of each

Buying vs. renting a house: The advantages of each

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


What's The Buzz? Your Backyard Beehive, Of Course!

There are always practices homeowners can adopt that will not only improve the value and appearance of their property, but will also improve their neighborhoods, communities, their own family's health and the environment.

One thing a homeowner can do to impact their property and their world is to consider housing and maintaining a small beehive.

Why keep bees? Christy Hemenway, author of "The Thinking Beekeeper," and founder of Gold Star Honeybees in Vermont says there is a bit of magic to bees.

She says establishing a low–maintenance hive tucked away in the corner of the yard will enhance the resurgence of a dwindling bee population, while providing robust pollination to flowering plants around one's home and landscape.

She believes Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, as reported in the news recently, is absolutely connected to toxins being put into the environment. And Hemenway's solution is her signature top bar hives.

They allow bees to make their own wax without a foundation – a piece of plastic coated with wax, embossed with hexagons. Some hexagons in the top bar comb are sized for food storage (honey), while others are for raising young bees.

Hemenway says beekeeping is not labor intensive – owners can spend as little as an hour a week simply performing inspections.

Her premiere product is the Deluxe Top Bar Hive Kit, with every part included, down to the glass observation window. All the owner must do is assemble the hive using a screwdriver and staple gun.

Deluxe Top Bar Hive Kits come in the New Englander Model, with its black roof for colder climates and the Arizona Model, with a white roof, for where it's warmer. Hemenway's other two top bar hive kits allow for beekeepers who enjoy the craft of woodworking to be more involved in the process of building their bees' new home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

8 Ways to Act Like a 2nd-Time Homebuyer the First Time You Buy

The first time you do anything, whether it’s riding a bike or buying a house, you’re not likely to do it perfectly. Everyone makes a few mistakes when they are novices, but if you pay attention to people who have gone through the first-time homebuyer experience before you, it’s possible to avoid some common errors:

1. Check Your Credit Sooner Rather Than Later you wait until you are ready to buy a home, you may find out the hard way that your credit is not good enough to qualify for a home loan. Correcting errors or boosting your score can take months, so make sure you give yourself time.

2. Ask About Future Plans for the Neighborhood

When you are narrowing down your choices you need to be aware that communities change over time. If you buy a home because it faces green space, you will be disappointed if a few months after you move in that land gets turned over to start construction on a high-rise.

3. Keep Back Some Cash

You may feel great about being able to make a 20% down payment, but you should be sure you also have an emergency fund with at least three to six months of expenses and a fund for repairs and maintenance. Owning a home means you are responsible when things go wrong.

4. Don’t Borrow Too Much
If there’s one big lesson that everyone should have learned from the housing crisis and the recession it’s this: It’s better to take on less debt rather than more. A lender will tell you what you qualify to borrow, but you should be the one to decide what you can comfortably afford to borrow given your other financial goals.

5. Look at the Community at Night, in the Daytime and on Weekends

Most people want to live where there are other people with similar interests and lifestyles, and the only way to find out what local life is like is to test it out. What seems like a quaint and quiet neighborhood on weekday mornings could become a commuters’ nightmare at rush hour or party central at 2 a.m.

6. Choose the Right Loan 

While you may be focused most on interest rates and wanting to get your home paid off as fast as possible, taking on the shortest term loan or grabbing an adjustable rate mortgage isn’t always the best plan. If you can easily afford the payments on a 15-year loan, go for it; but if it’s a stretch, then go with a 20 or 30-year loan and make extra payments toward your principal when you can. An ARM can be a good option for borrowers who will pay off their loan before it adjusts, but it can be risky if interest rates rise.

7. Talk to the Neighbors
first-time homebuyer 
One of the best ways to find out about an area and a specific home is to chat with people who live in the community. Ask about crime, schools, noise, amenities, and if they know anything about the house you are thinking of buying.

8. Think About Selling Before You Buy
The features that you love in a home are likely to attract someone else someday when you’re ready to sell, but there are some factors that can hurt a home’s future resale value. If a community has mostly homes with three bathrooms and the one you want only has two, it could mean your place will be a tough sell someday. On the flip side, buying a $1 million home in an area with $400,000 homes can be equally hard to pass on to new owners in the future.
Whether you are a first-time or second-time buyer, taking the time to educate yourself on your local market and being smart about your finances can help you make the decision of a more experienced buyer.

Here’s a Homeowner Twist: Buy and Then Rent

for rent
Renting your home gives you the opportunity to build more equity over a longer period of ownership and to offset the cost of owning through rental income. Some homeowners who assume they will be short-term landlords end up appreciating the investment in real estate and continue into the future, while others wait for a strong market and the right moment to sell.

Deciding to buy a home requires a long-term plan that includes both a financial and a personal strategy for the future. Most financial planners recommend that you own a home for at least five to seven years in order to build equity and recoup your investment in the property.
But what if you’re not sure you will be in the home that long? A job transfer or a change in lifestyle, such as getting married or having a family, can shift your priorities or needs before five or seven years have passed, particularly if you are relatively young and in the midst of building your career.
One way to feel more comfortable buying a home despite your uncertainty is to consider the option of renting out the property instead of selling it.

What to Look for in a Potential Rental Property

If you are particularly uncertain about the future, you should look for a home with potential rental appeal when you are looking for a place to buy. Think about who rents condos, townhouses or single family homes in your area and what features they would appreciate. For example, you can buy near a college, university, law school or medical school in order to have a continuously renewed population of renters as each class graduates and new students arrive.
If you prefer not to rent to college students or grad-school students, you can target your home search to areas where young people live before they are ready to become homeowners. Depending on your area, this could be near public transportation, nightlife or both.
Buyers who prefer a single-family home should try to find a home in a school district that appeals to families, yet also has a good location near transportation, recreational amenities and shops.
Renters often want to share their property to keep costs low, so if you can afford a two- or three-bedroom place with at least two bathrooms, you may find it easier to attract roommates who will split the rent. Families, too, usually want at least two or three bedrooms.
While rental markets adjust along with the rest of the real estate market, you should look into current rents in an area where you want to live to see how they compare to purchase prices. If rents are extremely low, you may find it hard to charge enough rent to cover your mortgage; but if rents are high, you could actually profit from becoming a landlord in the future.

Disadvantages of Owning Rental Property

While your goal initially is to live in your home, you should consider the pros and cons of becoming a landlord in the future.
For example, some of the potential hazards include a gap between tenants, which could be lengthy if there are more rentals than demand in the area. Even if you have tenants, you could have problems with their damaging your property or not paying the rent on time.
As the landlord, you are responsible for repairs and maintenance, even if you live out of the area, so you may want to consider hiring a property management company to help you screen tenants and keep your home in good condition, especially if you plan to sell it someday.
While planning to be a landlord may not be the perfect solution, it could be an option that will make your rent vs. buy decision a little easier.

Welcome to Wisconsin Real Estate
RE/MAX REALTY CENTER, Real Estate in Wisconsin

Please feel free to contact us for any of your residential or commerical real estate needs including an online market if you are a seller, or finding a home if you are a buyer.

Our real estate focus in the  Waukesha County, Milwaukee County, Lake Country, Jefferson County, Dane County, Dodge County and Washington County areas. Several agents in the office also their IRES designation (International Real Estate Specialist) so they 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, RE/MAX REALTY CENTER, Real Estate in Wisconsin, is the BEST 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. 

The agents at RE/MAX Realty Center, Real Estate in Wisconsin (262-567-2455) are experienced agents with many years of real estate under their belts.  If you are looking for top notch real estate agents in Waukesha County and the entire Milwaukee Metro area look no further! The agents in our office think "outside of the BOX", focus on you and YOUR needs. We offer what most of the other agencies in the area cannot. Creativity, Listing  Package Options and unsurpassed marketing exposure locally, throughout the entire United States and Internationally!  If you want creative options and exceptional marketing and service -- we are the answer.

The RE/MAX Realty Center Office, has experienced agents with expertise in luxury home marketing, lake property experts, foreclosure and short sale specialists, investment and property management brokers and commercial brokers. 

Our agents areas of service include, but are not limited to:
The prospering communities of Waukesha County including Delafield, Waukesha, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Waukesha, Sussex, Wales, New Berlin, Dousman, North Prairie, Mukwonago, Chenequa, Menomonee Falls, Brookfield, Elm Grove, Okauchee, Eagle, Muskego and Merton

Great municipalities in Milwaukee County including Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Hales Corners, Greenfield, Glendale, Franklin, Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Fox Point, Greendale, Shorewood, Oak Creek, St. Francis, West Allis and Whitefish Bay. 

The hometown favorites of Washington County, Jefferson County and Dodge County including Watertown, Hartford, West Bend, Germantown, Jackson, Richfield, Ashippun, Lake Mills, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Slinger and Erin.

There is no place like "WISCONSIN LAKES"
If lake living is what you desire then Lake Country is the place to be! If you are thinking about buying waterfront property in Wisconsin, a little time invested in learning about waterfront living will pay back sizeable dividends in matching your expectations to realities. 

 Lake Country Living on one of Waukesha Countys great lakes as a full timer or vacationer is a must and there are some great lakes to choose.  Nagawicka Lake, Pine Lake, Oconomowoc Lake, Beaver Lake, Okauchee Lake, Pewaukee Lake, Moose Lake, North Lake, Lake Keesus, Lac La Belle, Upper Nashotah, Lower Nashotah, Upper Genesee, Lowe Genesee, Middle Genesee, Upper Nemahbin, Lower Nemahbin, Fowler Lake, Golden Lake, Pretty Lake, Silver Lake, Waterville Lake, and Crooked Lake. Great lakes of the surrounding area also include Lake Michigan, Rock Lake, Big Cedar Lake, Little Cedar Lake, Pike Lake and Lake Ripley.

RE/MAX REALTY CENTER, Real Estate in Wisconsin, 262-567-2455 or 262-893-5555,  offer online markets, listing package and FOR SALE BY OWNER (FSBO) options, MLS search access, buyer agency and marketing that will exceed your expectations, all with outstanding service!  

Your home purchase or sale is likely your largest investment, be sure you have an good agent you can trust! Real Estate in Wisconsin is an excellent investment, prices are superb, selection is great and rates are outstanding!!!

Ask us about our preferred vendors -- from lenders to help you finance your new purchase to contractors to help maintain!
Turn Your "Extra Room" Into An Office For A Good ROI

Recently, surveyed their visitors with this question: What's the most important "extra room" to have in a house? Nearly half the respondents (48%) said an office or study would be their most important extra room.

This article will discuss a few pointers about designing or comfortably integrating a home office into one's dwelling, which could also generate a good return on investment if you are using it for work, or a hobby that generates a few extra bucks.

Amy–Mae Elliott at recently interviewed home office expert Lisa Kanarek, founder of who said the first thing to do is decide where your home office should be.

Kanarek suggests considering obvious places like a spare bedroom, guest room or basement, as well as more unorthodox spaces like a dining room or formal living room, if rarely or never used.

One important consideration, she says, is making sure your office has a door, ensuring you can switch off when you're not working. Some other tips include:

  • Install an L–shaped arrangement for a desk to double your work surfaces.
  • Add shelves above or next to your desk to gain more storage space and to reduce desktop clutter.
  • Use open shelves or a hutch that sits on your desk to increase your storage space.
  • Invest in some decent, surge–protected extension cords to install around the room where you need power most.
  • Consider a Wi–Fi printer, which can be kept further away from the computer.
  • If you work from home full–time, you're going to be spending as much time in your office as you do in the rest of the house, Kanarek says. Don't treat your working space as a second–class accommodation. Give it the importance it deserves.

The Best Home Investment:

The Best Home Investment: A Wood Deck

As the seasons turn, more homeowners look for projects that not only make their homes more livable, but also offer a great return on investment. With demand high across the country for outdoor spaces that bring the comforts of the indoors outside, there's no surprise that decks are one of the top remodeling projects for 2014.

In fact, a residential wood deck addition has a recouped cost of 87.4 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine's 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, the second highest ROI midrange project only behind an entry door replacement. That means adding a deck to your property will increase your livable space so you can enjoy the outdoors more while resting easy, knowing you're boosting the value of your home investment.

If you think you'd like to add a wood deck to your home, you might wonder about the different material options. "Although composite and PVC decking have gained popularity in recent years, pressure–treated wood decking still carries the lion's share of the market because it's inexpensive, easy to work with and can be found at any lumberyard," says Chris Fox, product manager at Universal Forest Products, a leading supplier of lumber and decking materials.

Today's pressure–treated lumber comes with advancements that weren't available to homeowners just a few years ago. For example, with more homeowners seeking eco–friendly building materials, wood suppliers are exploring environmentally–preferred treatment methods. For example, ProWood's micronized copper azole (MCA) treated lumber decking is eco–friendly, cost effective and easy to install.

MCA is a method for treating the wood (typically pine) using an EPA–registered waterborne wood preservative system to protect against termite attack and rot. MCA–treated lumber provides a light, natural look, unlike other pressurized wood treatments that result in the greenish hue with which most people are familiar.

You can leave MCA–treated lumber in its natural state for a more organic appearance in your outdoor spaces, or you can choose ProWood Dura Color decking that is color–infused with pigment driven deep into the wood fibers. This process creates beautiful treated wood grain that will stand up to the elements for many years, with no need for staining.

"People like the natural look of redwood and cedar, but they don't want the drawbacks that come with them, such as the high price and the fact that they quickly fade to gray," says Fox. "ProWood Dura Color lumber not only looks like natural cedar or redwood, but the color lasts much longer and is backed by a two–year color assurance warranty."

When researching treated wood materials for outdoor home improvement projects, such as a deck addition, Fox suggests discussing the project with the local lumber dealer and to be sure to understand and check the end tag for:

1. The description of use (above ground or ground contact)
2. Warranty statement
3. The quality standards it meets
4. Third–party quality inspection which assures product has passed retention and penetration tests

Friday, June 6, 2014


Congrats to this years RE/MAX REALTY CENTER SCHOLARSHIP recipient of $1000. 

Shelly Robertson is graduating tomorrow from Watertown High School. She will be attending UW Madison in the fall and has her eye on the business world.

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014 April Home Sales Report - Wisconsin REALTORS® Association

2014 April Home Sales Report - Wisconsin REALTORS® Association

Date: May 19, 2014


Wisconsin existing home sales fell in April even as median prices

continued to rise according to the most recent analysis of the state

housing market released by the Wisconsin REALTORS®

Association (WRA). Home sales declined 11.6 percent in April compared

to the same month last year due to a combination of higher home mortgage

rates, higher prices and harsh winter temperatures.
Median prices rose

over that same period, increasing 1.4 percent to $139,900.

“As we enter the second quarter of the year, we have been expecting some

improvement in home sales, but it’s important to remember that April

sales are still impacted by the February weather given the 6 to 8 week

lag between the time an offer is accepted and a closing takes place,”

said Steve Lane, Chairman of the WRA Board of Directors. He also noted

that there were heavy snows in the northern part of the state as late as

mid-April 2014. Every region of the state experienced a decline in

April sales. The Central region fared the best, falling just 3.8

percent over the April 2013 to April 2014 period, followed by the

Northeast region which dropped 8.5 percent over the period. The South

central region fell 9.6 percent and the Southeast region saw a decline

of 10.1 percent. Finally, the North region dropped 17.4 percent and the

West fell 25.5 percent. Interestingly, home sales fell more

substantially in the metropolitan counties which averaged a 13 percent

reduction in sales in April compared to rural counties which declined 7

percent between April 2013 and April 2014. “This may be due in part to

much tighter inventories in the urban counties compared to rural

counties,” said Lane. Rural counties had just over 14 months of

available inventory in April compared to just 6.9 months for

metropolitan counties.

national economy barely grew in thefirst quarter which under normal
circumstances might suggest an economic slowdown, but even that has been
partially blamed on the weather,” said

Michael Theo, WRA President and CEO. The advance estimate of first

quarter real GDP growth revealed that the economy grew at just 0.1

percent, and the combination of a harsh winter, lower trade and lower

inventory replacement kept the economy stagnate in the first quarter.

Countering that was a relatively strong consumption component of real

GDP, and a relatively strong April jobs report. The latter indicated a

stronger than anticipated 288,000 jobs created in the US in April which

is the largest monthly growth in more than 2 years. “The key to

sustained growth in the housing market is a growing economy we hope the

current employment trends continue,” said Theo.

For the second straight month, median home prices grew at a modest pace with April

prices up 1.4 percent over April 2013. “The relatively slower pace of

sales over the last four months has allowed our inventories to increase

this year although we are still below April 2013 levels,” said Mr. Theo.

The inventory of unsold homes stood at 8.9 months in April compared to

9.4 months this time last year. “We always expect our inventories to

expand in the winter since home sales cool off, and our inventories have

increased quite a bit this year, which has helped stabilize our

prices,” he said. Wisconsin median prices increased 7.2 percent in 2013

compared to 2012, and they were up 4.2 percent in the first quarter of

2014 relative to that quarter in 2013. In contrast, the price increases

the last two months have been less than 2 percent on an annual basis

which is more in line with general inflationary trends.

The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index measures the percent of the median priced

home that the household with median family income can afford to buy at

current mortgage rates, assuming a 20 percent down payment. The index

currently stands at 231 compared to 252 in April last year. “Although

slipping slightly, Wisconsin still has very affordable housing, which is

an asset that continues to be a solid hedge against inflation,” he


Real Estate Advisor: June 2014

The Art of the Approach: Curb Appeal, and More

When considering the mysteries of what attracts the ultimate buyer, few will deny that ?curb-appeal? is a sort of magic bullet. The term is a buzz word for the enticing image of your home as seen from the street, and is similar to the adage of ?judging a book by its cover.? Buyers who rely upon this might overlook a treasure in the rough, but savvy sellers know curb appeal is a key tool to finding a buyer more quickly.

Curb appeal is key when buyers are looking through multiple listings, getting a feel for neighborhoods from the comfort of their cars -- just ?driving by.? Often, buyers will look at advertisements and listings online or in print, and if they are local will take a peek on their way home from work. Because of the power of this ?curb view,? often the primary photographs used in advertisements and listings are from this angle. Money spent in improving this viewing angle is among the smartest investment. Simply put, painting and pruning trees and shrubbery can transform a home, helping to shed light on its features.

Other aspects of the approach to a home can be equally enticing and help to pave the way for a successful interior viewing. After all, when care is taken to the outside of a home, people feel that the interior will also have what they are looking for. Driveways and walkways that are well maintained and artfully presented greet potential buyers as soon as they step out of their vehicles.

Trees and shrubs that lose their leaves can create slick areas on driveways and walkways and be unattractive if allowed to affect landscaping and lawns. Ensure that you consider this when selecting trees to plant near driveways, and keep leaves in check during fall viewings. During the winter, when snow and ice might prove to be a problem, it is essential to maintain driveways and walkways carefully. This is not only for safety, but it illustrates the type of person who has owned and maintained the house itself.

One helpful exercise is to take time to view a home with curb-appeal in mind. At each juncture where a potential buyer might approach and view your home or property, stop and look around. Notice details. Take photographs. Look straight ahead, to the right and left, and even at the ground. If there are appealing features, play those up. If there are issues that block the enjoyment of the home, you can choose to address them. In each instance, seek to frame the view of the home or property in an appealing light, tending to the ground under foot, the areas close to the viewer, and that which they see.

The Results of curb-appeal come when assessing views from inside the home and at various places on the property. All views are important because they are attention-getting elements of the property you are selling. Views are memorable, and a bad one can deter potential buyers.

Whenever possible, seek to create eye-catching points around the home. If certain views are less than desirable, seek to minimize, distract, or even block those views. If you can remove the offensive elements, do so, but whenever possible, contain them, screen them or otherwise affect a change.

Additionally, certain areas in homes have an element of ?approach? to them. You control all the views inside the home, so assess each one carefully. The foyer or entryway has its own view into the home and serves as a curb of its own, or a launching pad, so to speak. As a viewer enters the home, moves to the living room, kitchen, master bedroom, or backyard, each transition creates an impression and should be considered a ?view.? Try walking through the home and noting the approaches so that you can begin to create views within the home that offer the best feelings and highlight the home's strengths. Make sure lighting, furniture, and clutter are all under control so that impressions are good every step of the way.

Follow these tricks for creating the best impression:

  • Ensure that the yard and landscaping is neat, tidy, and well-maintained. Seek to flatter the home first, then to show off your gardening skills. Freshly pruned vegetation illustrates careful stewardship.

  • If flowering plants are past their prime, trim them back and add in some seasonal plants for color. Re-edge and add mulch to existing beds. Plants in containers may be easily changed out or positioned where they are most needed, and if you invest in nice pots, you can take them with you.

  • Control growth of large trees to optimize light and safety of the home and surrounding buildings and property. Remove debris under trees daily, if needed.

  • Pay close attention to the front door and garage doors, including paint or stain condition and color, hardware and details ? these doors command a lot of attention. Consider adding seasonal decorations like a wreath or potted plants near the door, but keep these tasteful and few ? don?t distract from the house itself.

  • Clean steps, ensuring that they are free of scratches, chips, moss or signs of wear. Repair or upgrade handrails when appropriate.

  • A new Welcome Mat at the door will not only make a statement, it is also an invitation for viewers to wipe their feet as they enter the home.

  • Investing in new and unique numbers for your home not only makes it easy to identify, but can set it apart with flare.

  • Pressure wash the exterior of your home and ensure the gutters and roof are clean.

  • Assess and improve the driveway and any walkways to and around the home.

  • Upgrade lighting by doors and pathways. Providing safe and stylish lighting will make your home stand out in viewings throughout the day and evening.

  • Upgrade your mailbox. Creating a secure and attractive mail receptacle is akin to having a plush welcome mat at the end of your driveway or by your door.

  • Ensure that windows and screens are clean and well-maintained. Viewers from both the inside and outside of the home rely on being able to see through them. Shutters and screens should be in top shape. Easy-to-install PVC trim neatens and dresses up older windows and doors. Drapes and shades should be clean and in good working order.

  • Familiarize yourself with views from decks and various rooms, and improve those views when possible.

  • Decks can be used year-round in many places. Spruce up your deck, porch or patio and show what an inviting space it can be to potential buyers.