Saturday, February 28, 2015

5 Things to Consider About a Neighborhood Before Buying

5 Things to Consider About a Neighborhood Before Buying
5 Things to Consider About a Neighborhood Before Buying

Buying a home is a long-term, important investment, so take the time to discover what makes your targeted neighborhoods tick. There are a number of ways to check the pulse of a community; talking to neighbors can give you a great snapshot of what it’s like to live there. Here are five other ways to determine whether a neighborhood is the right fit for you.

1. Is it an up-and-coming area or still in transition?
You might start by researching local home values and foreclosure rates. Consider such factors as crime rate, development plans and proposed or new businesses. You can even contact local officials, such as the county property appraiser or the HOA manager (if applicable) for better insights. Sometimes buying a home in a transitional area may prove to be a good investment, but you probably want to make sure you'll feel good about your home in the interim, too.

2. Do the schools make the grade?
Even if you don’t have school-age children, you should be interested in how the schools in your potential neighborhood perform. Homes near high-ranking schools tend to maintain higher resale values. Start your research by visiting  or using the SchoolFinder tool at

3. What’s nearby?
Consider what’s important to you in your future neighborhood, and then explore the surrounding areas near your targeted home. Among things to keep in mind are proximity to stores, schools and green spaces. Aside from being practical, these amenities make it easy to mingle with neighbors, set up kids’ play dates or just play fetch with your pup. is a great place to search for nearby amenities – all you have to do is plug in an address and mode of transportation.

4. How far is it from work?
Try the new INRIX Drive Time tool on to determine how long it will take you to drive to work, school or area stores from your new home. You can also time a potential commute by doing a test drive during the time of day you’re most likely to go to and from work. Explore mass transit options. In addition to offering an alternative to driving, good public transportation near your home can have a positive effect on your property value.

5. How safe is it?
A neighborhood watch, well-lit streets, walkways, security systems and little to no signs of vandalism are signs of a safe neighborhood. You can see a picture of the types of crimes that occur in the neighborhood by researching on or and the local police department’s website.

A RE/MAX agent is one of the best helpers you could have on your quest to find the right neighborhood – and the right home – for your needs. Search for a local RE/MAX agent who can help provide the information you’re looking for.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Prepping for Sale: Spruce Up the Laundry Room

Prepping for Sale: Spruce Up the Laundry Room
Prepping for Sale: Spruce Up the Laundry Room
In many houses, laundry rooms are little more than semi-neglected utilitarian spaces best left unseen – not an impression you want to make if you’re selling your home.

If your laundry space needs some care, follow these organization and decorating tips to upgrade or cleverly conceal it.

Closet Up
Laundry rooms are tucked into many different places in a home, including the garage, basement, utility room, the kitchen and, in some urban homes, even the bathroom.

That’s where cabinets can come into play. A cabinetmaker can build an enclosure for the washer and dryer alone or for your entire laundry setup. You can also purchase cabinetry at a home improvement store and install it yourself.

When possible, conceal your laundry space with doors that match or complement other doors in your home. Avoid the conspicuous "accordion" door often found on laundry closets in older homes.  Alternatives include a sliding-door track system or even curtain panels. Curtains are a cheaper, softer and less permanent way to separate and hide your laundry.

Become Shelf Conscious
If your main concern is to conceal a bulky, full-size washer and dryer, a countertop installed directly above the appliances discreetly says, nothing to see here, folks! Use the countertop space as a display shelf during showings. Install a rod and curtain underneath to hide the machines from view.

Color Cleverly
Coordination is key when it comes to camouflaging a laundry room. Choose soothing, neutral palettes for curtains, wood and paint in your laundry space.

If the laundry room lacks cabinetry or shelving, use baskets and storage cubes in a coordinating color scheme to conceal detergent, hangers and clothes.

Show Discipline in Decor
Put laundry room knickknacks away. The last thing you need when sprucing up your laundry space is a cutesy sign that reads "Loads of fun" or "Drop pants here." Choose laundry area decor that is not personal or specific to cleaning. Homebuyers gravitate toward places they can easily picture living in ­– not picture you living in.

There are many easy ways to minimize your home’s flaws and highlight its best features. If you’re thinking about selling your home, contact your local RE/MAX agent for guidance on everything from quick upgrades to pricing, contract negotiations and support throughout the selling process.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

First-Time Homeowners Tackle an Imperfect House

First-Time Homeowners Tackle an Imperfect House
First-Time Homeowners Tackle an Imperfect House

By Marly Beste, RE/MAX Copywriter

We did it! We bought a house! After a frenzied home search, we actually ended up at the closing table, signed the paperwork and left with keys in our hands.

The fun was about to begin.

My husband and I knew renovations were in store. At the very least, we’d need to paint, do some updating and redesign some spaces. But this is our first house, so remodeling is new to us. We're complete novices.

But that hasn’t stopped us from tearing a few things down. In the first month of ownership, we’ve stripped wallpaper, removed two living room walls and demolished the brick fireplace.

And we still have a long way to go.

If you’re thinking about buying a home in need of TLC, here are some tips on whipping it into shape:
  • Capitalize on having an empty house. If possible, delay your move-in so you can begin the transformation without getting your things grimy (even if you have to live with your in-laws, like we did!).
  • Ask for help. We made an event out of it. When it was time to paint, we threw a “painting party.” Before friends arrived, we made a tray of tropical ham sandwiches, poured some drinks and queued up an island-inspired Pandora station. Everyone had a blast and the job got done.
  • Rely on expertise. The paint pros at your local hardware store are invaluable when the 5-gallon jug you just bought looks more purple than grey.
  • Work hard, but within reason. When you rush, it’s easy to make mistakes – and bad decisions that can compromise the overall design.
  • Get organized. Keep all your receipts in one place. Register new appliances and electronics and file for rebates within the first five days of your purchase. Don’t give in to the temptation to postpone these tasks in the chaos of moving; you could lose money down the road.
If you’re considering buying a home, contact your local RE/MAX agent for guidance on finding the right house – and exploring your options on making it even better.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

RE/MAX National Housing Report February 2015

Preferred Customer List

Hey Friends, I need your help.
We need to add to our Preferred Customer List at REMAX Realty Center - Real Estate in Wisconsin.
I am looking for recommendations/referrals for the following to add to our already good list : (Please only suggest if you would give them a 5 star rating)
Carpet Cleaner
Radon Mitigation
Rubbish Removal/Snow Removal
Home Decorator/Home Staging
Pest Specialists
Internet/Phone/TV/Satellite Dealer
Custom cabinetry
Dog Kennel/Vet
Computer Service
Basement Repair
Day Care
Pool People
Tree Service
Mold Inspector
Financial/Insurance Planning
Heating and Air conditioning
Furniture rehabber
Fuel Oil
Beauty Shop
I need Company name, contact and phone numbers please.
PM me or send to
Thanks much!

After the Move: 5 Fast and Easy Ways to Feel at Home

After the Move: 5 Fast and Easy Ways to Feel at Home
After the Move: 5 Fast and Easy Ways to Feel at Home

You’re done buying your new home and, at last, the moving truck’s been unloaded. Now it’s time to unpack and make the new place your own – a labor-intensive process that will go a lot easier when you follow these five quick tips. 

1. Divvy Up the Work
Give everyone in the family a list of jobs to do, with the big items – like furniture placement – to be done first. Focus on making the living room comfortable so the entire family can take a much-needed break at the end of the day. Crossing tasks off the list together will make everyone feel accomplished and more at home.

2. Ensure Safety First
Being in a new home can feel strange for a while. Taking time early on to address any safety concerns can help. Check all entrances and windows to ensure that they lock properly. Make sure you have enough keys for all the family members. Do the locks need changing? Schedule a locksmith and someone to help with any coded entries, such as a garage-door opener or security systems. Also, know where the circuit breaker is and how to operate it.

3. Do the Paperwork
It’s tempting, but do not put off the paperwork. Transfer all utilities, complete a change of address form for the post office, and update your address with your credit card companies, bank and insurance providers. Remember to make the time to change the address on your driver’s license, too. It’s not necessary to complete all these projects in one sitting, but the sooner they’re done, the better you will feel.

4. Make It Personal
Think about painting some walls and rooms with colors that are uniquely you. Or put up a treasured photograph or decorative item, and encourage your family members to do the same. This simple act will make you feel at home and can make the rest of the unpacking a much more pleasant experience.

5. Don’t Forget To Breathe
Remember, everything doesn’t have to be done at once. Schedule time out for a family dinner, movie or neighborhood outing. Or just relax, step outside to meet the neighbors and take time to enjoy your new surroundings.

Are you thinking of moving? Wondering how to sell your home? Contact a local RE/MAX agent for guidance and maybe a moving tip or two.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

4 Home-Selling Myths Debunked

4 Home-Selling Myths Debunked
4 Home-Selling Myths Debunked

The process of buying and selling homes can seem mysterious to many novices. Even if well-meaning friends and family members offer advice from all sides, many first-time buyers and sellers may remain uncertain about some key facts.

Let’s see if we can debunk some of the most common home-selling myths that agents hear from clients every day.

Myth: The seller determines the sales price.

Fact: Your home’s sales price should be the result of many factors, among them the size and condition of the home, its location, current market conditions and selling prices of comparable homes in the area.  While the seller ultimately agrees on the final list price, it’s not as simple as pricing the home based only on the money the homeowner hopes to make.

Myth: You should overprice your house in order to leave room for negotiation.

Fact: Overpriced homes take longer to sell and typically sell under their market value. When you overprice, you actually limit your real buying pool. Buyers who can afford to pay only what your home is really worth won’t bother looking at it because they’ll assume they can’t afford it.
Potential buyers who can afford to pay your high asking price will soon realize your home doesn’t stack up to the others in the same price range. By alienating both pools of buyers, you run the risk of wasting the valuable marketing window when your home is a new listing.

Myth: There’s no need to make repairs if you plan on giving the buyer a repair credit.

Fact: Many homebuyers want a home that's move-in ready. If you plan on selling your home quickly and for top dollar, consider making any major repairs before you put the home on the market. Not only will the home be viewed as move-in ready, but your agent can also mention the repairs as a selling point in the marketing materials. If the need for additional fixes arises during inspection, that’s when you could discuss a possible repair credit for the buyers.

Myth: Home improvements pay for themselves when you sell.

Fact: While many repairs offer tremendous value down the road, few home-improvement projects provide a 100-percent return on your investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. Get expert opinions on what to fix, and how, before you take out that sledge hammer.

Whether you’re selling your first home or about to embark on a search to buy, find a local RE/MAX agent who can guide you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Buck Foley - Real Estate Agent Extraordinaire

Saturday Night Live and Real Estate

How Going Green Can Help Your House Sell

How Going Green Can Help Your House Sell
How Going Green Can Help Your House Sell
When it comes to real estate, “going green” isn’t just a fad. It’s an investment in the future. The benefits to potential buyers are many, and having money-saving, energy-efficient upgrades in your home can mean the difference between selling quickly and lingering on the market.

A study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that 90 percent of homebuyers take energy efficiency into account when shopping for a home. Add the fact that most of the 125 million single family homes in the United States were built before energy-saving regulations were enacted and you’ve got two compelling reasons to consider “greening up” your property before putting it on the market.

Here are some of the advantages a green home offers buyers:

Lower Utility Costs
Eco-friendly appliances, such as Energy Star units, can save homeowners hundreds of dollars annually and significantly more over the long haul. Similarly, making sure your house is well insulated may not seem like a selling point, but it saves potential buyers money. So, added insulation is a feature worth highlighting.

Health Benefits
Natural and chemical allergies are serious issues for millions of people. Greening your home with pollen screens on the windows or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint can be a dealmaker for buyers affected by such issues.

Tax Incentives
Federal, state and local governments offer incentives to owners of certified green homes. Programs vary among jurisdictions, but federal programs in place through 2016 offer rebates of 10 to 30 percent for energy-saving improvements. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for programs in your area.

Greening up a home you want to sell doesn’t have to be complicated either. Here are some quick, low-cost, eco-friendly additions:

New Appliances
Investing in new appliances can make a big difference to potential buyers. Energy-efficient appliances can help set your house apart from comparable homes for sale. And it isn’t necessary to replace every appliance either. Start with the refrigerator, for example, and shop for an energy-efficient model on sale.

Light It Up
Make the switch to LED lights. Yes, the bulbs are more expensive, but they use 75 percent less energy and last 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs. When you point out to potential buyers that they won’t have to replace any bulbs for the next decade, you'll get their attention.

Stop the Leakage
Caulking windows is a simple and inexpensive way to keep the cool air in and the hot air out, or vice versa, depending on the season. It saves on energy costs and should be noted to prospective buyers.

Cut Water Waste
If you’re planning to remodel a bathroom or kitchen prior to selling, go with low-flow fixtures. They can reduce water usage by as much as 50 percent, without cutting water pressure. If you have a yard that needs upgrading, consider replacing grass with gravel or native plants that require less water.

Adding an attractive receptacle to catch rain water that can be used to water plants is a nice touch as well.

Are you thinking of selling? Find a local RE/MAX agent and ask about other ways you can get your home market-ready.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rent or Buy? Here’s a Calculator to Help You Decide

Rent or Buy? Here’s a Calculator to Help You Decide
Rent or Buy? Here’s a Calculator to Help You Decide

Wondering if you should buy a home or keep renting? You’re not alone.

Millions of people are faced with this decision every day, and your move is dependent on a variety of factors: your income, ability to manage maintenance costs/upkeep, how much you’ve saved for a down payment, job stability, the housing market, rental vacancies, monthly payments, interest rates, proximity to work and school – the list goes on.

If you’re stuck trying to choose which option is best for you and your family, the New York Times has a cool tool worth checking out: a rent vs. buy calculator. Input items such as home price, income, the number of years you plan to stay in a place, taxes, fees, etc.. Once you’re done, the calculator computes the equivalent monthly rent. Give it a try!

For a complete picture of what the rent vs. buy prospects are like in your area, contact your local RE/MAX agent.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

5 Advantages of Buying a Fixer-Upper

5 Advantages of Buying a Fixer-Upper
5 Advantages of Buying a Fixer-Upper

We all have fantasy images of our dream house. These images may be hard to let go of when buying a home, especially when all you can afford are homes that, well, let’s just say need some TLC.

That’s when it’s important to keep in mind that the fixer-upper you’re looking at could have the potential to someday become your dream house. It’s just one advantage fixer-uppers can offer. Here are a few others:

1. Lower price
A home that needs work likely will be less expensive. Such properties rarely list at full market price.

2. Fewer competitors
Many buyers are unwilling or unable to put a lot of work into a house. This creates the perfect opportunity to snatch a bargain,
a major advantage welcomed in particular by first-time homebuyers or house hunters competing for homes in areas with low inventory.

3. A blank canvas
With a fixer-upper, you call the shots as to how the house will eventually look. You don’t have to settle for a home that reflects someone else’s taste. Plus, if you do some of the work yourself, you’re automatically awarded bragging rights.

4. Quicker equity
If you renovate the home shortly after you buy it, you may increase its value quickly. Equity provides many financial benefits, from raising your personal net worth to giving you an opportunity to refinance sooner, if needed.

5. The possibility of renovation loans
Ask your lender about the Federal Housing Administration’s 203k loans that provide homeowners with funds specifically for fixer-upper projects. The loans, the 203k Streamlined Mortgage and the full 203k Mortgage, are available for homes with needs ranging from cosmetic improvements to extensive structural work.

Whether you’re looking for the home of your dreams or a starter house that may need some work, a local RE/MAX agent can guide you there.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Mom’s Advice: Preparing Your Home for Baby

A Mom’s Advice: Preparing Your Home for Baby

1. Take stock and declutter. Before the baby arrives, it helps to declutter your home as much as possible – for your own sanity and to make room for all the baby gear you’ll acquire. Paring down unnecessary belongings and furniture is a great way to add some simplicity to your now-very-busy life.

2. Baby-proof your home in stages. You don’t have to do it all at once! To save time and money, childproof your home as your baby shows signs of reaching milestones like rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking. Here’s a great guide from

3. Make the nursery functional. It’s tempting to want to re-create the immaculate nursery designs you see on Pinterest, but my advice is to put function first. Ease and practicality should take precedence over style.  Install window coverings that block out UV rays to help keep the room comfortable and dark during sleep times.

4. Check those smoke detectors. You might not think of this in the hustle and bustle, but testing the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home is extremely important. We have smoke detectors in every room, and a carbon monoxide detector on every level. The U.S. Fire Administration has many resources to help you choose and install these critically important devices.

Have your own tips to share on prepping a home for a new baby’s arrival? Share them below! And if you’re looking for more space for your little addition(s), a local RE/MAX agent can help you find the right place.

How to arrange your furniture

How to arrange your furniture when you have heavy furniture. 

Balance with lighter pieces - such as a glass or acrylic coffee table to maintain harmony in a room and create an inviting space.

Need more decorating ideas ---

Call a RE/MAX Realty Center Agent today!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Home Improvements: What’s a Good Investment?

Home Improvements: What’s a Good Investment?
Home Improvements: What’s a Good Investment?

You want to invest in your home – wisely. So how do you decide where to put your money?

Improvement projects don’t automatically increase the value of a home – factors like the state of the neighborhood can be more important to your bottom line. But knowing which improvements give a higher return can help boost your home’s value and save you time and money.

Here’s a quick look at how you could prioritize projects around your home.

Address the small stuff
A home plagued with many minor issues is usually considered less desirable and harder to sell. Those dripping faucets, running toilets, torn vinyl flooring and damaged carpet instantly make a bad impression on buyers. Put your money into those first and use what’s left to make larger improvements.

Boost curb appeal
It comes as no surprise that exterior home improvement projects rank as the most cost effective, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. It ranks projects based on their cost and how much money they recoup after selling.

96 percent – Replace a wooden front door with a steel security door
87 percent – Add a new deck
78 percent – Replace siding
78 percent – Install a new garage door
78 percent – Install new windows

Consider interior investments
84 percent – Convert an attic to a bed and bath
82 percent – Minor kitchen remodel
77 percent – Basement renovation

If you’re thinking about selling your home, talk to a local RE/MAX agent to evaluate what to change or replace. He or she will know your neighborhood, and can guide you toward projects that will make the home buyer-ready and also give you the biggest bang for your home-improvement buck.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

5 Guidelines for Tipping Movers

5 Guidelines for Tipping Movers
5 Guidelines for Tipping Movers

Moving can be an expensive undertaking, especially when you hire outside help to pack and transport your belongings. When calculating costs, keep in mind that the amount you pay the moving company doesn’t necessarily trickle down to the people packing, loading and driving the trucks.

Here are five questions you can consider when deciding whether and how much to offer your moving team:

What's the industry standard?
Unlike the restaurant business, where 15 to 20 percent of the check is considered the standard, the moving industry has no such tipping guidelines. Determining how much to tip somewhat depends on the quality and quantity of the service you received.

How far was your move?
For local moves that require less than a half-day’s work, $10 per mover is considered acceptable. If the move takes a full day, tipping $20 per mover might be more appropriate. If your move requires long distances and several days on the road, use a percentage model. A tip between 5 and 10 percent of the total bill is usually considered fair.

How large is your household?
The size of your household should factor in, too. If you have a large family and lived in a large home, with a basement and garage packed with possessions, your move will require considerable effort. You can adjust your tip accordingly.

What services did you request?
Consider what you’re asking of your movers. Will they be packing your belongings for you? How about delivering boxes and furniture to the appropriate rooms and on various levels in your new place? Will they be required to handle large, difficult objects such as delicate artwork or a bulky piano? Will they assemble your beds before they leave? All of these tasks can be weighed as you consider a tip.

Did your possessions arrive on time and in good condition?
For local moves, time isn’t usually a significant factor. But when it comes to long-distance or interstate moves, the timeliness of the arrival certainly can factor into the tip. If you received your belongings on schedule despite a major snowstorm along the way, for example, you might decide that's worthy of a tip. Likewise, if unexplained delays occur, this might be reflected in your tip. After the the movers unload your possessions, do a quick inspection. If everything checks out, reward them for a job well done.

If you’re considering a move, buying a house, or listing your home for sale, contact a local RE/MAX agent. He or she can guide you in finding the right place – and any additional services you might need.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

8 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

8 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own
8 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

Every home at some point requires maintenance. Some of that maintenance doesn't have to cost you a lot of money if you keep some basic tools around the house. Here are some helpful tools you can keep on hand.

Make sure you have both flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers of various sizes. A complete set is even better, letting you do everything from tightening loose fixtures to putting together furniture. For light projects, you could opt for a single, multi-bit screwdriver that stores detachable heads in the handle and doubles as a nut driver.

A good hammer is an absolute staple for everything from hanging photos to repairing fence pickets. The most common size weighs 16 ounces. Consider investing in a good hammer with a claw head and an anti-vibration rubber grip.

Utility knife
A trusty utility knife or box cutter can come in handy, especially if you're just moving into your home and need to unpack those well-taped-up boxes. And as long as we’re on the subject of knives, consider getting a putty knife. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll reach for it.

Wall level
It only takes a few millimeters for a shelf or artwork to look off-kilter; a wall level takes the guesswork away. Unless you have an experienced eye, a level will help you hang items on the wall evenly the first time.

Measuring tape
You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration if you measure appliances and furniture before trying to fit them into your new place. A long, 35-foot tape measure will do the job in big and small projects. A more modest, 12-foot measuring tape also is a good alternative, particularly for jobs like hanging artwork.

Power outages can happen anytime, so be ready with at least one durable flashlight and batteries. They also come in handy when you're working on repairs in those darker and tighter spaces. Look for hybrid versions, which use solar power and contain a back-up battery. If your new place has electricity upon move-in, you also can purchase a rechargeable work light.

Wrench and pliers
Start with an adjustable wrench that can handle many different jobs. Six-, eight- or 10-inch long wrenches are the most popular. Pliers also are indispensible; look for ones with serrated jaws that grip objects firmly.

Store your most commonly used tools in a single place, such as an easy-to-carry toolbox, and you'll always know where to find these tools when you need them.

Do you have a favorite go-to tool? Share it below!

Are you thinking about buying a house? You'll need a lot of information – and not just about tools! Contact your local RE/MAX agent to help you find the right home for you.

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Buyers: 4 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success

New Buyers: 4 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success
New Buyers: 4 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success

As one of the largest financial decisions in a person's life, buying a home requires discretion, sensibility and budgeting. The following tips will keep you on the right path as you look to purchase your first place.

1. Keep score
The better your credit score is, the better your mortgage terms will be. A good credit score can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Start reviewing your credit a few months before you apply for a home loan. If you have a score in the 600s or lower, start paying down credit balances to 30 percent or less of your balance. Also make bill and debt payments on time – no later than 30 days after the due date. If you have a score in the 700s or 800s, be sure to maintain and protect your good credit. The slightest credit misstep can cause a strong credit score to plunge more sharply than a weak score.

2. Consider all costs
The cost of a home is just the start, and smart buyers tighten their belts before buying to meet the monthly and yearly financial demands of homeownership. When you buy a home, you're responsible for paying principal and interest, taxes and insurance. Additionally, you'll need to cover expenses such as utilities and possibly homeowner association dues. You'll also need cash on hand for the upkeep and repair costs that come with any home. The average homeowner spends 1 percent to 4 percent of a home's value on property maintenance each year, according to U.S. News & World Report. Expect to pay for repairs or maintenance even within the first year of owning your home.

3. Be flexible in your search
Homebuyers who distinguish between wants and needs make the most sensible decisions. A list of must-haves should include items that affect your quality of life, such as a home's location, its price, number of bedrooms and square footage. You should be prepared to concede nonessential items, such as views and extra rooms, if you find a house meets your must-haves and is within your budget. Being flexible also involves adjusting your criteria as the home search progresses. For example, your budget may require looking at a town house rather than a detached home, or buying a fixer-upper in order to live in a better neighborhood.

4. Keep your cool
Don’t get overly excited in your search, especially in markets where homes are selling quickly. A bit of self-restraint prevents you from overspending or choosing a home that doesn't fully fit your needs. Be prepared to walk away if a home inspection reveals more defects in a home than you're able to deal with. Also, keep calm if you find yourself in a bidding war. Your agent can help you make the most competitive offer, and if it doesn't get accepted then your agent can help you find the next great option. Finding the right home that fits your lifestyle and budget can take weeks or months. By starting early and being patient, you'll avoid the sense of urgency that often drives homebuyers to make hasty decisions.

Don't go it alone. Find a RE/MAX agent who can guide you every step of the way.

President’s Day: How does the White House compare to the typical home purchased?

President’s Day: How does the White House compare to the typical home purchased?

Posted in Economist Commentaries, by Brandi Snowden, Research Survey Analyst on

In the spirit of President’s Day we can use data from the 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers to see how the typical home differs from the White House.
Typical Home Purchased in the U.S.
  • 84% of buyers purchased a previously owned home, with 79% of buyers choosing a detached single-family home.
  • Looking at first-time and repeat buyers, both also purchased detached single-family homes more often with 75% of first-time buyers and 81% of repeat buyers.
  • 50% of all buyers purchased their home in a suburb/subdivision. The typical detached single-family home purchased was 2,000 square feet.
  • Homes purchased also had a median of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and was built in 1993.
  • Of all buyers, the expected length of tenure in the home purchased was 12 years.
The White House
  • The White House was built in 1792, and in comparison is located in an urban or central area.
  • The White House contains 6 levels, has 132 rooms, including 35 bathrooms.
  • It also includes features such as: a tennis court, jogging track, swimming pool, billiard room, movie theatre, and bowling alley.
  • While tenure in the median expected tenure in home lasts around 12 years, in the White House the expected tenure is between 4 and 8 years.

Want to buy a typical house and not the white house?  Call us!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

5 Places You Don’t Think to Clean Before Showing Your Home

5 Places You Don’t Think to Clean Before Showing Your Home
5 Places You Don’t Think to Clean Before Showing Your Home

When you're selling a home, the elbow grease you put into keeping it clean and neat can come with an added bonus: a quicker sale.

Even though most homeowners wouldn’t dream of leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen sink or clothes on the bathroom floor when potential buyers will be coming by, there are five areas of the home that often get overlooked.

1. The garage. To make your garage show well, get rid of everything you don’t need and organize the rest. Hang your tools neatly on a pegboard, arrange paint cans on shelves and suspend holiday decorations from racks attached to the ceiling. This helps the space shout “storage solutions!” to buyers who crave them. Give the space a thorough cleaning, and you’re ready to throw open the doors and entice garage-hungry buyers.

2. The backyard. Don’t miss the opportunity to wow buyers who want an eye-catching, outdoor living space. Clean the barbecue and set the patio table for guests. If you have a hot tub, run it and leave the top off to allow guests to picture themselves taking a long, hot soak. If you do nothing else, give your backyard a thorough cleaning. Hose down the patio, mow the lawn, rake the leaves, replace dead plants and pick up pet droppings.

3. The closets, cupboards and drawers. If you could be a fly on the wall during an open house, you’d be amazed at the number of people who open drawers and cupboards. Sure, some of them are just being nosey, but others want to see how much space they offer. Remove as many items as possible from closets, cupboards and drawers. Invest in shoe racks to keep the closet floors clutter-free. Use drawer dividers to separate items as needed. Clean your cupboard shelf surfaces, especially those in the kitchen, to remove dust and food residue. Fold linens and towels and stack them neatly in the linen closet.

4. The laundry room. Soapy shelves, dryer sheets littering the floor and piles of dirty laundry on top of the dryer are all signs of a well-used laundry room. Unfortunately, these are turnoffs for buyers. Store the detergent and other cleaning supplies in bins or baskets lined up neatly on the shelf. Clean lint and dust off the walls and wash down the washer and dryer.

5. The appliances. Most owners shine up the fronts of their appliances before listing their homes, but they forget about the interiors. Whether appliances are included in the sale or not, folks will open them to take a peek inside. If anything inside of your refrigerator looks more like a science project than yummy leftovers, throw it away. Wipe down the walls and clean the produce bins. Come to think of it, don't forget the top of the refrigerator, too. A lot of dust can collect up there. Give the stove and oven the same treatment, wiping off accumulated grease and baked-on food.

House hunters know the minute they walk in the door if they want to see more of the home. If they feel like they should be wearing a hazmat suit, they won’t stick around. A clean house gets them excited about taking a tour and possibly making an offer.

When you're ready to see those offers come in, contact a local RE/MAX agent to help.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

10 Things to Do Before You Sell Your House

10 Things to Do Before You Sell Your House
10 Things to Do Before You Sell Your House
Before you put your house on the market, ask your real estate agent for guidance on improving your home's presentation. Your agent can tell you what buyers expect in your particular market and at your home's price point. The following 10 steps are a way to get a good head start on preparing to sell your home.

1. Welcome buyers. Make your front door visible and accessible to buyers. Paint the door, clear debris and clutter from the walkway and yard, mow the lawn and prune hedges. Pot or plant colorful annuals and perennials to attract attention from the street. Fix broken screens, doorbells, roof tiles, shingles and outdoor lighting, and replace your doormat. Exterior defects can make a poor first impression on buyers.

2. Make it sparkle. Cleanliness implies a home has been well taken care of, so deep cleaning can win points with buyers. Buyers scrutinize homes, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Recaulk and repaint to give these grime-prone rooms a fresh and clean look. Clean rugs and carpets to eliminate unsightly stains or dinginess and eliminate odors. Tidy each room, including cabinets, closets and the garage, before showing. And if it seems daunting to do all that cleaning yourself, consider hiring a professional cleaning company to take care of all of it for you.

3. Start packing. Cramped and cluttered rooms turn buyers off and make your house look smaller. A home packed with your personal belongings also makes it difficult for others to envision living there. Start by storing away excess furniture, toys and personal decorations, such as family photos. Pack up things you don't use on a daily basis, and put them in storage or ask a friend to hold onto them. Decluttering your house also gives you a head start on your move.

4. Paint wisely. A well-done, no-frills paint job is all you need. Put a fresh coat of paint on white or beige walls, and repaint walls that have eccentric or unconventional colors. Nature- and spa-inspired neutral colors, such as taupe and subtle gray, are the best choices. Definitely don't forget the trim and molding either. And a fresh paint job on outdated or worn cabinetry goes a long way, too.

5. Fix the small stuff. Repair or replace broken or outdated hardware throughout your home. You can install new door handles, faucets, towel bars and curtain rods – fixtures that are readily visible to homebuyers – rather inexpensively. New hardware in the bathroom, kitchen and on windows and doors also improves the functionality and safety of these components.

6. Update lighting. Replace decorative light fixtures that no longer fit your home's cleaner, fresher look. Install new bulbs with the appropriate lighting for specific areas of your home. For example, ambient, low-key lighting fills a room, whereas directional or task lighting works better in areas like a reading nook. Use accent lighting to highlight focal points in a room, such as the artwork above a mantle, to draw buyers' attention to certain selling points.

7. Frame windows. Ensure you have the right window treatments, which enhance natural brightness and boost the appearance of a home. Window treatments also can impact a room's temperature because they reduce or increase the amount of light entering the space. Adjust window treatments appropriately when showing your home in the mornings, afternoon and evenings.

8. Set the table. Fresh, decorative flowers in the kitchen or on the dining room table are always a nice touch. Also, keep place settings handy for your tables so you can quickly set them out right before showings or an open house. Pull out all the formal stops for a dining room, and keep the table casual in the kitchen.

9. Hide unsightly everyday items. Don't leave children's toys and pet belongings out in the open during showings and open houses. Move litter boxes, pet dishes, toys, animal crates and kids' entertainment to less conspicuous areas of the home, such as an outdoor storage unit or garage before each showing or open house. Also think about where you can store things like dirty laundry and dirty kitchen sponges.

10. Don't forget the back. Keep your backyard looking spacious and functional. Plant or pot colorful flowers and keep the landscaping trimmed and neat. Consistently pick up after your pets so buyers feel comfortable touring the yard.

Find a RE/MAX agent​ who can help you every step of the way.

Do it right this Valentines Day

Give the give of love this Valentines Day... a new home will last way longer than roses!

Friday, February 13, 2015

RE/MAX Realty Center makes an exciting announcement

REMAX Realty Center - Real Estate in Wisconsin is excited share with you our latest and greatest marketing tool that no other real estate agency in the area offers.  Be on the cutting edge of technology with our new 3D Showcase™ for Real Estate, bringing listings to life!

Engage buyers. Delight sellers. Our 3D Showcase™ is the most realistic, immersive way to experience a property online.

Traditional virtual tours and fly-through videos lack the perspective and “feel” that home buyers and sellers crave. Our 3D Showcase™ creates an emotional connection with the home.

Click on the link above and see for yourself!  Enjoy a complete 3D tour of one of our Luxury listings.  Contact a REMAX Realty Center (262)567-2455 agent today to become a 3D Showcase™ listing and stand above the crowd.

Whether married, dating or single, most Americans believe that owning a home is a good financial decision. According to a new infographic from the National Association of Realtors®, relationship status can affect when and where buyers purchase a home and how much they spend on it.

What Goes Into Making an Offer Below Asking Price?

What Goes Into Making an Offer Below Asking Price?
What Goes Into Making an Offer Below Asking Price?

You’ve found a house you love. It’s the perfect size, layout, condition and even has your must-haves. There's only one problem. The seller’s asking price is too high. It's time for the phase of home buying that most people dread and even fewer are skilled at: the art of negotiation.

Make no mistake, negotiation is part skill and part art form. An experienced buyer’s agent will know how to finesse the contract negotiations and save you a lot of hassle. Your gut might tell you that the asking price for the house is too much, but you'll have a better chance of getting a lower offer accepted if your agent can back it up with facts.

A few key elements:

Comparables and Statistics
The best way to determine the fair market value of a house is to measure its asking price against similar homes that have sold in the same area, providing a set of numbers known as comparables or comps. Your agent will handle this, providing data from the local multiple listing service, or MLS. This gives you a baseline starting point. Your agent will also consider other factors, including the original listing price of similar homes versus their selling price, as well as the number of days the house has been on the market. All of this information can help make a better factual case for making an offer lower than the asking price.

Following a Process
Your agent will prepare a written offer to submit to the seller or seller’s agent. Along with this written proposal, your agent can present facts such as the comps and other data to justify your offer. When the seller sees this in writing, you have a much stronger case. Also, writing a letter to the sellers about your situation and your feelings about their home can make a big impression.

Seller Motivation
One of the strongest negotiating factors is understanding the seller’s motivation. This may be hard to do on your own, but your agent may be able to help. If your agent learns, for example, that the sellers are moving and have closed on a house elsewhere, this tells you they're probably motivated to sell quickly. Knowledge is power – especially in negotiations.

Making Your Lower Offer Work for Them
Sometimes buyers can make their lower offers more palatable to sellers by offering concessions or compromises. Something as simple as being flexible on a closing date can be attractive. If, for instance, the sellers are facing a one-month gap between the sale of the current home and their purchase of the next, they might appreciate it if your offer included an extension of the closing date or an opportunity to lease their home back from you for a month. If you don't need assistance from the sellers to pay closing costs, they could see this as a big plus. Also, having a pre-approval letter from your mortgage lender is one of your best advantages. This tells sellers that your financing is secure and not likely to fall through.  It can be a gamble for sellers to accept an offer from someone who hasn't yet secured financing.

Making the Asking Price Work for You
Depending on how far off the asking price is from your budget and your understanding of the home's value, you and your agent might consider agreeing to the full asking price but requesting additional concessions from the sellers. For instance, your agent could include in the offer a request for the sellers to pay your closing costs. Perhaps there are household items, such as the washer and dryer, you would be interested in keeping; these also can be written into an offer. A home warranty is another item sellers may agree to purchase for you. These types of seller concessions could offset the gap you and your agent see between asking price and the fair market price.

A Backup Plan
Not all negotiations result in an agreement. Sometimes the parties are too far apart in price, and there’s nothing to be done. In these cases, your agent can be ready with other properties that fit your needs. In any negotiation, you have more leverage if you're willing to walk away.

The End Game
Above all, remember that negotiating the price you're willing to pay for a house is just that – a negotiation. You're trying to reach an agreement that's acceptable to both you and the sellers. The object isn’t to beat the sellers or win the negotiation. The object is to purchase the house. Good agents know this – and will use their expertise to make it happen.

Find a local RE/MAX agent who can guide you through the negotiating process.

RE/MAX REALTY Center makes exciting annoucement

REMAX Realty Center - Real Estate in Wisconsin is excited share with you our latest and greatest marketing tool that no other real estate agency in the area offers. Be on the cutting edge of technology with our new 3D Showcase™ for Real Estate, bringing listings to life!

Engage buyers. Delight sellers. Our 3D Showcase™ is the most realistic, immersive way to experience a property online.

Traditional virtual tours and fly-through videos lack the perspective and “feel” that home buyers and sellers crave. Our 3D Showcase™ creates an emotional connection with the home.

Click on the link above and see for yourself! Enjoy a complete 3D tour of one of our Luxury listings. Contact REMAX Realty Center (262)567-2455 today to become a 3D Showcase™ listing and stand above the crowd.

Happy Valentines Day!

Valentines wishes from me..........

6 Pricing Mistakes Every Seller Can Avoid

6 Pricing Mistakes Every Seller Can Avoid
6 Pricing Mistakes Every Seller Can Avoid

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, you want to get the most money for your investment, right? One of the key factors that will sell your home is price, and having a sound pricing strategy is a must if you want to find the right buyer.

Here are six common pricing mistakes all sellers should avoid.

1. Overpricing from the start – You might think your home is the best on the block and should command a price relative to the value you see. Wrong. You have to appeal to the value homebuyers see. Overpricing your home at the onset could leave out strong potential buyers, especially if recent sales and other factors in your neighborhood don’t justify your listing price. You also run the risk of needing multiple price reductions, which keep your home on the market that much longer.

2. Leaving out potential buyers in online searches – Entering a price range is the first search parameter most homebuyers use to narrow down their options. If a buyer’s price range is, say, $250,000 to $300,000, they won’t see your home if it’s listed at $305,000. It might make sense to list it right at $300,000 so that you capture potential buyers in the ranges above and below. Ultimately, this is up to you and your agent, but the range your home's price falls into is certainly worth thinking about – especially if you're teetering between price ranges anyway.

3. Not considering recently sold properties – To arrive at a listing price that will generate buyer interest, you can’t base your price solely on the prices of other homes in your area that are listed for sale. You also need to consider recent sales in your neighborhood and the final sale prices. An experienced agent can provide you with information on recent sales to help you see the bigger picture.

4. Getting too creative with your asking price – Make it easy for buyers and pick round numbers. Listing a home for $512,477, for example, will give potential buyers pause about your intentions and divert attention from your property to you, as the seller. Maybe it's best to save the creative juices for the property description.

5. Not being open to negotiation – The quickest way to kill a sale is to dig in your heels on asking price before the for-sale sign even goes in the yard. Negotiation is a two-way street, and if you refuse to budge on pricing or other conditions, you might be in for very bumpy (and long) ride. Ask yourself: Is it more important to get full asking price, or can you make a few concessions to find common ground that will ensure a closed sale?

6. Ignoring your agent’s insights – The best route to the right price starts with picking a great agent and then listening to his or her advice. Your agent will look at your situation from all angles – your home's features, the local market, recent sales and more – to help you make an informed decision about pricing.

Ready to list your home? A local RE/MAX agent can help you price it right and get it sold.​​

Friday, February 6, 2015

Happy New home owners

Yipee -- Teresa and Lavon are now new home owners!

Best Long Term Investments

Home Warranties versus Home Insurance - What is the difference?

Home Warranties versus Home Insurance - What is the difference?

One of the more stressful aspects of buying or selling a home is the uncertainty that both buyers and sellers face regarding the decision itself. In each instance, there is risk and liability. While there is no real way to overcome the risks involved in purchasing a home, it is worthwhile to understand and consider the value of a home warranty, especially during the period of listing or buying a home. Both buyers and sellers should research home warranties to understand how they work, what is covered, and the limitations of a warranty.

Home warranties are not homeowners insurance. Homeowner’s insurance covers the house itself, usually against fire, theft, vandalism, windstorms, natural disasters (with extended coverage for floods/hurricanes, etc.), accidental damage, or injuries. The job of this type of insurance is to protect your investment and your liability. But homeowner’s insurance rarely covers the home’s mechanical systems, leaving you vulnerable to the inconvenience and costs associated with breakdowns of these systems. This is where a warranty can come in.

In some states, new homes are required to have a home warranty offered by the builder. These differ from other home warranties in that they might have a longer duration, from one to five years, and they may be renewed by the homeowner. Usually these home warranties are much more robust in their coverage, but again, it is worthwhile to do the research and go in with your eyes open, knowing what is covered and what will be the responsibility of the homeowner. Buying a new home from a reputable builder may be more valuable than having a warranty, which might never be needed in a new home.

Home warranties purchased for older homes vary widely. These home warranties are more likely to be used, and should be considered a form of insurance designed to offer peace of mind to the homeowner when looking at the cost of repairs not normally covered under other insurance. Home warranties may be purchased for specific periods, for example, the duration of a listing of a home, or for longer periods of time.

Buyers benefit from a home warranty because they offer the assurance that repairs to mechanical systems in the home will be covered with only a small out of pocket expense.
Sellers benefit from them because they make the home more attractive to buyers and they are “off the hook” if a large repair is needed. For this purpose, a home warranty might indeed offer just that – peace of mind, and a message that everyone wants this deal to go through.

Here are things to be on the lookout for: Home warranties that are bought by the seller for the term of the listing expire upon the sale of the home, tend to cover fewer systems (often only heating/cooling, some plumbing and electrical). The advantage of these warranties are that if a problem is spotted during the inspection, and that system is covered by the warranty, then the seller can seek to have the problem fixed under the warranty, rather than have to cover the entire cost. A positive factor is that this type of warranty tends to cost less money up front.

Some home warranty policies are transferable and provide coverage up to a year, or a new policy may be offered by the seller to the buyer for the duration of one year after the sale. Buyers should ask about the nature of the warranty, and sellers should do the research to know what they are buying. When purchasing a home warranty there are a variety of options including duration of the plan and what systems are covered.

Comprehensive plans are more expensive than those that cover only the heating and cooling systems, plumbing and electrical. Hot tubs, pools, and other more elaborate systems or appliances may or may not be covered, so check carefully. Whether or not the appliance is built into the home may also be a key factor.

Generally, these warranties cost $300-$400+ a year, and the current owner of the home would pay a service fee of $50-$75 for a service call. Some companies require the use of certain service providers and will even schedule the calls; others provide a list of providers from which to work. In areas where there are many providers, service might happen in a timely fashion. In more rural areas you may be facing longer wait-times for a service call. When researching the warranty, ask questions about how to schedule service calls and the wait-times in your area.

Getting a home warranty is easy – most companies are willing to take your money after you fill out an online application, without a home inspection. Companies offer many different levels of coverage, with regard to duration and what is covered. The more comprehensive the coverage, the larger the initial cost. Some companies will advertise “no waiting period” and others advertise “no service fee” – but with each company there is research to do. After all, if home warranties were all great, or essential, everyone would have them.

Beware of the “hard sell” – most companies direct the consumer to a page online where they will have a representative contact you with an estimate. Before offering your contact information, it may be beneficial to research each company online to find out more about the service plan details prior to a sales person contacting you. You will be more in control of your shopping experience, and less pressured to make a decision.

Problems around home warranties usually arise when there is a dispute around coverage or there is a disagreement as to whether the system has been adequately maintained by the homeowner.
Clauses in the contracts often state that systems must not have been “misused, abused, or poorly maintained” and that the issue can’t be a “pre-existing” condition. Many contracts include a 30 day “waiting period” after enrollment, before a warranty begins. Additionally, if there is question as to the adequate installation of a system, there might be additional fees. For example, if a water heater did not have an earthquake strap, there might be an additional feel to install one. Finally, if problems compound and several separate repairs are required, multiple service fees may be charged, even though the service provider only made one call to your home.

Peace of mind can be worth quite a lot, and a home warranty might offer just that. When selling or buying a house, a home warranty can be just the ticket to ease troubled minds.
Purchasing a home warranty involves doing some leg-work to understand just what is covered, for how long, and for whom. Ensuring that each party understands the nature of the warranty is critical, but in the end it might be a good deal for everyone involved. Only you can decide.