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April 13, 2021

Starter Home – Which is Best For You?

 

When it comes to buying your first home, there are options for the types of homes you can buy. You could buy a single-family standalone house, a townhouse or a condo. Of course, as with most purchases, there are pros and cons to each option. Let’s review some of the pros and cons of these options so you can decide which is best for you.

Condo or Townhouse

Pro: You can often find condos and townhouses that are much cheaper to buy than detached homes.

Con: With either of these two options, you typically have to pay some type of homeowner’s association fee. So, even though it may cost less to buy, your monthly payment may end up being close to what you’d pay if you bought a house when you add in the HOA fee.

Pro: If you are looking for the feeling of community, then a condo or townhouse is the right choice for you. Since you are in close proximity to your neighbors, it’s easier to get to know them.

Con: If privacy and space are at the top of your priority list, these may be bad options for you. When you live in a condo or townhouse you share walls with your neighbors, which can be a little noisy at times.

Pro: Don’t want to mow your lawn or take care of snow removal? Then you’ve made the right choice! A lot of HOAs will cover a lot of the exterior maintenance of a property so you won’t have to worry about handling it.

Con: Rules and regulations come along with living in a condo or townhome. Your HOA may have restrictions on things you can change about your place and some even have rules on what kind of pets you can have if they allow you to have one at all.

House

Pro: One of the best parts of buying a house is that you can make it whatever you’d like! You can renovate the interior, plant a garden, put solar panels on the roof, or anything else your heart desires. There may be a few restrictions, but far less than if you bought a condo or townhouse.

Con: Houses can be a lot of work. You will be responsible for any maintenance such as lawn mowing or snow removal. If something breaks, you will need to fix it yourself or hire a professional to come to do the work. These costs can add up so you may want to have a separate savings account you put money into to cover any of these unexpected expenses.

Pro: A house offers you more privacy than a townhome or condo since you won’t have to share walls with your neighbors.

Con: Any changes you want to make to your home will require either an investment of time, money or both.

Pro: Along with privacy, a house offers you a lot more outdoor space. This gives you more space for your kids to play, pets to run around or a place to have cookouts with family and friends.

Con: Since houses generally have more space, you are going to have a higher utility bill.

 

At the end of the day, you should buy is whichever style home you think will best fit your lifestyle. If you don’t want to spend the time or money on maintenance and you enjoy being part of a community, then a townhome or condo may be the right fit for you. If you value privacy, space and the ability to modify your home to your liking, a house might suit you better. Whichever you choose, you can search listings on movetomadison.com to find what you’re looking for!

 

 

 

Posted in Home Buying
March 31, 2021

Simple Guide to Garage Organization

 

It often is a habit that our garages become a dumping ground for items we can’t quite find a place for in our home. These things we pile up in our garage will eventually add up and make our garages messy. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your garage organized and hopefully for good.

Clear Out and Clean Up

First things first, you need to do a clean sweep of your garage before you start to rearrange everything. The easiest way to do this is by pulling everything out of your garage and sorting through everything. There are surely going to be things you no longer need and can throw away or donate. Once you are down to the items you are going to keep, start putting everything into piles with similar items so they are easy to find when you give them a place in your garage. Before you start putting everything back, make sure you clean up. Clear up the cobwebs, wash any windows and sweep up all of the dirt that’s accumulated over time. Once everything is clean, it’s time to make a plan of how to organize!

Group Everything

Putting everything in their own group will both make everything more organized and make items easier to find. An easy way to do this is to buy bins to place items in. You’ll need different sized bins depending on the size of the items you are grouping. If you prefer to keep things out of sight opt for solid color bins over clear bins. Either way, it’s always a good idea to label each container.

Make Use of Shelving

Keeping items on the floor of your garage can make it look messy, and those items may also be susceptible to water damage. Consider installing some shelving units! This will not only keep things off of the garage floor, but the shelves will make much more room to hold containers and bins, giving your garage a much more organized look.

Hang it Up

If you have a lot of big items in your garage or even a lot of small items, your garage can become cluttered pretty quickly. Don’t be afraid to use storage solutions on the ceiling or walls of your garage. Hang up some hooks or a pulley system to store bikes during the winter months. For those awkwardly shaped items like rakes, shovels or other tools, you can place hooks on the walls that will hold these things.

 

 

 

Posted in Home Tips
March 17, 2021

Your Checklist of Crucial Home To-Dos

 

Cleaning the gutters and weeding the garden are tasks that come with regular, visible reminders. But how do you keep up with other necessary maintenance that might not be as noticeable? 

Here are some essential home maintenance tasks that are often overlooked.

Appliances: If you want your fridge, dryer, and other appliances to last you for the long haul with fewer repair calls, they need regular care and tune-ups:

  • Change and clean the refrigerator drip pan
  • Wash your dryer lint screen
  • Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator
  • Change the water filter on your ice maker

HVAC Systems: Your heating, cooling and ventilation systems need consistent upkeep for better performance, which can help keep your energy bills lower throughout the year:

  • Clean the ducts and vents 
  • Clean or change your AC filters
  • Replace worn weatherstripping to help keep cool air in
  • Test your thermostat to ensure it's sending a signal 

Plumbing: Snaking the drain for a few hair clogs isn't enough to keep your plumbing system in working order. Be sure to also take care of these things:

  • Flush the water heater
  • Check your pipes for leaks
  • Test the water pressure on your sprinkler system
  • Check water levels on boilers

Safety Systems: To ensure your loved ones and belongings are safe in the home, do the following:

  • Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Test your security alarms and codes
  • Inspect your fence or gate for holes or vulnerabilities

Keep this checklist handy and run through it every few months to keep your home in top condition and your loved ones safe. Get in touch today if you'd like to talk about other ways you can help safeguard your investment. 

Posted in Home Tips
March 9, 2021

Spring Cleaning Guide

 

 

Do you feel that? Spring weather is in the air! As always, the start of spring is a great time to do a deep clean of your home. Most of us have spent a lot of time in our homes over the past year and may have neglected some of our cleaning duties. Sure, you are probably still cleaning your home regularly, but we are talking about cleaning everything from appliances to ceiling fans. Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips on some of the places you will want to focus on.

High to Low

When doing a deep clean you should always start from the top. Dust is bound to fall toward the floor while cleaning those higher-up places, so clean from the top down so you don’t have to clean the floors twice. Vacuum up those cobwebs you’ve been ignoring and dust off the top of hard-to-reach places like cabinets and ceiling fans. Once you’ve taken care of that, give your floors a good scrubbing. Even with rugs and doormats, we track in a lot of dirt from the outside, so it’s important to give your floors a nice wash.

Appliances

Have you looked inside your refrigerator or microwave lately? Chances are, it’s pretty ugly. Cleaning your fridge will take the longest, so you may want to start there first. Begin by throwing out any expired food you’ve decided to leave in there longer than you should have. Then wipe down all of the shelving and drawers. Once you finish with the refrigerator, clean some of the easier-to-clean appliances like your microwave and oven. Don’t forget about your appliances outside of the kitchen! Your washing machine should be cleaned so it doesn’t leave an odor on your clothes. You’ll also want to clean your dryer by vacuuming out excess lint that didn’t stick to the dryer filter. You may even need to use a brush to clean it all out.

Cabinets and Drawers

We already mentioned cleaning the tops of cabinets, but the interiors will need to be cleaned too. They may even need a little reorganizing (looking at you Tupperware drawer). Pick an organization system that works best for you, so you don’t need to reorganize your kitchen cabinets as often. You’ll also want to take a look at your drawers, especially your junk drawer. When we don’t want things sitting on our countertops, we sometimes fall into the habit of tossing them in a drawer that we can close just so that it’s out of sight. Well, those things add up over time and can make our drawers a mess. Similar to your kitchen cabinets, decide what’s the best way for you to organize them and keep them organized going forward.

Closet Clear-Out

 

We meet again, bedroom closet. Now is a great time to go through your clothes to decide what you actually need to keep. Haven’t worn a shirt in over a year? Let it go! Okay, maybe a year isn’t long enough, especially since we haven’t been able to dress up or wear our favorite clothing items very often during the pandemic. But there are bound to be some things that you know deep down you will never wear again. Start making a pile of what you want to keep, donate or just throw away. Your closet will thank you.

 

 

 

Posted in Home Tips
Feb. 24, 2021

Wisconsin Real Estate Report – January 2021

 

Wisconsin home sales are looking solid to start off in 2021! The number of home sales in January 2021 was 4,659, which was an increase of 9.8% compared to January 2020. Statewide listings were down 35.8% to 15,423 while the median single-family home price rose 10.5% to $210,000. Houses sold quicker this January compared to last January. On average, homes are on the market for 91 days, which is 15.7% less time than January of 2020.

With January typically being the slowest month of the year, 2021 really started off on a high note given the number of home sales compared to last year. According to WRA Board Chair, Mary Duff, it’s not likely we will continue to see a record pace for home sales unless inventory improves. Mortgage rates continue to be very low, which is fueling the demand for homes.

Source data provided by the WRA

Curious about the value of your home? Enter your address below and find out instantly!

Posted in Market Reports
Feb. 17, 2021

Give Your Deck A Facelift

 

Hanging out with your family or hosting friends on your old, dingy deck is not very appealing. Lucky for you, refreshing it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Try your hand at the makeover ideas below!

Restore your decking. Depending on the shape it’s in, sometimes all your deck needs is a little love. If it’s still fairly new, your deck might just need a deep cleaning and a new coat of sealant. There is a multitude of deck finishing and cleaning solutions on the market to choose from to achieve this. However, if it's more worn down, the rejuvenation process may be a bit longer, including searching for larger repairs, tightening any hardware, giving it a good cleaning, applying a stain, sealant, and paint, and more.

Add lighting. Ambient lighting can completely transform your outside space into a relaxing, cozy oasis. Consider adding solar lights that don’t require a plugin or battery replacement. The lights turn on automatically when the sun sets, making your deck come alive. You can also consider paper lanterns, rope lights, mason jar lamps, or small twinkle lights, depending on the style and mood you’d like to set.

Build a privacy screen. Privacy screens come in all styles, shapes, and sizes. Consider purchasing and installing bamboo fencing or lattice panels for a quick and easy solution. Or, if you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can build a wooden frame and grow climbing plants or vines or stretch outdoor fabric in between. Whichever route you end up choosing, make sure you get the most out of your efforts by evaluating all lines sight before building.

Home Equity. Getting a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. You receive usually up to 80 percent of your home’s value, minus the amount of your loan.

Retirement Funds. Homeowners can consider pulling money from a 401K or IRA account, even though they aren’t specifically meant to cover a home renovation. This option might incur additional penalties or tax payments, but maybe worth it when making improvements that will benefit them financially in the long run.

 

 

Posted in Home Tips
Feb. 12, 2021

Overcoming Rejected Offers

 

The home buying process can be a bit overwhelming. You get preapproved for a loan, you start to look for a home you can see yourself living in, you go to open houses for various houses and eventually you find something you want to buy. As you wait to hear back on your offer you start to imagine what life would be like in this new house and you get excited about the possibilities of how you’re going to make this home, well, feel like home. Then you hear back, and your offer is rejected this time. This happens to tons of homebuyers, so you aren’t alone. Nobody likes rejection, but here are some ways to overcome those rejections you encounter before you finally get an accepted offer on the home of your dreams.

Regroup

First things first. After a rejection, you will likely feel some sort of emotion. You may be sad or upset because you had high hopes that the seller would accept your offer and you’d move into your newly bought house. One of the most important things to remember when entering the home buying process is to try and stay level. Don’t get too excited about a home and don’t get too down when an offer is rejected. Yes, it’s okay to be a little down after a rejected offer. However, there are other homes out there for you! Maybe you just weren’t meant to be in this house and another one that’s even better will hit the market. A few rejected offers do not mean you’ll never land the home of your dreams, it sometimes will take some time!

Reevaluate

Okay. You’ve now regrouped after your rejection. It’s time to think about why your offer may have been rejected. Maybe you simply got outbid. That happens all the time and you could offer above asking price on the next home you’re interested in. But it doesn’t mean you should start offering way over market value just to get into a home you are interested in because there are other ways to get your offer accepted. Here are a few things you could do to make your offer more appealing without raising the price of your offer:

      Get pre-approved

      Be flexible on your closing date

      Limit your contingencies

      Write a personal letter along with your offer

      Put down more earnest money

These are just a few additional things you can do to try and make your offer more appealing to the seller. Making a stronger offer will help you land the home of your dreams!

Hire a Professional

Like we said before, the home buying process can be overwhelming so why not hire a professional to help? First Weber has real estate agents all around the state of Wisconsin who are experts in the home buying and selling process. They will be able to guide you and help you get that perfect home you’ve been searching for.

 

 

 

Posted in Real Estate Advice
Feb. 2, 2021

How to Make an Outdated Home Feel New

 

Eventually, every home will look or feel outdated. New trends and styles are constantly coming out and the way our homes look will change as a result. You don’t need to completely renovate every room in your house to make some beautiful changes. As a matter of fact, you can update your home with some simple updates. So, whether you’ve owned a home for a long time or just bought one that needs some updating, we’ve got some tips for you!

Paint, Paint and More Paint

The simplest way to make a home feel like new is to paint! A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for any room. You can also paint your cabinets if you want the switch up the look of your kitchen without replacing everything. Want to add curb appeal? Give your front door a pop of color! If you need help determining what paint colors to choose, check out our blog Determining Paint Colors.

Swap Out the Hardware

Even if they don’t look outdated, the hardware in our homes naturally wears down over time. The number of times we are open doors and drawers is countless, so give them the update they need. Swapping out doorknobs and cabinet, drawer and cupboard handles is a small but great way to update your home.

Let There Be Light

Is the lighting in your home dull? You may want to consider swapping out those old light bulbs with LED lights that will make your home feel more vibrant! Making your home brighter is one thing, but updating old light fixtures and light switch covers is also a great step to making your home feel like new.

Replace Faucets

An old faucet, whether it’s in the kitchen and bathrooms, can date a room immediately. They can collect grime and become gross over time. You can get a new faucet to match the handles you replace on your bathroom drawers!

Get Rid of Old Window Treatments

Do your window treatments transport you back decades when you look at them? It may be time to swap them out. There are endless options for window treatments. Pick a style that matches your freshly painted walls to create some consistency throughout your home.

 

If you aren’t looking to make major renovations, get a start on these smaller projects to transform your home into something you’ll be proud of. These few tips are sure to make your home look decades younger. You may not even recognize your home after you are done with all of these

 

 

 

 

Posted in Home Tips
Jan. 27, 2021

Create The Home Office Of Your Dreams

 

Whether you work full-time at home or occasionally need to conduct business in the evenings or on the weekends, a home office a great way to utilize an extra room. A dedicated workspace in your home can be designed to increase productivity and comfort. Here are 5 ideas to get you started.

 

  1. Invest in a good office chair. Investing in an ergonomic office chair is essential. You may be spending anywhere from 30 to 50 hours a week sitting in it, so your back will thank you. Purchasing one with multiple adjustments is ideal so it fits you just right.
  2. Switch up your lighting. Fluorescent lighting has been proven to be hard on the eyes. Make the switch to LED or halogen light bulbs in your home office and try to let in as much natural light as possible. Also, consider finding a desk lamp to reduce headaches and eye strain.
  3. Keep essentials in reach and organized. Nothing says productivity like a clean, neat workspace. Select a desk with a lot of storage or install creative shelving to keep items like pens, pencils, extra batteries, calculators, notepads, and more stored within arm’s reach.
  4. Decorate bright. Pick a color you love and use it to spice up the room. Use cheery yellow or red or relaxing tones like green and blue, instead of beiges and browns.
  5. Aim for the view. If possible, place your desk so you are facing a window instead of a blank wall. Natural light can do wonders for staying alert and you can give yourself a short mental break when necessary by looking to the outdoors.
Posted in Home Tips
Jan. 21, 2021

Upsizing Your Home

 

Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.

Remodelling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution.

 

WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE?

The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.

 

MOVING OUTWARD

If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.