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Nov. 8, 2019

First-Time Home Buyer Frequently Asked Questions

 

The home buying process can be a bit overwhelming, especially for first-time home buyers. It’s one of the largest investments a person will ever make, so it’s totally normal to have a lot of questions along the way. Here are some questions many first-time buyers have when they are looking to buy their first home:

What Are the Benefits of Buying?

Buying a home instead of continuing to rent will give you some great benefits. When you rent, the monthly payments you are making go right to the landlord and you gain nothing from those payments. When you buy a home, you are building equity with each of those monthly payments on your mortgage. Some other benefits include tax breaks, freedom (no landlord to tell you what you can and can’t do) and appreciation in value. These are only a few of the many wonderful benefits of buying a home!

Is There a Difference Between Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval?

You tend to hear these two terms a lot when people are talking about the home buying process. A lot of first-time buyers are unsure of what they exactly mean. Getting pre-qualified for a loan is more of an estimate of what you might be able to borrow. It is not a guaranteed number since your information has not been verified yet. That’s why being pre-approved holds more value as a home buyer. When you are pre-approved, they base that off of information such as your credit score. It is a good idea to get pre-approved before you start house hunting.

Am I Ready Financially?

Homeownership can certainly be expensive. You have your upfront costs such as a down payment and closing costs. You also need to be financially ready for any repairs your home may need. You’ll want to answer a few questions for yourself before you can determine if you can afford a home. Do you have a steady job/income? Do you have enough in your savings account? Can you afford everything from mortgage payments to insurance? These are a few of the important questions you will need to answer for yourself to make your decision if you are ready to buy a home.

Do I Need to Put 20% Down?

Saving up 20% for a down payment on a home is difficult for most people and can certainly take a long time. However, it is not required to put that much down. You can put as little as 5% down if that works better for you. Your monthly payments will be higher, but it is still possible to buy a home with a down payment less than 20%

Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?

Hiring a real estate agent isn’t a requirement when buying a home. However, it is highly recommended. The home buying process can be complicated and overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. Hiring a real estate agent will give you peace of mind knowing that they have the experience to help find you a home that fits your lifestyle within your budget. Buying a home can be a stressful process and hiring a realtor will relieve a lot of those points of stress, making the home buying process much more enjoyable for you.

 

 

Nov. 6, 2019

Weekend Events

This Weekend in Wisconsin:  

WISCONSIN DOG FAIR, COMEDY ON MAIN, AND MILTON MALT & HOPS FEST!

 

WISCONSIN DOG FAIR

 

Alliant Energy Center

1919 Alliant Energy Center Way - Madison, WI 53713

Information: 608-267-3976

Event Date Detail

Nov 10, 2019. 10am-4pm.

 

Event details

Learn about all things dog – puppy classes, agility, obedience, flyball, barn hunt, conformation!

 

Meet the breeds! Over 100 different breeds will be represented at the show where you can ask questions of people knowledgeable about each breed.

 

Connect with rescue groups who may help you find your new best friend.

 

Shop vendors with cool dog swag!

 

Check out more events in Wisconsin.

 

South Central

November 8-9, Comedy on Main, Janesville

November 8-10, Stoughton Village Players Present Peter and the Starcatcher, Stoughton

November 9, Milton Malt & Hops Fest, Milton

November 9-10, A Christmas Story -The Musical, Fort Atkinson

November 9-10, Remembering our Fallen, Watertown

November 10, Madison Marathon, Madison

November 10, Wisconsin Dog Fair, Madison

South East

November 8, Center Stage at the Cultural Center, Cedarburg

November 8, Keith Pulvermacher, Brookfield

November 9, Downtown Holiday Parade, Racine

November 9, Kohler Comedy Show, Kohler

November 9, Pleasant Prairie Autumn Classic, Pleasant Prairie

November 9, The Great Hartford Craft Exposition, Hartford

November 9-10, Trainfest, West Allis

November 10, Brookfield East FFA Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair, Brookfield

November 10, Harvest Moon Ball, Elkhart Lake

Central

November 8-10, Birds in Art, Wausau

November 8-10, Scratchings of a Madwoman, Portage

North East

November 8, Lex Allen with the Sisterstrings, Fond du Lac

November 8, The Price is Right Live, Appleton

November 8-9, Christmas in the Village, Ripon

November 8-10, Shipwrecks of Door County, Sturgeon Bay

November 9, Holiday Wonders Expo & Craft Fair, Oshkosh

November 9-10, PAW Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure, Green Bay

Northwoods

November 8-9, Big Water Film Festival, Ashland

November 9, Christmas Bazzar, St. Germain

November 9, Fall Craft Shows, Merrill

November 9, Old Fashioneds Up North, Eagle River

November 9, Taste of Oneida County, Minocqua

November 10, 5K Trail Rivet Run/Walk, Superior

Posted in Community Events
Nov. 1, 2019

How to Clean Your Home During Cold and Flu Season

 

While the Autumn months bring us changing leaves and fall festivities, they also bring us the dreaded cold and flu season. There are many steps you can take to prevent the spread of these airborne illnesses but at some point, you or someone in your household will probably end up getting sick. Here are some tips on how to properly clean your house after dealing with the cold or flu.

 

Use the Proper Tools

Hot water alone won’t fully clean a surface, so make sure to use disinfectant when cleaning. Every disinfectant product has specific instructions on how to properly use it, so if you’ve never read the label, now would be a perfect time. Typically, you will want to wipe the surface thoroughly so that it remains wet for up to 5 minutes and then let it dry. This will ensure that the disinfectant has time to get rid of all the germs that are still lingering. Consider using paper towels over sponges to ensure germs don’t spread over multiple surfaces while cleaning.

 

Wash That Bedding

The last thing you would want to do after being sick is to lay down in bed on sheets that could still harbor the flu virus. Wash your sheets and pillowcases as soon as you can after being sick. Doing so prevents the spread of the illness and gives you a clean and refreshed bed, it’s a win-win!

 

Clean Up the Kitchen

Cleaning the kitchen is extremely important as it is where you prepare all your family means, and you wouldn’t want to put the flu back on the menu! When washing the dishes, either set the dishwasher to high heat or use a disinfectant solution and wash them by hand. Don’t forget to wipe down the countertops and refrigerator handles as well. Use a cloth that can be tossed in hot water or paper towels for this as well.

 

Keep Kids Items Squeaky Clean

Since children are more likely to get sick compared to adults, it’s best to make sure their toys are nice and sanitary. Hard, plastic items can easily be cleaned with soapy water and then soaked in bleach for around two minutes. Other items, such as stuffed animals, can be thrown in the washing machine. If they are not machine washable, set them aside for a couple days to let the germs on the surface fade away.

 

Clean Your Car

If you use your vehicle on the daily, there’s a chance it can be a harbor for the flu virus. While it may not be the first thing on everyone’s mind when cleaning their home, it is still an area that you will want to clean. Wipe down everything from the steering wheel to the key fob to prevent the virus from spreading to your vehicle. A little out-of-home cleaning can go a long way!

 

 

By following these simple steps, you can help stop the spread of the cold and flu in your home.  Just remember to use disinfectant and paper towels and you will be good to go!

 

Posted in Home Tips
Oct. 2, 2019

5 Signs It's Time to Sell Your Home

5 Signs It's Time to Sell Your Home

 

Have you outgrown your home? Or has your home outgrown you and your household? Fewer and fewer families expect to stay in their first or second home for the long haul. Here are some factors to determine if you're financially and emotionally ready to sell your house:

  1. Growing or shrinking household -- Are you about to welcome a new baby or take in aging parents? Maybe you're sending your youngest off to college. In any event, if your living space has become too cramped or grown beyond your needs, it may be time to make a move.
  2. Plenty of home equity -- Subtract the value of your home from the amount you have left on your loan. What's left over is the equity -- or the amount you'll have post-sale. After you sell your home, you'll be a buyer again, so having some funds to put down is key.
  3. Interest from potential buyers --You'll want to list when you know buyers are looking. Some experts say late spring is the ideal time to sell, but peak seasons vary by region. Milder weather can increase buyer interest, but that also means more competition from other sellers.
  4. Changing circumstances --Location matters. Whether your neighborhood dynamics are changing, you're unhappy with the schools in your area or a new job significantly increases your commute, your community needs to fit your lifestyle.
  5. Home improvements --Renovations may be a wise investment, but it's best to avoid listing your home in the middle of a project. If you plan to sell your home as is, completing some minor home updates such as new paint and fixtures can be a huge selling point.

Moving is a big decision, one that requires careful consideration. If your needs have changed since you bought your home, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Sept. 19, 2019

SHORT SALE AND FORECLOSURE: HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?

 

As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview.

 

A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament.

 

On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender.

 

On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner.

 

 

After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty.

 

 

Posted in Real Estate Advice
Sept. 9, 2019

Choosing the Right Neighborhood

 

There are many important factors that come into play when trying to find a home that is right for you and your family. Is the home big enough, does the yard have enough space for kids to play and are there enough bathrooms? These are all things we think about when searching for a home. One of the most important factors, and sometimes overlooked, is finding the neighborhood that works for you. Here are a few things that you should consider when you look for a great neighborhood:

 

Research Schools

Education is one of the most important things in life. Make sure you look for homes that are in a school district that has great schools so that your kids can receive a solid education.

 

Future Value

More than likely, you aren’t going to be in your home forever. Your agent can tell you about the property value and growth of the homes you are looking at.

 

Commute Time

You may have found the perfect home, but if you have a long way to commute each day you won’t even be able to spend time in your lovely new home. Consider your commute time when searching for a neighborhood so you can spend less time on the road and more time at home with your family.

 

Lifestyle

Are you an avid runner or biker? Do your kids love to play at the park or swim at the pool? Keep your lifestyle in mind so the community you choose to live in has the amenities that fit your lifestyle.

 

Budget/Affordability

A few miles can be enough to cause the price of homes to vary significantly. Though you want to find a home in a great neighborhood, you will also want to keep your budget in mind.

 

Posted in Home Buying
Sept. 6, 2019

TAKE 5: WHAT TO NEGOTIATE WHEN BUYING A HOUSE

 

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned veteran, the negotiation part of the transaction can be a little daunting and stressful. However, it is necessary to ensure you are getting the best possible deal for your money. So, what should you negotiate when buying a home?

 

1.     Closing costs. Your closing costs are determined by a variety of factors, but you can expect it to be between 2% to 5% of the purchase price. Ask the seller to cover some or all of the closing costs upfront or request a closing credit that can be used to make specific updates and fixes to the home.

 

2.     Furnishings. Love how the seller has furnished and decorated the home? Buyers often negotiate keeping couches, fixtures, landscaping items, patio furniture, appliances, and more. And many sellers agree, wanting to make the home more appealing.

 

3.     Inspection and closing timing. Buyer offers that include a quick inspection and close timeline are often more attractive to sellers who have been going through the process for far too long. Just ensure you allow yourself ample time to get your financing in place and complete proper, thorough inspections.

 

4.     Home warranty. Sellers will often agree to pay the premium on the home warranty at closing and then hand it off to the new homeowner, who is responsible for the deductible on any future claims.

 

5.     Repairs. Your inspection may uncover small or large repairs needed to bring the home up to standard. You can negotiate to have these items fixed before closing or ask for a price reduction to cover the costs.

 

Aug. 12, 2019

Kitchen Makeover on a Budget

How does your kitchen look today? If you're thinking of remodeling and you're finding it too expensive at the moment, why not keep it fresh with these low cost ideas.

 

Posted in Home Design
Aug. 6, 2019

ORGANIC FOOD ON A BUDGET

 

Organic food usually tastes better, and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive compared to non-organic products. Organic food can cost nearly 50 percent more, thanks to the extra labor required to produce it and consumers’ demand exceeding supply.

So how do you get tasty organic food without spending a ton of extra money? Follow these tips to get more bang for your buck.

 

Shop at farmers’ markets: You can get fresh organic produce for far less at a farmers’ market than you’d pay at the grocery store. It’ll taste just as good, and you’re getting your food straight from the source.

 

Choose seasonal produce: Out-of-season produce usually has to be imported, and that can really drive up the price. Focus your meals on in-season fruits and vegetables so that you don’t end up paying $6.00 for a pound of organic asparagus.

 

Shop more frequently, and plan your meals around bulk sales: The trick here is to only buy what’s needed for your meals, and to only plan for a week of meals at most. That way you’re less likely to throw food away, because you can use leftover produce for more meals before it goes bad.

 

Grow your own: A home vegetable garden will provide some extremely cheap organic produce, and gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.

Posted in Home Tips
July 30, 2019

Why You Should Invest in Real Estate

 

There are a lot of ways you can invest your hard-earned money. You could invest in the stock market, CDs or bonds, but what about investing in real estate? There are certainly a lot of benefits in doing so. Here are a few reasons why you should consider investing in real estate.

 

Additional Cash Flow

Though you have the upfront costs of investing in real estate, you will soon have additional cash flow. Once you find renters you will be able to collect money from them. You can put that money towards the mortgage and use whatever is left to either save, invest or spend however you’d like.

 

Building Equity

Investing in real estate is a wonderful way to build your equity. You are building your equity every time you are making payments toward your mortgage. This is a great way to build up equity over the course of your life.

 

Stable Investment

Compared to other investments such as investing in the stock market, real estate investments are relatively stable. The price of real estate does not fluctuate wildly on a day-to-day basis like the stock market sometimes does. The price of your investment property, depending where it is located, also has the opportunity to appreciate quite a bit over time.

 

Providing a Home for Others

 

Building equity and having additional cash flow are already great perks of a real estate investment. Another great perk is being able to provide a home for others. Not everyone can afford the down payment or other costs of purchasing a home, so they only have the option to rent. So, you are not only becoming wealthier because of your real estate investment, you are providing others with a roof over their heads while doing so.

 

Posted in Real Estate Advice