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May 7, 2020

How to Safeguard This Big Investment

 

Purchasing a home is one of the largest financial commitments you'll ever make, and it's understandable to want to protect your investment throughout the purchase process. When you're ready to make an offer on a home, adding a contingency to your contract can give you time to assess the property and feel confident that it is a sound investment.

Here are five contingencies that can safeguard your investment:

1. A financing contingency ensures you're not on the hook if something goes awry with your loan. If you're unable to secure a mortgage or the terms and conditions change significantly during the contingency period, you can back out without any penalties.

2. An inspection contingency gives you a set time frame to have a professional home inspection done on the property. Should issues be found, you can negotiate with the seller to make repairs or adjust the sales price to account for the home's condition. 

3. An appraisal contingency protects you if an appraisal comes in below the sales price. When this happens, it's up to you to make up the difference, either by securing additional financing, paying it out of pocket or renegotiating the deal. If none of these methods work, the contingency allows you to back out without losing your earnest money.

4. A home sale contingency is crucial if you're selling an existing home while buying a new one. Essentially, it says your purchase relies on your ability to sell your current home by a specific date. If you haven't accepted an offer in that period, you can withdraw and get your earnest money back.  

5. An occupancy contingency protects you should you need to move into your new home by a specific time. It gives you possession of the home on the date you specify. 

It's no secret that today's housing market is a competitive one, and bidding wars can be intimidating. Get in touch today to ensure that your bid stands out and your investment is protected. 

 

 

May 4, 2020

Declutter: Getting Rid of Unnecessary Things in Your Home

 

As life goes on, it’s natural that we accumulate more items in our home. Whether that be new clothes, decorative pieces for the house or newspapers, those items eventually add up. A lot of the clutter that piles up in our home are things we don’t even use or need anymore. A cluttered home can also cause us to be anxious. Here are a few places in your home where you can get rid of clutter as well as some common items you can toss.

Kitchen

• Mail – This is definitely a common form of clutter for a lot of people. Some people have a hard time tossing mail that they don’t even need with the idea that they may need it in the future. Newspapers also can start to pile up with the intention we are going to go back and look at them. Do yourself and your kitchen a favor and toss all of that mail that isn’t necessary to keep around.

• Plastic Silverware – Another common thing we tend to keep in our kitchens is unused plastic silverware. Why keep those plastic forks, spoons and knives when you have real silverware in your home already? If you really don’t want to toss them, take them to work to use for lunch if needed. Whatever you decide to do with them, get them out of your kitchen.

• Storage Containers – How often do you grab a storage container for leftovers and can’t find the right lid for it, then throw that container back in with the rest of them? Why keep a container that has a missing lid? Do yourself a favor and toss any container that doesn’t have a lid to match.

• Expired Food – This is something you should be taking care of regularly. Not only are we unable to eat expired food because it will make you sick, but it can also leave an unpleasant odor in your kitchen.

Bedrooms

• Dresser – The top of our dressers can become a dumping ground for a whole lot of items just like our kitchen counters can build up a pile of things. Get organizing containers for the stuff you do want to keep like your jewelry and clear up any unneeded items.

• Nightstand – Your nightstand could use the same treatment as your dresser. Try to make a point of keeping it clear so you don’t have extra clutter in your room.

• Closet – Our closets can easily start to overflow as we bring in more clothes and neglect to get rid of the clothes we don’t wear. Make a point to get rid of clothes you don’t wear as you bring new clothes in.

Home Office

 Documents/Papers – Papers laying all over your desk can create a few problems. For one, it can make it rather difficult to find documents you need. Also, it can make it hard to focus when you have a messy work area. Having a filing system is a simple way to both clear your space as well as keep organized.

• Loose Cords – With all of the electronics we use these days, it can create a mess of cords in our workstation. They often become tangled and can look messy. Try using zip ties to keep those cords together to give your workspace a less cluttered look.

Posted in Home Tips
April 27, 2020

Home Changes That Affect Insurance

 

Homes often grow and change alongside the people living in them. If you've added expensive furnishings or made substantial upgrades, it's important to re-evaluate your homeowners insurance and make sure your policy reflects those changes. Here are four instances when it may be beneficial to review and adjust your coverage.

 

Remodeling or Renovation Work

Home improvement projects typically increase the value of your home, which usually calls for more coverage. But that doesn't necessarily mean your insurance rates will automatically increase. In fact, some projects, like adding a new roof, may help you save on your monthly home insurance premiums. Just be sure to notify your provider before any work begins.

 

Adding a Pool or an Outdoor Trampoline

Because these fun home features come with increased risk of injury, they're labeled an attractive nuisance. Upping your liability insurance can help keep you protected if there's ever an accident on your property and a subsequent lawsuit.

 

Acquiring New Valuables

Whether you inherit them or purchase them, expensive goods such as jewelry, art, rugs and antiques should be added to your policy. Increasing your coverage is the only way to safeguard them in the event of damage or theft.

 

Starting a Home Business

Many home-based business owners don't realize they have little, if any, coverage from a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Since a new home business likely means purchasing new technology and expensive equipment, you may need to get additional protection.

 

You worked hard for your home. Secure your belongings by updating your coverage to match your circumstances.

 

Posted in Home Selling
April 21, 2020

Wisconsin Real Estate Report – March 2020

 

Let’s take a look at how the Wisconsin housing market shaped up in March. The number of home sales in March 2020 was 5,683, which was an increase of 7.9% compared to March 2019. Statewide listings were down 9.9% to 25,084 while the median single-family home price rose 12.2% to $207,500. Houses were selling quicker this March compared to last March. On average, homes are on the market for 110 days, which is 2.7% less time than March of 2019.

Source data provided by the WRA

 

 

Posted in Market Reports
April 15, 2020

WHICH DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

 

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.

 

THE DOWNSIDE

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.

 

THE UPSIDE

The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.

 

THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.

 

April 10, 2020

What To Repair Before You List

 

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

 

Repaint walls.

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure cover any walls with scratches and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat.

 

Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas. If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!

 

Refresh the landscaping.

Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the in. Clean walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees, install outdoor décor pieces and fill in mulch and gravel.

 

Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds. Improve your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. Updating cabinetry, repairing or replacing countertops, and installing new faucets and sinks may be worth the investment.

 

 

Posted in Home Selling, Home Tips
April 10, 2020

Quick & Easy Home Projects You Can Do This Weekend

 

 

Looking for ways to be productive this weekend? Look no further. There are plenty of things around the house you can easily check off of a to-do list. Cleaning and organizing your home is a good way to restore some order in your house. A lot of the things on this list are tasks we tend to put off unless we set aside some time to take care of them. Here are a few tasks you can tackle this weekend.

 

Clean & Organize Your Pantry

Your pantry can get out of control pretty quickly if you aren’t careful. Use storage containers and labels to organize bulk items like flour, sugar, rice, etc. Also don’t open a new box of something until you are completely done with the one you’ve been using. That’s an easy way to avoid having three boxes of the same cereal piled in your pantry at the same time. Once you have an organizational pattern set in your pantry, it’ll be easier maintaining a clean pantry going forward!

 

Clean & Clear Your Fridge

Just like our pantries, our refrigerators can get a little bit neglected at times. Take time to toss the old, spoiled food from your fridge and wipe down the shelves to make sure it’s clean. The last thing you want when you open your fridge is a nasty smell coming out of it!

 

Purge Your Closet

Cleaning out your closet is always something we can work on. Most of us have clothes in our closets that we haven’t worn in years! It’s time to part with those items, which will clear up space for clothes that you do wear!

 

Fix the Squeaky Doors

Squeaky doors can be pretty annoying. It’s usually one of those things we tend to put off because it does need to be fixed but it would be really nice if it was. It doesn’t take very long either! Simply remove the hinge pins, wipe them clean, put a little grease on them and you’re done!

 

 Organize Drawers

The drawers in our house, whether they be for silverware, food containers, miscellaneous items, etc., could always use some tidying up. Clearing out and organizing your drawers will not only make more space, getting them organized will help you find things you’re looking for much easier! Besides, it’s a pain when you are trying to find the matching lid for food containers because your drawers are so unorganized. Do yourself a favor and clean them up!

 

The Little Things

 

There are a lot of little things around our house that could use our attention but are easy to forget about. Take a little time this weekend to take care of those tasks. Clean your toothbrush holder, dust ceiling fan, disinfect your remotes and light switches.

 

Posted in Home Tips
April 7, 2020

Safety Basics for the Home

 

 

Emergency Preparedness Essentials

Emergency situations such as fire, extreme weather and power outages can happen without warning. By taking the time to prepare for a possible disaster now, you and your family will be equipped to handle a crisis if one ever occurs.

 

Fire Escape Route and Meeting Spot
It can take a mere five minutes for a fire to engulf your entire home. This is one reason having an escape plan is so important. Include at least two exit routes in your plan in case one is blocked, and designate a safe location for everyone in your household to meet. Identifying a secondary location outside your neighborhood is good to have in the event it's not safe to return or you're asked to evacuate.

 

List of Emergency Contacts
Make laminated cards with a list of important phone numbers for each family member. This might include contact information for the local authorities and emergency services as well as your nearest relatives.

 

Home Safety Items
Be prepared in case an emergency does occur by having these home safety items:

 

  • Fire Extinguisher -- Keep one on each floor, and check them annually to make sure they're functioning properly.

 

  • First-Aid Kit -- Store it in a central location, such as the kitchen, and make sure everyone knows where it is.

 

  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors -- Install detectors in each room and test them once a month. Use long-life lithium batteries to cut back on replacements.

 

  • Food and Water -- Put together a three-day supply of nonperishable foods and at least three gallons of water for each member of your household.

 

There's often very little time to react in a crisis. But with a little planning and prep work, you can be well-equipped and ready to respond accordingly.

Posted in Home Tips
March 26, 2020

Working From Home Productivity Tips

 

If you typically work in an office setting, working remotely can be a bit of a transition. Instead of being surrounded by coworkers all day, you are surrounded by family, roommates or even nobody. Working from home may also make certain tasks a little more difficult to handle than if you were in the office. We have a few tips for you to make working from home as smooth of a transition as possible.

 

Pick an Area

The first step to being productive while working from home is picking an area where you plan on getting your work done. Working from home can have several distractions, so we recommend you pick somewhere that will cause as little distraction as possible. If you have a guest bedroom, you can retrofit it to work as a home office. One thing you should avoid doing is working while in bed. If your bedroom is the only place you can work without being distracted by family members, set up a desk or table in your room to work from.

 

Set Boundaries

Your home office won’t be filled with coworkers but rather the people that you live with. When you are at home you are much more accessible to the people in your life you share a home with. This is why it’s important to set some boundaries with these people. You need to make sure your family or roommates understand that you are home to work and you need the time during the day to accomplish that. Set a rule that if the door to your home office is shut, then people aren’t allowed to come in unless it’s for an emergency. Setting these boundaries will help you remain as focused as possible.

 

Make a Morning Routine

Routines are certainly helpful to get in the right headspace to tackle your workday. It’s easiest to establish morning routines that will carry on throughout the day. Wake up, shower, brush your teeth and doing what you normally do before work is a great way to start your routine and make you ready to tackle your work. If your routine is to start the day drinking some coffee and reading or doing some meditation, those work too! Everybody will have a slightly different routine and that’s totally normal. Just do what works best for you!

 

Take Breaks

Speaking of routines, it is important to routinely take breaks throughout the day. Sitting in the same spot for the entirety of the workday isn’t good for you for many reasons. For one, you need to get up and stretch your legs and move around. Secondly, it’s hard to stay focused on the entire workday while staring at the computer screen. You can set goals each hour to force yourself to get up and move, like doing a little at-home exercise or taking a short walk. For example, when the hour turns over, get up from your desk and do 10 pushups, 10 squats, and 20 sit-ups. Not only will this give you a break from work, but it will also help you get a bit of exercise! If you don’t want to do that, you can still take a few laps around your home to get your legs moving.

 

Don’t Socially Isolate Yourself Completely

 

Working from home can get lonely at times. You aren’t able to head over to a coworker’s desk to chat about work-related topics or just to catch up on what they have going on in their lives. That kind of social interaction is important in the workplace and even more so if you are working remotely. Call or video chat with your coworkers once in a while to have that human interaction that is harder to come by when you aren’t in the office. This will help keep you in a good mental space while you work from home.

 

 

Posted in Home Tips
March 24, 2020

Wisconsin Real Estate Report – February 2020

 

Let’s take a look at how the Wisconsin housing market is shaking up! The number of home sales in February 2020 was 4,033, which was a decrease of only 0.9% compared to February 2019. Statewide listings were down 8.7% to 23,580 while the median single-family home price rose 8.6% to $190,000. Houses were selling quicker this February compared to last February. On average, homes are on the market for 111 days, which is 4.3% less time than February of 2019.

 

Source data provided by the WRA

 

 

 

Posted in Market Reports