Madison WI Real Estate Blog

Neighborhood Spotlight: Mansion Hill

Younger home buyers have started to show interest in older homes, which has brought Mansion Hill into the spotlight in Madison. While this is known as a glamorous neighborhood, it's also one of the most historic areas in downtown Madison. The neighborhood is found between Capitol Square and Lake Mendota.

While Mansion Hill is the name of the neighborhood, this area of downtown has also gained nicknames, such as Big Bug Hill. This nickname came about back in the 1960s due to students flocking to the area when they didn't have to live on campus anymore.

A Prominent Neighborhood with a Touch of History

Mansion Hill is home to four Victorian Mansions found on the corner of Pinckney and Gilman Streets. This area of Madison is known as the place with the most intact Victorian homes in the city. While many were replaced with apartment buildings, some were saved due to the neighborhood becoming Madison's first historic district in 1976.

If you're just visiting the area, the Edgewater Hotel offers something special. It was built in 1948 and offers plenty of guest rooms, dining rooms and conference rooms for those visiting. Another option is the cozier Mansion Hill Inn, which is a very luxurious Victorian Bed & Breakfast found on North Pinckney Street.

While there are several great historic buildings and homes throughout the neighborhood, it's still known for students. Many UW students have left the older apartments for the luxury high-rises within the area. Langdon Street is still home to a number of fraternity and sorority houses, as well. Some students enjoy living in the older homes throughout the area, too.

Historic, Yet Appeals...

WI57 | The Real Estate News | Josh Lavik | Keller Williams | 9/13/2017

In the recent episode of Real Estate News, Josh Lavik discusses a few hot condos found in the Downtown Madison area. He also discusses a few affordable properties more suited for first-time home buyers or investors. 

Along with the properties Josh discusses in this episode, he also mentioned an upcoming event on October 21st for those looking to get into house flipping and real estate investing. Contact our team for more information on the event and make sure to contact us if you're looking to buy or sell a property in the Madison area.

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Top Options for Family Fun Near Madison, WI

Madison provides plenty for families to do, enjoy and have fun with. The Greater Madison area has so much to do from excellent attractions to unique events that it's hard to get bored here. Some of the top options for family fun throughout Madison are found below.

In the City

Plenty of attractions in the city will provide something great for both kids and adults to enjoy. Some of the top choices include:

  • Madison Children's Museum - A great choice with an indoor play area, plenty of exhibits and all kinds of fun for all ages.
  • Wisconsin State Capital - Head to the observation deck and see the city from one of the best spots for a great view.
  • Dane County Farmers Market - The largest producer-only market in the entire country, this is a great spot for everybody to enjoy.
  • Henry Vilas Zoo - Hit up the zoo and enjoy the polar bears and the fact that it's one of the only free-admission zoos in the United States.

Outdoor Fun

Parks are always a good choice outside, but Madison also has plenty of Lakes and beaches for outdoor fun. You can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, fishing and even paddleboarding on Lake Monona, Lake Mendota or one of...

Top House-warming Gifts People Actually Want

A house-warming gift is a nice way to help invite someone into their new home. However, it can also be a burden if you give the owner something they won't use, don't want or feel pressured to put up somewhere in their home.

If you know someone that has moved into a new home, this list is for you. Maybe you're that someone. If so, feel free to forward this list to your friends and family, along with a few things you might actually appreciate.

Gift Cards

Always a very appreciated house-warming gift; if you give a gift card to a local restaurants or store, it will allow the new owners to check something out locally. This is a great way to help them celebrate this momentous occasion in their life.

Succulent Plants

Flowers don't last long, other plants could be a burden, but succulents are very easy to take care of and can be great for the interior of any home. Jade, cacti, aloe vera and other plants requiring very little care might be the perfect choice for a house-warming fit.

Fire Extinguisher

Practical, yet often forgotten, the fire extinguisher is a great gift for a new homeowner. Even if they already have one, they can always use another for the second floor or garage. This is a great gift if you're looking for something more practical.

Bottle of Wine, 6 Pack of Beer or Bottle of Liquor

If the homeowner enjoys wine, beer or liquor, you've got the perfect gift idea. There's nothing better than receiving...

How to Have Proper Home Seller Etiquette

We've discussed home buyer etiquette before, but what about sellers? While the buyer is working on his/her etiquette, shouldn't the seller be doing the same? The answer is yes and here's a quick look at what sellers need to know about property home seller etiquette.

Don't be there During a Showing

While you probably want to see the potential buyer's reaction to your kitchen renovations, it's not something you need to see. Most real estate agents will tell you that you don't need to be there, nor should you be, during a showing or open house. It's not even good etiquette to be lurking in the shadows as buyers won't feel nearly as comfortable if they know or even think the seller is there.

Listen to your Real Estate Agent

When your agent tells you something needs improved if you want to sell the home faster, it's not a personal attack. It's advice from a professional working in your local market day in and day out. They know what sells and your agent is only trying to help. Listen and you might get that home sold faster.

Remove the Pets

Not everybody loves dogs and cats like you might. Even pet lovers don't want to smell them in a home they are considering buying. When you have a showing or an open house, take the pets and get out of dodge.

It's even better if you can board them or keep them elsewhere during the entire selling process. This will allow you to clean the home and keep the pet odor out while you are going through the process.

Let your Real Estate Agent Handle Showings

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A Closer Look at Black Earth and Mazomanie Suburbs

Found about 20 miles to the west of Madison, WI, Black Earth and Mazomanie are two of the top suburbs. These suburbs share a school district, provide a close location to Madison, are rooted in unique history and offer a small-town feel just outside the bigger city.

Black Earth and Mazomanie were established as villages in the 1850s. The rolling hills, beautiful views and historic downtowns have made these communities very popular for those moving to the Madison area. Both are found near some of the best trout fishing in the area - in Lake Marion and the Wisconsin River. They also share the Wisconsin Heights School District with small class sizes for all grades.

Enjoying the Summer in the Suburbs

The summer is a fun time in Black Earth and Mazomanie. It's the time for enjoying the splash pad, the many local parks, incredible biking and hiking trails and so much more. Of course, with Madison just 20 minutes away, it's easy to enjoy summer in the city, too.

Summer in Black Earth also includes the Field Days event, which includes plenty of great entertainment, all kinds of fun for the entire family, a beer tent and so much more. Mazomanie is home to the Wild West Days, which is another popular event for everybody to enjoy. It has actually been running for 60 years with a Truck & Tractor Pull, fireworks, live music, food, a carnival, a beer tent and so much more.

Year-Round Attractions to Enjoy

While Black Earth and Mazomanie are fun in the summer, the excitement carries into every season of the year....

Top Madison Events for Oktoberfest 2017

Madison loves to celebrate and Oktoberfest is one of the top events of the year. It's full of great beer, great music and plenty more than just one simple event over one weekend. There are plenty of great choices throughout the Oktoberfest season to enjoy. Here's a look at some of the top events.

Oktoberfest - September 22nd to 24th and 28th to 30th

For two weekends, you can enjoy Oktoberfest in downtown New Glarus. This event is found about 40 minutes from Madison, but well worth the drive. It's one of the main festivals for Oktoberfest in the area and sponsored by the New Glarus Brewery. Enjoy live music, plenty of beer, the first tapping of the Octoberfest beer from the brewery, wagon rides, food and plenty of fun for the kids.

Barktoberfest - September 24th

Held at Westside Park in Cambridge, Barktoberfest is a free and fun event for those with dogs. It will feature a rescue ground with plenty of food, raffles and plenty of fun. Pet costumes will be necessary if you want to win a trophy from one of the three categories: Most Original, Best Theme and Kids & Dogs. Vendors will be on hand and plenty of dog demonstrations will also be a part of this event.

Oktoberfest - September 23rd

Another Oktoberfest event will be held at Creekside Place in Evansville. It will run from 6pm to 10pm on the 23rd with plenty of fun to enjoy. Over 70 craft beers will be on hand from more than 50 breweries with plenty of great food from local restaurants. It's $35 to get in if you buy your ticket in advance or $40 the day of. This will be the 7th annual holding of this Oktoberfest event and promise to bring plenty of fun.

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Fitchburg: A Very Bike-Friendly Place to Live

If you're looking to relocate to the Madison, WI area or you've been looking for a new community within the area, Fitchburg may be the right fit. It's a healthy, vibrant city to live in with plenty of biking options. This bike-friendly place to live provides a little bit of everything for those enjoying getting around on two wheels.

Fitchburg was actually designated by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community. They only give this designation out to communities committed to improving the area conditions for biking, along with providing education in the area for those looking to enjoy cycling. The city was only one of eight in the state to get this designation.

Fitchburg is not only bike-friendly, but it's also very healthy, which is a huge part of the biking culture. If you love to ride your bike, Fitchburg may be the right place for you to live.

Biking in Fitchburg

Outside of the normal riding down the street in your new Fitchburg neighborhood, there are several ways to enjoy biking in Fitchburg. Some of the best bike trials in the entire state of Wisconsin run through Fitchburg. It's also home to three local bike paths and three state trails.

Trails and Paths to Enjoy in Fitchburg

With plenty of places to bike in Fitchburg, you can enjoy it as a hobby or a way to get around. Some of the most popular paths and trails...

WI57 | The Real Estate News | Josh Lavik | Keller Williams | 8/16/2017

In the recent episode of Real Estate News, Josh Lavik discusses the inventory shortage causing a seller's market currently. He also discusses how single-family homes on the lake have gone up in value over the past five years.

It's certainly the time to sell, but if you're looking to buy a condo our team can help. Contact us today if you need help buying or selling a property in the Madison area.

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How to Have Proper Home Buyer Etiquette

While etiquette often sounds like it's just a stuffy term for rules, there's more to it than just following a few rules. It's not just what to wear and how to use your utensils at some fancy dinner party. When you're buying a house, it's important to have proper etiquette.

There are several things you want to make sure you do to ensure basic etiquette is a part of the equation. Here are some of the top etiquette tips for homebuyers to follow.

Leave the Kids and Pets at Home

When you're going to look at home, you don't want to take the kids or pets, especially if you're attending an open house. It's too easy for children to end up playing on the furniture or backyard swing set, which isn't theirs. In addition, you could be dealing with a complete meltdown if your child falls in love with the home, but it's not the right one.

Pets are simply not a good idea when home shopping. They could break something or cause an issue while you're looking at the home. Unless you're taking a service animal with you, leave the dog at home.

If you do become serious about a house or your offer has been accepted, it's time to take the kids to see the home, but not any sooner.

Don't House Hunt with a Group

Outside of your real estate agent and the decision makers, nobody else needs to be with you when you're house hunting. Too many opinions can make for a horrible day or at least one that isn't nearly as much fun. You may think taking a friend or relative with you is a good idea, but they are not the one that ultimately has to make the decision. Be careful who you shop with and limit it to only agents and decision makers.

No Pictures Without Permission

If you...

Free Things to do Before Summer is Over

It won't be long before it's time to start thinking about the winter activities you love in Madison. However, summer isn't over yet and there are still plenty of fun and free things to do around Madison. Here are some of the top options to enjoy before the summer comes to a close.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

You can explore the Arboretum for free year-round. However, in the summer, you'll be able to enjoy the wonderful areas without worrying as much about the weather. The Arboretum features 1,200 acres of wonderful gardens, woodlands, prairies, wetlands and so much more. You can even bring your bike and enjoy the 20 miles of trails for hiking and biking. Once winter rolls around, the trails will become the place for snowshoeing and skiing, but for now, get out and enjoy this great attraction while the weather is warm.

Monona Terrace

The rooftop concerts are free throughout the summer and provide a great activity to enjoy before the summer ends.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

You can enjoy the Olbrich Botanical Gardens for free all throughout the year. It's one of only four places in North American with a Thai Pavilion. In addition, there are about 16 acres of wonderful gardens to explore.

Bolz Conservatory

Another great place to discover during the summer, the Bolz Conservatory is free on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. You can enjoy the huge glass pyramid, the indoor gardens, the beautiful waterfalls, plenty of flowers and plants, along with the many birds found throughout.

Area Lakes

Of course, the many wonderful lakes found all throughout the Madison area are great for the summer. You can get the boat out a few more time before summer ends or just head to the lake for a swim. With more than 15,000 acres of water...

WI57 | The Real Estate News | Josh Lavik | Keller Williams | 7/19/2017

In the recent episode of Real Estate News, Josh Lavik discusses a few hot properties hitting the market. He also talks about the advice his team gave to a seller, which helped the seller make more from the deal. 

If you're looking to sell your property in Madison and you want to take our advice, as this recent seller did, contact our team today. We can help you get that home sold for more. 

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Answering a Couple Common Madison Real Estate Questions

Every real estate market is different. Some cities don't have four seasons like Madison, Wisconsin does and others may have a longer summer compared to the winter. In addition, some markets are very hot and favor buyers, while others are very hot and favor sellers.

If you're looking to buy or sell in Madison, you may have questions. Well, we have answers. Below you'll find answers to a few common questions about Madison real estate. If you have additional questions, just contact our team and we will be happy to help.

How long will my Madison home sit on the market before selling?

Commonly, sellers want to know how long it will take to get their home sold. This question comes up because they may be shopping for a new home or they may need to sell quickly. While the answer may change from one season to another and from one year to the next, right now, it's a seller's market, which usually means homes are selling faster than normal.

There are too many variable to put an exact number of days on it or even give a range. The list price will make a huge difference and so will how the home has been prepared. It's best to speak to an agent to find out how long they think it will take to sell your home with the current state of the market.

Which time of year is best for selling my home?

The media used to tell everybody that spring was the best time to sell. This was pretty correct, but the media also likes to say winter is a horrible time to sell, which is dead wrong.

In fact, during the winter, sales don't really fall as much as you might think. They only fall about 8% in November and they...

A Closer Look at Parkwood Hills

A great location in Madison, Parkwood Hills is a neighborhood offering a little bit of everything. It's close to parks, schools, shopping options, dining options and so much more. If you're looking for a good neighborhood to call home in Madison, WI, Parkwood Hills should be at the top of your list.

The Neighborhood Vibe

With parks, a community center, a pool and four schools nearby, it's a very active community. Many of the residents walk to the attractions and schools. It's not uncommon to find residents at the West Towne Mall, either. It's right around the corner and includes plenty of shopping and dining options.

Everglade Park is found near the community, which offers a great place for the entire family. Many residents enjoy going for bike rides, walking their dogs and the many nearby activities.

The Amenities

One of the biggest draws, at least in the summer is the Parkcrest Swim and Tennis Club. It's found nearby and features swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness classes, trivia nights and basketball courts.

Along with the club, there's a playground at the John Muir Elementary School and Everglades Park also offer a playground. Everglades Park has soccer fields and provides the home for a few great events throughout the year.

Another park found in Parkwood Hills is called Owen Conservation Park. It has more than 3 miles of trails and provides a great choice for hiking and skiing. The park covers more than 100 acres and offers a great place for many outdoor activities.

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How to Find a Good Mover When Relocating

Whether you're just moving from one Madison neighborhood to another or you're moving from another city to Madison, finding a good mover is a huge part of the relocation process. Packing, loading up the truck and moving can be exhausting. However, with a good moving company, you can enjoy relocating while they take care of the heavy lifting.

Finding the right movers for you can be difficult, however. Here are a few ways to go about finding great movers when you're relocating to Madison, WI.

Ask Your Agent

Real estate agents tend to have a pulse on the community and the services offered throughout. They will probably know which moving companies you can trust and which ones you should avoid. Whenever you need a local recommendation, your real estate agent is the first place to turn.

Check the Website

When a mover has a website and it doesn't show an address, it can be an issue. This is known as a rogue moving company and they may ask for a large cash deposit and not show up. If they don't list an actual address on their website, they probably shouldn't be trusted.

Check the Reviews

Of course, online reviews will tell you plenty about any moving company. Make sure to check out what Yelp has to say, but also consider looking at Angie's List, MovingScam.com and the Better Business Bureau.

Get 2-3 Estimates First

Getting multiple estimates will give you an easy way to pre-qualify your moving company. If they don't offer a free estimate, they are probably not worth your time as all reputable movers will give you an estimate free of charge. You should also be aware that too low of a price is probably a red flag. Compare a few estimates and you will be able to see which company is the right choice.

Ask Questions

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No Admission Museums for Rainy Days in Madison

When it's raining outside, it can put a damper on your summer plans. However, it doesn't have to be a day stuck inside and feeling like you have cabin fever. Instead, you can get out and enjoy some of the best museums offered without spending a penny.

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

For not cost at all, you can enjoy the Veterans Museum, which highlights the military history of Wisconsin. You'll discover history from the Civil War to present day with plenty of exhibitions, artifacts and even a functional submarine periscope.

Chazen Museum of Art

Another good choice on a rainy day is the Chazen Museum of Art. This museum is free and offers a permanent collection with plenty of great works of art. You can enjoy a Docent-led tour, as well.

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Both admission and educational programs are free at the MMoCA. Enjoy the building itself, which was designed by Cesar Pelli. Of course, the many exhibits are quite amazing and great for all ages. You can even come out for film screenings, special events and exhibit openings.

UW-Madison Geology Museum

When it rains, why not head inside and enjoy all kinds of rocks and minerals. The Geology Museum offers all kinds of fun with dinosaur and fossil exhibits, fluorescent displays and so much more. Check out the meteorites and the many minerals throughout with a self-guided tour or you can enjoy storytelling times, as well.

Wisconsin Historical Museum

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Upcoming August Events Around Madison, WI

August is a month full of great events before the summer starts to turn to fall. Many of the top festivals near Madison, WI will be held throughout August. Here's a look at some of the top choices to add to your calendar.

Arlington Fireman's Festival - August 3rd to 5th

Celebrating the summer in style, the Arlington Fire department will bring plenty of fun to the area early in August. This event will include a softball tournament, a volleyball tournament, truck & tractor pulls and live music on both Friday and Saturday. The parade will be held on Sunday.

National Mustard Day - August 5th

An annual event held at the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, National Mustardy Day will include plenty of free fun for the entire family. Enjoy free hot dogs, plenty of games, music, free mustard sampling and so much more. This event has been held in Middleton since 1991.

Great Taste of the Midwest - August 12th

One of the top events in Madison for the summer, the Great Taste of the Midwest is a huge beer festival. In fact, it's one of the best beer festivals in the entire country with more than 100 microbreweries and brewpubs from all over the Midwest on hand. It will be held at Olin-Turville Park from 1pm to 6pm.

This festival is the perfect choice for beer lovers with all kinds of beer options. Sassy Cow Creamery will be on hand with beer ice cream, along with plenty of special releases and unique beers. You must get your tickets early, however, as no onsite tickets will be sold.

Sweet Corn Festival - August 17th to 20th

Another rather large festival, the Sweet Corn Festival is held in Sun Prairie every single year. This event will include carnival rides, plenty of crafts, a family stage, beer tent, live bands, petting zoo, plenty of sweet corn and so much more. It's also...

Enjoy Food Cart Dining in Madison, WI

If you haven't had a chance to make it out for the Let's Eat Out! Series this year, you need to make your plans soon. You have through August 3rd to enjoy the great food carts found throughout Madison. They will be at various parks from 5:30pm to 7:30pm every Monday through Thursday until August 3rd. Of course, this is weather permitting.

About 30 local vendors participate in this event giving you plenty of choices to enjoy. Let's Eat Out!  has become a huge advocate for local and mobile food businesses, along with bringing those in Madison together as a community. They want families to get out and enjoy quickly made, delicious food at these great events every week.

Locations for Food Carts

The schedule can change at any time, but currently, Let's Eat Out! has the following locations for food cart dining:

  • Mondays - Randall Park, Cypress Spray Park and Holy Cross Church
  • Tuesdays - Vilas Park, Fitchburg Nine Springs Golf Course, Orfan Park in Sun Prairie, Midvale Boulevard (400 block) and Worthington Park
  • Wednesdays - Allied Dr. Neighborhood, Scenic Ridge Park in Verona, Haen Family Park, Country Grove Park and Heiden Haus in Shorewood Hills
  • Thursdays - City Church, Meadowood Park, Nakamoa Park, Atwood Avenue at Jackson Street and Wheeler Road at Comanche Way

These locations are expected to provide dinners from food carts through August 3rd. After this date, a third session is expected to be announced for September and October.

Food Carts

Several food carts participate in the event every week. Some of the choices you may run into at each location include:

  • Ladonia Cafe
  • Leia's Lunchbox
  • Curd Girl
  • ...

What to Keep in Mind When Going from Renter to Homeowner

It's not uncommon for renters to one day go from a renter to a homeowner. While it may seem very similar, especially if you've been renting a home, there are some things to keep in mind.

Renting is certainly not the same as own. The mortgage doesn't translate directly to your rent in a perfect ratio. Instead, you have to think about other expenses, as well. Here's a look at some of the things to keep in mind as you go from a renter to an owner.

More Upfront Costs

When you rent, you pay a security deposit or maybe you pay first and last month's rent up front. As you become a homeowner, you will find out there are other fees you have to deal with. It starts with a down payment, usually 10% or 20% of the selling price, but it can be as low as 3%. Then, it moves on to the closing costs, which will another 1% to 3% of the selling price. Sometimes, the seller will cover closing, but you still have to think about the title insurance, home inspection, appraisal, insurance escrow and much more.

The Mortgage Payment isn't your Only Monthly Bill

Sure, you may have paid utilities at a home you rented, but you didn't have to pay for the homeowners insurance and the property taxes. These can be rolled into your mortgage payment, but they can also be separate bills. Either way, you need to account for these expenses when going from a renter to a homeowner.

No More Free Maintenance

When something breaks, you don't get to call a landlord and let them deal with it. It's now your issue. You have to fix it or have it fixed. This is where building an emergency fund becomes important before you become a homeowner.

You can't Leave Your Neighbors

When you rent, you may be able to leave the neighborhood for a new one after a year or less. Owning your home means your neighbors are going to be there...

Top Strategies to Win Your Madison, WI Bidding War

The Madison real estate market is hot for sellers right now and buyers are finding themselves trapped in huge bidding wars. Some properties have had as many as a dozen or more offers after just one open house. It can be hard to deal with losing out on the bidding war over and over again.

It's just the start of the hot summer real estate season and you need to be prepared if you're shopping for a home in the Madison area. Whether you're looking in Fitchburg, Downtown or in Monona, there are several homes, but many more buyers. Expect a bidding war and use the following strategies to give yourself the best chance to win.

Have a Plan

You need a plan for shopping and bidding on the home of your dreams in Madison. This plan starts with a pre-approval from a lender. If you don't have one of these, you better have a suitcase full of cash to pay for the home (or at least have it sitting in the bank). You have to go into the bidding war armed and your pre-approval is your best weapon.

Hesitation is Costly

You cannot hesitate in the current market. You have to make an offer as soon as you're interested and you cannot wait. IF you hesitate to act, you could lose out as another offer could already become accepted before you even had a chance.

Hire a Good Agent

The right local real estate agent will make a huge difference. Not only will they be able to negotiate on your behalf, but they will also know exactly how to deal with bidding wars. You'll get good advice about whether or not to up your offer or even make an offer in the first place. Hire a good agent and you'll be well on your way to winning a bidding war soon.

Make the First Offer Clean

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