Madison WI Real Estate Blog

Getting ready to sell your house...

Last week I met with a guy who is getting ready to sell his house. He contacted me from my website and told me a little bit about his situation. The house is on the east side of Madison in an area with which I am familiar because I have dealt with a number of first-time home buyers looking for homes in that area. Usually when I meet with someone that is getting ready to sell their house I send them a packet of information ahead of time so they know a little bit about about me, my company, and what services I provide. Since he's just getting ready to sell, he's gathering some information, and trying to figure out the best way to go about selling his home. He is a lot like another guy that I helped in the Vilas neighborhood, in that he is looking to liquidate some assets so that he can head for a warmer climate. It's no secret that Wisconsin winters can be brutal.

As I gathered information for this upcoming home seller, I started thinking about everything that's involved with getting ready to sell a house. Some real estate agents out there do a lot to help sell a house and some don't. In the Dane County area there were 9371 residential listings for sale and only 4930 of those properties actually sold in 2007. Thus the odds of selling your home is only about 52.6%. I began to wonder why? Can that be right? Out of all the properties currently for sale, only about half are actually going to sell. That seems interesting.

What does it take to be one of the 4930 homes that actually sell? Think about what it takes to sell anything. For any of you marketing majors, perhaps the 4 P's come to mind: product, price, promote, and place (distribution). Product - what exactly are we selling here? What does the "packaging" of the house look like? Will it be priced with new carpet or old carpet? Hot pink walls or paint them a neutral tan? New countertops or old? As for pricing, that's one of the most difficult aspects of selling a home. Pricing is actually one of the most...

Wisconsin Tradition - Jump into Lake Monona in February...

I know I must be crazy but this winter I will be Freezin' for a Reason when I take the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Wisconsin. The Polar Plunge is a cool event where supporters raise pledges and jump into frozen bodies of water. Money raised in the Polar Plunge provides funding for nearly 10,000 athletes with cognitive disabilities to reach for the gold.

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Finding the 'best schools'

In my current job I am sometimes charged with the plea to help someone find a house in a neighborhood with "good schools". Hmm... this is a toughy for me since I don't have any kids yet. In the Madison area I have attended Deerfield, McFarland, and Oregon at various times in my life. I don't really know which one was the "best". As a kid I just wanted to make friends and go out and play. Then as I grew a little older I realized that I liked school. I mean, I liked learning new things that were interesting. I find that even today I continue learning everyday and I enjoy it.

I am working right now with a home buyer who is moving to the Madison area from out of town and she told me that her number one top priority is "great schools". As a Realtor, I need to be careful what I recommend so that I don't violate any license laws. Nonetheless I set out to assist my client in the best way that I can. I am fortunate to work in a very reputable company with over 200 other real estate agents. So, I utilized my technological email skills and asked them what they would recommend. This seemed like a reasonable thing to do since I don't have any kids yet and I have only a limited viewpoint of school districts in the suburbs.

A host of replies came back to me. Some people recommended different school districts, some gave words of caution so that I don't violate any laws, one referenced an article from Madison Magazine, and some suggested various websites such as: www.greatschools.net, www.psk12.com,and nces.ed.gov. Then I figured that maybe I should go to the public school districts main website and I came across the Wisconsin Education Association Council website. They believe that every kid deserves a great school, which I thought was a good message. Out of all these great recommendations I'm not sure if I came away with the exact answers I wanted, but it was certainly better than what I had before.

Then I got to thinking a little more about schools in general. To...

Relocating is Tough - How to Choose the 'Perfect' House

Over the Christmas and New Year's Holiday I was talking to a friend of mine who is moving to Milwaukee. Let's call her Betty Lou for the sake of this post (that's not her real name). She was telling me about her frustration with finding a "decent" home in a "nice" neighborhood with "good" schools. I sort of had to smile, because I think everyone wants that. However, it depends on what you consider "decent", "nice", and "good". Those are all subjective terms based on everyone's individual situation. I know many people that would love to have a house on 5 acres out in the country, while others that would go crazy being that isolated. Some people want large yards in the neighborhood and others want that tight knit feel of traditional neighborhoods with smaller lots. As for schools, what type of experience do you want for your son or daughter? There are pluses and minuses to all school districts.

Betty Lou further told me she was frustrated because her Realtor was not giving her much of an opinion on different neighborhoods. However, this can be a difficult situation for some Realtors because they don't want to violate any laws in the Fair Housing Act. That means one cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, national origin, marital status, lawful source of income, age, ancestry, familial status, or in any other unlawful manner. Thus, the Realtor cannot say, "Betty Lou, I think you should live in this area because it is perfect for white Christian married people in their 20's making between $75,000 and $100,000 per year." That would be a blatant violation of the law. If Betty Lou signed into a buyer agency agreement with her Realtor then Betty Lou should expect an opinion from her Realtor. One of the main reasons to hire a real estate agent is for their advice on such matters.

One of the best ways to find out about neighborhoods is with a little research. Ask your Realtor what areas of town they really like and...