Selling a Home

How to Handle Dogs During a Home Showing in Madison

It's not uncommon that you will find advice on real estate websites telling you to have your dogs boarded or at least have them stay somewhere else when selling your home. This advice isn't bad, but it may not be the most practical way to handle your dogs when showing your home in Madison.

Boarding your pets the entire time you're trying to sell your home will get rather expensive. It can run, on average, about $25 per night, as long as your dog isn't large. This could end up costing you as $500 to $1,000 if you boarded your dog throughout the entire time you're trying to show and sell your home, assuming it gets sold within about a month.

There are other options for your dogs. Some of the most common, yet rather inconvenient options include:

  • Taking them to work during a showing
  • Moving out and taking your dogs with you
  • Leaving them with a friend or family member

While these may seem like good options, you may not be able to take them to work, unless you want everybody to hate you and risk losing your job. Moving out may not be an option, as you may not have found a place to live once you sell your home, yet. In addition, asking a friend or family member to watch your dogs isn't always a good option.

Often, the advice you will find about showings and your dogs will have you believing buyers won't purchase your home if you have pets living in it. This isn't always the case, especially with the market the way it is today.

It's a Seller's Market & You're Driving

If you have a good to great home, you're in charge if you sell right now. The market is currently favoring sellers and ...

Do Home Sales Just Stop When Snow Starts Falling?

Often, as the snow starts to fall, you'll start to hear that the best time to sell your home has ended. Many will start to say that it's a difficult time to put your home on the market, but this isn't completely true.

Selling your home in Madison, during the winter, comes with plenty of great advantages. Whether you need to sell or you just want to sell, it's still a great time to list your home and here's why.

Higher Chance of Selling in the Winter

A massive real estate chain conducted a study that actually found homes in the winter sell for a higher price and are more likely to sell. This even included those areas with very cold winters, such as Madison.

Less Competition

One of the reasons homes sell better in the winter is the fact that others sellers are considering the same thing you're considering right now. They may be thinking about waiting until the spring to list or they may even take their home off the market until the spring.

This means, in a market that already favors sellers, you'll have even less competition. You could end up with multiple offers due to the lack of homes on the market.

Some Buyers Have to Buy Now

Just because the snow has started falling doesn't mean buyers stop shopping. The winter is a very popular time for those looking for a home and some have no choice. Maybe their job is moving them to Madison or their lease is about to be up. Buyers are very motivated in the winter, especially with the possibility of an interest rate hike coming early in 2018.

The Misunderstood Winter Home Sales Fact

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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...

How to Properly Photograph Your Home Before Listing it

When it's time to sell your Madison area home, you need the right real estate agent. In addition, you need the best possible pictures for the online listings. If you don't have good pictures, it will be hard for any real estate agent to really do their job and get your home sold.

Usually, your real estate agent will provide some advice for taking the pictures. Some will take the pictures for you or recommend a good professional. If you have the ability to use a professional with experience in real estate pictures, this may be the best way to go. However, if you will be taking your own pictures, here are a few tips to help you get the best pictures possible.

Pay Attention to the Camera Angle

If you have a tripod, it may come in handy when taking pictures of your home for your listing. You want to make sure you have good camera angles and a steady surface can certainly help. Keep the camera level when you take the picture to ensure potential buyers can see your home from a good angle.

Get a Picture from the Curb

You've already created the best curb appeal you can with new landscaping, maybe a little paint and other quick fixes. Now, you need a great picture of that curb appeal for potential buyers to see. Make sure you get the best picture possible and get all the unnecessary things out of the ay first. Remove bikes, garbage cans, toys, cars and anything else distracting.

Keep Decorations to a Minimum

Staging your home properly before the pictures is a huge plus. If you won't be staging, make sure you eliminate any unnecessary items. Get rid of any old holiday decor or anything that makes your home look too personal. Then, when you take the pictures, it will help to show your audience the home as a bit...

How to Stage and Show Your Home With Kids

We love our kids, but they can make it a bit harder to stage and show a home for sale. Preparing your home to be sold is stressful enough without having to clean up after the kids. However, there are some easy ways to get your home ready and keep it "show ready" even with children in the house. Here are a few easy to follow tips.

Choose a Real Estate Professional that Fits

The first step in the home selling process is hiring the right real estate agent. Make sure you choose an agent fitting well with you, your home and your family. The decision shouldn't be based on the agent providing the highest listing price. Instead, make sure they understand how to work with you and your family.

Get your Kids Ready to Sell

One of the most important steps when it comes to staging and showing a home with kids is preparing the little ones. They need to understand what it means to sell the home and you shouldn't wait until the "for sale" sign goes up.

Make the idea of selling your home an adventure as they pack some of their toys away. It's also a good idea to give your children a job and let them feel useful as they help get the house ready.

Clean and Declutter

Before you start the cleaning and decluttering process, you may need to rent a small storage unit. Children tend to have a large amount of stuff and you will probably need to remove most of it from the home. If you want to get top dollar, you should only leave the necessary. Eliminate as many knick-knacks, toys and photos as possible and clean up anything else considered personal. Keep just a few of the favorite toys for your children....

lead based paint in real estate

Anyone looking to buy or sell a home in Wisconsin will need to consider that a property may have a variety of environmental and health concerns.  Including things such as radon, contaminants in the water, mold, and lead-based paint.

Properties that were built prior to 1978 and may pose a greater risk of lead-based paint.  As stated in the Wisconsin Lead Based Paint Disclosure Addendum S, "Lead poisoning in young children may produce permanent neurological damage, including learning disabilities, reduced intelligence quotient, behavioral problems, and impaired memory."  Certainly lead-based paint is no joking matter and hence the reason it's no longer used in household paints.

A home seller is required to disclose to potential buyers the existence of any known lead-based paint on the property.  And similarly, a home buyer has an option to test for the existence of lead-based paint, if desired.

Contractors looking to do work on a home built prior to 1978 must follow specific guidelines for remediation and be lead paint certified.  The EPA (environmental protection agency) website has more detailed information about lead paint.

As a real estate agent in Madison Wisconsin, I also have a duty to provide a lead-based paint pamphlet to home buyers that shows how to "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home".

Many older properties have their own charm and character that is often very different from a new home.  Thus, I wouldn't suggest to a home...

Benefits of Using a Real Estate Agent

For buyers and sellers of real estate, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind to ensure that your best interests are protected during a transaction. One such consideration should be choosing a real estate agent over for sale by owner. While many people think that the process can be streamlined by self-representation (i.e. “for sale by owner”), working with a real estate agent often proves to be advantageous. Consider the following benefits of working with a real estate agent:

A Professional’s Insight on Market Value

Whether you are buying or selling, a real estate agent can advise you regarding the right price of a home, and whether or not a home’s listing price is reflective of its true market value. If selling, a real estate agent will provide you with an idea of what other properties in your area are selling for, and the best price point depending on your needs (i.e. do you need to make a quick sale, are you willing to hold on to the property a little longer to make more money, etc.). If you are buying, your real estate agent will inform you as to whether or not a home you are considering is fairly priced. Real estate agents understand market trends, something that you may not understand on your own.

Mitigating Errors

All real estate transactions are accompanied by loads of paperwork and responsibilities for both the buyer and the seller, such as the duty to fully inspect a property before signing on the dotted line. When filling out documents or composing them, errors can be hard to avoid without the help of a professional. From disclosure documents to inspection lists and more, the fine print can be difficult to make sense of. Not only can a real estate agent assist you in avoiding any legal documentation errors, but also in understanding the loan process, what to do if there are any title defects, your duty to disclose certain facts about the property (or to have facts about the...

Tips to Save Energy and Add Value

When it comes to energy efficiency, look for smart features and expertise to help you save energy and money and add value to your home.

1. Begin with a Right-Sized Home.

If the home you buy is simply too large for you or your family’s needs or plans, you stand a good chance of wasting energy through excessive heating and cooling costs. If it’s too small, you’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable. It’s a big investment, so seek balance and buy it “right” from the outset. 

2. Purchase Energy Star Appliances Such as Your TV, Dishwasher, Washer and Dryer, and Microwave.

And especially the refrigerator, as it alone contributes about 10 percent of the energy use in a home. Also, unplug electronics not in use or turn off power strips to avoid phantom charges. 

3. Install Efficient Lighting Such as Compact Fluorescent (CLF) or LED Bulbs in Every Fixture.

Lighting accounts for about 6 percent of an energy bill each year.

4. Get an Energy Audit and Have Tests Performed to Identify Ways of Improving Your Efficiency.

You can always upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as your thermal envelope, which includes insulation, windows, and doors  and the seals or weather stripping around them. Visit energy.gov/energytips for more tips.

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Saint Joseph Home Seller

Want to Make Your Home Sell Faster?

The history of the Saint Joseph Home Seller is quite interesting, and may be just the thing you need for a quick home sale. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of home and family, being Jesus' adopted father and always providing a stable happy home. People believe this tradition started all the way back in the 1500s when St. Teresa of Avila, needed to find land to build a new convent. When she was having no luck finding the land she needed, Teresa told the nuns to burry consecrated medals of St. Joseph in the grounds of their convent and pray to him to help her find land that was big enough and cheap enough for her project. The prayers and burying the blessed medals worked as Teresa quickly found the perfect piece of land. Over centuries this custom has changed and instead of burying medals of St. Joseph people began to bury small statues of St. Joseph when they wanted to sell their home.

Even if you're not Catholic, if you want your home to sell quickly burying a statue of Saint Joseph might do the trick. After purchasing a small statue of Saint Joseph, you must bury it upside down in your yard. Legend says that the statute should be buried upside down so the statue will need to work harder to get out of the ground and into the home. The best place to bury the statue is by the For Sale sign, although people have had success burying it elsewhere in the yard. Once the house is sold the homeowner should dig up the statue and put it in a place of honor in your new home. You could also leave the statue buried in the ground to protect the new homeowners and help them find safety and comfort in the home. Some warn however, that leaving the statue behind will only make the property change hands again and again.

For more information on the legend of the Saint Joseph home seller visit www.saint-josephstatue.com/

For more information on home buying and selling...

How much does it cost to sell a house in Wisconsin?

Are you getting ready to sell your house and wondering how much it will cost? Before you put it on the market, you might want to have an idea about the expenses involved.

Commission - One of the largest expenses of selling a home is the real estate brokerage fee. By law, this amount varies and is negotiable, however this typically ranges to be 5-7% of the purchase price. While this can seem like a lot of money, it is often split a number of ways. In Wisconsin and most real estate deals there is an agent representing the seller (called the listing agent) and an agent representing the buyer (typically the buyer's agent). This commission amount is often shared between the two agents and then part of it is split with the agents brokerage firm.

Administrative fees - Depending on the agent and brokerage there can be added administrative fees. This amount varies greatly, but could be $200 to $1,000 depending on the company.

Transer fee - This is required by the State of Wisconsin and as of the date of this blog post amounts to $3 per 1000 of the sale price. From January to October of 2014, the average sale price for Dane county (Madison area) is $249,819. Based on this amount, the transfer tax fee would be $749.

Title insurance - This is included in most real estate transactions so that the property will transfer free and clear into the buyer's name. Often this is charged based on the sale price of the home. Using the average sale price of $249,819 again it could amount to $800 to $1500, depending on the title company that is chosen.

Deed preparation - When you purchase a property in Wisconsin you will get a deed. You should consult your attorney about what type of deed is best for you. This is usually a smaller cost of the sale and should not be more than a few hundred dollars.

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Struggling to Sell Your Home?

Have you been trying to sell your home and not getting the results you expected?


If you have been struggling to sell your home or your listing contract has expired, then you must watch this video today. There is a solution for you! Josh Lavik and his team at Keller Williams have helped numerous people before to sell their home in a reasonable time frame. Like this one that was previously listed for sale for 263 days on the market without selling. Then they chose to hire Josh and his team to re-package and re-invent the listing. Guess what the results were? Three offers within the first week that it was back on the market.

If you're thinking of giving up, then give it one more try. Contact Josh and his team to learn more about how they market your home for more money and get the job done faster than other agents.

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Want to Sell Your House? Better Photos Make a Big Difference

If you've been struggling to sell your home in the past year, maybe one reason is the photographs of your home. I know it seems simple, but the photos chosen for your home send a very direct message to a potential home buyer. In my experience, most home buyers and agents searching through home listings online, tend to do so very quickly. What that means is that you have ONE chance to make a great first impression with great photography.

For example, take a look at the photos below from some recent property listings (not listed by us!). Would you buy these houses? If so, would you pay a lot of money for them?

Seems a little sideways!

Nice blurry kitchen


This doesn't seem too bad, just a little dark

Yeah, these are probably not the best photos that will bring top dollar to any home seller. Part of choosing a great listing agent is knowing that they will take great photos of your home and present your home in the best light possible.

Below are a few photos that we have taken at one of our listings to help the property show at its best.


Bright and inviting with a nice red border!


Bright and staged rooms


Well placed furniture...

Selling Homes - It's a Team Effort


One of my core values as a Realtor in Madison is "Team". When buying or selling a home, there are often a number of people involved. One person might put up a sign, another helps with marketing, a home inspector looks for defects in the property, other professionals make repairs, home staging people rearrange furniture, photographers make the home show it's best, and other real estate agents are often involved in a successful home sale. In many successful real estate offices, you'll instantly notice that teamwork is in place. This is nothing new. You probably already know the acronym, "Together Everyone Achieves More". In the real estate business, this applies as well.

My team is fairly small at the moment, but given my success in 2011 among the top 10% of all agents in the Madison area, I'm looking to expand my team in 2012. Currently I am the primary agent involved in both listing and selling homes. I work with Jessica Fox as my business coach, have Jim Peetz to assist with marketing and administration details, and a couple other agents in my office to assist with my clients as well. I have a number of other business people that I am currently working with to help with marketing, graphic design, website maintenance, home inspections, photography, mortgage pre-approvals, sign installation, training, and more.

Ultimately, the success of any team is the interaction of all the members. As the main ring leader, it's my job to make sure everyone works well together and in the end the customer has a great experience. One thing that I love about Keller Williams is that there are 80,000 other associates across North America that also recognize the value of teamwork. As the saying goes, "nobody succeeds alone".

If you know of someone that might make a great fit for my team, please have them contact me.

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FSBO in Madison - Maybe? Not for this guy

When I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal, I had to laugh at the irony.  I'm sure that many other hard working real estate agents in the world also had a good chuckle. 

"Colby Sambrotto, a founder and former chief operating officer of ForSalebyOwner.com, a large website for owner sales, spent six months trying to sell his condominium himself through online listings and classified ads, before turning over the listing of the 2,000-square-foot apartment to a broker at Bond New York in November."

During this downturn in the economy and the real estate market, many people that may have opted to sell on their own in the past, are now requesting the help of a Realtor.

“Looking to move his family to the suburbs, [Mr. Sambrotto] said he carefully staged his apartment for sale himself, and put it on the market. But after using a mix of websites to publicize his apartment, he said he had only ‘middling success’ and switched to a broker because many buyers were so reliant on brokers.”

Lesson to learn here is that just being on the internet alone does not guarantee a successful sale. Clearly, the internet has revolutionized how many home buyers first start searching for a new home, but ultimately buying a house is a lot different than buying some books on amazon or a used sweater on ebay. In a buyer's market, selling a home can definitely be more of a challenge. Even in Dane County, the odds of selling a home in 2010 were only 47.9% (according to south central Wisconsin multiple listing database). Thus, having a top agent that can understand how to best position your home makes good sense in today's real estate market.

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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 difficult things when selling...