Saturday, February 28, 2015

You got that at Good Will?

You got that at Good Will?  Yes, you would be surprised at the finds for little $$$

Add dimension to your walls by covering them with a collection of thrift store finds like vintage mirrors, old clocks, candles and other eclectic items.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Practical decor

Add practical decor by artfully displaying a few potted herbs.  Group them in a decorative trays so they can be easily moved from window to counter.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Looking to Buy or Sell Real Estate?  Call RE/MAX Realty Center in Oconomowoc at 262-567-2455!!

Brighten up your home

Brighten up your home

Instantly brighten up your dining room, kitchen, bathroom or bedroom with an arrangement of fresh flowers.  Pick flowers with vivid hues for a pop of energy and color.

For more decorating ideas -- call a RE/MAX agent at 262-567-2455

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

RE/MAX National Housing Report February 2015

Hey Friends, I need your help.
We need to add to our Preferred Customer List at REMAX Realty Center - Real Estate in Wisconsin.
I am looking for recommendations/referrals for the following to add to our already good list : (Please only suggest if you would give them a 5 star rating)
Carpet Cleaner
Radon Mitigation
Rubbish Removal/Snow Removal
Home Decorator/Home Staging
Pest Specialists
Internet/Phone/TV/Satellite Dealer
Custom cabinetry
Dog Kennel/Vet
Computer Service
Basement Repair
Day Care
Pool People
Tree Service
Mold Inspector
Financial/Insurance Planning
Heating and Air conditioning
Furniture rehabber
Fuel Oil
Beauty Shop
I need Company name, contact and phone numbers please.
PM me or send to
Thanks much!

Vintage charm

For a splash of vintage charm, transform an old dresser into a custom vanity for your bathroom. Repaint it and replace the hardware for an updated look.  Add extra spice with a new sink!

Consider this before you Remodel

Consider this before you Remodel

Before you begin remodeling, consider all your aspects of the project and how it fits into your lifestyle.  Choose the highest quality materials and do the job right the first time.  Lower quality items won't last as long, and major repairs can be costly.  Talk to an expert, someone who has worked with different products and knows what works best. 

If tackling larger projects such as kitchens and bathrooms --be sure you have professional assistance and are meeting all municipal codes, or it will come back to bite you in the long run!

I am always available to give you helpful home tips --- just ask us!  RE/MAX Realty Center agents, always available to help.  262-567-2455

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Who knew?

11 Very Strange – But True Wisconsin State Laws

wierd wisconsin laws
We’ve all heard that “justice is blind.” But sometimes – it can also be pretty ridiculous. Wisconsin laws are no exception.

The most mysterious thing about strange laws like these, is that there had to be a reason why they were put into place once upon a time.

After reading these 11 Wisconsin state laws, you’ll probably find your imagination running a little wild. But at the very least, I hope we get a laugh outta ya.

We know some silly state laws are just legend. But as far as we know, the following laws are real statutes that came straight from the Wisconsin State Legislature.  I even called and talked to a librarian at the Wisconsin State Law Library to ask for help confirming these laws.
I took out the ones she told me were nonsense right off the bat, but she never got back to me about the rest of the list.

Maybe they just didn’t have a sense of humor about it…
So if you think any of these Wisconsin laws are false – let us know in the comments.

1. It’s Illegal to Serve Margarine in Wisconsin

From 1925-1967 margarine was banned from sale in the state of Wisconsin. I guess Wisconsinites even tried smuggling it in, or making what they called “oleo runs” from Illinois.  Thousands of Wisconsinites became fake-butter law breaking felons.

You criminals!

No joke. Wisconsin statute 98.17 has been in place since 1895 and it still stands today. It’s still illegal for restaurants to serve margarine – unless the customer specifically orders it. The “yellow stick from Satan himself,” as Governor Warren Knowles called it – is also a big no no in prisons, hospitals, schools or other state institutions – unless absolutely necessary for health reasons.

2. It’s Illegal Not to Give Livestock the Right-of-Way


One of WhooNEW’s Facebook fans made sure to point out that this law is not a dumb one. That it must have been a “cidiot” who put that on the list.

Well, the law might not be silly. But the people who decided to plow their vehicle straight through the poor roaming livestock sure are.

And Wisconsin statute 346.21 says we must give the farm animals the right of way on Wisconsin roads and highways.

So MOOve over for ‘em would ya?

That’s really sweet though, Wisconsin. To give these poor animals legal protection from crazy drivers since 1957. Especially because they don’t even have too long before we gut them and eat them for dinner.

3. When Two Trains Meet, Neither Should Proceed Until the Other One Has


Did you read that twice? I had to…

I’m not really sure what would truly happen if a couple of railroad engineers actually decided to obey this one. It’s really quite hilarious when you think about it!

I bet it made for some delays on the railway.

Now…what about livestock on railroad tracks in Wisconsin? They do call those things on the front “cowcatchers” after all.

4. Businesses May Only Base Their Hours on Central Time


Here’s a good reason not to forget about Daylight Saving Time…

If you own a business in Wisconsin, your store hours better be advertised in the Central Time zone, or you could be fined $25-$500 and jailed for 10-30 days – according to Wisconsin statute 175.09. How could you confuse us like that?

Just think… there’s a valid reason behind every law…

5. It’s a Crime to Harass a Seeing-Eye-Dog in Wisconsin


What sort of bully would do such a thing? I can’t help but wonder the details behind this strange law.
You’d have to be a real jerk to mess with a dog helping a disabled person or leading a blind person. But I suppose there are plenty of jerks out there.

6. Wisconsin Cheese Must Be “Highly Pleasing”


I’m not kidding, if you look up Wisconsin’s cheese laws – and there are a lot of them – you’ll see.

The law states that the cheese must be “highly pleasing.” (Source)

I don’t think my husband ever ate a piece of cheese he didn’t find highly pleasing.
There are plenty more cheesy laws where that came from. Like, you have to have a master cheese-making license to make Limburger cheese. And, it’s illegal to make baby Swiss cheese without well-developed eyes.

But I must burst your bubble and tell you that the crazy law about having to serve a piece of cheese with a slice of apple pie is only a legend.

7. Adultery – Class I Felony


Turns out your cheating heart can land you in prison if you are unfaithful in Wisconsin.

That’s right, supposedly anyone who’s caught cheating on his or her spouse can be fined $10,000 and get up to 3 years in prison, thanks to Statute 944.16.

Did you know this law was put into place in 1849, one year after Wisconsin became a state?

When I asked the Wisconsin State Law librarian about this one, she said “If you put that in there, you’re really going to freak some people out.” Haha.

Well… isn’t that a good thing!? Maybe some of these outdated laws have some merit after all.

8. You Can’t Force Someone to Have a Microchip Implanted

in wi, it's illegal to force a microchip implant

Have you heard NBC’s prediction that all Americans will be forced to get an RFID microchip implanted in them by 2017 per ObamaCare?

Well, guess what ObamaCare? That’s illegal in Wisconsin! Yep, we’re one of 5 states that passed legislation on mandatory microchip implantation. Woohaha. Doesn’t it feel good to be a Wisconsinite.

9. It’s Illegal to Shoot Animals From an Airplane


Are we talking about birds here? I mean COME ON. Who in their right mind would go shooting at grounded animals anyway? Wouldn’t you be deathly afraid of accidentally taking out a few humans?

Although, it would certainly be an interesting twist when deer hunting season rolls around.

10. It’s Illegal to Blow Up a Muskrat House


You would literally have to go out of your way to break a law like this. Who on Earth put the Wisconsin State Legislature through the hassle of having to pass this law? Don’t you have better things to do?

And what about beaver dams? Can I legally stick some dynamite in a prairie dog hole?
Anyway – if you happen to be a muskrat – this is a great law.

11. It’s Illegal to Sell Colored Chicks, Ducklings or Rabbits


This must have been someone’s idea for a great way to celebrate Easter? Why else would someone dye these baby animals and sell them? Well folks – in Wisconsin – I guess we’re going to have to stick to decorating eggs.

Apparently, the rights of “unborn chicks” are still unprotected.

But speaking of chicks and ducklings – you may have heard that it’s against the law for our neighbors in Minnesota to cross the border into Wisconsin with a duck or chicken on their heads. Seems logical, right?

Turns out this one is another legend that was probably confused because of an old law dealing with a fabric called duck cloth. Read more from Minnesota Public Radio.

However, if you do catch a Minnesotan crossing state lines with any sort of feathered friend on their head – I don’t care if it’s a goose, a pigeon or a peacock – your civic duty as a Wisconsinite is to send them back where they came from.

Other Funny City Laws in Wisconsin

Sheboygan – It’s illegal to water your lawn in a way that annoys others.
Did you hear that grumpy old man next door who never turns his sprinkler off? You’re lucky this is Green Bay!
Racine – It’s illegal to wake a fireman when he is asleep.
But…but…what if there is a FIRE!?!
Racine – It’s illegal to shoot missiles at parade participants.
How about launching grenades? That’s cool, right?
Connorsville – It’s illegal to fire your gun while your female partner is having an orgasm.
Not sure if you’d do that to cover up her noisy moans of pleasure, or to celebrate finally finding the G-spot.
La Crosse – It’s illegal to worry a squirrel.
Squirrels are such worry-worts already. It drives me nuts!
La Crosse – It’s illegal to play Checkers in public, because it’s also illegal to say “king me.”
So then, if I were playing Checkers with a squirrel in a La Crosse public park, and he was worried I might win then…ah never mind.
Kenosha – It’s illegal for men to be in the state of arousal in public.
I don’t know if there is a police officer in Kenosha who has to check all the men’s pants. If there is – I hope he gets paid well.
Milwaukee – If you’re thought of as offensive looking, it’s illegal for you to be out in public during the day.
Ok, that’s just plain mean, Milwaukee.
Sun Prairie – It’s illegal to ride a bike without your hands on the handlebars.
Look Ma! I’m breaking the law!
Wauwatosa – If a person fails to return books to the library, that person shall return their library card to the library until the books are returned.
You’ll get my library card when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. Come and get me librarians!

St. Croix – Women are not allowed to wear red in public.
Even Wisconsin Badgers red? Where’s your team spirit St Croix?
Wausau – Throwing snowballs, stones, arrows or other objects is illegal ($50 fine).
Stones and arrows I get. But snowballs? This is Wisconsin dammit! Let us have a little fun during winter.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Do it yourself!

DO it yourself!

Save money by updating your current bathroom instead of buying new ones. A fresh coat of paint and new hardware will give them a dramatic face lift.
 Call a RE/MAX Realty Center agent today! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

DO it yourself!

DO it yourself!

Save money by updating your current kitchen cabinets instead of buying new ones. A fresh coat of paint and new hardware will give them a dramatic face lift.

 Call a RE/MAX Realty Center agent today! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Open House-315 S 7th St, Watertown WI 53094 2/21/15 11:30am-1:00pm

This is a Great house, come and take a look!

Open House 2/21/15 11:30am-1:00pm Home for sale: 315 S 7th St, Watertown WI 

Move in ready two story home. 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bath, 2+ car garage. Beautiful hardwood floors. Sizeable kitchen and dining room with built in hutch. Large living room. 3rd bedroom is located to also make for a super sized master closet. Fantastic deck on corner lot. Will pass FHA financing! 315 S. 7th St.-Watertown, WI 53094…/1391074/

Amber Castonguay

Direct: 920-988-0048
Text: 920-988-0048
Fax: 866-211-2826

RE/MAX Realty Center
357 W Wisconsin Ave
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
Office: 262-567-2455

Connect With Me

Find Me on Facebook Connect with me on LinkedIn Follow me on Twitter Follow me on Google+ Active Rain Follow me on Pinterest Follow me on Trulia
If you have Family, Friends or Neighbors that are struggling with their mortgage there are options! Contact Amber Castonguay, your local CDPE & SHORT SALE EXPERT to see what your options are!

What's your net worth?

Did you know..........The average homeowner has a net worth of $194,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,400

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Finding a realtor in the Waukesha County area

Finding a realtor in the Waukesha County area

Lisa Bear of RE/MAX (262-893-5555) is an experienced real estate agent in Waukesha County and the entire Milwaukee Metro area

 Please feel free to contact me for any of your real estate needs including an online market if you are a seller, or finding a home if you are a buyer. My real estate focus in the  Waukesha County, Milwaukee County, Lake Country, Jefferson County, Dodge County and Washington County areas.  I have my IRES designation (International Real Estate Specialist) so I can assist you with all your real estate needs in Wisconsin, the USA or anywhere in the WORLD!

When you are seriously looking or just browsing at real estate in Wisconsin, I am a great resource to help you with all your needs and questions, whether a first time home buyer, relocating to or from the beautiful LAKE COUNTRY area, looking to invest or explore foreclosure opportunities or just

Real Estate in Wisconsin is an excellent investment!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5 Things to Consider About a Neighborhood Before Buying

5 Things to Consider About a Neighborhood Before Buying
5 Things to Consider About a Neighborhood Before Buying

Buying a home is a long-term, important investment, so take the time to discover what makes your targeted neighborhoods tick. There are a number of ways to check the pulse of a community; talking to neighbors can give you a great snapshot of what it’s like to live there. Here are five other ways to determine whether a neighborhood is the right fit for you.

1. Is it an up-and-coming area or still in transition?
You might start by researching local home values and foreclosure rates. Consider such factors as crime rate, development plans and proposed or new businesses. You can even contact local officials, such as the county property appraiser or the HOA manager (if applicable) for better insights. Sometimes buying a home in a transitional area may prove to be a good investment, but you probably want to make sure you'll feel good about your home in the interim, too.

2. Do the schools make the grade?
Even if you don’t have school-age children, you should be interested in how the schools in your potential neighborhood perform. Homes near high-ranking schools tend to maintain higher resale values. Start your research by visiting  or using the SchoolFinder tool at

3. What’s nearby?
Consider what’s important to you in your future neighborhood, and then explore the surrounding areas near your targeted home. Among things to keep in mind are proximity to stores, schools and green spaces. Aside from being practical, these amenities make it easy to mingle with neighbors, set up kids’ play dates or just play fetch with your pup. is a great place to search for nearby amenities – all you have to do is plug in an address and mode of transportation.

4. How far is it from work?
Try the new INRIX Drive Time tool on to determine how long it will take you to drive to work, school or area stores from your new home. You can also time a potential commute by doing a test drive during the time of day you’re most likely to go to and from work. Explore mass transit options. In addition to offering an alternative to driving, good public transportation near your home can have a positive effect on your property value.

5. How safe is it?
A neighborhood watch, well-lit streets, walkways, security systems and little to no signs of vandalism are signs of a safe neighborhood. You can see a picture of the types of crimes that occur in the neighborhood by researching on or and the local police department’s website.

A RE/MAX agent is one of the best helpers you could have on your quest to find the right neighborhood – and the right home – for your needs. Search for a local RE/MAX agent who can help provide the information you’re looking for.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Prepping for Sale: Spruce Up the Laundry Room

Prepping for Sale: Spruce Up the Laundry Room
Prepping for Sale: Spruce Up the Laundry Room
In many houses, laundry rooms are little more than semi-neglected utilitarian spaces best left unseen – not an impression you want to make if you’re selling your home.

If your laundry space needs some care, follow these organization and decorating tips to upgrade or cleverly conceal it.

Closet Up
Laundry rooms are tucked into many different places in a home, including the garage, basement, utility room, the kitchen and, in some urban homes, even the bathroom.

That’s where cabinets can come into play. A cabinetmaker can build an enclosure for the washer and dryer alone or for your entire laundry setup. You can also purchase cabinetry at a home improvement store and install it yourself.

When possible, conceal your laundry space with doors that match or complement other doors in your home. Avoid the conspicuous "accordion" door often found on laundry closets in older homes.  Alternatives include a sliding-door track system or even curtain panels. Curtains are a cheaper, softer and less permanent way to separate and hide your laundry.

Become Shelf Conscious
If your main concern is to conceal a bulky, full-size washer and dryer, a countertop installed directly above the appliances discreetly says, nothing to see here, folks! Use the countertop space as a display shelf during showings. Install a rod and curtain underneath to hide the machines from view.

Color Cleverly
Coordination is key when it comes to camouflaging a laundry room. Choose soothing, neutral palettes for curtains, wood and paint in your laundry space.

If the laundry room lacks cabinetry or shelving, use baskets and storage cubes in a coordinating color scheme to conceal detergent, hangers and clothes.

Show Discipline in Decor
Put laundry room knickknacks away. The last thing you need when sprucing up your laundry space is a cutesy sign that reads "Loads of fun" or "Drop pants here." Choose laundry area decor that is not personal or specific to cleaning. Homebuyers gravitate toward places they can easily picture living in ­– not picture you living in.

There are many easy ways to minimize your home’s flaws and highlight its best features. If you’re thinking about selling your home, contact your local RE/MAX agent for guidance on everything from quick upgrades to pricing, contract negotiations and support throughout the selling process.

President's Day: How does the White House compare to the typical home purchased?

President’s Day: How does the White House compare to the typical home purchased?

Posted in Economist Commentaries, by Brandi Snowden, Research Survey Analyst on

In the spirit of President’s Day we can use data from the 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers to see how the typical home differs from the White House.
Typical Home Purchased in the U.S.
  • 84% of buyers purchased a previously owned home, with 79% of buyers choosing a detached single-family home.
  • Looking at first-time and repeat buyers, both also purchased detached single-family homes more often with 75% of first-time buyers and 81% of repeat buyers.
  • 50% of all buyers purchased their home in a suburb/subdivision. The typical detached single-family home purchased was 2,000 square feet.
  • Homes purchased also had a median of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and was built in 1993.
  • Of all buyers, the expected length of tenure in the home purchased was 12 years.
The White House
  • The White House was built in 1792, and in comparison is located in an urban or central area.
  • The White House contains 6 levels, has 132 rooms, including 35 bathrooms.
  • It also includes features such as: a tennis court, jogging track, swimming pool, billiard room, movie theatre, and bowling alley.
  • While tenure in the median expected tenure in home lasts around 12 years, in the White House the expected tenure is between 4 and 8 years.

Want to buy a typical house and not the white house?  Call us!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

First-Time Homeowners Tackle an Imperfect House

First-Time Homeowners Tackle an Imperfect House
First-Time Homeowners Tackle an Imperfect House

By Marly Beste, RE/MAX Copywriter

We did it! We bought a house! After a frenzied home search, we actually ended up at the closing table, signed the paperwork and left with keys in our hands.

The fun was about to begin.

My husband and I knew renovations were in store. At the very least, we’d need to paint, do some updating and redesign some spaces. But this is our first house, so remodeling is new to us. We're complete novices.

But that hasn’t stopped us from tearing a few things down. In the first month of ownership, we’ve stripped wallpaper, removed two living room walls and demolished the brick fireplace.

And we still have a long way to go.

If you’re thinking about buying a home in need of TLC, here are some tips on whipping it into shape:
  • Capitalize on having an empty house. If possible, delay your move-in so you can begin the transformation without getting your things grimy (even if you have to live with your in-laws, like we did!).
  • Ask for help. We made an event out of it. When it was time to paint, we threw a “painting party.” Before friends arrived, we made a tray of tropical ham sandwiches, poured some drinks and queued up an island-inspired Pandora station. Everyone had a blast and the job got done.
  • Rely on expertise. The paint pros at your local hardware store are invaluable when the 5-gallon jug you just bought looks more purple than grey.
  • Work hard, but within reason. When you rush, it’s easy to make mistakes – and bad decisions that can compromise the overall design.
  • Get organized. Keep all your receipts in one place. Register new appliances and electronics and file for rebates within the first five days of your purchase. Don’t give in to the temptation to postpone these tasks in the chaos of moving; you could lose money down the road.
If you’re considering buying a home, contact your local RE/MAX agent for guidance on finding the right house – and exploring your options on making it even better.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Whether married, dating or single, most Americans believe that owning a home is a good financial decision. According to a new infographic from the National Association of Realtors®, relationship status can affect when and where buyers purchase a home and how much they spend on it.

After the Move: 5 Fast and Easy Ways to Feel at Home

After the Move: 5 Fast and Easy Ways to Feel at Home
After the Move: 5 Fast and Easy Ways to Feel at Home

You’re done buying your new home and, at last, the moving truck’s been unloaded. Now it’s time to unpack and make the new place your own – a labor-intensive process that will go a lot easier when you follow these five quick tips.

1. Divvy Up the Work
Give everyone in the family a list of jobs to do, with the big items – like furniture placement – to be done first. Focus on making the living room comfortable so the entire family can take a much-needed break at the end of the day. Crossing tasks off the list together will make everyone feel accomplished and more at home.

2. Ensure Safety First
Being in a new home can feel strange for a while. Taking time early on to address any safety concerns can help. Check all entrances and windows to ensure that they lock properly. Make sure you have enough keys for all the family members. Do the locks need changing? Schedule a locksmith and someone to help with any coded entries, such as a garage-door opener or security systems. Also, know where the circuit breaker is and how to operate it.

3. Do the Paperwork
It’s tempting, but do not put off the paperwork. Transfer all utilities, complete a change of address form for the post office, and update your address with your credit card companies, bank and insurance providers. Remember to make the time to change the address on your driver’s license, too. It’s not necessary to complete all these projects in one sitting, but the sooner they’re done, the better you will feel.

4. Make It Personal
Think about painting some walls and rooms with colors that are uniquely you. Or put up a treasured photograph or decorative item, and encourage your family members to do the same. This simple act will make you feel at home and can make the rest of the unpacking a much more pleasant experience.

5. Don’t Forget To Breathe
Remember, everything doesn’t have to be done at once. Schedule time out for a family dinner, movie or neighborhood outing. Or just relax, step outside to meet the neighbors and take time to enjoy your new surroundings.

Are you thinking of moving? Wondering how to sell your home? Contact a local RE/MAX agent for guidance and maybe a moving tip or two.

Do it right this Valentines day

Do it right this Valentines day......Give the give of love, a new home will last way longer than roses!

Friday, February 13, 2015

RE/MAX REALTY Center makes exciting annoucement...

REMAX Realty Center - Real Estate in Wisconsin is excited share with you our latest and greatest marketing tool that no other real estate agency in the area offers.  Be on the cutting edge of technology with our new 3D Showcase™ for Real Estate, bringing listings to life!

Engage buyers. Delight sellers. Our 3D Showcase™ is the most realistic, immersive way to experience a property online.

Traditional virtual tours and fly-through videos lack the perspective and “feel” that home buyers and sellers crave. Our 3D Showcase™ creates an emotional connection with the home.

Click on the link above and see for yourself!  Enjoy a complete 3D tour of one of our Luxury listings.  Contact a REMAX Realty Center (262)567-2455 agent today to become a 3D Showcase™ listing and stand above the crowd.

4 Home-Selling Myths Debunked

4 Home-Selling Myths Debunked
4 Home-Selling Myths Debunked

The process of buying and selling homes can seem mysterious to many novices. Even if well-meaning friends and family members offer advice from all sides, many first-time buyers and sellers may remain uncertain about some key facts.

Let’s see if we can debunk some of the most common home-selling myths that agents hear from clients every day.

Myth: The seller determines the sales price.

Fact: Your home’s sales price should be the result of many factors, among them the size and condition of the home, its location, current market conditions and selling prices of comparable homes in the area.  While the seller ultimately agrees on the final list price, it’s not as simple as pricing the home based only on the money the homeowner hopes to make.

Myth: You should overprice your house in order to leave room for negotiation.

Fact: Overpriced homes take longer to sell and typically sell under their market value. When you overprice, you actually limit your real buying pool. Buyers who can afford to pay only what your home is really worth won’t bother looking at it because they’ll assume they can’t afford it.
Potential buyers who can afford to pay your high asking price will soon realize your home doesn’t stack up to the others in the same price range. By alienating both pools of buyers, you run the risk of wasting the valuable marketing window when your home is a new listing.

Myth: There’s no need to make repairs if you plan on giving the buyer a repair credit.

Fact: Many homebuyers want a home that's move-in ready. If you plan on selling your home quickly and for top dollar, consider making any major repairs before you put the home on the market. Not only will the home be viewed as move-in ready, but your agent can also mention the repairs as a selling point in the marketing materials. If the need for additional fixes arises during inspection, that’s when you could discuss a possible repair credit for the buyers.

Myth: Home improvements pay for themselves when you sell.

Fact: While many repairs offer tremendous value down the road, few home-improvement projects provide a 100-percent return on your investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. Get expert opinions on what to fix, and how, before you take out that sledge hammer.

Whether you’re selling your first home or about to embark on a search to buy, find a local RE/MAX agent who can guide you.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How Going Green Can Help Your House Sell

How Going Green Can Help Your House Sell
How Going Green Can Help Your House Sell
When it comes to real estate, “going green” isn’t just a fad. It’s an investment in the future. The benefits to potential buyers are many, and having money-saving, energy-efficient upgrades in your home can mean the difference between selling quickly and lingering on the market.

A study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that 90 percent of homebuyers take energy efficiency into account when shopping for a home. Add the fact that most of the 125 million single family homes in the United States were built before energy-saving regulations were enacted and you’ve got two compelling reasons to consider “greening up” your property before putting it on the market.

Here are some of the advantages a green home offers buyers:

Lower Utility Costs
Eco-friendly appliances, such as Energy Star units, can save homeowners hundreds of dollars annually and significantly more over the long haul. Similarly, making sure your house is well insulated may not seem like a selling point, but it saves potential buyers money. So, added insulation is a feature worth highlighting.

Health Benefits
Natural and chemical allergies are serious issues for millions of people. Greening your home with pollen screens on the windows or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint can be a dealmaker for buyers affected by such issues.

Tax Incentives
Federal, state and local governments offer incentives to owners of certified green homes. Programs vary among jurisdictions, but federal programs in place through 2016 offer rebates of 10 to 30 percent for energy-saving improvements. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for programs in your area.

Greening up a home you want to sell doesn’t have to be complicated either. Here are some quick, low-cost, eco-friendly additions:

New Appliances
Investing in new appliances can make a big difference to potential buyers. Energy-efficient appliances can help set your house apart from comparable homes for sale. And it isn’t necessary to replace every appliance either. Start with the refrigerator, for example, and shop for an energy-efficient model on sale.

Light It Up
Make the switch to LED lights. Yes, the bulbs are more expensive, but they use 75 percent less energy and last 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs. When you point out to potential buyers that they won’t have to replace any bulbs for the next decade, you'll get their attention.

Stop the Leakage
Caulking windows is a simple and inexpensive way to keep the cool air in and the hot air out, or vice versa, depending on the season. It saves on energy costs and should be noted to prospective buyers.

Cut Water Waste
If you’re planning to remodel a bathroom or kitchen prior to selling, go with low-flow fixtures. They can reduce water usage by as much as 50 percent, without cutting water pressure. If you have a yard that needs upgrading, consider replacing grass with gravel or native plants that require less water.

Adding an attractive receptacle to catch rain water that can be used to water plants is a nice touch as well.

Are you thinking of selling? Find a local RE/MAX agent and ask about other ways you can get your home market-ready.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Rent or Buy? Here’s a Calculator to Help You Decide

Rent or Buy? Here’s a Calculator to Help You Decide
Rent or Buy? Here’s a Calculator to Help You Decide

Wondering if you should buy a home or keep renting? You’re not alone.

Millions of people are faced with this decision every day, and your move is dependent on a variety of factors: your income, ability to manage maintenance costs/upkeep, how much you’ve saved for a down payment, job stability, the housing market, rental vacancies, monthly payments, interest rates, proximity to work and school – the list goes on.

If you’re stuck trying to choose which option is best for you and your family, the New York Times has a cool tool worth checking out: a rent vs. buy calculator. Input items such as home price, income, the number of years you plan to stay in a place, taxes, fees, etc.. Once you’re done, the calculator computes the equivalent monthly rent. Give it a try!

For a complete picture of what the rent vs. buy prospects are like in your area, contact your local RE/MAX agent.

RE/MAX, Dream with Your Eyes Open

RE/MAX, Dream with Your Eyes Open

Call me Heidi Buchberger 262-443-2672 to make your dream a reality!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

5 Advantages of Buying a Fixer-Upper

5 Advantages of Buying a Fixer-Upper
5 Advantages of Buying a Fixer-Upper

We all have fantasy images of our dream house. These images may be hard to let go of when buying a home, especially when all you can afford are homes that, well, let’s just say need some TLC.

That’s when it’s important to keep in mind that the fixer-upper you’re looking at could have the potential to someday become your dream house. It’s just one advantage fixer-uppers can offer. Here are a few others:

1. Lower price
A home that needs work likely will be less expensive. Such properties rarely list at full market price.

2. Fewer competitors
Many buyers are unwilling or unable to put a lot of work into a house. This creates the perfect opportunity to snatch a bargain,
a major advantage welcomed in particular by first-time homebuyers or house hunters competing for homes in areas with low inventory.

3. A blank canvas
With a fixer-upper, you call the shots as to how the house will eventually look. You don’t have to settle for a home that reflects someone else’s taste. Plus, if you do some of the work yourself, you’re automatically awarded bragging rights.

4. Quicker equity
If you renovate the home shortly after you buy it, you may increase its value quickly. Equity provides many financial benefits, from raising your personal net worth to giving you an opportunity to refinance sooner, if needed.

5. The possibility of renovation loans
Ask your lender about the Federal Housing Administration’s 203k loans that provide homeowners with funds specifically for fixer-upper projects. The loans, the 203k Streamlined Mortgage and the full 203k Mortgage, are available for homes with needs ranging from cosmetic improvements to extensive structural work.

Whether you’re looking for the home of your dreams or a starter house that may need some work, a local RE/MAX agent can guide you there.