Thursday, April 30, 2015

New listing -for sale in Oconomowoc Wi 53066 1317 Waters Edge $325,000

The highest, and the lowest, property tax rates in the U.S.

Higher-end homes accounted for more than half of all property tax dollars nationwide. Single-family homes valued $300,000 and higher comprised 25 percent of all single-family homes nationwide, but the property taxes paid on those homes accounted for 54 percent of all property taxes collected nationwide.

The following states had the highest average property taxes in dollars for single-family homes
  • New York: $15,625
  • New Jersey: $8,108
  • New Hampshire: $5,795
  • Connecticut: $5,646
  • Hawaii: $5,024
On the other hand, the states with the lowest average property taxes in dollars for single-family homes are:
  • Alabama: $618
  • West Virginia: $931
  • New Mexico: $1,096
  • Tennessee: $1,116
  • Indiana: $1,418

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

Trying to decide whether to buy a fixer-upper house? Follow these seven steps, and you’ll know how much you can afford, how much to offer, and whether a fixer-upper house is right for you.

1.  Decide what you can do yourself.

TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house. 
  • Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.
  • Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?

2.  Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer.

  • Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.
  • If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.
  • Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.

3.  Check permit costs.

  • Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it'll cause problems when you resell your home.
  • Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.
  • Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.

4.  Doublecheck pricing on structural work.

If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems.

Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.

Don't purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:
  • You’re getting it at a steep discount
  • You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem
  • You know the problem can be fixed
  • You have a binding written estimate for the repairs

5.  Check the cost of financing.

Be sure you have enough money for a downpayment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings.

If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:
  • Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.
  • Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.
  • Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help home owners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).

6.  Calculate your fair purchase offer.

Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.
For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement.

Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently recarpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.
The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.
Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair. 

7.  Include inspection contingencies in your offer.

Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:
  • Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.
  • Radon, mold, lead-based paint
  • Septic and well
  • Pest
Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with.

If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.

Friday, April 24, 2015

8 Tips for Finding Your New Home

8 Tips for Finding Your New Home

A solid game plan can help you narrow your home buying search to find the best home for you.

House hunting is just like any other shopping expedition. If you identify exactly what you want and do some research, you’ll zoom in on the home you want at the best price. These eight tips will guide you through a smart home buying process.

1.  Know thyself.

Understand the type of home that suits your personality. Do you prefer a new or existing home? A ranch or a multistory home? If you’re leaning toward a fixer-upper, are you truly handy, or will you need to budget for contractors?

2.  Research before you look.

List the features you most want in a home and identify which are necessities and which are extras. Identify three to four neighborhoods you’d like to live in based on commute time, schools, recreation, crime, and price. Then hop onto to get a feel for the homes available in your price range in your favorite neighborhoods. Use the results to prioritize your wants and needs so you can add in and weed out properties from the inventory you’d like to view.

3.  Get your finances in order.

Generally, lenders say you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Create a budget so you know how much you’re comfortable spending each month on housing. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to investigate financing.

Gather your financial records and meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter spelling out how much you’re eligible to borrow. The lender won’t necessarily consider the extra fees you’ll pay when you purchase or your plans to begin a family or purchase a new car, so shop in a price range you’re comfortable with. Also, presenting an offer contingent on financing will make your bid less attractive to sellers.

4.  Set a moving timeline.

Do you have blemishes on your credit that will take time to clear up? If you already own, have you sold your current home? If not, you’ll need to factor in the time needed to sell. If you rent, when is your lease up? Do you expect interest rates to jump anytime soon? All these factors will affect your buying, closing, and moving timelines.

5.  Think long term.

Your future plans may dictate the type of home you’ll buy. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in the home for five to 10 years? With a starter, you may need to adjust your expectations. If you plan to nest, be sure your priority list helps you identify a home you’ll still love years from now.

6.  Work with a REALTOR®.

Ask people you trust for referrals to a real estate professional they trust. Interview agents to determine which have expertise in the neighborhoods and type of homes you’re interested in. Because homebuying triggers many emotions, consider whether an agent’s style meshes with your personality.

Also ask if the agent specializes in buyer representation. Unlike listing agents, whose first duty is to the seller, buyers’ reps work only for you even though they’re typically paid by the seller. Finally, check whether agents are REALTORS®, which means they’re members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. NAR has been a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.

7.  Be realistic.

It’s OK to be picky about the home and neighborhood you want, but don’t be close-minded, unrealistic, or blinded by minor imperfections. If you insist on living in a cul-de-sac, you may miss out on great homes on streets that are just as quiet and secluded.

On the flip side, don’t be so swayed by a “wow” feature that you forget about other issues -- like noise levels -- that can have a big impact on your quality of life. Use your priority list to evaluate each property, remembering there’s no such thing as the perfect home.

8.  Limit the opinions you solicit.

It’s natural to seek reassurance when making a big financial decision. But you know that saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. If you need a second opinion, select one or two people. But remain true to your list of wants and needs so the final decision is based on criteria you’ve identified as important.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Keep Your Home Purchase on Track

Keep Your Home Purchase on Track

You’ve found your dream home. Make sure missteps don’t prevent a successful closing.

A home purchase isn’t complete until you make it to the closing. Until then, the transaction can fall apart for many reasons. Here are five tips for avoiding mistakes that cause a home sale to crater.

1.  Be truthful on your mortgage application.

You may think fudging your income a little or omitting debts when applying for a mortgage will go unnoticed. Not true. Lenders have become more diligent in verifying information on mortgage applications. If you fib, expect to be found out and denied the loan you need to fund your home purchase. Plus, intentionally lying on a mortgage application is a crime.

2.  Hold off on big purchases.

Lenders double-check buyers’ credit right before the closing to be sure their financial condition hasn’t weakened. If you’ve opened new credit cards, significantly increased the balance on existing cards, taken out new loans, or depleted your savings, your credit score may have dropped enough to make your lender change its mind on funding your home loan.

Although it’s tempting to purchase new furniture and other items for your new home, or even a new car, wait until after the closing.

3.  Keep your job.

The lender may refuse to fund your loan if you quit or change jobs before you close the purchase. The time to take either step is after a home closing, not before.

4.  Meet contingencies.

If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If you’re required to secure financing, promptly provide all the information the lender requires. If you must deposit additional funds into escrow, don’t stall. If you have 10 days to get a home inspection, call the inspector immediately.

5.  Consider deadlines immovable.

Get your funds together a week or so before the closing, so you don’t have to ask for a delay. If you’ll need to bring a certified check to closing, get it from the bank the day before, not the day of, your closing. Treat deadlines as sacrosanct.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Questions You Should Ask Mortgage Lenders

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Looking to buy or sell?  Let me know how I can help.

Contact your local RE/MAX  Realty Center Agent Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one. I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pay your TAXES

Posted: 09 Mar 2015 06:58 AM PDT

An article in RisMedia has looked at RealtyTrac’s Property Tax Rates Report for last year, the first the company has produced. This shows the effective property tax rates for single family homes and covers over 1,000 counties throughout the country.

The report shows the average property taxes paid last year and the effective property taxes. Effective property taxes are calculated by taking the average property taxes for single family homes last year and dividing this figure by the average estimated value of single family homes at the end of the year, and by the number of years owned and property value.

tax vector

RealtyTrac found that owners of low end and high end homes tend to pay the highest property tax rates. Throughout the country the average effective property tax rate for single family homes last year was 1.29%. For homes valued at $50,000 or less this rate was 1.68% while for homes valued at between $50,000 and $100,000 the rate was 1.4%. For property valued at between $1 million and $2 million the rate was 1.56%, while homes valued at between $2 million and $5 million incurred a rate of 1.77%.

Homeowners who have owned their property between five and 15 years were found to have the highest effective property tax rates while those who have owned their home for more than 20 years had the lowest effective property tax rates. Overall, the average effective property tax rate was 1.35% for homeowners who have had their property for between 10 and 15 years and this rate was 1.34% for homeowners who have owned the property between five and 10 years. Homeowners who have had their property for less than a year incurred a property tax rate of 1.18%, while the tax rate for homeowners who have had their property more than 20 years was 1.15%.

Apparently certain states give property tax advantages to homeowners who have owned the property for a long time, but those who bought their property during the middle of the housing bubble or in the years leading up to the last housing bubble may still be paying taxes on an overinflated evaluation of their home. Experts feel it may be worth the time and effort appealing their property’s assessment, if this option is available to them.

States with the highest effective property tax rates were New Jersey at 2.01%, Connecticut at 2.11%, Illinois at 2.15%, Texas at 2.18% and New York at 3.01%.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Want to Challenge your Property Assessment...

Property Assessment Challenge Process

This is the time of the year when property assessments will begin to come out.

A property owner would have to contact the municipal assessor for the current assessment unless the assessment has changed from the prior year. Then a notice is to be mailed out indicating the amount of the changed assessment and the time, date, and place of the Board of Review (BOR) meeting (or meeting of the Board of Assessors (BOA) if one exists) meeting. The notice includes information on how to appeal the assessment. Current year assessments are typically available before the second Monday in May.

The Department of Revenue also has an online calendar that provides each municipality's Board of Review (BOR) and Open Book information. Go to and then click on Inquiry for 2015 under the Property Owners heading for local information.

For additional information regarding property tax appeals, see the Property Assessment Appeal Guide for Wisconsin Real Property Owners at

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mike Szymczak - Your Midwest Mold Removal Expert

Last weeks April showers sure did make my lawn turn green and also gave all of the spring flowers a nice drink. These spring rains will also start to feeding any mold that also we may have in our basements, attics or other hidden areas until that home inspectors starts taking a closer look around the property.

If you need fast, affordable Mold remediation, testing or just have a question, I am ready when you need me so just call my cell 414 614-3000 and I will be happy to help.

And please visit my updated web site at:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

3 Key Pre-Offer Home Seller Actions


Sellers who wait until they're faced with a buyer's offer to purchase before initiating three key actions, may be forcing themselves to make too many decisions at once and too quickly.
Most of us are nervous about decision making. Many lack confidence in their ability. Yet, sellers will be faced with quickly making multiple financial, legal, and lifestyle decisions when a buyer's offer is presented to them.

There are 3 key positive actions sellers should begin beforeoffers arrive, so that they are prepared for decision making and are less overwhelmed by the selling process:
#1. Start thinking that you're living in the buyer's new home.
Mentally move out. Let go of "mine." Cut the emotional cord. Concentrate on making the property as attractive to buyers as possible and practical. If you wait to start this "cut the emotional cord to home" thinking when your real estate professional presents you with an offer, you're doing yourself a tremendous disservice. Making confident decisions is difficult when you're distracted by pride of ownership and personal history.
#2. Start thinking about what the buyer may ask you to do.
Anticipate buyer requests regarding financing, moving dates, and other factors that may cause inconvenience or cost to you, the seller. For instance, if you had to wait many months for closing and the money from the sale, what problems could that cause you? Conversely, consider costs attached to moving in less than a month or at least sooner than convenient. Do you understand possible costs and considerations if buyers ask you to hold a second mortgage to enable them to pay the top dollar you ask for? Ask your real estate professional to explain how seller-held mortgages work and what would have to be true for you to sell that mortgage and realize cash.
#3. Start thinking beyond list price to achieve full offer value.
The value expressed in a buyer's offer to purchase involves 5 key elements - it's a financial package:
  1. Purchase Price is not automatically the amount the seller receives since other factors, like unpaid property taxes, can reduce the total. It's not the purchase price, but the net proceeds of the sale that sellers should concentrate on. Real estate professionals can calculate, or at least estimate, the seller's net proceeds after costs related to the offer and deduction of commission.
  2. Closing Date, or the day ownership is transferred and the seller receives the money, can represent cost or value to sellers. If the seller has to make two moves or has to pay two mortgages during the transition from one home to another, costs can add up and offer value goes down.
  3. Inclusions and Exclusions represent costs and value. Appliances, light fixtures, and draperies are common seller inclusions, but the cost of replacing them in the next home reduces profit.
  4. Terms and Conditions are clauses in the offer which cover "what if" risks and the obligations of both parties. These clauses detail what the buyer asks the seller to do for the purchase price. The degree of uncertainty attached to the conditions and the buyer's related ability to close effect the value of an offer.
  5. Intent and Sincerity are vital aspects of an offer although difficult to quantify. For the seller, offer value lies in the certainty that the buyer will close in spite of market shifts and other problems ahead.

Weeks or months may pass from the time that you decide to sell and the day your real estate professional receives an offer to present to you. This key stage of selling your home is no time to discover:
  • what you didn't understand about selling
  • what you haven't considered thoroughly
  • which details comprise your ideal outcome.
Suggestion: To prepare for offer presentation, read the offer form standard clauses soon after listing, so that you understand what the small print commits you to do, protects you from, and leaves you vulnerable to. For instance, the seller is usually responsible for keeping the property fully insured until title changes hands. Do you understand what responsibilities you have if flooding, storm damage, or fire strikes before then? Ask your listing salesperson to show you typical offer clauses well in advance, so you have time to digest details and ask a lot of questions before you're up against the offer deadline which may only be a few hours away.
Discussing strategies and contingencies with your listing salesperson ahead of offer presentation will help the professional negotiate a solid high-value Agreement with the buyer. Mentally preparing yourself, and anyone else who has a say in what happens to the property, means no one will be pressured into snap decisions or miss opportunities under the tight timelines common with offers.
Real estate professionals are trained to help sellers make decisions in their own best interest by providing necessary context and details, but these professionals cannot advise sellers exactly what to do, nor make decisions for them.
To gain full benefit from the knowledge and experience of the real estate professional who lists your real estate, let them fully prepare you for offer presentations in advance. When an offer comes in (usually at a very inconvenient time), you'll feel as confident and prepared as possible faced with this life-changing opportunity. You will understand which decisions to make and how to evaluate the full offer.
Looking to buy or sell?  Let me know how I can help.

Contact your local RE/MAX  Realty Center Agent Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one. I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

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Friday, April 10, 2015

April Showers

Don’t Let April Showers Ruin Curb Appeal

GIt’s finally starting to feel like spring here in the Midwest, and the market is heating up, too. Before things get too hectic, now is the perfect time to help your clients get poised and ready to sell with these simple curb appeal tips.
Take Notes
It’s been a long winter, and many of us have spent the last two months buried in snow. Take some time to walk around your property and record everything that needs to be updated or fixed. Winter weather can have long and unusual effects, and you don’t want to forget to address any issues. Don’t forget to look up during your walk – make sure your gutters and roof haven’t been damaged!
Start Outside
The first thing a prospective buyer sees is the exterior of your home, so spend some time sprucing it up. Pick up any large debris left behind from the winter. Take care of your lawn, and reseed it if you need to. If you can, invest in fresh landscaping. Even small investments, like window boxes, will go a long way. Trim any hedges that have overgrown and get rid of any plants that didn’t make it through the season. Don’t forget to get rid of pesky salt stains! You can easily rent a pressure washer at your local home improvement store.
Pay Attention to Details
Once you’ve taken care of the most visible issues, focus on the details. Replace or upgrade any light fixtures that need attention. Add a pop of color with a new coat of paint or with colorful planters by the front door. Freshen up the paint trim around the front door and windows. Make sure your house number is visible and eye catching so potential buyers know where to find you.
Now that you’re on a roll, don’t stop outside! Bring the spring cleaning indoors to really impress buyers. Make sure the entryway is spotless and change out seasonal dĂ©cor. Move furniture and dust in those hard to reach places. Make it easy for prospective buyers to imagine their own lives and families in this space by removing visible clutter and simplifying.

RE/MAX Dream With Your Eyes Open, Condo

RE/MAX Dream With Your Eyes Open, Condo

3D Tour of 430 Landimore Ln. ~ Legends at Brandybrook

One of Wisconsin's top golf course communities. Incredible scenic golf course and club house with top of the line amenities. This community awaits the serious or social golfer. Plenty of activities to enjoy luxury living. This home offers 4 spacious bedrooms, gourmet kitchen for the one who loves to cook, with granite counter tops and tile flooring, the dinette offers fantastic views. Large open spaces, with plenty of room for entertaining. Spacious work shop for the hobbyist. This home offers a spa like atmosphere with built in sauna and hot tub. Call for your showing today. 

New Home Need Inspections Too


Question: We are looking to buy a new home from a builder. We like the neighborhood and the price has been reduced to make it very attractive. Additionally, the builder is throwing in a number of extras, including paying all of our closing costs.
However, we do not know this builder's reputation, and would like to have the home inspected before we go to closing. Is this possible?

Answer: In today's buyer's market, most anything is possible, and I think it's a very good idea. However, builders often reject such arrangements, for a number of reasons. Some builders claim that this will void their insurance policy and are afraid that someone will get hurt during the inspections. Other builders don't want their employees bothered by too many questions from the inspector, while other builders just say that "we will provide you with a house that has been approved by the county inspectors, so you do not have to worry."
But you are correct in worrying. According to Frank Lesh, former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), "even new homes have defects that only a professional can detect".
Keep in mind that in many counties, the government inspectors are busy and do not have time to carefully look at all aspects of the new home. Often, by the time the county inspector makes a site visit, your builder may already have put up the drywall, thereby covering up the electrical and the plumbing.
I have been involved in a number of new home warranty issues, many of which could have been avoided had the buyer been given the right to inspect the new home as it was being built. In one case, the new homeowner kept hearing pipes knocking every time the upstairs bathroom sink was turned on. The homeowner forced the developer to open up the walls -- at the developer's expense -- and found that some of the plumbing pipes were not properly affixed to the wall. The building inspector that the homeowner retained -- after the house had been completed -- determined that this was what he called "water hammer".
Indeed, in this case, the builder acknowledged that had there been a periodic inspection, the problem would have been detected earlier, at a significant cost savings to the builder.
ASHI recommends a three-pronged inspection: prior to the pouring of the foundation, prior to insulation and drywall, and finally prior to the final walk-through.
You should tell the builder that you want the right to have an inspector of your choice -- and at your expense -- to conduct these three inspections. The sales contract you sign should spell out this right in clear terms.
There are many components involved in a new home -- such as the roof, the foundation, the electrical and plumbing and the heating and air conditioning systems. I recently heard of a situation where a homeowner complained that the new house was not being adequately cooled, and when a professional inspected the system, he discovered that the builder had made a mistake. The system that was designed for a smaller house was accidentally installed in the house that was inspected.
Once again, the developer had to spend a lot of money correcting the situation -- money which could have been saved had there been periodic inspections.
It often amazes me that when consumers buy a new car, they inspect it carefully, even to the point of kicking the tires. But when they buy a new house, they are more concerned about how many bedrooms there will be, and what size television will they be able to put in the family room.
To my knowledge, there are two major home inspection organizations: ASHI and the National Association of Home Inspectors.
If you do not have the name of a competent inspector, you can find one by going to either of these organization's website.
When you contact a home inspector, inquire of his/her qualifications and background and check him/her out on the Web and at the Better Business Bureau.
If you decide to hire an inspector, get a copy of the inspector's contract before you formally commit yourself. Read it carefully, and make sure that the inspector will be doing the job you want.
There is one controversial provision in most home inspector's contract, called "an exculpatory clause". This states that should the inspector make a mistake and negligently fail to pick up problem areas in the house, your only remedy is to get full refund of the contract price. This clause has been upheld in the State of Maryland. However, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held that these exculpatory clauses will not be enforced "when a party to the contract attempts to avoid liability for intentional conduct of harm caused by ‘reckless, wanton or gross behavior." (Carlton v Home Tech, decided June 15, 2006). This was a modest fix but unless you can prove that the inspector was engaged in such behavior, the exculpatory clause will be enforced. State laws differ on this issue.
While not every home inspector will agree to delete this clause, it certainly is worth trying.
Purchasing a new home creates significant anxiety among many potential homebuyers. Why not get an inspector to be on your side to relieve you of at least one aspect -- namely is the house built properly or will we have problems after we go to settlement?

Looking to buy or sell?  Let me know how I can help.
Contact your local RE/MAX  Realty Center Agent Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one. I can  guide you  toward your next home.
See you at the closing!

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