Mad City Dream Homes Real Estate Blog, Madison WI

are zestimates accurateZillow is a tremendously popular website with a ton of bells and whistles. One of the more popular features of the site is the "Zestimate", which Zillow uses to approximate a home's market value. We speak to many sellers every year about the market value of their property, and very often they are well aware of their Zestimate. People ask, "Is my Zestimate accurate?" Very often the answer is no, because the Zestimates are grossly overstated (see our data toward the bottom of this post).

Another common discussion point with sellers is their property's assessed value. We're all aware of our own property's assessment. It's used to calculate our annual tax bill. But is there any relationship between a property's assessed value and it's true market value?

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top listing mistakesPlanning to sell your home? As a home seller most of your success is due to the planning and preparation that you put into your listing well before it ever hits the MLS. Consult with a trusted real estate agent several months in advance of your anticipated sale. Get a solid game plan in place for your pricing, staging, and marketing. Your advanced planning and preparation will pay off big-time when your home hits the open market. 

Eight Seller Mistakes

This list is inspired by Massachusetts REALTOR Bill Gassett's excellent post on top home seller mistakes. Check out his article for more advice. Stop the sabotage, and avoid these common listing mistakes.

1. Advertising your pets

Many of us are pet lovers, but that doesn't mean we love other

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madison outdoor ice skatingImagine music, lights, disco balls and glow sticks. Put all of this on ice, and you have a fun and free family event every weekend at Madison Parks. Called “Groove and Glide,” the ice skating event travels from park to park throughout the winter. This year skaters can even join Bucky and the UW Women's Hockey Team at one of the events. Groove and Glide makes stops at Vilas, Tenney, Elver and Westmorland parks. Enjoy a few laps around the rink, and warm up with hot chocolate or a cappuccino. Concessions are available for purchase at every location except Westmorland, and skate rentals can be obtained for $6 for adults and $3 for skaters under age 14. After the first hour, skate rentals can be extended for $2.

The current schedule includes:


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Buyer Phone Call CampaignWe recently posted on how you and your buyer agent can collaborate to find an off-market property before the general public knows it's available for sale. Blanketing a neighborhood (or condo development) with a personal letter is an excellent strategy for beating the competition to a great home in a popular location. 

Another effective method is to ask your agent to call the households in your preferred neighborhood. Similar to the personal letter, an effective phone call campaign allows you to connect with property owners who are planning to sell in the near future. Here are a few tips for a successful phone call campaign, which we've learned through trial, error, and on-the-job education.

Five Tips for an Effective Phone Call Campaign

  1. Your
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Best Time to Sell Madison WIWhen is the best time to put your home on the market? Here's the short answer: by March 1st.

Each year the Madison real estate market quickly shifts from a buyer's market (in November and December) to a seller's market (in late winter and early spring). The graph below, which shows buyer activity by month, makes this abundantly clear. Although many local homes and condos sell each month, the house-hunting frenzy is strongest during the months of March, April and May. Now that we've made our way through the holiday season the market in early January is already heating up. We're seeing more showing activity right now than we did a month ago.

Madison Accepted Offers by Month - Homes and Condos


Why March 1st is a Great Time to List your Home

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letter to property ownersHousing inventory is much lower than it used to be - and demand is much higher - so for some buyers finding the right home can be a real challenge. In some neighborhoods the competition for homes is fierce. A well-priced listing in a popular neighborhood can sell within days (or sometimes even within hours) and with multiple competing offers.

However, there are a few different strategies you and your buyer agent can use to beat the competition to a great home in your preferred location. One very effective method is to deliver a letter to every home in your target neighborhood.

A personal letter offers a great way to reach home owners who are planning to sell but who have not yet put their home on the open market. 

As an example, our real estate

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Accountant Cindy Meicher HasenfratzWith just a few days left before the close of 2014, there are still chances to save on your upcoming tax bill. Cindy Meicher Hasenfratz, CPA, CVA and partner at Meicher CPAs, offers the following suggestions for preserving your income:

Clean out your closets

If you itemize, now is the time to make some trips to Goodwill, Salvation Army or your favorite charity.  Make a list of each item you donate, get a dated receipt, and you can deduct the fair market value of each item (their value may surprise you). You can claim up to $5000 worth of items without requiring an appraisal. The bonus- you’ll have cleaner closets!

Give, especially appreciated stock

You can also donate financially to your charity of choice. Gifts of appreciated stock provide

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MLS Search Mad City Dream HomesAt Mad City Dream Homes we're pleased to share a number of powerful tools which give you many of the same search capabilities as a licensed real estate agent. All of these tools are available on our real estate search page. Below are a few tips for using some of the most popular features on our site. Of course you can always contact us 24/7 with any property search question. We'll get back to you ASAP with an answer.

Search Open House Listings

This is one of our most popular search features. See this post for an example of how to use this tool.


Search By Location

This tool offers several different search options. You can search by one of more MLS numbers as in the example below. 

Search one or multiple cities. 

You can

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gift shop monona terraceAre you struggling to buy for that person who has everything? Perhaps it’s time to step away from the crowded shopping places, and enjoy the Madison museum scene. The city offers a wide variety of museums and entertainment venues. Museum gift shops benefit local arts and entertainment, while providing a unique selection of gifts you won’t find anywhere else.

For the veteran, collector or military historian

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum gift shop has a broad selection of books, branch-specific military gifts, and Civil War collectibles. Shoppers will be surprised by the apparel- both vintage and modern styles, and the variety of options for veterans to proudly display or preserve their memories. Collectors will be thrilled by authentic Civil War

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If you spend any amount of time looking for properties on the internet, it won't take long before you stumble across a few listings with some really suspect photos. Even in this day and age, there are plenty of listings out there which break many of the rules for good real estate photography. So much so that there is a website that is devoted entirely to the subject of terrible listing photos.

Check out the 3 sample listing photos below. How many rules does each of these pictures break? 

Bad Photo #1: Family Room

This photo was produced by an amateur using amateur equipment. The lighting is poor and the image is not crisp. The room is not professionally staged. It's full of holiday decorations and clutter. And is that Fido's chew toy on the

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