Buying Tips

Buying a Home in Madison & South Central Wisconsin: Real Estate Buying Tips

Found 73 blog entries about Buying Tips.

Unfortunately, some sellers do misrepresent or "under-represent" property defects on their real estate condition report. And it happens more often than we'd like to see. Based on our experience, failures to disclose are most likely to happen with For Sale By Owner and Limited Service listings. 

One fairly common omission is a seller's failure to disclose previous water intrusions. We know this because some water problems can be easy to detect. Mildew, water stains, soft wood, and elevated moisture readings are all signs of previous problems. When a seller does fail to disclose a water issue, that's a tip-off to be on the look out for other issues, too. 

sellers who lie about defects 

How to protect yourself from sellers who under-represent

One way you can protect yourself

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Thinking of buying a home or condo in the Madison area? We've got three online tools that will help you reach your goals. Learn how to research building permits, research schools, and discover local neighborhoods with these 3 handy tools. 

Madison Home Buyer Tools

3 helpful tools for Madison area home buyers

City of Madison building permit database

Have you ever found yourself wondering whether or not a home improvement project was completed properly and up-to-code? The city of Madison has a database that allows you to view the permits pulled for any residential property in the city. When you have questions about an individual property, you can research its permit history by visiting this website:

https://elam.cityofmadison.com/CitizenAccess/

State of Wisconsin

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Who you hire as your buyer agent can make all the difference between success and failure in Madison's low inventory real estate market. Here are six ways a skilled buyer agent (or buyer agent team) can help you succeed in the months ahead. 

buying in a low inventory market

How a skilled buyer helps you succeed in a competitive market

1) Your buyer agent connects you with a reliable, local lender who goes the extra mile. For example, some local lenders will contact the listing agent and vouch for your financial stability when you're submitting a competing offer. Lenders who deliver personal service like this are worth their weight in gold. 

2) Your agent finds properties before they hit the market. A good buyer agent will identify "coming soon" listings before they hit the

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This year has been the most competitive real estate market we've ever witnessed in Madison. Due to persistently low inventory, many buyers have missed out on their dream home and are still searching for the right property, in the right location, and at the right price.

Fortunately the upcoming holiday season offers a window of opportunity for buyers who stay engaged with their search. That's because the market slows noticeably during the holidays, as fewer offers are written in November and December than in any other month of the year. Over the years we've identified two other market trends which show the opportunities available during the holiday season. For more information, read on below... 

Buying a Home during the Holiday Season

1) Competing offers are less common during the

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Sometimes it takes a turn of events for you to find your passion. For Grant Priehs, a move to Madison was the impetus to explore new opportunities and do what he loves.

Grant Priehs Madison WIPriehs left work as an Art Director at a fast-paced marketing agency and began a successful career as a handyman in Madison. His company, Honey Do Handyman Services, has provided a rewarding way to help others. “Every homeowner has a list of things they notice every day - small tasks or updates that they just never get to; their ‘Honey-do’ list. But when you’re selling your home, you don’t want to have potential buyers leaving a showing with a dozen things they’ve noticed,” he says.

Priehs enjoys helping people complete projects they may not have the time or ability to complete on

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When you think about home improvements, it's common to think of the aesthetic work. Many times, the first upgrades are adding solid surface counter tops, wood flooring, or updated paint colors. These changes are all significant, and add value to your home. But while they make a beautiful impact, they will not save you money. Your monthly bills will see the greatest reduction by making changes to the energy efficiency of your home. 

Focus on Energy Madison WIFocus on Energy partners with 108 participating statewide utilities to make these cost savings possible. Their programs include simple things like swapping out old light bulbs for energy efficient models, providing incentives for the purchase of a Smart Thermostat, and they also include more significant projects, like adding

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Although many price points and locations in the Madison area have become long-term seller's markets, the month of July offers a good window of opportunity if you're still looking for the right home or condo in 2018. The reason is buyer competition decreases predictably in July, as the graph below shows. 

In fact, buyer activity will be much more subdued for the rest of the year compared to the feverish pace we experienced this Spring. Many families will be focused on their summer vacation, the coming school year, and the holiday season before their attention returns to real estate. Then buyer demand will rise predictably again in early 2019. 

More balance means more opportunity for buyers

A more balanced market means there will be fewer

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If you follow conventional thinking the best time to buy a home in Madison is in the springtime, when many new listings traditionally enter the market. Times have changed, however. The Madison area has evolved into a perpetual seller's market, one that is especially challenging for buyers during the spring season.

To illustrate this point, take a look at our 2017 market data below. It shows multiple offers are most common in the months of March, April and May - which is a typical pattern for the Madison area. In our market more offers are rejected in the springtime than in any other season of the year. 

Is the springtime really the best time to buy a home?  

According to our data, the answer is "no". Your odds of having your offer accepted

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Although there are many good reasons to sign a buyer agency agreement, we generally advise buyers to take their time before they commit to an agent and sign a contract. Instead, we encourage customers to "test-drive" their agent before committing to a buyer agency relationship. 

Why you shouldn't rush into signing a buyer agency contract

The last thing you want is to be locked into working with an agent who's the wrong fit for your needs. As an example, two different buyers recently contacted us saying they wanted to hire our team as their buyer representative. Both buyers said they were unhappy with their current agent and wanted to work with us instead. Unfortunately, we couldn't help either buyer. They had already signed a buyer agency

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In the age of online everything, home buyers may be tempted to use online lenders. These lenders offer online mortgage applications and approvals, and claim to offer the best rates for your home purchase. But they may not be your best option. Karen Wedvick, a mortgage lender at Johnson Bank, explains why local lenders are best equipped to help you with your home purchase. "When buying the biggest purchase of your life, you might want some local advice. There are lots of things that kill deals besides your credit rating and interest rates," she says. Wedvick suggests buyers consider the advantages of a local lender:

1. Local Decision Making. A lender at a local bank is well-versed on the local market. They often approve their own loans (or have

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