Buying Tips

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

Found 73 blog entries about Buying Tips.

The 2018 home buying season is ramping up in Madison and Dane County, so right now is the perfect time to share some of our recent articles written for local buyers. All of these articles were written within the last year and offer some great tips for anyone looking to buy a home or condo in 2018.

10 articles for Madison area home and condo buyers

#1: Our predictions for the 2018 real estate market

Read our predictions for this year's real estate market and you'll understand that taking a casual approach to your home search won't get the job done in 2018. You'll need to be very proactive with your search and hire a good buyer agent to represent you.  

#2: 15 ways to write a winning offer

Inventory remains tight throughout all of Dane

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The Madison real estate market will once again be very competitive in 2018. We're predicting another year of low inventory and rising prices for all of Dane County. If your goal is to buy in the new year, then right now is the time to start planning for your purchase. Here are our 6 new years resolutions that will help you successfully buy your dream home in 2018. 

#1: Get pre-approved with a reliable local lender

Work with a proven, local lender who gives you the personal attention and service you need in today's competitive market. Some of the big box and internet lenders have a tendency to miss deadlines and issue bad appraisals. If you value good communication and reliable service, then go local with your mortgage. Ask us for a referral to a

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Our buyer agent team includes 7 full-time real estate agents plus 4 administrative professionals who work together to serve our clients. Below are 5 reasons why our buyer clients appreciate our team-based customer service model. 

#1: Responsiveness

Your lead buyer agent is responsible for carrying out your home-buying plan. However, we also make our entire agent team available to you so you receive the timely service you need in today's fast-moving market.

For example, you may need to see a hot new listing ASAP before any other buyer has a chance to write an offer on it. If your lead agent is unavailable, that's not a problem. Another agent from our team will schedule your showing immediately so you don't miss out on the opportunity to

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The hot spring market seems to come a little earlier to Madison with each passing year, as buyers seek to get a jump on their competition. Last year the market really heated up in February, as can be seen in the graph below. 

Each bar on this graph represents a snapshot of the Madison single family home market taken mid-month. In February of 2016 only 35% of all single family home listings were under contract with an accepted offer. In February of 2017 the percentage jumped to 51%. In other words, if you were searching for listings online in February of 2017, over half of the listings you viewed were already spoken for and scheduled to close soon. The market stayed this tight all the way through the month of June.


2018 will be another low

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It's hard to believe, but the holiday season is right around the corner. This means the best time of year for buying a home is right around the corner, too. To see why, take a look at the graph below, which shows accepted offer totals for each month of the calendar year. 

Year in and year out, November and December are the 2 slowest months for real estate in the Madison area. This market dynamic creates 3 big advantages for home buyers during the holiday season. 

3 advantages for holiday home buyers

First, there's much less competition from other buyers during the holiday season. Your odds of getting your offer accepted are much higher in November and December than in the spring and summer months. 

Second, buyers have the psychological

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What is the best way to learn about schools and school districts in the Madison and Dane County area? The report card system put forward by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is one online tool that can help you with your research. The DPI report cards offer comparative data about school and school district performance.

How to use the school report card system

First, go to the report system web page here: 

Then select a school district and school that you'd like to review. In this example we've selected Northside Elementary in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District. 

The DPI website will produce a report for your selected school which you can download for viewing (for an example,

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In this low inventory market a little creativity and elbow grease can make all the difference in your home search. One very effective way to find and buy a home is to send letters to property owners in your preferred location. If you're targeting a specific neighborhood or condo community, mailing letters is an excellent way to find properties before they get listed for sale. By being proactive, you gain the advantage over other buyers who rely on more traditional search strategies. 

buying a home through direct mail

Why personal letters work

Upon receiving your letter many property owners will be pleasantly surprised by the prospects of a quiet sale. It's like pressing the easy button. Suddenly, all of the stress and anxiety that come with the traditional listing could be

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communicating your offer to purchaseAs listing agents we're noticing some interesting shifts in practice as the world becomes more digitally dependent, in particular with how offers are being submitted and communicated to sellers. Specifically, we're noticing more communication being done through text and email, and less through telephone calls and conversation. 

A relatively common scenario is for a buyer agent to email the listing agent an offer and then follow that up with a text message asking the listing agent to confirm receipt. In other words offers are being submitted without the buyer agent initiating any conversation with the listing agent. These types of offers, in our experience, are the ones least likely to get accepted in a competitive situation. 

Which offers are the

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September is a great month to buy a home. The reason is we typically see a brief lull in the market as families focus on their back-to-school routines. Our 2016 market data shows how buyer activity dipped in September and then jumped back up again in October. This is a pretty typical pattern for the fall real estate market. 

Buying a home in September

When buyer activity decreases, sellers become more flexible

We know from experience that competing offers will be less prevalent in September and throughout the fall season. With fewer buyers and fewer bidding wars in the fall, sellers will lose some of their advantage. Some will become more flexible and more willing to negotiate in the months ahead. 

Sometimes it pays to go against the norm

Popular opinion says to

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Even in a hot seller's market there are plenty of over-priced listings which won't sell until the owner gets realistic about pricing. For some sellers, that realization is happening right now. The over-heated spring market has given way to a more balanced summer market, motivating some owners to drop their price in order to get their property sold.  

Opportunistic buyers are pouncing on price reductions

Some buyers have given up on their search because they don't believe there are enough listings to go around in the summer market. Other more opportunistic buyers are staying in the game and acting immediately as soon as the right price reduction or right listing comes along. 

It's true, there are fewer new listings to choose from in the

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