Buying Tips

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

Found 86 blog entries about Buying Tips.

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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Imagine you've come across a new listing with a beautiful, recently upgraded kitchen. The kitchen space is perfect for you and your family, but you're wondering who did the work and whether or not permits were pulled for the plumbing and electrical. If the property is located in Madison, there's a great online tool you can use to get answers to your questions. 

City of Madison Licenses & Permits Webpage

The City of Madison Licenses and Permits Webpage helps consumers research building permits pulled for individual properties. To access the page, go to If this is your first time using the site, you'll need to start by registering for an account. 

Once you've registered for an account, select the

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It is odorless, colorless and has no taste, but radon is a naturally occurring gas that exists throughout Wisconsin, and its radioactive properties make it a health hazard. Fortunately, there are ways to detect it, and remove it from the air you breath.

Lindsay Mefford, of Madison Radon Testing, offers radon testing as part of a home inspection, or as an independently completed process. To do the test, a box (smaller than a shoe box) is temporarily installed in the lowest level of your home. It's installed in a way that prevents tampering. The box takes air samples every hour, and measures the radon content in each sample. After 48 hours, the box is collected, and the measurements are averaged. Madison area homes can fall into three categories. Either

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Which price ranges are most competitive in the Madison real estate market? One way to measure the competitiveness (or popularity) of a price range is to look at the percent of offers within the range that involve competition from multiple buyers. In the Madison single family home market, our accepted offer data shows properties priced below $350,000 are in highest demand. Within this range, the most popular price category is $200k - $250k where a full 50% of all accepted offers involve competition from 2 or more buyers. 

Most Competitive Price Categories in Madison

In the Madison condo market, condominiums priced below $300,000 are most popular with buyers. Our 2017 data shows condos priced between $250k and $300k are in highest demand, with 43% of the accepted offers in this price category

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There are times when neighbors don't agree on property issues. It could be a tree's location, and a debate about who can trim it. Or construction of a fence, and where it can or can't be placed. When these issues arise, it's helpful to have a surveyor.

Noa Prieve and his team at Williamson Surveying & Associates are well acquainted with these issues. His team helps residential property owners daily to define their property lines, and determine the best way to proceed with neighborhood issues, or additions to existing properties. Prieve encourages buyers to have a survey completed before they close on their property. "It can be as important as your inspection," he says. "Knowing your property lines protects you from encroachment issues, and, if done

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