Winter selling tips

Have you put your home up for sale? Are you worried about showings during the winter? Here are some tips on how to prepare a little extra for a winter home showing:

Have a parking plan: Make sure the showing agent knows where the best place to park is. If you have a driveway, shovel. If you have a path to your front door, shovel. If you have a sidewalk, shovel!

Turn on the lights: Counter winter’s cloudy and short days by turning on all of the lights in a home for each showing. Have the front lights on even if there aren’t any showings that night in case someone drives by.

Have a place for shoes: Prospective buyers may arrive at the front door with shoes coated in snow or salt. You could have slippers or disposable booties available, along with a bench or chair, if there is room for one, where a visitor can sit and easily remove or put on their boots.

Watch for odors: Homes can get stuffy in the winter. Use a room fragrance if needed, but nothing too strong. Cleaning more often than you think you should is also good.

Don’t make it too toasty: Keep the temperature at a comfortable 65 degrees during your showings (although keep in mind that a comfortable temperature for your thermostat can vary form house to house.) Potential buyers will most likely be wearing their winter coats when they tour the house so no reason to make them sweat.

Are you still on the fence about putting your home on the market during the winter? Give us a call and we can talk!

New mortgage rules

New rules for borrowing went into effect Jan. 10.

These rules are to help ensure home buyers have access to safer mortgages that meet the stronger underwriting standards.

The two big ones to know are: 

“Ability-to-repay” rule: Mortgage lenders must ensure borrowers can actually afford their loans over the long term. Applicants’ income, assets, savings, and debt against their monthly house payments will be more closely scrutinized. Borrowers likely will need to produce “even more tax records, pay stubs, and bank and investment account information,” USA Today reports.

Qualified Mortgage: Borrowers who meet the ability-to-repay requirements will likely be eligible for a QM. QM loans must meet at least some of the following guidelines: They cannot contain risky features, such as terms that exceed 30 years or interest-only payments; carry more than 3 percent in upfront points and fees for loans above $100,000; or push a borrowers’ total debt above 43 percent of their monthly income unless the loan qualifies to be backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, or a small lender.

For more information on the roll out, check out the NRA page. 

Don’t forget to shovel!

Is there snow on the sidewalk in front of your home or place of business right now? Please shovel it.

Shoveling may seem like the last thing you want to do. It’s cold outside and the wind is blowing.

But, it’s better than getting fined.

In La Crosse, there will be patrolling: 

With the recent snowfalls, residents are reminded that he or she must clear the sidewalks of properties he or she owns of snow and ice within 24 hours of the last snowfall as defined in Section 5.08 of the City Municipal Code. If the property is on a corner, the curb ramps must be cleared as well. The City of La Crosse may issue a warning for non-compliance of this ordinance and if no action is taken will remove the snow and ice. The cost of removal will be charged to the owner of the property. A $50.00 administrative fee and $2.50 per lineal foot of snow and ice removed from the owner’s sidewalk will be assessed to the owner of the property.

In Onalaska:

The City requires that all snow and ice be removed from public sidewalks within 24 hours of any snowfall. In an effort to keep public sidewalks safe, the City enforces this requirement by first informing property owners who have not complied by mail. If the sidewalk is not cleared after a notice has been sent, the City will hire a private contractor to remove the snow or ice and bill the property owner.

Don’t forget about parking:

From November 1st to April 1st, between the hours of 1:00 AM and 6:00 AM you must be parked on the correct side of the street.EVEN days (date after midnight) park on the EVEN side of the street.
ODD days (date after midnight) park on the ODD side of the street

Fine table for non-compliance of alternate side parking:

 Initial Fine

After 10 Days

After 45 Days

 1st & 2nd ticket




3rd, 4th, and 5th ticket




 6th + tickets




November 2013 home sales

Yes, it is closer to 2014 then last month, but the November 2013 Wisconsin housing stats just came out!

Here are the state’s numbers:


Compare that to the West region:

localMore specifically, here is the La Crosse County home sales report for November:

la crosse la crosse 2

There are plenty of homes on the market. Feel free to see for yourself and give us a call!

Wisconsin home sales fell 6 percent in November 2013 when compared to November 2012, although total sales for the year remain ahead of 2012, according to the latest housing report by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). Comparing the first 11 months, home sales were up 11.1 percent in 2013 over 2012. Prices were also higher in November, rising 4.7 percent above the same month last year, to a statewide median of $136,000.

It could be due to higher mortgage rates, steady rising home prices, or a heightened uncertainty of federal fiscal and health care policies as potential factors for the cool down. The combination of a short-lived partial federal government shutdown in October and continued uncertainty associated with anticipated health care expenses may have kept some potential buyers on the sidelines in November.

Despite all that news, many realtors still feel the market is still good. 

Time to de-stress

So the large portion of the holiday season is over! Save for New Years, most of our celebrating is done.

With a nice Saturday, today seems like a good day to relax and recharge.

However, here are a few quick tips to de-stress daily:

de stressThe most important is No. 1: Take care of your body. If you’re needing an extra hour of sleep, take it!

Anyone else have any tips for relaxing?



Why sell now?


We posted earlier on why you should buy a home during winter , but there are just as many reasons to list your home during the same season. We posted 17 reasons, but wanted to touch on one of them.

If you are looking to be a buyer during the spring season, now might be the time to list.

Not only is the stress from the holiday gone, but there is a little bit of down time before spring break comes around.

When spring comes, there will be many new buyers flooding the market and multiple offers on one home. If you are a non contingent buyer, meaning you don’t have to sell your home in order to buy, it makes an offer more enticing to sellers.

So, if you can sell your home ahead of time, that will be you!

By selling now, you may have an opportunity to be a non-contingent buyer during the Spring, when many more houses are on the market for less money. This will allow you to sell high and buy low.

Does this sound enticing enough for you? Let us know!

Realtors feel market is “still good”

The information gathered  in the Realtors Confidence Index concerning transactions in November indicates that the market is “still good” although not as strong as before. Local conditions vary. There were reports of a slowdown coming from states such as New York, Iowa, California, Texas, Ohio, Delaware, and Florida, and reports of strong “micro-markets” from states like Wisconsin, Washington, Arkansas, and Indiana

Many REALTORS® reported that the increase in interest rates, the prospect of interest rates further rising in 2014, and higher property mortgage insurance for FHA loans have put off interested homebuyers. Meanwhile, conventional loans which do not require upfront PMI downpayments continue to be difficult to access due to stricter underwriting guidelines.

Lack of inventory, although eased somewhat compared to previous months, continues to be a drag on the recovery. REALTORS® reported the dearth of REOs that could augment supply for homebuyers, given that REOs are instead being converted to rentals by investors. With improving inventory and slowing demand, price appreciation has eased. Properties were also generally on the market longer than was the case a few months ago.

REALTORS® expressed anxiety about the effect of the Qualified Mortgage rules that come into effect in January 2014 and which are expected to further decrease credit availability. In coastal areas such as Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Missouri, Washington, Oregon, and Vermont, the steep increase in flood insurance rates was reported as the primary factor depressing demand. Another concern was the impact on consumer finances with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The modest job recovery effect of tighter fiscal spending remains as a major issue affecting the recovery.

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

As winter sweeps across the country, carbon monoxide becomes a main concern for many people. The odorless, colorless gas can be fatal. 

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that carbon monoxide poisoning kills over 400 people annually. The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install an audible alarm that will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present.

Why carbon monoxide happens

When snow is allowed to build up around these areas, it can become compacted and freeze. This can cause damage that interferes with proper operation of the natural gas meter and gas appliances such as furnaces or water heaters.

Keep air flowing properly by removing snow by hand rather than using a shovel or power snow removal equipment.

While most gas appliance fresh air intake and exhaust pipes are located on the sides of buildings, in manufactured or mobile homes they are often located on the roof.

Prevent carbon monoxide

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near the furnace and your bedrooms. Buy one recommended by Consumer Reports or one with an Underwriters Laboratory “UL” mark that also says “Single Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm” and has an audible alarm. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Get your HVAC, gas appliances, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal burning apoliances serviced every year, as wel. Leaking natural gas can cause your house to explode.
  • Don’t run cars in the garage with the garage door shut — more people die from carbon monoxide poisoning from idling cars than from furnaces, the CDC says..
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.


Mortgage rates fall to lowest since June

For the second consecutive week, fixed-rate mortgages declined, lowering borrowing costs and helping to alleviate some signs of softening in the housing market, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage market report.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.10 percent for the week ending Oct. 31, its lowest average since June.

The Federal Reserve announced this week after its monetary policy meeting that it would be keeping its $85 billion per month bond-buying program in place for now, which should help sustain low mortgage rates in the near future, says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. The Fed also noted an improvement in economic activity but a slowing in the housing market recovery in recent months as unemployment remains high, Nothaft notes.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Oct. 31:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.10 percent, with an average 0.7 point, dropping from last week’s 4.13 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.39 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.20 percent, with an average 0.7 point, dropping from last week’s 3.24 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 2.70 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.96 percent, with an average 0.4, dropping from last week’s 3 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.74 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.64 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 2.60 percent average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.58 percent.

From REALTOR® Magazine Daily News