Real estate terms to know


So you want to buy or sell a home? Here are some words to know:


So you are entering the real estate world? Whether you are trying to buy or sell a home (or do both!), you need to familiarize yourself with the lingo.

You don’t want industry jargon to confuse you and keep you from missing something crucial. Here are 15 real estate buzzwords to keep you in the know.

1. Home inspection

This is the chance for the buyers to have the home inspected by a third party.

2. Closing

The final step in a real estate transaction, a closing is the transfer of the title of the property for money or other considerations.

3. Down Payment

The down payment is the amount of money that a buyer pays upfront in order to purchase a property. This amount is typically between 5% and 25% of the value of the property.

4. Escrow

When a third party holds property, cash and the property title until all conditions of the property agreement have been satisfied. The third party, likely a lawyer, will then hand over the assets to the respective parties, as outlined in the agreement.

5. Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac

The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) are two government-sponsored enterprises that purchase mortgages from lending institutions. Their purpose is to promote stability and affordability in the housing market.

6. Lien

A lien occurs when a legal claim is put on a property in order to receive payment for debt or for services rendered. The holder of the lien can sell the property in order to recover the money owed. Points Mortgage points are upfront charges the lender may add to the overall price of the mortgage. One point is equal to 1% of the total amount of the loan.

7. Prequalification

When a potential buyer is screened by a lender or third party to see how much the buyer can borrow as well as the terms of the loan. This is purely informational and does not obligate the lender but it is a great place to start to figure out your budget. 

8. Pre-Approval

Pre-approval from a bank locks in an interest rate for a specific amount of time. It comes after prequalification. It is an in-depth process that requires a potential buyer to provide a lending institution with proof of income and debts. The lender will most likely check your credit report in this process.


October 2013 Home Sales Report

Wisconsin’s red-hot real estate market cooled in October, with sales of existing homes nearly identical to October of last year, according to the most recent housing report issued by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association.

For the full report, click here. We are going to break down the West Region.

In La Crosse County, sales for the month were down about 15 percent from 2012. Overall, home sales were flat across the western region.

oct home report

It’s the second time in three months La Crosse County has seen sales drop. August sales were down 14 percent from 2012, though September sales rebounded strongly. The slow rise of home interest rates might be why. Interest rates on 30-year home mortgages reached 4.49 percent in September, more than a full percentage point higher than in January.  But rates dropped again in October to an average of 4.19 percent.

But all of this doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of reasons to buy or sell.

Why to buy during holidays

Why to sell during holidays

There are still plenty of homeowners listing their homes and plenty of buyers looking to move. Year-to-date sales in the state are 12.4 percent higher than the first 10 months of 2012.

oct home ytd


Why to sell during the winter season


We posted earlier on why you should buy a home during the holidays, but there are just as many reasons to list your home during the holidays:

11. 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.

10. You can sell now for more money and we will provide for a delayed closing or extended occupancy until early next year.

9. Even though your house will be on the market, you still have the option to restrict showings during the six or seven days around the Holidays.

8. January is traditionally the month for employees to begin new jobs. Since transfers cannot wait until Spring to buy, you need to be on the market during the Holidays to capture the market.

7. Some people must buy before the end of the year for tax reasons.

6. Buyers have more time to look for a home during the Holidays than they do during a work week.

5. Buyers are more emotional during the Holidays, so they are more likely to pay your price.

4. Houses show better when decorated for the Holidays.

3. Since the supply of listings will dramatically increase in January, there will be less demand for your particular home. Less demand means more money for you.

2. Serious buyers have fewer houses to choose from during the Holidays and less competition means more money for you.

And the number one reason why you should list during the Holidays …

1. People who look for homes during the Holidays are more serious buyers!

By lacrossefinehomesgroup Posted in Sellers

Tips for a quick home showing

When your house is on the market, you have to be ready at a moment’s notice for a home showing.

If a buyer is in the area and interested in your property, you want to capitalize on the emotion and interest. You don’t want to put it off until later, because that feeling might fade.

The major thing is to have your house ready – or close – at all times. You don’t always want to have to do four hours of cleaning ever time there is a showing. It takes upkeep and a strict following, but vacuuming every night or putting things away can help a quick showing come to fruition.

When that phone call comes for a quick showing, here are some tips to make your house ready quickly:


You want your house to be bright, open, and airy. You want the lights on and the drapes open. Every couple days, walk by with a rag and collect any dust and wipe any smudges there might be on the windows. Dirty windows do turn buyers off.

Pick up your clutter, as well. Living in a house produces stuff. Stuff on the table by the front door, stuff on the living room floor. Have a basket in each room, throw all the stuff into the basket and put the baskets in the car when you leave for the showing.


Your house should smell welcoming, not like a wet dog ran through every house. If buyers can’t get past the smell, they won’t linger to find the granite counter top. They also think that the smell comes with the house.

To combat that, use an air freshener around the house with clean smells, like vanilla. Heat up vanilla in the microwave while you are picking up the clutter in the living room. Do it far enough in advance so the smells aren’t overpowering.


Turn off the tv and music. You want to think peaceful and tranquil. Buyers should be able to hold conversations as they glide through your house. Plus, you never know what the buyer likes.


Make sure the temperature is comfortable. Think like Goldilocks, you want it just right. For an added ambiance in the winter, showcase that fireplace.


Make sure your buyers don’t have low blood sugar when touring and have a candy dish with a little note “thank you for visiting” or “take one and enjoy”.  We all know how we think when we are hungry.

Inventory in La Crosse County


The inventory for La Crosse County in increasing.

In May through August, the inventory was just under eight months. In the past two months, that has increased to more than nine.

What does inventory mean, exactly?

It means how many months it would take, in theory, to sell the homes that are currently listed if no other properties came on the market.

As we see these numbers, we are able to better predict how the market is looking. (Keep in mind, though, that estimating is not a guarantee.)


The inventory can persuade pricing. Keep in mind that the above picture and below descriptions are a rough guideline. There are no hard month-long guidelines for the market.

With one to five months inventory, there are fewer homes for buyers to chose from, so there is more competition for the ones that are listed. Sellers have much more negotiating power and prices tend to move up.

When there are about five to seven months of inventory, the market is as normal as it can be. Neither buyer nor seller has the advantage.

When there is more than seven months of inventory, things shift to the buyers because there are many houses sale. Sellers might have to lower prices or give incentives like home inspection or new roofs.

With the inventory being at 9.79, buyers are favored.

Are you a buyer that is interested in taking advantage of the market, contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group, LLC, of Keller Williams Realty

This month in real estate: October 2013


Recent research reveals that first-home buyers throw their hats into the ring when three things are aligned:

-Current market conditions

-Financial readiness

-Location and price

All three are true. If a first-time home buyer only has two of the three above, it can be a long road for them.

If the buyers know the market is right and have found the home they want, but can’t afford it, they are sad.

If they have the money for a down payment in a location they prefer but it is a seller’s market, they might lose out. However, if the market is right and the buyer has the finances in order, a little patience will pay off for finding the right home within a specific location and price.

When it comes to helping first-timers, we know how. Give us a call!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group, LLC., of Keller Williams Realty



Exterior treatment


Many times, the inside of the house is what buyers want to see.

So, sellers fix up the kitchen with new cabinet hardware and remove all clutter from the mantel. They dust, vacuum, and clean until there is no more bleach in the county.

However, many times, they neglect the outside, the part that can make or break the deal.

A house can have the nicest kitchen, but if the garage isn’t up to snuff, buyers will wait.

Here are a couple places to keep in mind:


Fix any cracks in the sidewalk or steps. This is noticeable to a new set of eyes.

Mow the lawn/pull the weeds/shovel the snow. An unkempt lawn leads buyers to believe that other parts of the home aren’t well-maintained.


Refinish the wood if needed.

Declutter the patio furniture.

Pressure-wash the bricks, pavers, stones as well as the furniture that stays.

Exterior of house

Clean the windows. Buyers notice when only the inside has been cleaned. Hint: The window still looks dirty from the inside.

Fix trim and paint.

Look at hardware, including door handles and house numbers.


Organize the chaos. If buyers can’t get past the large amounts of boxes in garage, how will they be able to see the potential for a new workshop? Yes, you are getting ready to move, but tidy up.

Hang items on walls or have storage bins set up.

Anything that you found helpful or that we missed? Contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group, LLC., of Keller Williams Realty


Sellers getting a home inspection

PicsArt_1380655703199Some sellers want to get their property all shined up before listing it. New paint, new flooring, new flowers by the front door.

But, there are other things that might make their home more appealing. One of those might be a home inspection.

Negotiations on the original offer to purchase can take days or weeks if parties are going back and forth on price or closing costs. That’s before the home inspection is done and more negotiations need to take place on who will fix the roof and who will buy the smoke alarms.

Sellers who have a home inspection upfront also can identify those major problems that could potentially derail a sale. The sellers can take care of those repairs so that a potential buyer doesn’t have to feel as cautious about buying a property. Buying the home can be scary and buyers can be scared off if the inspection comes back with a major repair even if seller agrees to fix it.

An early inspection removes the unknowns and if a buyer is on the fence about the property, showing them the report might push them over into writing-an-offer land.

However, there are times when sellers might want to hold off on the home inspection. For example, if the house is new or if the market is a seller’s market, waiting might work.

If you have any questions about the home-selling process, contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty

Difference between assessed and market value

Recently, when showing a house, we were asked why it was priced so high. Upon further explanation, the buyer couldn’t understand why the house was priced so much higher than its assessed tax value.

The buyer had looked up the house’s taxes (thumbs up for buyer research!) but didn’t understand why the house wasn’t listed at that value.

Well, here’s the difference.

Houses are listed at market value while assessed value is done for tax purposes.

Market value: This is how much the home could sell for on the current market.

Market value is the highest price likely to be paid for a property, assuming that the property was available to all potential buyers at a realistic price or a reasonable length of time. This amount can go up and down with the market. Most agents compare comparable properties that are active or have been sold in the past six months in the area to help come up with a price that the house could sell at. 

Assessed value: This is how much the county assesses for tax purposes.

The assessed value determines how much your property taxes are. The county uses its own formula to come up with its number. When that assessed value increases, it’s not always a good thing. It means your taxes go up.

If you have any questions about what your house might be worth, contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty