Weekly links: Sept. 22


From our blog:

Our listings:

Must read/see:

From La Crosse Fine Homes Pinterest (don’t forget to follow us):

We hope everyone has a great extended weekend and if you have any suggestions, comments or questions, contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty

Weekly links: Sept. 14


From our blog:

Our listings:

Must read/see:

From La Crosse Fine Homes Pinterest (if you want one of your pins featured, follow us on Pinterest):

We hope everyone has a great extended weekend and if you have any suggestions, comments or questions, contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty

Abandoned properties: Photographed and flipped

Some abandoned properties are more hazardous than interesting. There’s no way that even stepping on the floor is safe, let alone living in the property as is. The worst ones are torn down and started over. However, some are turned into some really cool things. Here are what three abandoned properties have turned into recently:

At a mall in St. Louis, photographer Dan Wampler took photos that make it look just as creepy as you think it would actually be to be in an empty mall.

After 55 years in business, Crestwood Court started closing its stores in 2006, eventually shutting its doors for good last month. Digital artist Dan Wampler photographed the slowly dilapidating space, managing to make everything from Claire’s to Champs look creepy.


Resorts are usually clean, relaxing and filled with people. Not this one in Poconos, Pa.

Intrigued by the afterlives of abandoned buildings, Philadelphia-based photographer Matt Hurst took a trip to Poconos, Pa., to capture the slime-coated interiors of the region’s old Unity House, a modernist resort building that closed 23 years ago. Once a retreat for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union for nearly seven decades, Unity House has suffered through enough Pennsylvania winters to crack the paint and enough springs to foster the growth of brand new inhabitants, namely smudges of moss and swipes of mould. Since that trip, Hurst—whose work was recently spotlighted over at The Atlantic Cities—has visited other resorts nearby.


The third neat abandoned property is the former Baker Chocolate Factory in Boston. It reminds us of what it might be like to live in Willy Wonka’s old factory, if all the oompla-loompas were gone and the lick-able wallpaper was removed. 

Winn Development initiated the Baker Chocolate Factory’s transition to housing. In 1983, they opened Adams Street Mill after it was converted into 53 apartments. The Pierce and Preston mills debuted two years later with 80 units between them. The rehabilitation of the three buildings, now known as the Baker Chocolate Factory Apartments, was widely praised, and project architect The Architectural Team was awarded the National Historic Preservation Award by President Ronald Reagan. The next phase came in the mid-1990s, when the Forbes and Park mills were reborn as the 98-unit Baker Square Condominiums. Following that, the Greek Revival style administration building was rehabilitated into 13 artist lofts. It opened in 2002, complete with in-house gallery space and a three-story atrium.

8  Courtesy WinnResidential-thumb

What do you think? Are there any buildings in the area that you think would be neat to photograph or flip?

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty

Weekly links: Sept. 7


From our blog:

Our newest listings:

Must read/see:

From La Crosse Fine Homes Pinterest (if you want one of your pins featured, follow us on Pinterest):

We hope everyone has a great extended weekend and if you have any suggestions, comments or questions, contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty

Home-buying tips: Growing family

easelly_visual-1Buying a house is always a large commitment, no matter what age. However, in each stage of life, buying a house can mean different things. It an be your first, your last, your family vacation home. So we decided to put together a series of posts on tips to buying a house at various life stages: first home, growing families and empty nesters. We know there are other stages to life, but these are the ones we are talking about.

Today, we talk about the growing-family home.

If you were lucky enough to move into a home that has enough room for your future three kids, two dogs and hockey equipment, you get the day off from lessons.

If not, read on.

You most likely found a cute bungalow that was just great for you and your significant other. It has two bedrooms, one that was an office but is now converted to a nursery for Jack. But with Jill on the way, or possibly sharing sleeping space with Jack, things are feeling over crowded.

Plus, Tank the German Shepherd is no longer a small bundle of awkward limbs. He is a well-built machine that has outgrown your small lot.

Know what is important for YOUR future

A growing family has the same types of priorities: more space. However, where that extra space is needed is alway different. Think of your needs vs. wants for outdoor space, bedrooms, private space for mom and dad as well as storage. You can never have enough storage when you have children.

Do your kids like to kick the soccer ball around? Do you like to move one acre of land every week? Do you like to entertain? At this point, you know what you need in terms of space. It is important that your space fits your lifestyle.


Your kids will need to be schooled and if you aren’t going to home school them, you will need to know about the various schools in different areas so you know where to move. Your real estate agent can’t legally tell you what schools are the best. That is up to you to figure out.


Your budget is a little different. Growing a family and having children usually means a growing list of expenses as well. Estimate monthly expenses along with a mortgage payment to ensure all financial commitments can be reasonably met.

Plus, you will have future college loans and retirement savings to think about.


How many cars do you have? You will need room for that plus bikes, lawnmowers, snowblowers and other toys.


When you want to move? Sometimes it is best to move during the summer when the kids are out of school, but you might face some heavy competition during the spring. If you don’t have a timeline, it can make it easier to find the right home. However, that can also make you drag out the home-buying process since you have no urgency.

Will you need to sell your house before you move?

Having a home-sale contingency in your offer can weaken it, but that shouldn’t scare you. Know if you can sell your house and move in with neighbor/family or rent while you search for a new abode.

The future

With everything that is going on, it may seem overwhelming to think about the step after this step. But your real estate investment has a lasting impact on your finances. When it comes to downsizing, will you want to sell this home? Or would you rather stay in it and have it be an inheritance? These aren’t as pressing, but it’s always good to think about.

Okay, that is a shorter lesson than before.
Do you have any questions? Can we help you find a new home?

Let us know.

Weekly links: Sept. 1

Can you believe it’s already September? Here’s what we’ve been reading during the last couple days in August.

From our blog:

Our newest listings:

Must read/see:

From La Crosse Fine Homes Pinterest (if you want one of your pins featured, follow us on Pinterest):

We hope everyone has a great extended weekend and if you have any suggestions, comments or questions, contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty

Wisconsin closing costs some of the lowest

Buying a house always comes with more spending than just the house itself. You have the inspections (home, mold, termite, asbestos, roof), you have the real estate agent fees (depending on the commission agreement set up with your buyers agent) and closing costs, plus all the things you want to do once you move in, like paint, carpeting and appliances.

Good news for your wallets, though, Daily Real Estate News reported that Wisconsin has one of the lowest average closing costs.

Closing costs have climbed 6 percent in the past year, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com. On a $200,000 single-family loan, borrowers with great credit who are making a 20 percent down payment are paying $2,402, on average, in closing costs nationwide.

But closing costs vary greatly from lender to lender as well as from state to state.

The states with the highest average closing costs, according to Bankrate’s survey:

  • Hawaii: $2,919
  • Alaska: $2,675
  • South Carolina: $2,658
  • California: $2,639
  • New Mexico: $2,566

Meanwhile, the states with the lowest averages in closing costs are:

  • Wisconsin: $2,119
  • Missouri: $2,188
  • Kansas: $2,193
  • Michigan: $2,203
  • Washington: $2,208

The survey excludes taxes, property insurance, title fees, interest, association fees, and other prepaid items.

Any time a cost can minimized, it is a good thing!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty

A love letter for a house

Clients often ask if there is anything they can do when submitting an offer that will make the sellers chose theirs over another. Competing offers are always a concern, especially when many real estate agents keep their cards close to their chests.

In Minnesota, a few buyers took matters into their own hands and wrote letters to the seller to try and persuade them to pick their offer over another.

Think of it like a love letter but for a house.

Aleah Vinick recently wrote a letter to a seller that described the fondness she and her husband feel for the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, where their dream house was located.

“The neighbors, the events, the park itself shape our day to day and inspire us,” she wrote.

They got the house. It’s unclear if the letter made a difference. But the seller did tell Vinick’s real estate agent that he appreciated it. He didn’t mention the part of the letter Vinick left in by mistake, in which she accidentally included a gushy “hugs and kisses” closing — left over from an early draft sent to her husband.

Writing such a letter can go either way. Some sellers may think of it as a cheesy tactic that shows desperation or a way to make up for offering less money.

Some sellers may find the thought of parting with their house of 30 years (where they have made many memories) eased knowing that someone else is going to get to make more memories in it.

The real question is, would you do it? Let us know what you think in the comments.

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty


Why pre approval matters

There are certain things that have to fall in place before you can buy a home:

  • Have enough for a down payment and all closing costs
  • Know what closing costs are
  • Clean up your credit score by clearing old debts and stop applying for other lines of credit
  • Figure out how much you can realistically afford
  • Know what you want in a home and what you can do without

But the most important thing to do is get preapproved for a mortgage, if needed. If, as a buyer, you don’t need a mortgage and are paying in cash, you are a rare breed and can log in to Facebook now. You don’t need to read this.

A pre-approval is a commitment in writing from a lender that a borrower would qualify for a particular loan amount based on income and credit information. Most pre-approval letters are good for 60 to 90 days.

A buyers’ chances of purchasing a home improve greatly when you have your financing in place before you walk through the first house.

It help you know what your limits are financially so you don’t spend six months looking at homes that are  out of your league. That is a waste of your agent’s and your time. Plus, you don’t want to fall in love with a house you can’t afford.

When it comes to writing an offer, having pre-approval is great. It is a good argument for why the sellers should accept your offer. It shows the buyer is committed to buying a house, can afford the price they are agreeing to and things won’t fall apart at the last minute because of financing.

Or, if you find a house you love and then have to go take time to get pre-approved, another buyer can swoop in and snipe that house.

Sad, but I’ve seen it happen.

Getting pre-approved isn’t as simple as filling out a profile on Facebook. The process for preapproval is a bit more extensive than in the past. You first have to contact a lender and will need to have a variety of documents, ranging from W2s from the past two years, paystubs for past three months, tax returns from past two years, savings and checking account bank statements as well as landlord or previous mortgage information. Contacting a lender before you start house hunting gives you ample time to get all of these together, so you don’t have to rush and stress out later in the process.

The lender will analyze your credit report for any red flags such as late or missed payments or charged off debt. Your credit score will affect your ability to qualify for a loan and determine how low of a rate you can get. Your overall debt (minimum credit card payments, student loan payments, car payments, etc.) will be analyzed to calculate your overall debt-to-income ratio. You will also need to provide any alimony or child support payments you are required to pay.

A lender can also answer questions of the ins and outs of mortgages.

If you have any questions about pre-approval or the process of purchasing a home, ask us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty

Holmen’s Kornfest


The weather may feel like September, but summer festivals are still going strong. This weekend is Holmen’s Kornfest.

On Saturday, there is a fireworks display, car show, corn-on-the-cob, music, carnival, fun run, bingo, tractor pull, and a parade.

Plus, the Holmen Lutheran Church has a pie & ice cream tent.

Schedule of Events:

Questions – call the Holmen American Legion at 608-526-4444.

Friday – August 16, 2013
6pm – 1am: Carnival (5pm – 9pm: Wristband Day)
6pm: Sandwich Tent Opens
6pm – Midnight: Beer Garden
8pm – Midnight: Trouble Shooter
9pm: Fireworks at Viking Field. Bring your lawn chairs.
Mens & Women’s softball tournaments – Deerwood Park
(No Chicken or Corn on Friday)

Saturday – August 17, 2013
8am: St. Elizabeth 10K and 2 mile Fun Run (entry 7am)
9am: Volleyball tournament class B
10:30am – 1am: Carnival
11am: Phil Wall classic horseshoe tournament (singles)
11am: Kornfest Parade
After Parade: YMCA Dancers and Julie’s School of Dance
Noon: Food serving begins
1pm: Bingo
8pm – Midnight: Last Call
Men’s & Women’s softball tournaments – Deerwood Park
Holmen Lutheran Church pie & ice cream tent

Sunday – August 18, 2013
7am – 11am: St. Elizabeth breakfast
8am – 4pm: Kornfest Car Show & Swap Meet – Middle School grounds
10:30am: Grounds open
10:30 – 11pm: Carnival (Noon – 4pm: Wristband Day)
11am: Food serving begins
11am: Phil Wall classic horseshoe tournament (doubles)
1pm: Bingo
1pm – 5pm: Trouble Shooter
5pm – 6:30px: LoCash Cowboys
7pm – 8:30pm: Jason Michael Carroll
Men’s & Women’s softball tournaments – Deerwood Park
Holmen Lutheran Church pie & ice cream tent

If you have a recommendation for us about Kornfest, contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty