All posts by Martin

Veteran’s Day

John F Moore II, Vietnam Era.

Today is Veteran’s Day. This post is dedicated to all the men and women who served and are serving our country. Thank you! I salute you! Veteran’s Day should be a day that we all take time to pay our respects to those who give up civilian life for a different path. Often times, these men and women put themselves in extreme harms way to protect our country. Freedom certainly isn’t free.

My Grandfather served in the Korean War and my cousin is an active member of the US Army. My wife’s father served during the Vietnam War in the Navy, both of her Grandfather’s served during WWII, and her Uncle served during the Korean War. All their sacrifices are remembered and honored today. I posted a few pictures I was able to find of family members who have served.
In keeping with the Veterans Day theme, there are various federal programs available to help Veterans attain home ownership. One program is Veteran Home Ownership Program (VHP). It is designed to help veterans with limited access to affordable housing be able to purchase a discounted home while receiving assistance with the challenges involved in home ownership. With acceptance into VHP, the qualified veteran will receive assistance throughout the home buying process and guidance on the necessary steps to maintain the home for many years to come. For more information go to Veterans Home Ownership Program.

Vincenzo Incorvaia, WWII
Vincenzo Incorvaia, WWII

In addition to housing programs, the Department of Veterans Affairs also offers home loans to assist Service members, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses attain home ownership and secure a loan. According to the VA’s website The VA’s mission with this program is to “provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.” VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies. VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide you with more favorable terms. I work with a small handful of really great lenders and some of them have been able to provide this type of loan for clients over the years. During my experience as a Realtor I have learned who the reliable lenders are in my community and have a handful of connections I share with my clients if they need them.
The guarantee VA loan has a list of benefits:

  • No down payment as long as the sales price doesn’t exceed the appraised value.
  • No private mortgage insurance premium requirement.
  • VA rules limit the amount you can be charged for closing costs.
  • Closing costs may be paid by the seller.
  • The lender can’t charge you a penalty fee if you pay the loan off early.
  • VA may be able to provide you some assistance if you run into difficulty making payments.
John F Moore Sr., WWII.

Take note:

  • You don’t have to be a first-time home buyer.
  • You can reuse the benefit.

In closing, I wanted to share a quote from Maya Angelou that resonates with me today on Veteran’s Day. “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”

 

 

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Historic Neighborhood: Dudgeon-Monroe

A thousand years ago,

Marion Dunn Prairie
Marion Dunn Prairie

the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood saw its first residents, the Native Americans. The natural beauty, Lake Wingra, and great farming land are most likely what drew the earliest residents to the area. All that remains now of this era are the effigy burial mounds. 11 of them are still there today by Edgewood and can be seen if you want to take a walking tour of the neighborhood. The Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association has done a fantastic job over the years to preserve the history and heritage of the neighborhood. You can check out their website Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association.

If someone asked me to describe this neighborhood I would have to say it’s one of the jewels of Madison. Dudgeon-Monroe has a great business district full of locally owned restaurants, taverns, art galleries, and shops. You can find the only Trader Joe’s in Madison on Monroe Street. Along with one of my favorite places to grab a Belgian beer, The Brasserie V, a great neighborhood eatery and tap room. The close proximity to the UW and downtown Madison also make this a desirable place to live.

 
Currently the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood consists of 1500 homes. There are never too many homes in this neighborhood for sale but you can typically find a handful. The homes in this neighborhood are really known for the quality craftsmanship and range in architectural style. If you like older homes with lots of character this is your neighborhood. The neighbors in the community love how walkable Dudgeon-Monroe is. In addition, residents also use the bike path which loops around the entire neighborhood.

Wingra Oak Savanna
Wingra Oak Savanna

When I lived on the west side of Madison, I used to bike around the Wingra bike loop quite often.

One of the oldest homes in the neighborhood is the historic Chase home built in 1872. The Samuel and Helen Chase home is located at the end of Woodrow Street on the shores of Lake Wingra. The home was built by Samuel Chase, the eldest child of George Chase, a master carpenter from Philadelphia, who came to work on the Edgewood Villa. The homes architectural style is late Gothic Revival and is still a residence today. The home’s most striking feature is the entrance vestibule. Here, an eight point star motif in the parquet floor is made of walnut salvage that is said to be from the old Independence Hall in Philadelphia and brought to Madison by George Chase.
It’s always important when looking to buy or sell a home that you work with a local real estate professional that is very familiar and knowledgeable about the neighborhood the home resides in. I’ve shown and been in quite a few of the homes in the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood and have lived close by for many years.  If you have any questions send me a message.Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Effigy Mound, Madison WI

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Fall House Prep

Autumn Country Road, Southern Wisconsin

It’s time for fall house prep! Fall house prep should be in full swing here in Wisconsin.  I was driving my car this morning and I noticed that the soybean fields are turning bright yellow and the corn fields are dry and taking on an amber hue from the once green sturdy stalks that grew all spring and summer long. It’s time for fall house prep. I usually give this list to my first time home buyers as they will be spending their first fall and winter months in their new homes. This is the time  to take some measures in and around your home to ensure a cozy warm fall into the winter months. The projects range from checking your exterior to your heating system indoors. These projects can save you money in the long run.

Make sure you check sidewalks and driveways for cracks. If you don’t fill them now, water can seep in and freeze, making them even larger. Take the time to resurface worn concrete now this can save you a whole lot of time and money later. I recently re-sealed my concrete drive way and walk way with a product I bought at Sherwin Williams in Middleton. It was a project that was two steps. Power washed the area I was going to re seal, and then applied a sealer with a paint roller.

Check all your lighting fixtures outdoors and change any bulbs that need to be replaced. It’s always a good idea to light your walk way now that the days are shorter and nights grow longer. In addition clean out your gutters and trim any trees or landscaping that are in need.

The grass in your yard needs some TLC before the cold hard winter of Wisconsin sets in. This is a great time of the year to clean up your yard and aerate the lawn and silt seed. This will allow your lawn to take up a lot of water before the winter.

Even the most unflinching do it yourself-er cringes at the thought of a busted water pipe. Fortunately, the pipe that’s most susceptible to cold weather—the outdoor hose faucet—is also one of the easiest to protect from freezing. Make sure your outdoor faucets are freezer proofed and hoses are removed and stored for winter.

Before you head inside, make sure your front entrance has curb appeal with a sweep and clean, check the seals on your front door too to cut down on cold drafts coming through. A nice mat, sconces, and swapping out lock-sets will add to the facade of your home.

Now that we are looking at the inside of the home take a look at your windows. Make sure there is weatherstripping around windows to avoid major drafts in older home. Window treatments are also a great way of keeping the warmth in and the cold out.
Lastly, schedule an appointment to have your heating system serviced. I recommend a yearly cleaning and inspection, as a system can wear itself out quickly which can lead to it pumping deadly carbon monoxide into your home, or simply stop working. If you have forced air change the air filter regularly (every 60 to 90 days). You’ll notice a difference in the air quality, and your furnace will run more efficiently.

Fall house prep is easy if you keep a check list and review it every year!

Maple Tree, Madison WI

 

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Madison Real Estate Market

State Street, Madison WI.
State Street, Madison WI.

A lot of folks in Madison ask me about the current Madison real estate market. Is it a sellers market or a buyers market? Many Realtors® tend to use the phrase, “months of inventory” as a way of quantifying the type of market that exists. This piece of jargon is useful for buyers and sellers to understand. Months of inventory reflects an estimate of the amount of time it would take to sell all of the current listings in a given area if no other new listings become available.

According to the August 2014 data report by the South Central Wisconsin MLS, Dane county has 4.84 months of inventory. This is up slightly from July which at that time was 4.62. So what does this mean for buyers and sellers? It means that all current listings can expect to be sold within 4.8 months, it is considered a seller’s market because houses are selling quickly. A seller’s market suggests that sellers have the advantage due to the demand for property exceeding present supply.

If there are 6-8 months of inventory, you are looking at a balanced market. Even though listings currently aren’t selling quickly they’re not staying on the market too long either.

Additionally, if there are 9 or more months of inventory, it is considered a buyer’s market because houses are selling slowly. In a buyer’s market, buyers have more negotiating power than sellers do because the supply of listings exceeds the current demand for housing.

What does this information mean for Madison area real estate sellers presently? It means they may have multiple offers, the house may sell quickly, and a little curb appeal may go a long way to driving up the price, or (what every seller wants) a bidding war.

What are realistic expectations for selling your home during a buyers market? Choosing to sell your home in a buyers market and having patience will go a long way as homes tend not to sell overnight.  This means that you will need a real estate professional to market your property as efficiently and effectively as possible. I help my sellers by giving their home an evaluation on how to get the most bang for the buck. A little fresh paint, proper staging, and gratifying photos will position your home for the best offer possible. I provide staging advice and professional photography to make sure the house stands out above the rest.

What does this mean if you are currently looking to buy a home in a sellers market? You should be prepared for competition. When you find the home that suits your wants and needs you will have to make decisions promptly and have the ability to submit a good offer with a pre-approval letter (if you plan to finance the home with a mortgage). Negotiating experience from your Realtor® can really benefit you in this type of market.

Conversely, if you are looking to buy in a buyers market you will be looking at an overwhelming number of options. I try to help my clients focus on identifying priorities as what is most important to them. For example, lots size, location, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, school district, etc…I try to help my clients figure out what is most important to them. Once we know what your must haves are we then compile a strategy and proceed to negotiate the best house for the best price.

Whatever the market looks like having a great Realtor® will make things easier and they can provide education and advice for you along the way.

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Farmer’s Market Saturday

Farmers Market Saturday
Dane County Farmer’s Market

In the fall I love to go to Farmer’s Market Saturday downtown. Its official name is the Dane County Farmers Market. You can find lots of great things like fresh produce, meats, cheese, flowers and plants, and baked goods. I don’t get to come down to the farmers market too often as a realtor I’m working with clients on Saturdays showing homes. I had time this morning to check it out with my wife. Fall is in full swing at the farmers market and it is a glorious Saturday morning!

I consider my wife a foodie. She is an amazing cook and we scored some great things at the Harmony Valley Farm stand. They are one of the local organic farms here in Wisconsin. She will do it all justice in the kitchen I’m sure!

When I’m working with clients that are relocating to Madison I often get the question, “What things make Madison a uniqe place to live?” I can talk about a lot of things and I often mention the farmers market on Saturday around the capitol square. It’s a great experience that really sums up Madison in all its glory. People milling around the square, the capitol, the guy that plays the piccolo filling the air with music, the street cart food stands, the flowers, farm fresh produce, and the smell of kettle corn and Stella’s hot and cheesy bread. The grounds surrounding the State Capitol are an ideal site to host the market. The magnificent landscape and stunning architecture serve as a spectacular backdrop to Dane County’s most celebrated event.

Everything at the market is grown in Wisconsin, that is actually one of the rules to be a vendor at the market. I always recommend to try to get up early to the market as you will have the luxury of strolling along at your own pace without the large crowd that comes later in the day. The market opens at 6am and finishes around 2pm. Maybe I might run into you at the market one of these Saturdays!

Farmers Market Saturday
Autumn Bounty, Dane County Farmers Market
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