Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Curb and Gutter

Real Estate is all about location, location, location.  So it was with alarming dismay that the city has decided that Sunset Village, the neighborhood that I live in needs curbs and gutters, in addition to new sewer laterals and perhaps the addition of sidewalks.  That's a lot to swallow...sheesh! 

We have lived in our home for 11 years (I am a life-long resident).  One of the draws of the Sunset Village neighborhood is the "rural-like" setting within the city.  The abundance of trees and their aesthetic value cannot be underestimated.  Surely, despite promises to the contrary, many trees will be lost with the addition of curbs and gutters (let alone sidewalks!).  You cannot put a value on trees that are, in many cases, 100+ years old. At a time when the city will be losing thousands of trees to the Emerald Ash Borer, clearly the loss of additional trees is distressing.
There is also concerned that the addition of curb and gutter will narrow the already narrow streets of the neighborhood.  During the winter, the snow piles narrow the streets even further and backing out of driveways when a car is parked across from the drive is already a treacherous feat.  Addition of curb and gutter will only exacerbate that issue.

Finally, but certainly not of little effect, the financial impact is also a concern.  At a time when MG&E is proposing increased rates, the Madison Water Utility has proposed a 30% increase in costs to customers and now the assessment for water and sewer laterals, as well as curb and gutter poses a tremendous financial unknown.  All of this on the heels of Sunset Village bearing the highest increase in assessed property values in the city.  And the Madison City Council has recently approved increasing property taxes again.  I can't imagine the impact these increased costs will have on those on a fixed income.
So, the neighborhood has started a petition opposing the installation of curbs and gutters.  Nearly all the residents on my block have signed the petition.  While the construction work is a year away, it's never too early to voice an opinion.  Stay tuned.  We'll see what happens as the story unfolds.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

September 2014 Home Sales and Year End Musings

We are completely entrenched in November and daylight savings has departed.  We look back on a year which brought us greater stability in the real estate market than we have seen in the last five years.

The relative balance between buyers and sellers that we currently are seeing is a welcome departure from the excesses and, subsequent shortages of, inventory that have aged everyone within this industry as well as the home buying and selling participants themselves during the past half-decade. As submitted in a previous post, the normalization of the real estate market is something that all will be thankful for as we take time to catch our breath and head toward a normal slow down that accompanies winter.

Before we say hello to Winter, let's take a look back at what sold on the near west side of Madison in September.

September 2014 Home Sales

6337 Briarcliff Ln
1208 Gilbert Rd
306 S Randall Ave
5718 Hammersley Rd
4017 Winnemac Ave
614 Gilmore St
295 Park Way
80 White Oaks Ln
1105 Mohican Pass
$266,000 *
1129 Petra Pl Apt 1
4117 Yuma Dr
2638 Mason St
3225 Topping Rd
401 Ridge St
601 Eugenia Ave
2202 West Lawn Ave
805 Emerson St
705 Edgewood Ave
602 Blue Ridge Pkwy
625 N Segoe Rd Unit 909
5 S Yellowstone Dr
5315 Brody Dr Unit 103
202 N Allen St
625 N Segoe Rd Unit 204
233 W Sunset Ct
4505 Onaway Pass
5726 Forsythia Pl
1316 Hoven Ct
15 Mondale Ct
315 S Mills St
622 Constitution Ln
3995 Plymouth Cir
11 Stonefield Ter
571 Park Ln
840 Hughes Pl
6302 Mineral Point Rd Unit 315
4217 Yuma Dr
4342 Doncaster Dr
13 Wakeman St
Not Disclosed
6 Heritage Cir Apt 4
2634 Kendall Ave
522 Wingra St
65 Cherokee Cir Unit 201

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Days

  1. 1.
    high respect; esteem.
    "his portrait hangs in the place of honor"

The recent Badger Honor Flight included two friends of my family.  If you are unfamiliar, the Honor Flight Network is a national organization that ensures that all WWII veterans and terminally ill veterans of any war have the opportunity to visit the memorials that have been erected in their honor in Washington, D.C.  Both of my friends said the Honor Flight was a trip of a lifetime for them.

As we recognize that Tuesday, November 11 is Veterans day, we would be remiss if we didn't honor all veterans on this day.  A day set aside to thank all those who served honorably in the military and who played a role in maintaining our ability to enjoy freedom in the United States.

If you know a veteran, please take the time to call or stop in to see them on November 11 to thank them for their service. If you don't know any veterans, consider stopping by any VFW Post. The flags will be flying high, so take time to show your appreciation and respect. For our veterans, we are all thankful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Election Aftermath

Election day is always a day of promise, a day of optimism, a day of hope.  And then comes the day after the election...

There is always a winner and a loser.  And for some reason, the hope, optimism and promise of the previous day is lost.  It's too bad, really.  It should be when our resolve is the strongest.  When we can hope to work together, when we can be optimistic about the future, when we can vow to work harder and more diligently toward our goals.

Let's not lose sight that our right to vote is democracy at it's very core.  We should feel fortunate to be able to voice our beliefs, our views, and our opinions.  We should feel lucky that we can cast our vote for whomever we choose.  And we should be modest in victory and gracious in defeat.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, there is work to be done on both sides of the isle.  Let's remember that the promise, optimism and hope is still there.  We just need to be strong enough to look for it and find it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Second Best

Halloween is the second largest holiday for outdoor decorating, right behind Christmas.  No surprise that Christmas is number one, who doesn't need a pick me up during the dark, cold days of winter?

But Halloween does seem like an odd second, doesn't?  What about Thanksgiving?  Or Easter?  Or the 4th of July?  No, Halloween wins!

This year I came across quite a few yards and lawns with Halloween decorations on the near west side of Madison.  Some ghoulish, some classic and some just downright fun!  Some of these displays are best viewed at night when the real character of the holiday comes out.

Take a drive through your neighborhood in the next few days and enjoy the second best holiday, at least as far as outdoor decorating goes.  Check out the ghosts and ghouls and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.  You'll find blow-up spiders, witches hanging from trees and graveyards galore.  Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Comfort Zone

A couple walked into my office a year ago and wanted to talk to a Realtor.  Yeah me!  We sat down in my office to discuss what they were looking for, in terms of location, size, price, timeline, etc.  As we talked, I also discovered they like to bike, camp, hike and garden.  Excellent information to have when looking for a new house.

As the discussion continued, I also tried to get a feel for their motivation for moving.  I learned they were living in rural Dodgeville on 30+ acres in a home that they had built.  They had some sentimental roots.  How were we ever going to find a place that had the home qualities they desired with the feeling of “space” that their rural property provided them?  A tall order! 

Something else was evident.  The wife was more excited about moving to Madison than the husband.  He was reserved and reluctant; perhaps he wasn’t fully committed to moving.  The husband loved his acreage!

We agreed to stay in touch and move forward.  We identified a search area on the near west side of Madison and began looking.  We looked at older homes and a few newer houses.  We looked at ranches, two-stories and even a few contemporary styles.  Winter came and the search slowed.  Last spring as the market began to gear up, we resumed the hunt.  And we expanded our area to include Fitchburg.  The husband also began to relish the idea of moving to Madison.

In the meantime, they readied their rural house for sale.  Late last spring they called in a bit of a panic.  Their house in rural Dodgeville had an accepted offer; time to intensify our efforts.  Fairly quickly we landed on a house in Fitchburg.  It was a very nice ranch home, close to the bike path.  It afforded some privacy and was in close proximity to nice restaurants and some shopping.  They liked it!  But the yard was tiny!  What??  From 30+ acres to less than a ¼ acre lot; actually, yes!

We prepared an offer.  There were counter-offers.  We inspected.  There were amendments.  We had a closing date.  Storage units were ordered.  Boxes were packed and packed and packed.  Their house out of town closed.  They were homeless for 10 days, but took the time to take a nice camping trip to relax before the next move to their new house. 

My clients moved into their new home late last summer.  They are as happy as can be.  While the yard is small, it provides plenty of space for planting perennials and annuals, trees and shrubs.  They are close to bike and hiking trails.  And they still camp. 

Some transactions happen quickly.  Others take more time to find the right property so that everyone is comfortable and on the same page; where all involved can get into their comfort zone.  Perhaps you know someone who wants to move (but maybe doesn’t know it yet).  Have them give me a call at 608.333.4406.  As always, I’m happy to help!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Market Normalization

The most common question I have been asked in recent weeks is, "Where did all the Buyers go?"

The Short Answer: Market Normalization.

The Long Answer: Buyers have gone nowhere. They are still here. They haven't left town in droves. There have been no large employers who have left our area; there have been no spikes in unemployment, no rises in interest rates, yet the number of showings on MLS listed properties are down across the board. So what has buyers holding back?

It's known as market normalization.  An analysis of local real estate sales going back to 2003 indicates that the housing market is simply returning to its old self again. Historically, people have always wanted to move by the time school is out in May. For those who miss that opportunity, they really really want to be moved by the time school starts up in September. It's the way the real estate market has performed for most of the past 30 years.

Why do we say, "most of the past 30 years" and not "every year"? The game changer known as, "The Great Recession."

Beginning as early as the second half of 2005, we saw inventory levels rising dramatically and sales numbers dropping equally as fast. Inventory levels rose from a low 3.5 month supply in late 2003 to a market high 18 month supply in January of 2008. That's right...right here in good old, stable Dane County, a supply of housing for sale that would last for nearly a year and a half without the addition of any newly listed properties.

So where are we now? With a current supply of approximately four months but lower activity levels, we seem to be back to where we were a decade or so ago in terms of supply and demand: A Normal Market. The good news in all this? In housing, as with the stock market, stability and predictability are good things. In housing, sellers can now better time their move and buyers know when to count on more choices becoming available.