Friday, July 29, 2011

Church Site Change Causes Controversy

"Save Our Neighborhood.  Protect From Rezoning", so say the signs sprinkling the lawns throughout the Sunset Village and Westmorland neighborhoods.  The signs began cropping up a few days ago as word spread that a developer was planning to develop the site of the former Mount Olive Lutheran Church on Mineral Point Rd. into high density senior housing.

The current proposal, put forth by Minnesota-based MSP Real Estate, LLC is requesting to amend the current zoning from Low Density Residential to High Density Residential to allow the company to redevelop the nearly 3 acre parcel as a senior housing campus to include independent senior housing, assisted living and memory care.  The proposed plan projects density would be about 44 units per acre.  Current Low Density Housing Residential zoning is 0-15 units per acre.  The zoning change is required before the development for the project can move forward.

MSP Real Estate, LLC is planning a similar senior housing project in Middleton.  Heritage Middleton Senior Housing Campus, a 135-unit development on the site of a former grocery store across from Marshall Park on Allen Blvd. is scheduled to begin this summer.  That campus is expected to include 56 units dedicated to independent living, 43 for assisted living, and 36 devoted to memory care.

In early 2010, another developer proposed a similar housing project for the Mt. Olive site.  That company later withdrew their proposal, due in part to neighborhood objections and concerns.

Clearly, the current proposal has again struck a nerve in Sunset Village and Westmorland.  Regardless of whether you agree or disagree to the zoning change and potential senior housing development, area residents should stay informed about changes to their neighborhood.  Voicing your opinion to neighborhood leaders, the Madison Planning Commission and political representatives is always a good use of time and energy.

As far as I can tell, most in Sunset Village and Westmorland are opposed to the idea.  I envision more signs popping up as this controversial proposal progresses.  Tell me what you think of the proposed project.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Late Summer Traditionally Slow, Not So!

We are in the throes of the Dogs Days of Summer.  Traditionally this time of year shows itself in August, but it appears as it may have come early in 2011.

A friend of mine recently asked me about the housing market, and what these "Dog Days" do to the market.  Most Realtors don't like to tie the real estate market to the weather, but I think there is some correlation.

Obviously, spring and summer are the "hot" market times for buying or selling a home.  As we venture into late summer the market begins to slow as the buyers and would-be sellers are on vacation and soaking up the last of summer sun and fun.  The market then picks up again from late August until mid-November as people try to make a move before winter sets in and the holidays approach.

This year I don't see things working that way, at least in my neck of the woods.  In Westmorland, three new homes came on the market in the last week!  Several new listings popped up in the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood, too.

Why now?  My theory is that interest rates continue to hover at all-time lows and no one can predict the future.  There are also rumors that a new flood of foreclosures will be released onto the market soon.  If the rumor is true, sellers are trying to get out ahead of the curve.

Whatever the reason, the market is still humming along, regardless of the date on the calendar!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dog Days

We are in the midst of the hottest week of the year.  And I'm not telling you anything when I say...IT IS HOT!  In January, when the wind blows and the temperatures are hovering near zero or below, we won't remember when there was a run on window air conditioners and super soakers were in high demand.

So, as the mercury pushes toward triple digits, it's only fitting to compile a list of the top ten things to do to stay cool during these dogs days of summer.  Hopefully, these activities will make you feel like a kid again, too!

Top Ten Ways to Stay Cool
1.   Eat a popsicle
2.   Run through a sprinkler
3.   Jump in the lake
4.   Take in a movie
5.   Have a squirt gun fight
6.   Fill a water balloon
7.   Eat an ice cream sundae
8.   Have a lemonade stand
9.   Dream of a snowball fight
10. Talk into a fan

Trust me, in the last four days I have participated in most of these and it was great fun!  In a few short months when I'm shoveling mountains of snow, my back may be aching, but I'll be thinking back on the day my brother and his kids ambushed my family with squirt guns and water balloons with a big smile on my face.    

Stay cool!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Big Box Houses

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about neighborhoods.  He and I both live on the near west side of Madison.  It is not the first house either of us has owned, but it will probably be the last house for both of us.

During our conversation, he made an interesting comment.  He said, "I think the big sprawling houses in new subdivisions are a thing of the past."  I got to thinking about his statement later in the day.

Are we moving back to the days of  being happy with smaller homes in walkable neighborhoods? I wonder.  On more than one occasion, I have told you stories about how quickly homes in Sunset Village, Westmorland and the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhoods have been selling the past few months.  Could it be that buyers are looking to scale back?  Are people looking to simplify their lives?

Perhaps.  Here's a case in point.   I have a client who recently bought a house with me near Wesmorland Park.  A year and a half ago, they lived near Hilldale.  In between, they lived in a new house in one of the newer outlying subdivisions.  These clients found that although they enjoyed the house in the new subdivision, they didn't enjoy the inconvenience of the location.  They were constantly in the car.  Running to work.  Running to school.  Running to various kid activities.  Running, running, running.   You get the picture.  These clients had moved their living location, but didn't change their activities.  The husband told me, "When we lived in the "big house" in the new subdivision, I would pack the car with everything I could possibly need for the day, golf clubs, swim gear, baseball gear, anything I might need."  He wasn't interested in running back and forth, nor did he have the time!

For these folks, the big box house in the new subdivision wasn't for them.  In the past 2 or 3 years, I have seen this happen with other clients and friends.  I'm working with two clients now who are in a similar situation.  They have larger homes on the outskirts on Madison and are looking to move closer to the center of town.

Of course, not everyone wants to be closer to amenities.  My friends who recently moved to Westmorland beleive had they not first lived close, the larger home in the subdivision wouldn't have been an issue.  They wouldn't have known any different.

So, my friends' statement about moving back to a simplier, gentler time may or may not be true.  One thing I know for certain, I won't be moving to a big box house anytime soon. My running, running, running will be kept to a minimum, so I can spend more time walking to the library, biking to the park and enjoying the simple things in life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Numbers Don't Lie

As a young girl, my dad always told me "numbers don't lie".  I was always a little skeptical.   My eyes would glaze over as he would shoot math problems across the dinner table directed at my siblings and me.

As an adult, I know my dad was right all those years ago.   It is especially true if you look at the home sales on the near west side of Madison,   For several months, I've written about the housing market on the near west side of Madison.  While other areas of the country, and even the city, complain about a down market, I've been saying "Not here!".  Homes sales in the popular neighborhoods of Sunset Village, Westmorland and Dudgeon-Monroe have been robust, even crazy in some instances.  It seems that the near west side of Madison is a popular place to live!

Now that we are firmly planted in the second half of 2011 (so hard to believe!), I decided to take a look at sales from the first half of 2011 and compare them to sales for the first six months of last year.  I looked at the number of sales, average sales price, average list price, days on the market as well as the sales price to list price ratio (see all the stats below).

What the numbers revealed was interesting and also reaffirmed what I've been saying.  For instance, in Sunset Village, the sales price: list price ratio is 95 percent for 2011, the same ratio as 2010.  In Westmorland, four of the seven homes that have sold in 2011 were sold for over the list price with the average days on the market only 34 days!  And in Dudgeon-Monroe, two homes sold in 2011 for at the asking price.  In all three of these neighborhoods, prices have inched up over the past year, too.

Now, I should also say that all is not sunshine and roses.  Smaller homes in all three of these neighborhoods (2 bedroom, 1 bath) aren't moving as quickly.  And total sales for these neighborhoods is down compared to a year ago.  But overall, sales are brisk, homes are selling quickly and home values in these neighborhoods are increasing.

All in all, not bad numbers!  As my dad would say, "numbers don't lie."

January 1, 2010-June 30, 2010
Total Sales: 17
Sales over list price: 2
Average sale price
Average list price
Days on Market
SP/LP Ratio

January 1, 2011-June 30, 2011
Total Sales: 7
Sales over list price: 4
Average sale price
Average list price
Days on Market
SP/LP Ratio

Sunset Village:
January 1, 2010-June 30, 2010
Total Sales: 10
Sales over list price: 0
Average sale price
Average list price
Days on Market
SP/LP Ratio

January 1, 2011-June 30, 2011
Total sales: 15
Sales over list price: 0 (2 sold for list price)
Average sale price
Average list price
Days on Market
SP/LP Ratio

January 1, 2010-June 30, 2010
Total sales: 14
Sales over list price: 1 (4 sold for list price)
Average sale price
Average list price
Days on Market
SP/LP Ratio

January 1, 2011-June 30, 2011
Total Sales: 8
Sales over list price: 0 (1 sold for list price)
Average sale price
Average list price
Days on Market
SP/LP Ratio

For information on other neighborhoods in the city, visit the hyper-local neighborhood blog at What's Happening in My Neighborhood.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Top Ten Summer Activities

I love summer in Madison!  What a fabulous place to wander and explore.  The other day I was thinking about all that Madison has to offer during the summer months and I came up with my top ten list.  Some of these places and/or activities are Madison staples (in my book!).  Others are just things I love to do.  These are in no particular order, just great stuff.  So here goes:

Kathy's Top Ten Summer Activities in Madison

  1. Concerts on the Square
  2. The Farmer's Market
  3. Olbrich Botanical Gardens "Butterfly's in Bloom"
  4. The Taste of Madison
  5. University of Wisconsin Memorial Union - for a beer, Babcock ice cream or to listen to music!
  6. Art Fair on the Square (and Art Fair off the square)
  7. A paddle boat ride on Lake Wingra
  8. A visit to Henry Vilas Zoo
  9. A stroll through the UW Arboretum (I must admit, this is especially a favorite when the lilacs are in bloom!)
  10. A tour of the State Capitol

Of course, this list could go on and on.  What about Picnic Point?  Or enjoying almost any activity on our lakes?  How about bike ride winding along all the fabulous bikes paths that criss-cross the city and outlying areas?  See what I mean?

Your top ten list may include some of these things, or maybe others.  Whatever you enjoy doing in Madison, get out there and do it!  Summer is short here, enjoy it while you can.

What's your favorite summer activity or place in Madison?  Let me know.  I'd love to hear from you!