Monday, June 25, 2012

"The Fixer"

I like to read.  If you have read any of my posts, you'll notice I've written about the new Little Library's as well as local (neighborhood) authors.

I just finished a book by Madison psychologist and author Teri Woods called "The Fixer".  It's a murder mystery based in the Pacific Northwest and it has twists and turns that will keep you on your toes!  It also recently received acclaim from Kirkus Reviews, the self-proclaimed "World's Toughest Book Critics". 

Kirkus called "The Fixer" a "first rate chiller” with “solid characters, unpredictable twists and excellent plotting; a must-read for those who enjoy crime fiction.”

I couldn't agree more!  "The Fixer" is available on  You can find out more about the author and "The Cruelest Cut", her upcoming sequel to "The Fixer" at

Let me know what you think of the book.  Happy reading! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


My house has a walk score of 60.  What's a walk score?  I'm glad you asked!  As the website explains, your Walk Score answers two questions:  "What can I do to improve my personal health?" and "What can I do to improve the health of the planet?"  Two pretty important questions!  Your walk score takes into account where you live and determines how far you have to walk to certain amenities.  With that information, a walk score is assigned.

From my house, I can walk to the library, church, the coffee shop, three parks, the ice cream shop and the gas station in 10 minutes or less.  If I'm really ambitious, I can walk further and hit the grocery store, a major shopping area and several local restaurants.  For me, that's a pretty walkable neighborhood.  If you live in the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood your score shoots up to 70 or more!  My old neighborhood on the near east side has a walk score of 75!  And of course, if you live downtown, you can expect and even higher walk score.  Add biking to your repertoire of transportation and you can cast an even wider net.  You can find out your Bike Score at Walk Score, too.

Proximity to amenities is an important aspect of how people decide where to live.  It's especially significant in an active community like Madison.  The near west side and the near east side neighborhoods lend themselves to walking and biking.  These neighborhoods are also within close commuting distance to the University and downtown.  As the Walk Score website says, Drive less. Live more.  What's your Walk Score?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Deadline Extened for Comments on Hoyt Park Area Plan

The recent public meeting for the Hoyt Park Area Planning Committee was well attended with more than 130 residents in attendance.  The purpose of the meeting was to review the draft plan for the neighborhood.  Requests to extend the comment period have been reviewed and the comment period has been extended until June 22nd (formerly June 13th). 

You can review background information, draft neighborhood plan, and comment forms at: .  Copies of the Draft Plan/comment forms are also at Sequoya Branch Library.

You can also send comments directly to Brian Munson, Vandewalle & Associates at or Jule Stroick, City of Madison Planning Division, at

Additionally, residents requested a shortened version of the plan document.  Work has begun on that shortened version that will summarize major themes and plan recommendations. 

Watch for more information on upcoming meetings.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jazz in the Park

Madison is home to some of the most wonderful summer festivals.  One such event is Jazz in the Park scheduled for this Saturday June 16th at Wingra Park. 

Join the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association for the 21st Annual Jazz in the Park.  Start the day with a 5K walk/run beginning at 9:00 a.m.  Family fun activities such as logrolling and dragon boats begin at 2:00 p.m.  Music from great local bands like Tony Castaneda and MadiSalsa start at 3:00 p.m.

So pack a picnic, spread out a blanket and plan to spend the day listening to some great Jazz and enjoying one of the many wonderful Madison parks.  Oh, and Wingra Boats will be open, too!  Listening from the lake might be a great way to take in the music!

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Housing Market Remains Strong

For  more than 4 decades, our real estate market has seen two very distinctive spikes in closing activity. The first spike happens the last Friday in May, the second occurs the last Friday in August. Of course, this is due to families with children wanting to move near the end of the school year so their children can meet new friends over the summer. For those who miss that last Friday in May, the last Friday in August is their chance to get moved and have the children start and stay in the same school for the entire year.

While this double spike has historically been the case for nearly 40 years (the exception being 1982 when home mortgage rates were hovering around 17% and nobody was going anywhere), 2012 is showing a slightly different trend. This year we are continuing to see activity build beyond the May spike, including the number of pending sales (homes with accepted offers and contingencies removed). We are seeing sales outpace inventory which means the market is coming more into balance. There are lessons to be learned from these numbers for sellers and buyers alike.

For Sellers: The buyers are out there now, and with sales outpacing the supply of inventory, home prices will soon begin to stabilize, if not increase. Putting your home on the market now is likely the best opportunity for sale that has existed in the last 5 years. In a few cases, houses have been on the market for just a few days before they receive an accepted offer.

For Buyers: With interest rates remaining in the 4% range, your house payment is approximately one half of the amount it would be if you were purchasing in a more typical market where interest rates average 7%-9%. The lesson for buyers is simple: don’t lose sleep over whether you can get the seller to accept one more counter-offer for a couple thousand dollars less in sales price when you could be saving five thousand dollars, ten thousand dollars or even more interest dollars each and every year you own your home by locking in a loan and making a purchase now.